Films featuring
Roy Scheider

Jaws

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I'm not going to waste my time arguing with a man who’s lining up to be a hot lunch.

Many of you might not be old enough to recall but Jaws effectively invented the concept of the summer movie as we know it today. Two years before Star Wars, it was the first film to really demonstrate the power of all those teenagers, recently freed from school, to generate an ass-load of money at the box office.

Of course, this was also before the modern marketing machine was fully geared up, so in order for a movie to become a mega-blockbuster, it depended on a lot of word-of-mouth to get people’s butts into the seats. In those days, it still required that the film not suck. Mission accomplished, I’d say.

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The French Connection

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William Friedkin’s The French Connection is a lean, uncompromising example of filmmaking without a single gram of fat on its bones. Nothing unnecessary to telling the story is on screen, allowing Friedkin to tell a fairly complex story within a surprisingly compact running time of 104 minutes. Gene Hackman’s balls-out performance as unconventional and obsessive narcotics cop Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle elevates what was already a superior film to the level of a classic.

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Blue Thunder

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I seem to remember, back in the summer of 1983, I liked this film a whole lot more than I did last Saturday night. In hindsight, the reason seems pretty clear and it’s just two words: nude yoga. The film’s famous peeping tom scene was more than enough to recommend the film to a gang of recent high school grads and aspiring frat rats.

However, twenty-three years hence I tend to demand a lot more from movies, even brainless action flicks. Things like plot logic and characters with more dimension than tissue paper actually matter to me.

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2010

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This is the sequel to the film that needed no sequel, the cinematic equivalent to painting legs for the Mona Lisa. It seeks to explain things best left to the individual viewer’s imagination. For these reasons, I hate it.

But is it a good movie? Judging by the standards set by 2001: A Space Odyssey, the answer is no. By the standards set by what tends to call itself science fiction these days, it’s ok, but not great.

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