Film Review – OPEN RANGE (2003)

Flicks On 'Flix – Open Range – I'm Talkin' HereOPEN RANGE (USA, 2003) ****
      Distributor: Winchester Film Distribution; Production Company: Touchstone Pictures / Cobalt Media Group / Beacon Pictures / Tig Productions; Release Date: 11 August 2003 (USA), 19 March 2004 (UK); Filming Dates: 17 June 2002 – 8 September 2002; Running Time: 139m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS; Film Format: 35 mm (anamorphic) (Kodak Vision 2383); Film Process: Digital Intermediate (2K) (master format), Super 35 (source format); Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: 12.
      Director: Kevin Costner; Writer: Craig Storper (based on the novel “The Open Range Men” by Lauran Paine); Executive Producer: Armyan Bernstein, Craig Storper; Producer: Kevin Costner, Jake Eberts, David Valdes; Director of Photography: J. Michael Muro; Music Composer: Michael Kamen; Film Editor: Michael J. Duthie, Miklos Wright; Casting Director: Mindy Marin; Production Designer: Gae S. Buckley; Art Director: Gary Myers; Set Decorator: Mary-Lou Storey; Costumes: John Bloomfield; Make-up: Pearl Louie, Jon C. White; Sound: Barney Cabral.
      Cast: Robert Duvall (Boss Spearman), Kevin Costner (Charley Waite), Annette Bening (Sue Barlow), Michael Gambon (Denton Baxter), Michael Jeter (Percy), Diego Luna (Button), James Russo (Sheriff Poole), Abraham Benrubi (Mose), Dean McDermott (Doc Barlow), Kim Coates (Butler), Herb Kohler (Cafe Man), Peter MacNeill (Mack), Cliff Saunders (Ralph), Patricia Stutz (Ralph’s Wife (as Pat Stutz)), Julian Richings (Wylie), Ian Tracey (Tom), Rod Wilson (Gus), Diego Diablo Del Mar (Ballester (as Diego Del Mar)), Patricia Benedict (Cafe Woman), Tim Koetting (Bartender Bill).
      Synopsis: A former gunslinger is forced to take up arms again when he and his cattle crew are threatened by a corrupt lawman.
      Comment: Excellent Western in the traditional format directed by Costner at a leisurely pace until the gunfight finale, one of the best-ever seen in the genre. Duvall and Costner are outstanding as free-grazers helped by young Luna and Benrubi. When they stray onto rancher Gambon’s land the battle lines are drawn. Bening plays the town doctor’s sister who falls for the awkward Costner in a romantic sub-plot. Whilst taking its time to come to the boil, the film explores the complex character motivations of Costner’s gunslinger history and Duvall’s aspirations to put down roots years after the death of his wife and daughter. Gambon is served less well by the script and his Irish rancher is a little two-dimensional. However, the film reaches an explosive finale as the two factions shoot it out on the town streets. The segment is superbly shot and is a satisfying conclusion to one of the best Westerns since the genre’s heyday.

Film Review – THE GODFATHER PART II (1974)

