Film Review – JAWS (1975)

Image result for jaws 1975JAWS (USA, 1975) *****
PRODUCTION: Distributor: Universal Pictures (USA), Cinema International Corporation (CIC) (UK); Production Company: Zanuck-Brown Productions / Universal Pictures; Release Date: 20 June 1975 (USA), 25 December 1975 (UK); Filming Dates: 2 May 1974 – 18 September 1974 and October 1974 – December 1974; Running Time: 124m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono (Westrex Recording System) | Dolby (Dolby Digital Surround 5.1) | Dolby Surround 7.1 (Blu-ray release); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: 12.
CREW: Director: Steven Spielberg; Writer: Peter Benchley, Carl Gottlieb (based on the novel by Peter Benchley); Producer: David Brown, Richard D. Zanuck; Director of Photography: Bill Butler; Music Composer: John Williams; Film Editor: Verna Fields; Casting Director: Shari Rhodes; Production Designer: Joe Alves; Set Decorator: John M. Dwyer; Costumes: Louise Clark, Robert Ellsworth, Irwin Rose; Make-up: Del Armstrong, John Chambers, Jim Gillespie; Sound: John R. Carter, Robert L. Hoyt; Special Effects: Robert A. Mattey.
CAST: Roy Scheider (Brody), Robert Shaw (Quint), Richard Dreyfuss (Hooper), Lorraine Gary (Ellen Brody), Murray Hamilton (Vaughn), Carl Gottlieb (Meadows), Jeffrey Kramer (Hendricks), Susan Backlinie (Chrissie), Jonathan Filley (Cassidy), Ted Grossman (Estuary Victim), Chris Rebello (Michael Brody), Jay Mello (Sean Brody), Lee Fierro (Mrs. Kintner), Jeffrey Voorhees (Alex Kintner), Craig Kingsbury (Ben Gardner), Robert Nevin (Medical Examiner), Peter Benchley (Interviewer).
SYNOPSIS: When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and grizzled fisherman set out to stop it.
COMMENT: Brilliantly filmed and edited with not a minute of screen time wasted. It was credited as the movie that created the summer blockbuster, but this remains an everyman movie full of thrills. Spielberg’s inventive framing and decision to leave the shark largely unseen until the final act demonstrate his astute approach to genre direction. Great performance from Shaw, Scheider and Dreyfuss and memorable music score from Williams helps to heighten the tension. The movie remains today a textbook example on how to shoot a thriller and maximise character empathy through great direction to actors.
NOTES: Won three Oscars – for Editing, Music and Sound. Extended version runs to 130m. Followed by three sequels beginning with JAWS 2 (1978).

Film Review – THE POST (2017)

Image result for the post 2017Post, The (2017; USA; Colour; 116m) **** d. Steven Spielberg; w. Liz Hannah, Josh Singer; ph. Janusz Kaminski; m. John Williams.  Cast: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Bruce Greenwood, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Sarah Paulson, Matthew Rhys, Alison Brie, Carrie Coon, Jesse Plemons, Bradley Whitford, David Cross, Michael Stuhlbarg, Zack Woods, Pat Healy, Deirdre Lovejoy. Based on true events from 1971, in which American newspapers race to expose a government cover-up of Vietnam War secrets. Absorbing newspaper drama driven by top-class performances from Streep and Hanks. Occasional lapses into over-egging some of the politIcial and social messages is only drawback. Authentic recreation of environment and historical context add to power behind the message around freedom of the press. [12]

Film Review – THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS (1974)

Image result for the sugarland express posterSugarland Express, The (1974; USA; Technicolor; 110m) ****  d. Steven Spielberg; w. Hal Barwood, Matthew Robbins, Steven Spielberg; ph. Vilmos Zsigmond; m. John Williams.  Cast: Goldie Hawn, Ben Johnson, Michael Sacks, William Atherton, Gregory Walcott, Steve Kanaly, Louise Latham, Harrison Zanuck, A. L. Camp, Jessie Lee Fulton, Dean Smith, Ted Grossman. A woman attempts to reunite her family by helping her husband escape prison and together kidnapping their son. But things don’t go as planned when they are forced to take a police hostage on the road. Spielberg’s first theatrical feature is a winning combination of drama and humour. Balancing the tone is the director’s biggest challenge as he takes on this adaptation of real life events. Hawn and Atherton score strongly as the misguided couple, whilst Johnson gives a quietly effective performance as a sympathetic lawman. The tone shifts sharply in its final act, but this remains an engaging tale. [PG]

Film Review – INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE (1989)

Image result for indiana jones and the last crusade blu-rayIndiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989; USA; DeLuxe; 127m) ***  d. Steven Spielberg; w. Jeffrey Boam, George Lucas, Menno Meyjes; ph. Douglas Slocombe; m. John Williams.  Cast: Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Denholm Elliott, Alison Doody, John Rhys-Davies, Julian Glover, River Phoenix, Michael Byrne, Vernon Dobtcheff, Paul Maxwell, Kevork Malikyan, Alex Hyde-White, Richard Young, Alexei Sayle. When Dr. Henry Jones Sr. suddenly goes missing while pursuing the Holy Grail, eminent archaeologist Indiana Jones must follow in his father’s footsteps and stop the Nazis. Highlight is the chemistry and interplay between Ford and Connery. This third instalment is played more for laughs – and there are a fair few. Unfortunately, the change in tone diminishes from the adventure with overly-choreographed action set-pieces and a lazy screenplay overloaded with plot conveniences. Won Oscar for Sound Effects Editing (Ben Burtt and Richard Hymns). Followed by INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (2008). [PG]

Film Review – DUEL (1971)

