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Found 3 results

  1. I'm watching "Firefox" for the first time since it was released in 1982. I distinctly remember the opening scene, with Clint Eastwood jogging (although, for some reason, I thought I remembered him jogging without a shirt). When I was 21 years old, I thought to myself, 'My *God*, he looks old' (he was 52). Now, my impression when I just saw that same scene was, 'My *God*, he looks young.' Unfortunately, other than seeing the movie in the theater vs. on Amazon, there's only one variable in this equation. (Actually, in a later scene, Eastwood was standing around without a shirt - he really wasn't in top shape for this film, even for a 52-year-old.) I had completely forgotten how blatantly Soviet this film was - sort of like an earlier version of "The Hunt for Red October" (1990) which I thought was just awful. However, I was studying Russian in the late 1980s, and knew enough to pick out the flaws in Red October; when I saw Firefox, Russian was like Chinese to me, so I had absolutely no idea how contrived it was. I do find it interesting just how John McCain-like Clint Eastwood's Vietnam flashback was. I also didn't realize that Firefox, like all of Malpaso's (Eastwood's Production company's) pictures since, has no opening credits after the title was displayed. One thing I'm noticing about Firefox is the incredible attention that's being paid to seemingly mundane detail (which I consider to be a huge asset; others consider it to be dull) - not a lot of action is occurring, but the Soviet atmosphere is being slowly and surely cultivated, despite the film not being shot in the Soviet Union (for Cold War reasons) - I suppose some might find the entire structure ponderous; I find it fascinating, in the way that I find Bruckner's symphonies fascinating. Just don't watch Firefox looking for an "Eastwood action movie," because you're going to spend a lot of time trying to find it. That said, Eastwood's heavily Americanized Russian accent would *never* pass muster when scrutinized by even a casual speaker, much less suspicious KGB agents screening him at a security gate - also, doesn't *anybody* around the perimeter of the ultra-secure facility know what their own pilot looks like? The special effects used for the flying scenes were known as "Reverse Bluescreen" photography, and were pioneered by John Dykstra just for this film - Dykstra was the special-effects lead for the original "Star Wars," and is almost surely a household name to anyone who cares about special effects. When the second Firefox is chasing the first, it becomes *extremely* obvious that this is a riff on Star Wars - you'll know the scene when you see it. Interestingly, not long after this, there's a scene that's a riff on, believe it or not, my favorite scene from "Wings" (1927), one pilot showing respect to the other. And after *that*, there's yet another Star War's riff - recall, "Use the force, Luke." If you want a detailed plot synopsis, there's a good one on *** SPOILER ALERT *** IMDB.
  2. I suspect most readers here have neither seen "The Fixer," nor are familiar with the grotesque (but true) accusation of "Blood Libel" (completely unrelated to the term "Blood Simple"). Sir Alan Bates was justifiably honored for his portrayal of an early-twentieth-century Russian Jew named Yakov Bok (based on the unbelievable-but-true story of Menahem Mendel Beilis) with a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Actor (which went to Cliff Robertson for "Charly" (which was a fine performance, but Bates deserved the award)) . The book (reportedly superior to the film) was written by Bernard Malamud (author of "The Natural"), and the screenplay by Dalton Trumbo (writer of "Roman Holiday" and director of "Johnny Got His Gun"). I won't summarize the film, but although slightly hamfisted (Trumbo was talented, but not subtle), this is an important movie, and a laudable performance by Bates, who looks freakishly like Anton Chigurh (enough so that I think that several aspects of Chigurh were based on Yakov Bok, even though one man is pure good, and the other is pure evil). For now, the film is available, in high quality, for free on YouTube, but I council people to watch it all in one day, and to be prepared for something more than lighthearted fare.
  3. I'll admit it, Joe: "Roadhouse" (1989) is a guilty pleasure of mine. This was right around Patrick Swayze's prime, and as much derision as "Ghost gets from serious moviegoers, it was released just a year after "Roadhouse," and with a beautiful Demi Moore (I had forgotten how pretty she was), a surprisingly important role by Whoopi Goldberg, and Tony Goldwyn's perfect rendition of a slime-maggot, this annoyingly cloying rom-com had four strong parts. Even the murderer, Willie Lopez (Rick Aviles) was very well-played - this was a solid ensemble: I can see people being wildly irritated by the film, but does anyone have problems with its cast? Yes, I saw "Ghost" last night. I had just seen "Django Unchained" for some "mindless escapism" from a stressful week, and it was about as relaxing as visiting the U.S. Holocaust Museum - I needed escapism from my escapism. I didn't honestly think I'd watch more than ten minutes of the film, but I just kept watching, and before I knew it, I was well into it - I'd seen it once before in full, in the theater when it came out, so it had been over twenty-five years. With "Dirty Dancing" in 1987, "Sleepless in Seattle" (1993), "Pretty Woman" (1990), "When Harry Met Sally" (1989), "Groundhog Day" (1993), and numerous others, "Ghost" was dead-center in the tenderloin years of the saccharine rom-com (please forgive me for using that term, which is nearly as cloying as the movies are). The late 1980's and early 1990's had some major investment in these films, and they were immensely popular - for no good reason, I will add; meh, they're mindless entertainment, and sometimes you just need that, you know? There's very little point in rehashing the plot, or commenting on much of anything. I had completely forgotten what a major role Whoopi Goldberg played (and didn't realize she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress). The demons are legitimately scary if you aren't ready for them - I had forgotten how disturbing they were. And I thought the acting was really good, pretty much all the way around - Patrick Swayze's look of sympathy when Carl died was incredibly convincing, for example, and he sustained it, completely setting aside what a first-class *jerk* the guy was, and knowing full well that he had an eternity of suffering ahead of him. You know what? Laugh at me if you will, but I think this movie is sweet. I don't love it, but I like it. That probably ratchets me down a few notches as a "film critic," but I'm not a film critic, so that's okay. Now, as to it's insane popularity, well, I guess I can see how it can appeal to the masses - in fact, sure I can. But for anyone to think this is more than "sweet," "well-acted," and "touching" would be a little bit much for me - those adjectives are about as much as I can muster, and if someone were to dismiss it entirely - in much the same way that theater critics dismissed "Cats," I could perfectly well understand. I might even say, "Ditto." I feel no need to watch this again anytime soon, but I have no regrets seeing it a second time. Thumbs up. Three stars. A solid "B"." A perfect date movie with a feel-good ending. It was my "mindless escapism," and it served its purpose - mock me if you wish, I will understand. And I think the "Get Off My Train!" scene with Vincent Schiavelli was excellent. *** SPOILER *** Why do I feel like I just wrote a positive review of Graffiato?
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