Robert De Niro and Leopoldo Trieste in The Godfather: Part II (1974)THE GODFATHER: PART II (USA, 1974) *****
      Distributor: Paramount Pictures (USA), Cinema International Corporation (CIC) (UK); Production Company: Paramount Pictures; Release Date: 13 December 1974 (USA), 15 May 1975 (UK); Filming Dates: 2 October 1973 – 19 June 1974; Running Time: 202m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Francis Ford Coppola; Writer: Francis Ford Coppola, Mario Puzo (based on the novel by Mario Puzo); Executive Producer: Robert Evans (uncredited); Producer: Francis Ford Coppola; Associate Producer: Mona Skager; Director of Photography: Gordon Willis; Music Composer: Nino Rota, Carmine Coppola; Film Editor: Barry Malkin, Richard Marks, Peter Zinner; Casting Director: Jane Feinberg, Mike Fenton, Vic Ramos; Production Designer: Dean Tavoularis; Art Director: Angelo P. Graham; Set Decorator: George R. Nelson; Costumes: Theadora Van Runkle; Make-up: Charles H. Schram, Dick Smith; Sound: Nathan Boxer, Charles M. Wilborn; Special Effects: A.D. Flowers, Joe Lombardi.
      Cast: Al Pacino (Michael), Robert Duvall (Tom Hagen), Diane Keaton (Kay), Robert De Niro (Vito Corleone), John Cazale (Fredo Corleone), Talia Shire (Connie Corleone), Lee Strasberg (Hyman Roth), Michael V. Gazzo (Frankie Pentangeli), G.D. Spradlin (Sen. Pat Geary), Richard Bright (Al Neri), Gastone Moschin (Fanucci), Tom Rosqui (Rocco Lampone), Bruno Kirby (Young Clemenza), Frank Sivero (Genco), Francesca De Sapio (Young Mama Corleone), Morgana King (Mama Corleone), Marianna Hill (Deanna Corleone), Leopoldo Trieste (Signor Roberto), Dominic Chianese (Johnny Ola), Amerigo Tot (Michael’s Bodyguard), Troy Donahue (Merle Johnson), John Aprea (Young Tessio), Joe Spinell (Willi Cicci), Abe Vigoda (Tessio), Tere Livrano (Theresa Hagen), Gianni Russo (Carlo), Maria Carta (Vito’s Mother), Oreste Baldini (Vito Andolini – as a Boy), Giuseppe Sillato (Don Francesco), Mario Cotone (Don Tommasino), James Gounaris (Anthony Corleone), Fay Spain (Mrs. Marcia Roth), Harry Dean Stanton (F.B.I. Man #1), James Murdock (F.B.I. Man #2), Carmine Caridi (Carmine Rosato), Danny Aiello (Tony Rosato), Carmine Foresta (Policeman), Nick Discenza (Bartender), Joseph Medaglia (Father Carmelo), William Bowers (Senate Committee Chairman), Joseph Della Sorte (Michael’s Buttonman #1), Carmen Argenziano (Michael’s Buttonman #2), Joe Lo Grippo (Michael’s Buttonman #3), Ezio Flagello (Impressario), Livio Giorgi (Tenor in ‘Senza Mamma’), Kathleen Beller (Girl in ‘Senza Mamma’), Saveria Mazzola (Signora Colombo), Tito Alba (Cuban President), Johnny Naranjo (Cuban Translator), Elda Maida (Pentangeli’s Wife), Salvatore Po (Pentangeli’s Brother), Ignazio Pappalardo (Mosca), Andrea Maugeri (Strollo), Peter LaCorte (Signor Abbandando), Vincent Coppola (Street Vendor), Peter Donat (Questadt), Tom Dahlgren (Fred Corngold), Paul B. Brown (Sen. Ream), Phil Feldman (Senator #1), Roger Corman (Senator #2), Ivonne Coll (Yolanda), Joe De Nicola (Attendant at Brothel), Edward Van Sickle (Ellis Island Doctor), Gabriella Belloni (Ellis Island Nurse), Richard Watson (Customs Official), Venancia Grangerard (Cuban Nurse), Erica Yohn (Governess), Teresa Tirelli (Midwife).
      Synopsis: Continuing saga of the Corleone family as they move to Nevada and make the casino business their major income source under the leadership of the increasingly paranoid and malevolent Michael, whose reign as the “Don” is juxtaposed against the parallel tale of his father’s escape from Sicily as a young boy and his subsequent rise to power in New York’s Lower East Side during the turn-of-the-century.
      Comment: Coppola does the seemingly impossible by topping THE GODFATHER with a follow-up that has even more depth of character and plot. The parallel plot threads weave nicely together giving Pacino and De Niro the opportunity to showcase their considerable acting skills. The supporting cast is perfect with universally strong performances. Coppola’s direction is note-perfect as he seamlessly moves his story between locale and time period. The production design is sumptuous and, aided by Willis’ evocative cinematography, wonderfully captures the contrasts between the poverty experienced by the young Don Vito with the enormous wealth of his legacy. Pacino’s transformation into a single-minded and ultimately lonely and unforgiving figure is beautifully captured by the actor’s skilful performance.
      Notes: Winner of six Academy Awards, including Picture, Director, Supporting Actor (De Niro), Adapted Screenplay, Art Direction and Music. James Caan appears uncredited in a brief cameo. Extended version runs 220m. Followed by THE GODFATHER PART III (1990).

Film Review – JOE KIDD (1972)

