Film Review – SPACE COWBOYS (2000)

Image result for space cowboys 2000SPACE COWBOYS (USA, 2000) ***½
      Distributor: Warner Bros.; Production Company: Clipsal Films / Mad Chance / Malpaso Productions / Village Roadshow Pictures / Warner Bros.; Release Date: 1 August 2000 (USA), 22 September 2000 (UK); Filming Dates: 19 July 1999 – 19 October 1999; Running Time: 130m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS; Film Format: 35mm, D-Cinema (Texas Instruments DLP 1280 x 1024, 1.9 : 1 anamorphic); Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Ken Kaufman, Howard Klausner; Executive Producer: Tom Rooker; Producer: Clint Eastwood, Andrew Lazar; Director of Photography: Jack N. Green; Music Composer: Lennie Niehaus; Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Henry Bumstead; Art Director: Jack G. Taylor Jr.; Set Decorator: Richard C. Goddard; Costumes: Deborah Hopper; Make-up: Tania McComas, Francisco X. Pérez; Sound: Bub Asman, Alan Robert Murray; Special Effects: John Palmer; Visual Effects: Nelson Cabrera, Susan Greenhow, Michael Owens, Lisa Todd, Judith Weaver.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Frank Corvin), Tommy Lee Jones (Hawk Hawkins), Donald Sutherland (Jerry O’Neill), James Garner (Tank Sullivan), James Cromwell (Bob Gerson), Marcia Gay Harden (Sara Holland), William Devane (Eugene Davis), Loren Dean (Ethan Glance), Courtney B. Vance (Roger Hines), Barbara Babcock (Barbara Corvin), Rade Serbedzija (General Vostov), Blair Brown (Dr. Anne Caruthers), Jay Leno (Jay Leno), Nils Allen Stewart (Tiny), Deborah Jolly (Cocktail Waitress), Toby Stephens (Young Frank), Eli Craig (Young Hawk), John Asher (Young Jerry), Matt McColm (Young Tank), Billie Worley (Young Gerson), Chris Wylde (Jason), Anne Stedman (Jason’s Girlfriend), James MacDonald (Capcom), Kate McNeil (Female Astronaut #1), Karen M. Waldron (Female Astronaut #2), John Linton (Male Astronaut #1), Mark Thomason (Mission Control Tech), Georgia Emelin (Jerry’s Girlfriend), Rick Scarry (State Department Official), Paul Pender (JBC Security Guard), Tim Halligan (Qualls), Manning Mpinduzi-Mott (Press Reporter #1), Steve Monroe (Waiter), Jean-Michel Henry (Centrifuge Tech), Steven West (Construction Tech), Cooper Huckabee (Trajectory Engineer), Hayden Tank (Boy at NASA Tour), Jock MacDonald (Press Reporter (1958)), Gerald Emerick (T-38 Pilot), Renee Olstead (Little Girl), Don Michaelson (NASA Doctor), Artur Cybulski (Press Reporter #2), Gordy Owens (Simsupe), Steve Stapenhorst (Vice President), Lauren Cohn (Teacher at NASA Tour), Michael Louden (Young Pilot #1), Deborah Hope (Female Engineer), Jon Hamm (Young Pilot #2), Lamont Lofton (KSC Guard), Aleksandr Kuznetsov (Russian Engineer (as Alexander Kuznetsov)), Erica Grant (Female Engineer).
      Synopsis: When a retired engineer is called upon to rescue a failing satellite, he insists that his equally old teammates accompany him into space.
      Comment: Highly entertaining, if wildly implausible, space rescue thriller. It coasts on the charisma of its four veteran leads and generates much humour out of their character interactions. Also impressive are the in-space special and visual effects. Eastwood directs with confidence and generates a fair amount of tension in the movie’s final act. If you can accept the premise you’ll find much to enjoy, just don’t scrutinise the plot too closely.

