Archive for 1993

Dazed And Confused

Posted in Comedy, Drama with tags on March 12, 2014 by Mark Walker

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Director: Richard Linklater.
Screenplay: Richard Linklater.
Starring: Jason London, Wiley Wiggins, Matthew McConaughey, Rory Cochrane, Sasha Jenson, Cole Hauser, Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich, Shawn Andrews, Adam Goldberg, Anthony Rapp, Marissa Ribisi, Joey Lauren Adams, Parker Posey, Deena Martin, Michelle Burke, Mark Vandermeulen, Esteban Powell, Jeremy Fox, Christin Hinojosa, Jason O. Smith, Terry Mross, David Blackwell, Nicky Katt, Renee Zellweger.

Man, it’s the same bullshit they tried to pull in my day. If it ain’t that piece of paper, there’s some other choice they’re gonna try and make for you. You gotta do what Randall Pink Floyd wants to do, man. Let me tell you this, the older you do get the more rules they’re gonna try to get you to follow. You just gotta keep livin’, man…
L-I-V-I-N
“.

Richard Linklater is one of those directors that consistently delivers fresh and original material yet somehow remains a filmmaker with a lower profile. His projects certainly gain the respect they deserve but they never really go over and above that in terms of awards. He’s always been innovative and has adopted some daring approaches to filmmaking with the likes of his free-form indie debut “Slacker“, the expansive “Before Sunrise” trilogy, the philosophical “Waking Life” and it’s rotoscope animated companion piece “A Scanner Darkly“. Even his forthcoming “Boyhood” – a 12 year project following a boy’s journey from 5 to 18 years old – is a feat that few, if any, directors have tackled. However, one of his most poignant and entertaining escapades happens to be the mosaic “Dazed and Confused“. It was largely ignored and a commercial failure upon it’s release but has since gained a strong cult status. And for very good reason.

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This Boy’s Life * * * * 1/2

Posted in Drama with tags on February 1, 2012 by Mark Walker

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Director: Michael Caton-Jones.
Screenplay: Robert Getchell.
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert DeNiro, Ellen Barkin, Jonah Blechman, Eliza Dushku, Chris Cooper, Carla Gugino, Zack Ansley, Tracey Ellis, Kathy Kinney, Gerit Graham, Tobey Maguire.

Before the heights of stardom, a young Leonardo DiCaprio built his name with this coming-of-age tale based on the real life memoirs of writer Tobias Wolff. On this evidence it’s easy to see why his talents couldn’t be ignored.

Caroline (Ellen Barkin) drifts from State to State and boyfriend to boyfriend, dragging her now teenage son Toby (Leonardo DiCaprio) along with her. Finally it seems she may have met the man of her dreams, in the shape of Dwight (Robert DeNiro). After excitedly making plans to stay this time and begin a new life, it becomes apparent they were a little swift to judge as Dwight’s gentlemanly facade begins to slide, revealing his true nature.

Scottish director Michael Caton-Jones (“Rob Roy”) shows he has an excellent eye for detail in small town America and an even better eye for talent in discovering Leonardo DiCaprio. His performance here is nothing short of astounding and when pitted against the likes of Robert DeNiro, you kind of have to be on your game. Not only is DiCaprio on top of his game for such a young age, he matches – if not betters – the legendary actor. His portrayal of Toby is heartfelt and extremely emotional. Ranging from desperation and capitulation to courage and triumph. He displays a myriad of emotions as a misunderstood and frustrated young man, with sudden bursts of violence and a rebellious nature, to an eventual inner strength and maturity. His performance is helped no-end by the chemistry he shares with DeNiro. They both play off one another powerfully. DeNiro offering another skillfully nuanced addition to his canon of dysfunctional and abusive characters throughout his illustrious career. You can almost feel the jealous rage that consumes Dwight, a very physical and psychologically abusive man. The verbal and mental jousting between both actors is raw and highly charged, eventually culminating into physical brutality with a fight scene that looks entirely realistic. Two wonderful actors delivering powerhouse performances. Unfortunately, despite her obvious talents, Ellen Barkin is left caught between the two male leads with a very underwritten role. However, she’s no slouch and still manages a show of strength in her character as well as a vulnerability. This is an absolutely harrowing and absorbing true life story with a perfectly rendered 1950’s setting and a fine supporting cast that deserves far more recognition than it’s
received.

With two indefatigable and energetic lead performances it’s easy to see why Robert DeNiro is regarded as the greatest screen actor of his time and why DiCaprio became a star and may yet follow in the legend’s footsteps.

Mark Walker

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True Romance * * * * *

Posted in Action, Crime, Romance with tags on February 1, 2012 by Mark Walker

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Director: Tony Scott.
Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino.
Starring: Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, Val Kilmer, Michael Rapaport, Saul Rubinek, Bronson Pinchot, Chris Penn, Tom Sizemore, James Gandolfini, Samuel L. Jackson.

To fund his directorial debut “Reservoir Dogs“, Quentin Tarantino unfortunately had to sell his script for True Romance and as good a job as director Tony Scott does here, you can’t help but wonder what might have been had Tarantino been given the chance to helm it himself.

Shy and lonely comic store clerk Clarence Worley (Christian Slater) can’t believe his luck when he meets doting Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette) in his local cinema. What’s more, she shares all his interests and the two fall madly in love. There is one small problem however, as Alabama is actually a prostitute and still under the control of her abusive pimp Drexl (Gary Oldman). Taking it upon himself to pay Drexl a visit Clarence then finds himself high-tailing it with Alabama and a suitcase full of cocaine which invites the attention of gangsters, cops and Hollywood producers.