Image result for joe kidd 1972JOE KIDD (USA, 1972) ***
      Distributor: Universal Pictures; Production Company: Universal Pictures / The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 19 July 1972 (USA), 24 September 1972 (UK); Filming Dates: November 1971; Running Time: 88m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono (Westrex Recording System); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision; Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: John Sturges; Writer: Elmore Leonard; Executive Producer: Robert Daley; Producer: Sidney Beckerman; Director of Photography: Bruce Surtees; Music Composer: Lalo Schifrin; Film Editor: Ferris Webster; Art Director: Henry Bumstead, Alexander Golitzen; Set Decorator: Charles S. Thompson; Sound: James R. Alexander, Waldon O. Watson.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Joe Kidd), Robert Duvall (Frank Harlan), John Saxon (Luis Chama), Don Stroud (Lamarr), Stella Garcia (Helen Sanchez), James Wainwright (Mingo), Paul Koslo (Roy), Gregory Walcott (Mitchell), Dick Van Patten (Hotel Manager), Lynne Marta (Elma), John Carter (Judge), Pepe Hern (Priest), Joaquín Martínez (Manolo (as Joaquin Martinez)), Ron Soble (Ramon), Pepe Callahan (Naco), Clint Ritchie (Calvin), Gil Barreto (Emilio), Ed Deemer (Bartender), Maria Val (Vita), Chuck Hayward (Eljay), Michael R. Horst (Deputy).
      Synopsis: An ex-bounty hunter reluctantly helps a wealthy landowner and his henchmen track down a Mexican revolutionary leader.
      Comment: Eastwood and Duvall add a level of class to this otherwise familiar Western. Leonard’s script is slight with little in terms of character development but is enlivened by moments of humour – including a deliciously over-the-top finale (unscripted and jokingly suggested by producer Daley) involving a train and a saloon. Outdoor sequences are beautifully shot by Surtees near June Lake, east of the Yosemite National Park. Old Tuscon was used for the town scenes.
      Notes: Elmore Leonard’s script, originally called “The Sinola Courthouse Raid”, was inspired by Reies Tijerina, an ardent supporter of Robert F. Kennedy, who stormed a courthouse in Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico in June 1967, taking hostages and demanding that the Hispanic people have their ancestral lands returned to them.

Film Review – INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978)

Image result for invasion of the body snatchers 1978INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (USA, 1978) ***½
      Distributor: United Artists; Production Company: Solofilm; Release Date: 22 December 1978 (USA); 22 March 1979 (UK); Filming Dates: 19 February 1978 – 29 April 1978; Running Time: 115m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Stereo (Dolby Stereo); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 15 – contains one scene of strong gory violence and moderate horror.
      Director: Philip Kaufman; Writer: W.D. Richter (based on the novel “The Body Snatchers” by Jack Finney); Producer: Robert H. Solo; Director of Photography: Michael Chapman; Music Composer: Denny Zeitlin; Film Editor: Douglas Stewart; Casting Director: Mary Goldberg; Production Designer: Charles Rosen; Set Decorator: Doug von Koss; Costumes: Aggie Guerard Rodgers; Make-up: Thomas R. Burman, Edouard F. Henriques, Bob Westmoreland; Sound: Ben Burtt, Bonnie Koehler, John Nutt, Steve Powell, Art Rochester; Special Effects: Russel Hessey, Dell Rheaume.
       Cast: Donald Sutherland (Matthew Bennell), Brooke Adams (Elizabeth Driscoll), Jeff Goldblum (Jack Bellicec), Veronica Cartwright (Nancy Bellicec), Leonard Nimoy (Dr. David Kibner), Art Hindle (Dr. Geoffrey Howell), Lelia Goldoni (Katherine Hendley), Kevin McCarthy (Running Man), Don Siegel (Taxi Driver), Tom Luddy (Ted Hendley), Stan Ritchie (Stan), David Fisher (Mr. Gianni), Tom Dahlgren (Detective), Garry Goodrow (Dr. Boccardo), Jerry Walter (Restaurant Owner), Maurice Argent (Chef), Sam Conti (Street Barker), Wood Moy (Mr. Tong), R. Wong (Mrs. Tong), Rose Kaufman (Outraged Woman), Joe Bellan (Harry), Sam Hiona (Policeman #1), Lee McVeigh (Policeman #2), Al Nalbandian (Rodent Man), Lee Mines (School Teacher). Uncredited: Michael Chapman (Health Dept. Floor Cleaner), Robert Duvall (Priest on Swing), Anthony Garibaldi (Student), Kevin Harris (Dr. of pods), Philip Kaufman (City Official on Phone (voice)), Misty (Harry’s Boxer Dog), Al Perez (PG&E Man), Jeff Scheftel (Pod Person at Party).
      Synopsis: In San Francisco, a group of people discover the human race is being replaced one by one, with clones devoid of emotion.
      Comment: Well-made remake of the 1956 Don Siegel classic. Sutherland is excellent as the public health inspector caught up in the paranoia. He is well supported by a strong cast, which includes a young Goldblum and pre-ALIEN Cartwright. Nimoy is also effective as a psychologist with an ego. Zeitlin provides an eerie electronic score, whilst Chapman’s largely night-time photography makes inventive use of the locations. Tension builds throughout and it is only in its final act that the production becomes more formulaic. There is, however,  a closing scene that is guaranteed to live long in the memory.
      Notes: Second adaptation of the novel “The Body Snatchers” by Jack Finney. Previously filmed in 1956 and remade in 1993 as BODY SNATCHERS and 2007 as THE INVASION. Watch out for cameos by the original film star and director Kevin McCarthy and Don Siegel as well as Robert Duvall and director Philip Kaufman.