Film Review – TRUE CRIME (1999)

Image result for true crime 1999TRUE CRIME (USA, 1999) ***½
      Distributor: Warner Bros.; Production Company: Warner Bros. / The Zanuck Company / Malpaso Productions; Release Date: 19 March 1999 (USA), 14 May 1999 (UK); Filming Dates: 4 May 1998 – 26 June 1998; Running Time: 127m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Larry Gross, Paul Brickman, Stephen Schiff (based on the novel by Andrew Klavan); Executive Producer: Tom Rooker; Producer: Clint Eastwood, Lili Fini Zanuck, Richard D. Zanuck; Director of Photography: Jack N. Green; Music Composer: Lennie Niehaus; Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Henry Bumstead; Art Director: Jack G. Taylor Jr.; Set Decorator: Richard C. Goddard; Costumes: ; Make-up: Tania McComas; Sound: Bub Asman, Alan Robert Murray; Special Effects: John Frazier.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Steve Everett), Isaiah Washington (Frank Louis Beechum), LisaGay Hamilton (Bonnie Beechum), James Woods (Alan Mann), Denis Leary (Bob Findley), Bernard Hill (Warden Luther Plunkitt), Diane Venora (Barbara Everett), Michael McKean (Reverend Shillerman), Michael Jeter (Dale Porterhouse), Mary McCormack (Michelle Ziegler), Hattie Winston (Angela Russel), Penny Bae Bridges (Gail Beechum), Francesca Eastwood (Kate Everett), John Finn (Reedy), Laila Robins (Patricia Findley), Sydney Tamiia Poitier (Jane March), Erik King (Pussy Man), Graham Beckel (Arnold McCardle), Frances Fisher (D.A. Cecilia Nussbaum), Marissa Ribisi (Amy Wilson), Christine Ebersole (Bridget Rossiter), Anthony Zerbe (Henry Lowenstein), Nancy Giles (Leesha Mitchell), Tom McGowan (Tom Donaldson), William Windom (Neil), Don West (Dr. Roger Waters), Lucy Liu (Toy Shop Girl), Dina Eastwood (Wilma Francis), Leslie Griffith (Herself – TV Anchor), Dennis Richmond (TV Anchor), Frank Somerville (Afternoon News Anchor), Dan Green (Field Producer), Nicholas Bearde (Reuben Skycock), Frances Lee McCain (Mrs. Lowenstein), Cecil Williams (Reverend Williams), Casey Lee (Warren Russell), Jack Kehler (Mr. Ziegler), Colman Domingo (Wally Cartwright), Linda Hoy (Counter Woman at Pocum’s Grocery), Danny Kovacs (Atkins), Kelvin Han Yee (Zachary Platt), Kathryn Howell (Nurse), Beulah Stanley (Female Guard), George Maguire (Frederick Robertson), Bill Wattenburg (Radio Reporter), Cathy Fithian (Nancy Larson), Roland T. Abasolo (Guard), Michael Halton (Guard), Jade Marx-Berti (Waitress), Velica Marie Davis (Purse Whacker), John B. Scott (Colonel Drummond), Edward Silva (Colonel Hernandez), Jordan Sax (Colonel Badger), Rob Reece (Executioner), Walter Brown (Beechum Family Member).
      Synopsis: Can an over-the-hill journalist uncover the evidence that can prove a death row inmate’s innocence just hours before his execution?
      Comment: Taut, gripping race-against-time thriller may stretch credibility but is nonetheless well-crafted. Washington delivers a superb performance as the innocent man on death row, whilst Eastwood’s star quality cuts through as the alcoholic and womanising reporter out to clear his name. Hill gives a nicely balanced portrayal as the prison governor at odds with his conscience. A tighter script would have made this an absolute winner, but it too often relies on a significant suspension of disbelief from its audience. Fortunately, due to its strong cast, it just about delivers.

Film Review – ABSOLUTE POWER (1997)

