Friday, July 21, 2017

2017 Blind Spot Series: Rio Bravo

Based on the short story by B.H. McCampbell, Rio Bravo is the story of a town sheriff who finds himself facing off against a local rancher as he seeks the help of a cripple, a drunk, and a young gunfighter to deal with the rancher and his men. Directed by Howard Hawks and screenplay by Jules Furthman and Leigh Brackett, the film is about a sheriff protecting his town as he angers a local rancher for arresting the man’s brother. Starring John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Angie Dickinson, Walter Brennan, John Russell, and Ward Bond. Rio Bravo is a compelling yet enthralling film from Howard Hawks.

Set in a small town of Texas known as Rio Bravo, the film revolves a sheriff who has arrested the brother of a local rancher for murder as the brother wants him back leading to a battle of wits and wills between the sheriff and rancher. It’s a film that is about a man trying to uphold the law and do good for this little town as he has two deputies to help him despite the fact that they’re both flawed as one of them is a drunk struggling with being sober while the other is an old man with a bum leg. They’re later joined by a young gunfighter who observes from afar after his boss had been killed by one of the men working for the rancher as it’s revealed he’s paying men to do his dirty work. The film’s screenplay by Jules Furthman and Leigh Brackett doesn’t just explore the game of wits between this sheriff and rancher but also the life of a town that is just trying to live their lives in peace but the power of the rancher just causes problems after a man is killed at a bar by the rancher’s brother who had already killed numerous people in the past.

The town sheriff John T. Chance (John Wayne) is a no-nonsense man that is willing to listen but he has his job to do as he wants no one causing trouble. Yet, Joe Burdette (Claude Akins) would be the one to cause trouble and humiliate Chance’s deputy Dude (Dean Martin) who hasn’t had a drink of liquor in two years as he’s struggling to maintain his sobriety as he accidentally knocks out Chance. After Joe is arrested for killing a man at the saloon and be arrested at the saloon where Burdette’s men are, the trouble begins where Chance tries to smooth things down and not cause trouble despite the target on his head from the men who work for Nathan Burdette (John Russell). Chance, with Dude and the old man with a bum leg in Stumpy (Walter Brennan) who watches over the jailed Joe, as they all figure out what to do. Adding to the complication that Chance is dealing with is the arrival of a mysterious woman in Feathers (Angie Dickinson) who is suspected of being a cheating gambler while a young gunslinger named Colorado (Ricky Nelson) arrives wanting to help after a friend of Chance in Pat Wheeler (Ward Bond) is shot by one of Burdette’s hired guns.

The script also showcase Dude’s struggles as he was once a skilled gunslinger but years of alcoholism has made him feel diminished yet Chance keeps him on knowing he still has something left when he’s motivated. The script also play into Chance’s relationship with Feathers who is quite like him in the fact that she doesn’t take shit from him or anyone as she is asked to leave but she prefers to stay as it causes this unlikely attraction between the two. When Colorado joins Chance in stopping Burdette’s men, he is someone that is quite smart for someone that is young as well as very skilled as he’s also know where his place is as he immediately gains Chance’s respect. Especially in the film’s climatic showdown that involves a game of chance and wit with guns and dynamite.

Howard Hawks’ direction is definitely entrancing due to the visuals he creates while also emphasizing in simple compositions and moments to create a mood for the film. Notably the opening sequence as it doesn’t feature any dialogue for nearly several minutes as it involves Joe Burdette humiliating Dude and creating trouble where he is captured by Chance. Shot on location near Tucson, Arizona, the film does play into a time in the West where it was starting to get less rowdy and more civilized but there’s still some trouble as it involves Burdette who is still trying to rule the town as he owns the local ranch and a saloon where his men are free to do with whatever they want. While Hawks would use some wide shots to capture the locations as well as viewpoints of the men looking at Burdette’s saloon from the jailhouse. Much of Hawks’ direction would emphasize more on a sense of intimacy in the usage of close-ups and medium shots.

