Manhunter

Will Graham (William Petersen) is a profiler for the FBI who, after getting too close to his previous case, has taken a leave of absence, or possibly even retired, to recuperate and get his head back together with his wife (Kim Greist) and young son. However, his former boss Jack (Dennis Farina) has a case he can’t crack, and must pull Will out of retirement for one last job. A serial killer, dubbed the Tooth Fairy because of the bite marks he leaves behind, has so far massacred two families with several young children each, but he only strikes on the full moon. With the next one a few weeks away, time is running out for the FBI to find the guy, and with no leads to go on it is up to Will to get into the criminal mindset, and to do that he must meet with a former conquest of his, the incarcerated, highly intelligent but ruthlessly vicious mass murdered Hannibal Lecktor (Brian Cox).
manhunterbdcap1_original
Continue reading

Advertisements

Saving Private Ryan

There is a drinking game, the most disrespectful and coma-inducing that I’ve ever come across, where when watching Saving Private Ryan the players all drink a shot every time someone on screen dies. If one were to play this game, which I cannot advise for medical, moral and cinematic reasons, then I would recommend having 50-100 shots per player lined up ready and waiting for the opening 25 minutes of the film, as the much celebrated D-Day landing is a veritable cornucopia of fatalities, with soldiers coming a cropper as soon as the rear doors of the landing ships open, drowning in the water struggling with heavy packs, being carried to safety and every other way available.

This opening scene is a landmark in war movie history, recreating the sense of utter confusion and imminent death present at that time. With a shaking camera, dialogue lost to explosions and gunfire, men wandering around after lost limbs and a bloody tide lapping at fallen soldiers and shot fish alike, it’s almost a relief once the landing has finished and they can get on with the plot, as Tom Hank’s captain is ordered to find Private James Francis Ryan, last survivor of four brothers and location unknown after parachuting somewhere in France. With a cast positively brimming with stars and up-and-comers – Giovanni Ribisi, Matt Damon, Nathan Fillion, Jeremy Davies, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Adam Goldberg, Paul Giamatti, Vin Diesel, Barry Pepper, Ted Danson, Bryan Cranston, Dennis Farina – no character is left without some characterisation, or providing an insight into a soldiers life, be it collecting dirt from every country they fight in, writing a novel about their experiences or making sure every German soldier they come across knows they have been bested by a Jew.
There are those that claim this is a long, boring film about walking, bookended by two of the greatest battle scenes in cinematic history, yet without the middle, where we truly understand the brotherly bond felt by soldiers fighting and dying together, would the closing battle – a much more personal, strategic affair than the opener, have such an impact? For my money this is Spielberg’s most cinematic film, showcasing his ability to show ordinary people in extraordinary situations, yet without losing the human touch.
Choose film 9/10

Midnight Run

From its cheesy logo, synth-heavy score and buddy-movie premise, Midnight Run could have easily been lost amid the flotilla of similar films released in the 80s, but its multi-faceted plot, quick-fire dialogue and outstanding performances from leads Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin set this apart from the rest. De Niro plays Jack Walsh, an ex-cop turned bounty hunter on the hunt for Grodin’s Charles ‘the Duke’ Mardukas. Initially this looks like it’ll be a cat and mouse chase film, with Walsh spending the majority of the screen time hunting his prey, but after tracking him down fairly early on, the film becomes more of a road movie, as Walsh has five days to get the Duke from New York to Los Angeles, with the FBI, the mob and a rival bounty hunter all after the Duke for themselves.
De Niro is at his light-hearted comic best, just watch him practicing flashing a stolen FBI badge, and Grodin is a delight as Walsh’s polar opposite talkative Robin Hood figure, stealing from criminals and giving to charity. Other comic touches and performances and well played, from the beleaguered FBI officer Alonso Mosely, the mobster who seems to think the whole job is a bit of a holiday, and the inept bounty hunter Marvin and Joe Pantoliano’s increasingly irate bail bondsman. No-one does screaming anger quite as well as Pantoliano. This is a little known gem, those I watched it with had never heard of it, let alone seen it, but every one of them loved the film, and it’s worth a watch for the litmus configuration scene alone, Grodin seriously needs to be in more films.
Choose film 8/10

Out of Sight

Last night I watched Out of Sight. I’d seen it before, but never really paid an awful lot of attention to it, but this time I made an effort to follow the plot. I think the film is a little over-rated, with editing style taking precedence over actual substance. In places, it seems to want to be a modernised version of classic cinema, with freezeframes, snappy dialogue and a plot that sees George Clooney’s prison escapee and Jennifer Lopez’s federal marshal thrown together and falling for one another, but it is this plot device that in my opinion lets the film down. I’ve always hated the tacking on of an arbitrary romance subplot almost ruining what would otherwise be an incredible picture (see also the Nightmare Before Christmas, Pulp Fiction, Star Wars), and this is definitely the case with Out of Sight. If the film had focussed on Clooney’s Jack Foley, his escape from prison and the heists before and after, I feel it would have been a far superior picture. By all means keep J-Lo’s character, (but for the love of cinema, recast) but drop the frankly ridiculous romance between the two. The best part of the film was the cast, with Don Cheadle eating up the screen as hoodlum Snoop, whilst Ving Rhames supports well as Buddy, Foley’s redemption-craving partner in crime. And the last minute cameo is one of the greatest I’ve ever seen.

Choose film 7/10