Image result for absolute power 1997ABSOLUTE POWER (USA, 1997) **½
      Distributor: Columbia Pictures; Production Company: Castle Rock Entertainment / Malpaso Productions; Release Date: 4 February 1997 (USA), 30 May 1997 (UK); Filming Dates: 3 June 1996 – 14 August 1996; Running Time: 122m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Dolby Digital | SDDS; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: William Goldman (based on the novel by David Baldacci); Executive Producer: Tom Rooker; Producer: Clint Eastwood, Karen S. Spiegel; Associate Producer: Michael Maurer; Director of Photography: Jack N. Green; Music Composer: Lennie Niehaus; Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Henry Bumstead; Art Director: Jack G. Taylor Jr.; Set Decorator: Richard C. Goddard, Anne D. McCulley; Costumes: Deborah Hopper; Make-up: Tania McComas, Francisco X. Pérez; Sound: Bub Asman, Alan Robert Murray; Special Effects: Steve Riley.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Luther Whitney), Gene Hackman (President Richmond), Ed Harris (Seth Frank), Laura Linney (Kate Whitney), Scott Glenn (Bill Burton), Dennis Haysbert (Tim Collin), Judy Davis (Gloria Russell), E.G. Marshall (Walter Sullivan), Melora Hardin (Christy Sullivan), Kenneth Welsh (Sandy Lord), Penny Johnson Jerald (Laura Simon), Richard Jenkins (Michael McCarty), Mark Margolis (Red Brandsford), Elaine Kagan (Valerie), Alison Eastwood (Art Student), Yau-Gene Chan (Waiter), George Orrison (Airport Bartender), Charles McDaniel (Medical Examiner), John Lyle Campbell (Repairman), Kimber Eastwood (White House Tour Guide), Eric Dahlquist Jr. (Oval Office Agent), Jack Stewart Taylor (Watergate Doorman), Joy Ehrlich (Reporter), Robert Harvey (Cop).
      Synopsis: A career thief witnesses a horrific crime involving the U.S. President.
      Comment: Highly implausible and lacking in pace, this is made watchable by the presence of Eastwood as the burglar who witnesses the crime and Harris as the cop who tries to hunt him down. Hackman is solid as ever as the President but is given little to work with by the script after the tense opening scenes. Davis’ performance is completely misjudged as if she is acting in another, more comedic, movie. The plot plays out in routine fashion and lacks heightened drama in its climax. A disappointing effort from Eastwood after a golden run.
      Notes: Marshall’s final appearance in a theatrical film.

Film Review – IN THE LINE OF FIRE (1993)

Image result for in the line of fire 1993IN THE LINE OF FIRE (USA, 1993) *****
      Distributor: Columbia TriStar Films; Production Company: Columbia Pictures Corporation / Castle Rock Entertainment; Release Date: 8 July 1993 (USA), 27 August 1993 (UK); Filming Dates: 3 October 1992 – 11 January 1993; Running Time: 128m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints) | Dolby SR (35 mm prints) | SDDS (8 channels) (35 mm prints); Film Format: 35 mm, 70 mm (blow-up); Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Wolfgang Petersen; Writer: Jeff Maguire; Executive Producer: Gail Katz, Wolfgang Petersen, David Valdes; Producer: Jeff Apple; Director of Photography: John Bailey; Music Composer: Ennio Morricone; Film Editor: Anne V. Coates; Casting Director: Janet Hirshenson, Jane Jenkins; Production Designer: Lilly Kilvert; Art Director: John Warnke; Set Decorator: Kara Lindstrom; Costumes: Erica Edell Phillips; Make-up: Werner Keppler, Barbara Lacy, James Lee McCoy; Sound: Gregg Baxter, Wylie Stateman; Special Effects: Rocky Gehr; Visual Effects: Nancy Bernstein, Robert M. Greenberg, George Merkert.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Frank Horrigan), John Malkovich (Mitch Leary), Rene Russo (Lilly Raines), Dylan McDermott (Al D’Andrea), Gary Cole (Bill Watts), Fred Dalton Thompson (Harry Sargent), John Mahoney (Sam Campagna), Gregory Alan Williams (Matt Wilder), Jim Curley (President), Sally Hughes (First Lady), Clyde Kusatsu (Jack Okura), Steve Hytner (Tony Carducci), Tobin Bell (Mendoza), Bob Schott (Jimmy Hendrickson), Juan A. Riojas (Raul), Elsa Raven (Booth’s Landlady), Arthur Senzy (Paramedic), Patrika Darbo (Pam Magnus), Mary Van Arsdel (Sally), Ryan Cutrona (LAPD Brass), Lawrence Lowe (FBI Technician), Brian Libby (FBI Supervisor), Eric Bruskotter (Young Agent), Patrick Caddell (Political Speaker), John Heard (Professor Riger), Alan Toy (Walter Wickland), Carl Ciarfalio (CIA Agent Collins), Walt MacPherson (Hunter), Robert Peters (Hunter), Tyde Kierney (Police Captain Howard), Anthony Peck (FBI Official), Rick Hurst (Bartender), Doris E. McMillon (D.C. News Anchor), Robert Sandoval (Bellboy), Joshua Malina (Agent Chavez), William G. Schilling (Sanford Riggs), Michael Kirk (Computer Technician / Bates), Richard G. Camphuis (Party Fat Cat), Marlan Clarke (Marge), Robert Alan Beuth (Man at Bank), Susan Lee Hoffman (Woman at Bank), Donna Hamilton (Reporter at Dulles), Bob Jimenez (Reporter at Hotel), Cylk Cozart (Agent Cozart), Michael Zurich (Agent Zurich), Rich DiDonato (Undercover Agent), Jeffrey Kurt Miller (Undercover Agent), Kirk Jordan (Agent).
      Synopsis: Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan (Eastwood) couldn’t save Kennedy, but he’s determined not to let a clever assassin (Malkovich) take out this president.
      Comment: Eastwood is at his absolute best in this crackerjack thriller that is expertly and efficiently directed by Petersen. Malkovich makes for a creepy villain whose verbal sparring with Eastwood adds depth to his psychotic assassin. Russo sparks charmingly with Eastwood, who delivers one of his strongest and deepest performances. Morricone’s score is evocative and helps heighten the tension. Ultimately, this is text-book filmmaking of the highest order that perfectly marries script, direction, cast and editing.
      Notes: 3 Nominations for Oscar: Best Supporting Actor (John Malkovich), Editing, Screenplay.