Film Review – TRUE GRIT (1969)

Image result for true grit 1969True Grit (1969; USA; Technicolor; 128m) ****  d. Henry Hathaway; w. Marguerite Roberts; ph. Lucien Ballard; m. Elmer Bernstein.  Cast: John Wayne, Kim Darby, Robert Duvall, Glen Campbell, Strother Martin, Jeremy Slate, Dennis Hopper, Jeff Corey, Donald Woods, Alfred Ryder, Ron Soble, John Fiedler, James Westerfield, John Doucette, Edith Atwater. A drunken, hard-nosed U.S. Marshal and a Texas Ranger help a stubborn young woman track down her father’s murderer in Indian territory. Scenic western with Wayne enjoying himself immensely in one of his best-remembered performances as Rooster Cogburn and Darby also excellent as young Mattie Ross. Hathaway paces the story just right and Duvall impresses as Wayne’s outlaw nemesis. Superbly photographed utilising stunning Colorado locations aided by a rousing Bernstein score. The only film for which Wayne ever won an Oscar. Based on the novel by Charles Portis. Followed by ROOSTER COGBURN (1975) and a TV pilot in 1978. Remade in 2010. [PG]

Film Review – JACK REACHER (2012)

Image result for jack reacher 2012 blu-rayJack Reacher (2012; USA; DeLuxe; 130m) ∗∗∗½  d. Christopher McQuarrie; w. Christopher McQuarrie; ph. Caleb Deschanel; m. Joe Kraemer.  Cast: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, David Oyelowo, Werner Herzog, Jai Courtney, Vladimir Sizov, Joseph Sikora, Michael Raymond-James, Alexia Fast, Josh Helman, Robert Duvall, James Martin Kelly, Dylan Kussman, Denver Milord. A homicide investigator digs deeper into a case involving a trained military sniper who shot five random victims. Cruise delivers an excellent performance, despite being miscast, in this well-crafted crime thriller. The plot is involving and the action scenes well-staged. Pike offers strong support as the lawyer and Duvall shows up late in the day to add some class. Based on the novel “One Shot” by Lee Child. The character from Child’s book series is described as 6’5″ tall and weighing between 210 and 250 pounds (Cruise is 5’7″ tall). Followed by JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK in 2016. [15]

Film Review – THE GODFATHER (1972)

Image result for the godfather blu-rayGodfather, The (1972; USA; Technicolor; 175m) ∗∗∗∗∗  d. Francis Ford Coppola; w. Francis Ford Coppola, Mario Puzo; ph. Gordon Willis; m. Nino Rota.  Cast: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, John Cazale, Talia Shire, Richard Castellano, Sterling Hayden, Gianni Russo, Rudy Bond, John Marley, Richard Conte, Al Lettieri, Abe Vigoda, Franco Citti, Lenny Montana, Al Martino, Joe Spinell, Simonetta Stefanelli, Morgana King, Alex Rocco, John Martino, Salvatore Corsitto. Epic tale of a 1940s New York Mafia family and their struggle to protect their empire from rival families as the leadership switches from the father to his youngest son. Superbly scripted and directed, this is the template for all gangster movies thereafter. Brando as the patriarch and Pacino as his heir are superb. A strong cast supports. Great period detail and production design by Dean Tavoularis. Winner of three Academy Awards: Best Movie, Actor (Brando) and Adapted Screenplay. Based on Puzo’s novel. In 1977, a special version for television titled The Godfather: A Novel for Television (1977) was prepared by director Francis Ford Coppola and editor Barry Malkin by re-editing THE GODFATHER (1972) and THE GODFATHER PART II (1974) in chronological order and adding deleted scenes. Extended version runs 200m. Followed by two sequels. [15]

Film Review – JOE KIDD (1972)

Joe Kidd (1972; USA; Technicolor; 88m) ∗∗∗  d. John Sturges; w. Elmore Leonard; ph. Bruce Surtees; m. Lalo Schifrin.  Cast: Clint Eastwood, Robert Duvall, John Saxon, Don Stroud, Stella Garcia, James Wainwright, Paul Koslo, Gregory Walcott, Dick Van Patten, Lynne Marta, Pepe Hern, Joaquin Martinez, John Carter, Ron Soble. An ex-bounty hunter reluctantly helps a wealthy landowner and his henchmen track down a Mexican revolutionary leader. Eastwood and Duvall add class to an otherwise routine Western. Superbly photographed by Surtees who uses the location to maximum effect. Story lacks a satisfactory resolution but has its moments in through a number of well-staged set-pieces. [15]