Films featuring
Gene Hackman

A Bridge Too Far

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Patton will lead the assault. I would prefer Montgomery, but even Eisenhower isn’t that stupid.

This movie serves as both an unofficial sequel and thematic bookend to The Longest Day. It has an undeserved reputation for being overlong, ponderous and dull. It’s none of those things but I can understand how it could appear that way to people expecting a more conventional war movie.

A Bridge Too Far details, at great length and in exacting detail, the Allied debacle known as Operation Market Garden, an over-ambitious plan by General Sir Bernard Law Montgomery to end World War II by Christmas, 1944, by kicking down the undefended back door of Germany. The main problem with the battle plan was that it depended entirely on Murphy’s Law being repealed. Continue reading

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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Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut

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In the early seventies, producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind successfully translated Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers into a pair of films, shot together as one. Despite being sued by several of the performers demanding payment for two films instead of just one, the Salkinds must have thought it was successful enough to attempt repeating the experiment when they adapted Superman for the big screen later that decade.

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Runaway Jury

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Be forewarned, while I normally avoid giving out plot spoilers in my reviews, I feel like it’s necessary this time to fully get my opinion across.

Runaway Jury is probably one of the more morally bankrupt mainstream movies I’ve seen. It stacks the deck completely in favor of one side in order to justify the deplorable actions of the film’s hero, which amount to no less than subverting the justice system to suit his own agenda. The fact that he is, in effect, giving the film’s villain a taste of his own medicine is completely irrelevant when our protagonist is also sinking to the same level or lower.

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Unforgiven

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I think the last “traditional” western that Clint Eastwood starred in was the television show Rawhide. Even his own The Outlaw Josey Wales, while as close as he has come to what people normally think of as a western, had enough of Eastwood’s character-based humor to make it stand apart from the crowd.

Unforgiven is not going to change that, either. Eastwood’s first Best Picture winner is less of a western than a clear-eyed rumination on the subject of violence. Some have labeled the film “anti-violence” but even that is an over-simplification that denies the film’s depth.

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The Royal Tenenbaums

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The Royal Tenebaums is a masterfully-executed, unconventional little film starring some of our best actors, all at the top of their game, all playing characters I wanted to strangle by the middle of the picture. It’s an odd feeling to so thoroughly admire the craft with which a film was made, while still hoping for a Roland Emmerich-sized catastrophe to obliterate the city in which these characters live.

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Young Frankenstein

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Young Frankenstein remains the most consistently self-assured film of Mel Brooks‘ career. Not as audaciously funny as Blazing Saddles or The Producers, it is still a pitch-perfect send up of the Universal monster movies of the 1930s. Filmed entirely in glorious black-and-white, the cinematography sets the perfect mood for lovingly satirizing those classics.

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Wyatt Earp

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The last time director Lawrence Kasdan and Kevin Costner teamed up for a western it was 1985’s sunny and retro Silverado, a movie that was as much an homage to the traditional western as anything else. Their second teaming, Wyatt Earp, is a complete 180-degree turn from the first. Billed as a serious examination of the life of the famous and controversial lawman, Wyatt Earp takes a long time to win our hearts and then overstays its welcome.

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