Film Review – CLIFFHANGER (1993)

Image result for cliffhanger 1993CLIFFHANGER (Italy/France/USA, 1993) ***½
      Distributor: Guild Film Distribution; Production Company: Carolco Pictures / Canal+ / Pioneer / RCS Video / Cliffhanger Productions; Release Date: 26 May 1993 (USA), 25 June 1993 (UK); Filming Dates: 11 April 1992 – 19 August 1992; Running Time: 113m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints) | Dolby Digital (35 mm prints) (Europe) | Dolby SR (35 mm prints) (USA); Film Format: 35 mm, 70 mm (blow-up); Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Renny Harlin; Writer: Michael France, Sylvester Stallone (based on a story by Michael France from a premise by John Long); Executive Producer: Mario Kassar; Producer: Renny Harlin, Alan Marshall; Associate Producer: Jim Davidson, Tony Munafo; Director of Photography: Alex Thomson; Music Composer: Trevor Jones; Film Editor: Frank J. Urioste; Casting Director: Mindy Marin; Production Designer: John Vallone; Art Director: Maria-Teresa Barbasso, Aurelio Crugnola, Christiaan Wagener; Set Decorator: Robert Gould, Cynthia Sleiter; Costumes: Ellen Mirojnick; Make-up: Jeff Dawn; Sound: Scott Martin Gershin, Wylie Stateman, Gregg Baxter; Special Effects: R. Bruce Steinheimer; Visual Effects: John Bruno, Neil Krepela, Jay Riddle.
      Cast: Sylvester Stallone (Gabe Walker), John Lithgow (Qualen), Michael Rooker (Hal Tucker), Janine Turner (Jessie Deighan), Rex Linn (Richard Travers), Caroline Goodall (Kristel), Leon (Kynette), Craig Fairbrass (Delmar), Gregory Scott Cummins (Ryan), Denis Forest (Heldon), Michelle Joyner (Sarah), Max Perlich (Evan), Paul Winfield (Walter Wright), Ralph Waite (Frank), Trey Brownell (Brett), Zach Grenier (Davis), Vyto Ruginis (Matheson), Don S. Davis (Stuart), Scott Hoxby (Agent Hayes), John Finn (Agent Michaels), Bruce McGill (Treasury Agent), Rosemary Dunsmore (Treasury Secretary), Kim Robillard (Treasury Jet Pilot), Jeff McCarthy (Pilot), Mike Weis (Mike – Co-Pilot), Duncan Prentice (Treasury Helicopter Pilot), Kevin Donald (Ray), Jeff Blynn (Marvin), Thor (Thor).
      Synopsis: A botched mid-air heist results in suitcases full of cash being searched for by various groups throughout the Rocky Mountains.
      Comment: Highly enjoyable and exciting, if wildly overblown and often preposterous. Stallone is at his macho best as the lead mountain rescue climber with a chip on his shoulder and the group dynamics give you heroic characters to root for. Lithgow is deliciously over-the-top as the chief villain. Harlin directs with a great feel for action scenes and with flair and pace. Wonderful scenic photography and incredible stunt work. The memorable opening sequence is a real humdinger and superbly edited.
      Notes: Set in Colorado, but filmed in the Cortina d’Ampezzo-Dolomites mountains, because of their spectacular similarities to the Colorado Rockies. Dedicated to Wolfgang Gullich, Sylvester Stallone’s double in the film, who was killed in a car accident shortly after filming had finished.