The direction would have moments that are intense but also very restrained as Hawks is more interesting in building up the suspense such as a scene where Chance and Dude try to find Ward’s assassin as it’s all about the little details. There are also these moments such as a confrontation between Chance and some of Burdette’s men who try to stop Chance as they’re forced to deal with Colorado who would find a way to outwit Burdette’s men with Feathers’ help. While Hawks would take a simple approach to the drama and suspense, he would also infuse bits of humor in the film courtesy of Stumpy as well as a moment for a sing-a-long involving Dude, Colorado, and Stumpy as it help defuse some of the tension and suspense as it show these three men as just human beings trying to have some fun and show what the world could be away from the greed and violence. Even if it means having to do something drastic to stop Burdette from ruining all of that all because he wants to free his brother who is likely to kill again without remorse. Overall, Hawks creates a thrilling and gripping film about a sheriff and his deputies going up against a greedy yet intelligent cattle rancher.

Cinematographer Russell Harlan does brilliant work with the film’s gorgeous Technicolor film stock to showcase some of the beauty of the clothes and locations as well as for the scenes set at night. Editor Folmar Blangsted does excellent work with the editing as it is very straightforward as well as using some methodical cutting to play into the suspense. Art director Leo K. Kuter and set decorator Ralph S. Hurst do amazing work with the look of the saloons, jailhouse, and the local hotel that Chance stays frequently as well as the exterior of Burdette’s ranch.

Costume designer Marjorie Best does fantastic work with the look of the clothes from the chaps, hats, and shirts to play into the personality of the characters as well as the stylish clothes of Feathers. The sound work of Robert B. Lee is terrific for capturing some of the natural elements as well as creating heightened sound effects for some of the gunfire. The film’s music by Dimitri Tiomkin is superb with its usage of lush orchestral flourishes and bombast as well as creating a few songs with lyricist Paul Francis Webster plus a traditional Mexican instrumental and a song by Ricky Nelson.

The film’s marvelous cast include some notable small roles from Joseph Shimada as the local undertaker Burt, Pedro Gonzalez-Gonzalez as the hotel manager Carlos, Estelita Rodriguez as Carlos’ wife Consuelo, Claude Akins as Nathan’s murderous brother Joe, and Ward Bond in a terrific small role as Chance’s old friend Pat Wheeler who arrives in town for business only to get himself into trouble with Burdette’s gang. John Russell is superb as Nathan Burdette as rancher who wants his brother free no matter what as he’s willing to do whatever it takes as well as hire killers and maintain his own sense of riches and sense of power. Angie Dickinson is amazing as Feathers as a woman who has been accused of being a cheat in gambling as she just stopped in the town for a few days only to stay as she becomes intrigued by Chance as it’s just a lively performance from Dickinson.

Walter Brennan is excellent as Stumpy as an old man with a bum-leg who is the film’s comic relief as he feels underappreciated while doing much of the work in watching Joe Burdette as he’s just an absolute joy to watch. Ricky Nelson is brilliant as Colorado as a young gunslinger who was working for Wheeler as he would later help Chance in dealing with Burdette and his gang as he is quite restrained but also very mature for his age as it's one of Nelson’s finest performances. Dean Martin is remarkable as Dude as a skilled gunslinger struggling to maintain his sobriety as well as the effects of alcohol as a man who feels like his time his done while trying to restore whatever dignity he has left. Finally, there’s John Wayne in a phenomenal performance as John T. Chance as the local sheriff who is trying to maintain law and order in this small town as he’s a man that just wants to do his job but also knows he has to be smarter than most men as there’s a gravitas to Wayne’s performance as well as someone that can take a few hits and still get back up as it is one of Wayne’s finest performances in his illustrious career.

Rio Bravo is an outstanding film from Howard Hawks featuring a tremendous performance from John Wayne. Along with its great ensemble cast, gorgeous visuals, gripping story, and a fantastic music soundtrack. The film isn’t just one of the finest films of the western genre but it’s also a film that is very witty but also engrossing for the way it explores a man trying to do what is right and needing to be smarter than those around him. In the end, Rio Bravo is a magnificent film from Howard Hawks.