Image result for duel blu-rayDuel (TV) (1971; USA; Technicolor; 89m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Steven Spielberg; w. Richard Matheson; ph. Jack A. Marta; m. Billy Goldenberg.  Cast: Dennis Weaver, Eddie Firestone, Gene Dynarski, Tim Herbert, Jacqueline Scott, Lou Frizzell, Lucille Benson, Dale Van Sickel, Dick Whittington, Charles Seel, Alexander Lockwood, Amy Douglass, Carey Loftin, Shirley O’Hara, Shawn Steinman. A business commuter is pursued and terrorized by a malevolent driver of a massive tractor-trailer. Spielberg’s first movie sees him stretch a simple premise into a tense, nail-biting hour-and-a-half. Weaver splendidly conveys the everyman in peril. The film is edited and shot with efficiency and style. Goldenberg’s score adds to the tension as do the gutteral sounds of the truck. Matheson adapted his own short story. After airing on U.S. TV at 74m, Spielberg expanded it into a feature for release in Europe. [PG]

Film Review – JAWS (1975)

Jaws (1975; USA; Technicolor; 124m) ∗∗∗∗∗  d. Steven Spielberg; w. Peter Benchley, Carl Gottlieb; ph. Bill Butler; m. John Williams.  Cast: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, Carl Gottlieb, Jeffrey Kramer, Susan Backlinie, Jonathan Filley, Chris Rebello, Ted Grossman, Jay Mello. When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and grizzled fisherman set out to stop it. Brilliantly filmed and edited with not a minute of screen time wasted. It was credited as the movie that created the summer blockbuster, but this remains an everyman movie full of thrills. Great performance from Shaw, Scheider and Dreyfuss and memorable music score from Williams. Won three Oscars – for Editing, Music and Sound (Robert L. Hoyt, Roger Heman Jr., Earl Madery, John R. Carter). Based on Benchley’s novel. Followed by three sequels beginning with JAWS 2 (1978). [12]

Film Review – THE TERMINAL (2004)

Terminal, The (2004; USA; Technicolor; 129m) ∗∗∗  d. Steven Spielberg; w. Sacha Gervasi, Jeff Nathanson, Andrew Niccol; ph. Janusz Kaminski; m. John Williams.  Cast: Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Stanley Tucci, Chi McBride, Diego Luna, Barry Shabaka Henley, Kumar Pallana, Zoe Saldana, Eddie Jones, Michael Nouri. An eastern immigrant finds himself stranded in JFK airport, and must take up temporary residence there. Although based on real events, this feel-good movie has feels manufactured for a mass audience despite some satirical sequences. Hanks is excellent, as usual, as the European refugee, but the scenes with Zeta-Jones and the increasingly clichéd approach to the airport authorities betray the manipulative and predictable nature of Spielberg’s film. [12]

Film Review Round-up – INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (2008); MY GUN IS QUICK (1957) and M*A*S*H: GOODBYE, FAREWELL AND AMEN (1983)

IJatKotCS_TPBIndiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008; USA; DeLuxe; 122m) ∗∗∗  d. Steven Spielberg; w. David Koepp, George Lucas, Jeff Nathanson; ph. Janusz Kaminski; m. John Williams; ed. Michael Kahn.  Cast: Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, Karen Allen, Cate Blanchett, John Hurt, Ray Winstone, Jim Broadbent, Igor Jijikine, Andrew Divoff, Alan Dale, Dimitri Diatchenko, Ilia Volokh, Emmanuel Todorov, Venya Manzyuk, Pavel Lychnikoff. Famed archaeologist/adventurer Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones is called back into action when he becomes entangled in a Soviet plot to uncover the secret behind mysterious artifacts known as the Crystal Skulls. Good to see Ford back as Indy in this belated retread. Highly choreographed action sequences give the movie a manufactured feel, but at times it recalls the spirit of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. [12]

My_Gun_is_Quick_PosterMy Gun is Quick (1957; USA; B&W; 90m) ∗∗½  d. Phil Victor, George White; w. Richard Collins, Richard Powell; ph. Harry Neumann; m. Marlin Skiles; ed. Frank Sullivan.  Cast: Robert Bray, Whitney Blake, Patricia Donahue, Donald Randolph, Pamela Duncan, Booth Colman, Jan Chaney, Genie Coree, Richard Garland, Charles Boaz, Peter Mamakos, Claire Carleton, Phil Arnold, John Dennis, Terence de Marney. Private detective Mike Hammer helps a prostitute being assaulted, and notices that she is wearing a very unique ring. She is later found murdered and there is no trace of the ring, which turns out to be part of a cache of jewellery stolen by the Nazis during World War II and smuggled out of France after the wary by an American army colonel. Bray delivers a one-note performance in this flat and loose adaptation of Mickey Spillane’s novel. [PG]

51hG7Ro-+1LM*A*S*H: Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen (TV) (1983; USA; DeLuxe; 120m) ∗∗∗½  d. Alan Alda; w. Alan Alda, Burt Metcalfe, John Rappaport, Dan Wilcox, Thad Mumford, Elias Davis, David Pollock, Karen Hall; ph. Dominic Palmieri; m. Johnny Mandel (theme), Lionel Newman (supervisor); ed. Larry L. Mills, Stanford Tischler.  Cast: Alan Alda, Mike Farrell, Harry Morgan, Loretta Swit, David Ogden Stiers, Jamie Farr, William Christopher, Allan Arbus, G.W. Bailey, Rosalind Chao, John Shearin, Kellye Nakahara, Jeff Maxwell. In the closing days of the Korean War, the staff of the 4077 M*A*S*H Unit find themselves facing irrevocable changes in their lives. Mixes drama, comedy, pathos and sentiment in an expert way that echoed the strengths of the series. This became the most-watched television broadcast in American History. [PG]