Film Review – THE ROOKIE (1990)

Related imageTHE ROOKIE (USA, 1990) **
      Distributor: Warner Bros.; Production Company: Warner Bros. / Malpaso Productions / Kazanjian-Siebert Productions / Lighthouse Entertainment; Release Date: 6 December 1990 (USA), 18 January 1991 (UK); Filming Dates: 16 April 1990 – 13 July 1990; Running Time: 120m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints) | Dolby Stereo (35 mm prints) (4 channels); Film Format: 35 mm (Eastman 5384), 70 mm (blow-up) (Eastman 5384); Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Boaz Yakin, Scott Spiegel; Producer: Howard G. Kazanjian, Steven Siebert, David Valdes; Director of Photography: Jack N. Green; Music Composer: Lennie Niehaus; Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Judy Cammer, Ken Kaufman; Art Director: Ed Verreaux; Set Decorator: Daniel Loren May; Costumes: Glenn Wright, Deborah Hopper; Make-up: Ralph Gulko, Michael Hancock; Sound: Robert G. Henderson, Alan Robert Murray; Special Effects: John Frazier; Visual Effects: Ken Kaufman.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Nick Pulovski), Charlie Sheen (David Ackerman), Raul Julia (Strom), Sônia Braga (Liesl), Tom Skerritt (Eugene Ackerman), Lara Flynn Boyle (Sarah), Pepe Serna (Lt. Raymond Garcia), Marco Rodríguez (Loco Martinez), Pete Randall (Cruz), Donna Mitchell (Laura Ackerman), Xander Berkeley (Ken Blackwell), Tony Plana (Morales), David Sherrill (Max), Hal Williams (Powell), Lloyd Nelson (Freeway Motorist), Pat DuVal (Interrogator #1), Mara Corday (Interrogator #2), Jerry Schumacher (Interrogator #3), Matt McKenzie (Wang), Joel Polis (Lance), Rodger LaRue (Maitre’D), Robert Dubac (Waiter), Anthony Charnota (Romano), Jordan Lund (Bartender), Paul Ben-Victor (Little Felix), Jeanne Mori (Connie Ling), Anthony Alexander (Alphonse), Paul Butler (Captain Hargate), Seth Allen (David as a Child), Coleby Lombardo (David’s Brother), Roberta Vasquez (Heather Torres), Joe Farago (Anchorman), Robert Harvey (Whalen), Nick Ballo (Vito), Jay Boryea (Sal), Marylou Kenworthy (Receptionist), George Orrison (Detective Orrison).
      Synopsis: A veteran detective gets stuck with a rookie cop when in pursuit of a German crook.
      Comment: Loud, violent, bubble-gum action thriller vehicle for Eastwood and Sheen. It spends all its money on its elaborate and destructive set-pieces, which by their very outlandish nature are wasted on a script that starts out okay then gets progressively dumber. Eastwood and Sheen occasionally spark off each other well, but as a whole, the cast is a collection of cardboard characters and the action is too nasty to be considered fun.
      Notes: The film featured over twice as many stuntmen as it did actors. Held the world record for the biggest ratio of stuntmen/actors. Reportedly, over eighty stuntmen worked on the movie.

Film Review – THE DEAD POOL (1988)