Howard Hawks Films: (The Road to Glory) - (Fig Leaves) - (Cradle Snatchers) - (Paid to Love) - (A Girl in Every Port (1928 film)) - (Fazil) - (The Air Circus) - (Trent’s Last Case (1929 film)) - (The Dawn Patrol (1930)) - (The Criminal Code) – Scarface - (The Crowd Roars (1932 film)) - (Tiger Shark) - (Today We Live) - (The Prizefighter and the Lady) - (Viva Villa!) - (Twentieth Century) - (Barbary Coast) - (Ceiling Zero) - (The Road to Glory) - (Come and Get It) - (Bringing Up Baby) - (Only Angels Have Wings) - (His Girl Friday) - (Sergeant York) - (Ball of Fire) - (Air Force) - (To Have and Have Not) - (The Big Sleep (1946 film)) - (The Outlaw) – Red River - (A Song is Born) - (I Was a Male War Bride) - (The Big Sky) - (Monkey Business) - (O Henry’s Full House) - (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) - (Land of the Pharaohs) - (Hatari!) - (Man’s Favorite Sport?) - (Red Line 7000) - (El Dorado) - (Rio Lobo)

© thevoid99 2017

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: The Chosen One

For the third week of July 2017 as part of the Thursday Movie Picks series hosted by Wanderer of Wandering Through the Shelves. We focus on the concept of the chosen ones. The ones who are destined to either save the world or be the one to help us all. Here are my three picks:

1. The Golden Child

One of the quintessential 80s comedies to star Eddie Murphy during his golden period, this film directed by Michael Ritchie is probably his most underrated which has Murphy as a social worker that just wants to find people who are missing. It’s a very funny film that includes that hilarious line “I want the knife” but it’s a film that has heart as well as a touching story of a man just trying to find a Tibetan child with special powers. Even as it mixes martial arts with some action/adventure, fantasy, and lots of humor all courtesy to Eddie Murphy when he was the funniest man in the world.

2. The Matrix

From the Wachowskis comes the film that was a total game-changer as it revolves around a computer programmer who learns that he’s part of a reality that isn’t real only to become the one person who could stop it all. It is truly one of the finest films that features an iconic performance from Keanu Reeves as this man known as Neo who would defy the bad guys and save humanity from this reality that is proven to be totally false.

3. Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince

The sixth film of the Harry Potter series definitely takes a bit of time for Harry Potter to deal with the revelation that he’s the chosen one to stop Voldemort while learning more about Voldemort’s past. The Half-Blood Prince refers to a book Potter gets which doesn’t teach him some unique potion methods but also new spells as it is a fine take on the book which only sets up the journey Potter would go into in order to defeat Lord Voldemort for good.

And now… here is someone who claims to be the Chosen One but…. Never drew a dime…

© thevoid99 2017

Monday, July 17, 2017

Countdown (1968 film)

Based on the novel The Pilgrim Project by Hank Searls, Countdown is the story of two American astronauts competing with one another in a crash project to see who can become the first man to walk the moon during the space race against the Soviet Union. Directed by Robert Altman and screenplay by Loring Mandel, the film is an exploration into the real-life space race that was happening in the 1960s where two men do what it takes to make history. Starring James Caan, Robert Duvall, Joanna Moore, Barbara Baxley, Michael Murphy, and Ted Knight. Countdown is a by-the-numbers and dull film from Robert Altman.

The film revolves around the space race to see who can become the first man to walk on the moon as a veteran astronaut is forced to train a civilian after learning that the Soviets have put a civilian for their first mission to land on the moon. It’s a film with a simple story that follows what happens during a mission training where a man is given the chance to go on the moon despite his inexperience as an astronaut but has to endure a lot of pressure. While the plot itself is unique, it’s Loring Mandel’s script that unfortunately suffers as it doesn’t really do much to be engaging in terms of the story as it is quite predictable while not doing enough to play into the tension between the civilian Lee Stegler (James Caan) and the veteran astronaut Chiz (Robert Duvall) as the former feels bad that he’s taking Chiz’s spot. Adding to the drama are the politics behind the scenes at NASA as well as what his happening at home as Lee’s wife Mickey (Joanna Moore) wonders what could go wrong leading up the mission at hand.

Robert Altman’s direction is definitely very straightforward though it does bear a few elements that would be key to the style that Altman is known for. While the few stylistic moments such as a few close-ups and moments at a party where Altman would put in bits of over-lapping dialogue. Much of it has Altman just using a lot of wide and medium shots to capture some of the locations around Florida with the scenes on the moon shot at the Mojave Desert with some visual effects as it has moments that are gorgeous. The problem is that the script Altman is given doesn’t do anything to give the film any kind of looseness as it just feels by-the-book in what to do as Altman was fired during production of the film. It does feel like that a lot of the film was handled in post-production as it just goes for something that is straightforward yet doesn’t do enough to make it engaging which hurts the film and slows it down to the point that it becomes quite boring. Overall, Altman ends up making a film about astronauts trying to go into the moon into something that is dull to watch.

