All the President’s Men

This review was originally written as part of my USA Road Trip series over at French Toast Sunday.

June, 1972. Five men are caught having broken into the Watergate Complex, specifically the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. Routinely checking out their trial, reporter Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) begins to suspect something may be up through some odd details of the trial, and a shared phone number amongst the address books of some of the accused. Bob’s colleague Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) helps Woodward write a piece on the potential scandal, and the two of them – with the support of their editor Benjamin Bradlee (Jason Robards) and a highly secretive and selective informant known only as Deep Throat (Hal Holbrook) – dig ever further into how far this story goes.
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Out of Africa

Karen Dinesen (Meryl Streep) is a wealthy, unmarried woman in Denmark in the 1910s. In her circle, an unmarried woman is deemed unseemly, so she marries her friend, Baron Blixen (Klaus Maria Brandauer), on the basis that she will become a baroness and he will share her wealth. The two move to Africa (I think it’s Kenya) with intentions of starting a dairy, but unbeknownst to Karen her new husband has changed all the plans to growing coffee instead. He proves to be an inadequate husband, always being away hunting whilst his wife is left home with nothing to do, as whenever she tries to help out with the work the local staff are confused at her presence. Enter Denys (Robert Redford), a big game hunter who at first becomes friends with Karen, along with another man, Michael Kitchen’s Berkeley, but soon, inevitably, starts a relationship with her too.5704_4_1080p Continue reading

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

When we last saw Steve Rogers, aka Captain America (Chris Evans), the scientifically advanced super soldier had been frozen during the Second World War and defrosted in modern day, where he helped sort out the attack from Loki and the Chitauri in The Avengers. Now he’s dealing with a threat that’s much closer to home, when it appears SHIELD, the company he works for, may be a little more corrupt than he anticipated.capt_a
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The Sting

When small time conman Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford) accidentally steals $11,000 from racket running mob boss Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw), he finds himself on the run after his partner is killed. Skipping town, Hooker teams up with long con artist Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman) to exact revenge. This reteaming of the stars and director (George Roy Hill) of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid doesn’t quite reach the heady heights of the original, though a lot of attention has been paid to recreate a 1930s feel, from an old-fashioned opening logo, character introductions and hand-drawn chapter cards to everything being tinged with a sepia hue. 

I used to be a big fan of Hustle, so the route the plot takes was no surprise to me, with only one moment really catching me out. This let down the film in my expectations, and though the acting is solid, all involved have done better, most notably Shaw in Jaws and the Taking of Pelham One Two Three. Still, it’s a lot better than most other heist movies, it’s just a shame that watching them all ruined this one for me.

Choose film 7/10

Quiz Show

The year is 1957, Sputnik has just launched, Eisenhower has died and Nixon is president. The quiz-based game show Twenty One, hosted by the reptilian Jack Barry (a tremendously smarmy Christopher McDonald) has swept the nation and every week John Turtorro’s nerdy know-it-all Herb Stemple defeats his new opponent. The only problem is, Stemple’s ‘freak with a sponge memory’ appearance, all bad teeth, terrible glasses and ill-fitting suit, isn’t playing well with the shows bosses and sponsors, who’d much rather Ralph Fiennes clean cut intellectual Charles van Doren takes his place. Showing an obvious disdain for quiz shows, Robert Redord’s assured directorial style, flitting between the stories of Stemple, van Doren and Rob Morrow’s personal investigator Richard Goodwin keeps the largely talky sections enjoyable and entertaining, whilst still grounding them into the seriousness of the issues at hand. This, with a great cast that also includes Hank Azaria, David Paymer, Martin Scorsese (!) and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearances from the likes of Calista Flockhart, William Fichtner and the West Wing’s Timothy Busfield, makes a film far superior to the programmes it holds a mirror up to.

Choose film 8/10

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

They actually got Robert Redford to run along the top of a moving train. How amazing is that? Yes I’m sure these days there are some actors willing to do their own stunts (and by stunts, they are probably referring to such extreme activities as riding a horse) but running along a moving train? Redford probably needs a wheelbarrow with him at all times to carry those balls of his in. It’s this devil-may-care, balls to the wall sensibility that shines through in Butch and Sundance, throwing in any number of cinematic tricks and keeping what stuck, from showing a road trip taking in destinations including New York and South America entirely in photographic stills, to probably the most famous and iconic freeze-frame ending in history. It is this, combined with Redford and Paul Newman’s co-dependent relationship and easy banter, even in the tightest of situations, that makes the film still a genre classic to this day.
Choose film 9/10