Image result for the dead pool 1988THE DEAD POOL (USA, 1988) ***
      Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures; Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures / Malpaso Productions; Release Date: 13 July 1988 (USA), 14 April 1989 (UK); Filming Dates: 17 February – March 1988; Running Time: 91m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Dolby Stereo (4 channels) | Dolby Digital (5.1); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Buddy Van Horn; Writer: Steve Sharon (based on a story by Steve Sharon, Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw and characters created by Harry Julian Fink and Rita M. Fink); Producer: David Valdes; Director of Photography: Jack N. Green; Music Composer: Lalo Schifrin; Film Editor: Ron Spang; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Edward C. Carfagno; Set Decorator: Thomas L. Roysden; Costumes: Glenn Wright, Deborah Hopper; Make-up: Monty Westmore; Sound: Richard S. Church; Special Effects: Joe Day, Bob Finley III, Chuck Gaspar, Thomas Mertz, Bruce Robles.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Harry Callahan), Patricia Clarkson (Samantha Walker), Liam Neeson (Peter Swan), Evan C. Kim (Al Quan), David Hunt (Harlan Rook), Michael Currie (Captain Donnelly), Michael Goodwin (Lt. Ackerman), Darwin Gillett (Patrick Snow), Anthony Charnota (Lou Janero), Christopher P. Beale (D.A. Thomas McSherry), John Vick (Lt. Ruskowski), Jeff Richmond (Freeway Reporter #1), Patrick N. Van Horn (Freeway Reporter #2), Sigrid Wurschmidt (Freeway Reporter #3), Jim Carrey (Johnny Squares), Deborah A. Bryan (Girl in Rock Video), Nicholas Love (Jeff Howser), Maureen McVerry (Vicky Owens), John X. Heart (Samantha’s Cameraman), Victoria Bastel (Suzanne Dayton), Kathleen Turco-Lyon (Officer at Trailer), Michael Faqir (Sergeant at Trailer), Ronnie Claire Edwards (Molly Fisher), Wallace Choy (Chinese Store Manager), Melodie Soe (Chinese Restaurant Hostess), Kristopher Logan (Gunman #1), Scott Vance (Gunman #2), Glenn Wright (Detective Hindmark), Stu Klitsner (Minister), Karen Kahn (T.V. Associate Producer), Shawn Elliott (Chester Docksteder), Ren Reynolds (Perry), Ed Hodson (Paramedic at Elevator), Edward Hocking (Warden Hocking), Diego Chairs (Butcher Hicks), Patrick Valentino (Pirate Captain), Calvin Jones (Pirate Tug Reporter #1), Melissa Martin (Pirate Tug Reporter #2), Phil Dacey (Detective Dacey), Louis Giambalvo (Gus Wheeler), Peter Anthony Jacobs (Sgt. Holloway), Bill Wattenburg (Nolan Kennard), Hugh McCann (Young Man on Talkshow), Suzanne Sterling (Young Woman on Talkshow), Lloyd Nelson (Sgt. Waldman), Charles Martinet (Police Station Reporter #1), Taylor Gilbert (Police Station Reporter #2), George Orrison (Embarcadero Bodyguard #1), Marc Alaimo (Embarcadero Bodyguard #2), Justin Whalin (Jason), Kris LeFan (Carl), Katie Bruce (Girl on Sidewalk), Harry Demopoulos (Doctor in Hospital Room), John Frederick Jones (Dr. Friedman), Martin Ganapoler (Reporter at Pier).
      Synopsis: Dirty Harry Callahan must stop a sick secret contest to murder local celebrities, which includes himself as a target.
      Comment: Fifth and final DIRTY HARRY movie is an outlandish but watchable thriller coasting on Eastwood’s star presence. The plot is far-fetched, including a great set-piece with a toy car carrying a bomb. Clarkson is a reporter out to get the story who falls in with Eastwood.  Carrey grabs attention as a junkie rock star, whilst Neeson is seen in an early role as a self-obsessed film director. It all adds up to a comic book action thriller, but a diverting time for undemanding viewers.
      Notes: Song: “Welcome to the Jungle,” written by Slash, W. Axl Rose, Steven Adler, Izzy Stradlin and Duff Rose McKageh, performed by Guns N’ Roses, courtesy of Geffen Records, by arrangement with Warner Special Products.

Film Review – TIGHTROPE (1984)

