Showing posts with label Robert Duvall. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Robert Duvall. Show all posts

Thursday, 9 May 2013

The Conversation

In between making two of the most heralded films of all time in 1972 and 1974, writer/director Francis Ford Coppola made another film. That film won the Palme d’Or at Cannes and was nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Picture. That film was The Conversation. A taught psychological thriller, The Conversation isn’t as grand in scale or as epic in scope at The Godfather movies by which it is sandwiched but it’s a deeply intriguing look inside the world of audio espionage and the consequences of it. Gene Hackman leads a terrific cast as Harry Caul, a surveillance expert who has second thoughts about handing in his latest recordings for fear that those he has recorded will be killed, a repeat of a previous job which still haunts him years later.

The film opens onto a magnificent scene which forms the basis of the whole movie. Initially shot from high up on a rooftop the camera details a large plaza in which hundreds of people are milling about, talking and eating lunch, people watching or simply passing through. The shot is alive with detail and beautifully constructed but as the camera slowly zooms in you begin to focus your attention on a mime. Eventually the mime starts to copy a man drinking a cup of coffee. That man is Harry Caul (Hackman). Caul is in the plaza spying a young couple who are slowly circling, deep in conversation. Once at ground level the camera cuts to several other angles, showing the other members of Caul’s team hard at work, attempting to record the conversation. I have seen few better opening sequences than the one detailed above. It’s slow to build, intriguing, interesting and opens up several possibilities for how to proceed.

Saturday, 4 May 2013


When a defecting Chicago Mobster arrives in San Fransisco ahead of a Senate Sub Committee hearing on Organised Crime, the SFPD are tasked with providing around the clock protection in his cheap boarding house. When hitmen burst in, shooting and seriously wounding a police officer and the mobster turned witness, Lieutenant Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen) and Sergeant Dalgetti (Don Gordon) pick up the trail to hunt down the murders while uncovering a deeper plot. Their progress is hindered by the ambitious politician Walter Chalmers (Robert Vaughn) who wants the witness back on the stand and blames Bullitt for the attack.

Bullitt is one of those classic, cool 60s movies which I’ve always wanted to see but never got around to doing so until now. I was aware of the famous car chase and that Steve McQueen was meant to have given one of his trademark edgy, cooler than ice performances but I knew little else. As well as the above, the film has a lot to offer the viewer from a fantastic score to impressive cinematography but I was never engaged in the storyline.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Jack Reacher

The popular Jack Reacher series of novels had its film rights snapped up soon after the release of the initial novel in 1997. Fifteen years and seventeen books later, the first film has finally made it to the screen. The ninth book in the series Long Shot forms the basis of the film Jack Reacher. A lone sniper sets up shop in a parking garage before training his sights on people across the river. In quick succession he fires six shots, killing five random people. A trail of clues left at the scene leads to his arrest and after failing to confess he asks the police to get him Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise), an ex Military Policeman and drifter. By the time Reacher gets to the scene of the crime the accused has been beaten into a coma. Believing the culprit is guilty based on a previous encounter; Reacher is nonetheless hired by Defence Lawyer (Rosamund Pike) and begins to uncover a deeper plot.

 I’ve read just one Jack Reacher novel and enjoyed it but not enough to rush out and continue with the series. Even though I’m not a die hard fan I raised my eyebrow at the casting of Tom Cruise as what has become a distinctive and well loved character. Having seen the film, to me the casting now fits perfectly. Cruise may lack the height and physical presence of Reacher but he more than makes up for it in screen presence and overall there are very few areas in which I can fault the film.

Friday, 1 June 2012

The Road

"You think I come from another world, don't you?"

In the years following an unspecified apocalyptic event a man (Viggo Mortensen) and his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) spend life on the road, constantly moving south in search of food and shelter and hoping to avoid bands of hungry cannibals.

I first saw this film in the cinema a couple of years ago and was blown away by its bleakness and beauty. I’ve mentioned before how much I love the look of decaying beauty and there are few films that show that so much as this. The screen is filled with various shades of grey and the sun never shines. The backdrop to the family’s struggle is filled with decrepit landscapes ruined by an unknown catastrophic event. These scenes are further heightened by flash backs to before the event in which Mortensen and his wife Charlize Theron are seen to be enjoying life in a colourful and vibrant world. Other flashbacks show life in the years after the apocalypse during which Theron is pregnant and subsequently where she struggles to deal with her harsh new surroundings.