If you can imagine this film being shot in the same split-time frame structure that “Pulp Fiction” had, then this would give you an idea of how Tarantino intended this to look. His original screenplay was certainly layered in this way, with the characters appearing then reappearing at different times throughout the film. Sadly, we’ll never get to see this, but it doesn’t matter very much, as this is still an excellent ultraviolent foray into Tarantino’s criminal underworld. What really makes this standout is his astute ear for dialogue, played out by an impressive ensemble of wonderful actors. There are so many excellent scenes (and performances) it’s hard to pick a favourite. Crime boss Don Vincenzo (Christopher Walken) and Clarence’s dad Clifford (Dennis Hopper) having a tete-a-tete over the historical inter-racial relationship between the Moors and Sicilians and Clarence’s confrontation with wild-eyed, white rastafarian pimp Drexl being just a couple of numerous quality ones. Added to which, there’s a brief but brilliant turn from Brad Pitt as a stoner flatmate, who uses all the toilet paper and has a liking for beer and cleaning products and James Gandolfini as a cold, sadistic hitman. Like I said, there’s too many to mention. Influenced by previous ‘lovers on the lam’ films such as, “Bonnie & Clyde” and “Badlands” but most notably like “Wild at Heart” with it’s numerous violent confrontations and it’s array of colourful characters. Holding it’s own against any one of them. I’m not director Tony Scott’s biggest admirer but his hyperkinetic style actually suits the pace and explosive nature of this story and it’s characters and he actually compliments Tarantino’s writing.

Stylish, gripping, violent, profane and endlessly quotable. What more do you expect when sitting down to a Tarantino flick? He may not have directed it but it still stands as one of his finest.

Mark Walker

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Carlito’s Way * * * * *

Posted in Crime, Drama, thriller with tags on January 17, 2012 by Mark Walker

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Director: Brian DePalma.
Screenplay: David Koepp.
Starring: Al Pacino, Sean Penn, Penelope Ann Miller, John Leguizamo, Luis Guzman, Ingrid Rogers, James Rebhorn, Joseph Siravo, Richard Foronjy, Frank Minucci, Adrian Pasdar, Jorge Purcel, John Ortiz, Rick Aviles, Brian Tarantina, Jon Seda, Marc Anthony, Paul Mazursky, Viggo Mortensen.

10 years after they first collaborated and brought Tony Montana to the screen in “Scarface”, Brian DePalma and Al Pacino team up again for yet another foray into the crime world.

Puerto-Rican drug dealer Carlito Brigante (Pacino) has just been released from prison due to some diligent defending from his trusted lawyer and friend Davie Kleinfeld (Sean Penn). Upon his release, he is immediately back in contact with his old cohorts from the streets and recieves several offers to get him back in business, but Carlito is determined to go straight and make a better life for himself and his girlfriend Gail (Penelope Ann Miller). The problem is, he needs money to escape the life of crime so agrees to run a nightclub for as long as it takes to earn his money and move on. However, as much as he’s finished with his previous life, his previous life is not finished with him as old and new faces appear, testing his resolve.

DePalma’s “Scarface” has a proud and faithful following but with “Carlito’s Way” he has outdone himself. There are some similarities with both films and Brigante could also be seen as an aging Montana but the reason it works better this time around is the investment we have with Carlito. He is a more human and sympathetic character and we want to see him succeed. Pacino also underplays it this time with a lot more subtlety and a lot less grandstanding, immediately winning us over. There is also some brilliant support from Sean Penn who oozes sleaze and due to his spiralling cocaine habit is more of a danger than a help to Carlito. John Leguizamo is also a standout as Benny Blanco “from the Bronx”, a young but dangerous hood out to make a name for himself and a short but powerful appearance from Viggo Mortensen as a strung out disabled addict, who also has his own interests at heart. Fine performances all round and effortlessly handled by DePalma who’s also not adverse to showing us some flamboyant and skillful camerawork during some tense and exciting action set-pieces.

Although it may not be as “epic” as some other crime films, it without doubt deserves to be considered as equal to the best in the genre and stands as DePalma’s best film so far.

Mark Walker

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Public Access * *

Posted in Mystery, thriller with tags on January 11, 2012 by Mark Walker

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Director: Bryan Singer.
Screenplay: Bryan Singer, Christopher McQuarrie, Michael Feit Dougan.
Starring: Ron Marquette, Burt Williams, Leigh Hunt, John Renshaw, Brandon Boyce.

In 1995, director Bryan Singer delivered one of the finest crime films – not too mention one of cinema’s killer twists – in “The Usual Suspects”. Before that, he cut his teeth on this low-budget, independant suspense tale.

Whiley Pritcher (Ron Marquette) is an enigmatic stranger who arrives in the small American town of ‘Brewster’ and starts up a public television show asking the local residents “what’s wrong with Brewster?” Not before long, the residents are all calling in, revealing secrets about their neighbours and causing dark fueds, in this once idyllic town.

Although this film was done in the early 90’s it has a very dated 80’s look to it. Despite this, you can still see the early promise from Bryan Singer. It’s competantly shot and achieves quite an eerie feel to the whole thing. This little tale would have made a great Twilight Zone episode but as a feature length film, it doesn’t quite have enough in the tank for it to hold your interest over a short but somehow protracted 87mins running time. Amature acting is a major letdown also but it’s always interesting to see where a career began and Singer certainly shows flourishes of his crime classic to come.

It builds slowly and assuredly and it’s intriguing premise draws you in, but it ultimately loses it’s way and ends with a wimper.

Mark Walker

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