Image result for tightrope 1984TIGHTROPE (USA, 1984) ***
      Distributor: Warner Bros.; Production Company: The Malpaso Company / Warner Bros.; Release Date: 17 August 1984 (USA), 2 November 1984 (UK); Filming Dates: 17 October–3 December 1983; Running Time: 114m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Dolby Stereo; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Richard Tuggle; Writer: Richard Tuggle; Producer: Clint Eastwood, Fritz Manes; Director of Photography: Bruce Surtees; Music Composer: Lennie Niehaus; Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Edward C. Carfagno; Set Decorator: Ernie Bishop; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Barbara Guedel; Sound: Alan Robert Murray; Special Effects: Joseph A. Unsinn.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Wes Block), Geneviève Bujold (Beryl Thibodeaux), Dan Hedaya (Det. Molinari), Alison Eastwood (Amanda Block), Jenny Beck (Penny Block), Marco St. John (Leander Rolfe), Rebecca Perle (Becky Jacklin), Regina Richardson (Sarita), Randi Brooks (Jamie Cory), Jamie Rose (Melanie Silber), Margaret Howell (Judy Harper), Rebecca Clemons (Girl with Whip), Janet MacLachlan (Dr. Yarlofsky), Graham Paul (Luther), Bill Holliday (Police Chief), John Wilmot (Medical Examiner), Margie O’Dair (Mrs. Holstein), Joy N. Houck Jr. (Swap Meet Owner), Stuart Baker-Bergen (Blond Surfer), Donald Barber (Shorty), Robert Harvey (Lonesome Alice), Ron Gural (Coroner Dudley), Layton Martens (Sgt. Surtees), Richard Charles Boyle (Dr. Fitzpatrick), Becki Davis (Nurse), Jonathan Sachar (Gay Boy), Valerie Thibodeaux (Black Hooker), Lionel Ferbos (Plainclothes Gus), Eliott Keener (Sandoval), Cary Wilmot Alden (Secretary), David Valdes (Manes), James Borders (Carfagno), Fritz Manes (Valdes), Jonathan Shaw (Quono), Don Lutenbacher (Dixie President), G. Wood (Conventioneer), Kimberly Georgoulis (Sam), Glenda Byers (Lucy Davis), John Schluter (Piazza Cop), Nick Krieger (Rannigan), Lloyd Nelson (Patrolman Restic), David Dahlgren (Patrolman Julio), Rod Masterson (Patrolman Gallo), Glenn Wright (Patrolman Redfish), Angela Hill (Woman Reporter), Ted Saari (T.V. News Technician).
      Synopsis: A New Orleans detective is leading an investigation into a killer who is raping and murdering women. His enquiries lead him into the seedy side of town where he is no stranger off-duty.
      Comment: Interesting character study of a divorced detective coming to terms with raising his young daughters following a divorce and wrestling with his more basic desires. It is framed around a serial killer plot, which runs close to home for Eastwood’s character. Where the film falls short is in the thrills department, with little tension built through the story and a heavy-handed script, which fails to capitalise on the ambiguities suggested. The climax is more conventional and ups the thrill quota. The film is more interesting for seeing Eastwood give a layered performance with a more complex version of his no-nonsense detective persona.
      Notes: While Tuggle retained the director’s credit, as with THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES on which original director Philip Kaufman was replaced by the star, Eastwood directed most of the movie after finding Tuggle working too slowly.

Film Review – SUDDEN IMPACT (1983)

Image result for sudden impact 1983SUDDEN IMPACT (USA, 1983) ***
      Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures; Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures / The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 8 December 1983 (USA), 27 January 1984 (UK); Filming Dates: 3 May 1983; Running Time: 117m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono | Dolby Digital (5.1); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision; Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Joseph Stinson (based on a story by Earl E. Smith & Charles B. Pierce and characters created by Harry Julian Fink and Rita M. Fink); Executive Producer: Fritz Manes; Producer: Clint Eastwood; Associate Producer: Steve Perry; Director of Photography: Bruce Surtees; Music Composer: Lalo Schifrin; Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Marion Dougherty; Production Designer: Edward C. Carfagno; Set Decorator: Ernie Bishop; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Barbara Guedel; Sound: Bub Asman, Alan Robert Murray, Donald F. Johnson; Special Effects: Chuck Gaspar.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Harry Callahan), Sondra Locke (Jennifer Spencer), Pat Hingle (Chief Jannings), Bradford Dillman (Captain Briggs), Paul Drake (Mick), Audrie Neenan (Ray Parkins), Jack Thibeau (Kruger), Michael Currie (Lt. Donnelly), Albert Popwell (Horace King), Mark Keyloun (Officer Bennett), Kevyn Major Howard (Hawkins), Bette Ford (Leah), Nancy Parsons (Mrs. Kruger), Joe Bellan (Burly Detective), Wendell Wellman (Tyrone), Mara Corday (Loretta – Coffee Shop Waitress), Russ McCubbin (Eddie), Robert Sutton (Carl), Nancy Fish (Historical Society Woman), Carmen Argenziano (D’Ambrosia), Lisa Britt (Elizabeth), Bill Reddick (Police Commissioner), Lois De Banzie (Judge), Matthew Child (Alby), Mike Johnson (Assassin), Nick Dimitri (Assassin), Michael Maurer (George Wilburn), Pat DuVal (Bailiff), Christian Phillips (Hawkin’s Crony), Steven Kravitz (Hawkin’s Crony), Dennis Royston (Young Guy), Melvin Thompson (Young Guy), Jophery C. Brown (Young Guy), William Upton (Young Guy), Lloyd Nelson (Desk Sergeant), Christopher Pray (Detective Jacobs), James McEachin (Detective Barnes), Maria Lynch (Hostess), Ken Lee (Loomis), Morgan Upton (Bartender), John X. Heart (Uniform Policeman), David Gonzales (Gang Member), Albert Martinez (Gang Member), David Rivers (Gang Member), Robert Rivers (Gang Member), Harry Demopoulos (Dr. Barton), Lisa London (Young Hooker), Tom Spratley (Senior Man), Eileen Wiggins (Hysterical Female Customer), John Nowak (Bank Robber).
      Synopsis: A rape victim is taking revenge on her aggressors in a small town outside San Francisco. Inspector Harry Callahan (Eastwood), on suspension for angering his superiors (again), is assigned to the case.
      Comment: Fourth DIRTY HARRY film is heavy-handed, but entertaining nonetheless. The action has become more violent and cartoonish with the set pieces also increasingly formulaic, but Eastwood’s screen presence is more than enough to carry the movie. Eastwood directs efficiently and the only real weakness is a by-the-numbers script. Locke gives a good portrayal of the victim exacting revenge on her attackers.
      Notes: The screenplay was originally written for a non-Dirty Harry film with Sondra Locke. However, the script, by Earl E. Smith and Charles B. Pierce, was later re-written by Joseph Stinson into this Dirty Harry movie. Fourth in the series following DIRTY HARRY (1971), MAGNUM FORCE (1973) and THE ENFORCER (1976) and followed by THE DEAD POOL (1989).

Book Review – THE FALLS (2001) by Ian Rankin

THE FALLS (2001) ****
by Ian Rankin
First published by Orion 2001
This edition published by Orion, 2011, 498pp (475pp)
ISBN: 978-1-4072-4759-5
includes an introduction by Ian Rankin and Reading Group Notes.

The Falls (A Rebus Novel)Blurb: A student has gone missing in Edinburgh. She’s not just any student, though, but the daughter of well-to-do and influential bankers. There’s almost nothing to go on until DI John Rebus gets an unmistakable gut feeling that there’s more to this than just another runaway spaced out on unaccustomed freedom. Two leads emerge: a carved wooden doll in a toy coffin, found in the student’s home village, and an internet role-playing game. The ancient and the modern, brought together by uncomfortable circumstance…

The 12th book in Ian Rankin’s John Rebus series is an intriguing mystery that confirmed Rankin’s position in the premier league of crime writers. Four years and four books on from the breakthrough Black and Blue, this is confidently written and demonstrates Rankin’s total mastery of his characters. He even manages to give Rebus a love interest in this story who is also integral to the plot, which adds an additional dimension. The book also sees Gill Templar’s promotion to Detective Chief Superintendent, creating a different boss/Rebus dynamic, given their involvement together earlier in the series. Rankin also gives a greater role to DC Siobhan Clark and highlights her inner turmoil at balancing career aspirations with her leaning toward Rebus’ maverick methods. Rankin also brings DC Grant Hood and DS Ellen Wylie more into the mix with a subplot surrounding their competitiveness in advancing their careers. The characterisations are given depth and motivation, which is explored to the full. Slimy journalist Steve Holly, however, is maybe a tad stereotypical.  At 475 pages, the novel may seem a little over-extended, but it allows the characters to develop and the intricacies of the plot to unfold at a steady rate. The book is never boring as even in its slow passages the writing and introspection are very strong. Only in the finale do we see Rankin fall into more conventional territory.

The Rebus Series:

Knots and Crosses (1987) ***
Hide and Seek (1991)
Tooth and Nail (original title Wolfman) (1992) ***
Strip Jack (1992)
The Black Book (1993) ***
Mortal Causes (1994) ***
Let it Bleed (1996)
Black and Blue (1997) ****½
The Hanging Garden (1998) ****
Dead Souls (1999) ****
Set in Darkness (2000) ****
The Falls (2001) ****
Resurrection Men (2002)
A Question of Blood (2003) ****
Fleshmarket Close (2004) ****
The Naming of the Dead (2006)  ****½
Exit Music (2007) ****
Standing in Another Man’s Grave (2012) ***½
Saints of the Shadow Bible (2013) ***
Even Dogs in the Wild (2015) ****
Rather Be the Devil (2016) ***½
In a House of Lies (2018) ***½