Cinematographer William W. Spencer does excellent work with the film’s cinematography from the sunny look of the daytime exteriors to the usage of lighting and filters for some of the scenes on the moon. Editor Gene Milford does nice work with the editing as it has bits of slow-motion cuts as much of it is straightforward. Art director Jack Poplin and set decorator Ralph S. Hurst do fantastic work with the look of the crash station and simulators at NASA as well as the space capsule. The sound work of Everett A. Hughes is terrific as it play into the atmosphere at the simulators as well as the way rocket sounds from afar. The film’s music by Leonard Rosenman is good for its orchestral flourishes though there’s moment where it acts as a dramatic or a suspenseful crutch where it does become overwhelming.

The film’s brilliant cast include some notable small roles and appearances from Bobby Riha as Lee and Mickey’s son Stevie, Michael Murphy as a fellow astronaut in Rick, Steve Inhat as a NASA official in Ross, Barbara Baxley as Chiz’ wife Jean, Charles Aidman as a NASA director/doctor in Gus, and Ted Knight as the NASA press secretary/official Walter Larson. Joanna Moore is excellent as Lee’s wife Mickey as a woman who is dealing with some of the problems going on at NASA as she wonders if her husband will survive as well as the idea of things going severely wrong. Robert Duvall is brilliant as Chiz as an Air Force colonel-turned-astronaut who becomes reluctant in training Lee as he is filled with jealousy but is forced to swallow his pride to help Lee knowing that he might not have a chance to walk on the moon. Finally, there’s James Caan in an amazing performance as Lee Stegler as a civilian who has some training in being an astronaut as he endures the pressure of what he has to do while knowing the dangers he is facing as it’s a very reserved performance from Caan.

Despite solid performances from James Caan and Robert Duvall as well as some nice visuals, Countdown is just a terrible film from Robert Altman though it’s not really his fault. For a film about the space race of the 1960s, it’s very boring as it doesn’t really do anything new while it bear little touches of what Altman is known for as fans of his work will see this as just one of his bad films before he would become the great filmmaker that’s been lauded for so many years. Countdown is just a drab and uninteresting film from Robert Altman.

Robert Altman Films: (The Delinquents) – (The James Dean Story) – (That Cold Day in the Park) – M.A.S.H. - (Brewster McCloud) – McCabe & Mrs. Miller - (Images) – The Long Goodbye - (Thieves Like Us) – California Split - Nashville - (Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull’s History Lesson) – 3 Women - (A Wedding) – (Quintet) – (A Perfect Couple) – (HealtH) – Popeye - (Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean) – (Streamers) – (Secret Honor) – (O.C. and Stiggs) – Fool for Love - (Beyond Therapy) – (Aria-Les Boreades) – (Tanner ’88) – (Vincent & Theo) – The Player - Short Cuts - Pret-a-Porter - (Kansas City) – (The Gingerbread Man) – Cookie's Fortune - Dr. T & the Women - Gosford Park - The Company (2003 film) - (Tanner on Tanner) – A Prairie Home Companion

© thevoid99 2017

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Baby Driver

Written and directed by Edgar Wright, Baby Driver is the story of a getaway driver who is being forced to work for a drug kingpin to do a job as things go wrong. The film is an ode to getaway driver film genre with elements of the musical as its protagonist has to listen to music during his job due to damages in his ear. Starring Ansel Elgort, Jamie Foxx, Lily James, Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, Eiza Gonzalez, and Kevin Spacey. Baby Driver is an exhilarating and majestic film from Edgar Wright.

The film revolves around a young man who is a getaway driver for robbers as he works under the service of a drug kingpin he owes a debt to as he’s close to finally paying off the debt until he’s given a dangerous job where things become intense. It’s a film with a simple story yet it plays into someone who likes to keep things simple as he listens to different kinds of music when he drives due to the fact that he’s got severe tinnitus in his ears due to a car accident when he was a kid that claimed the life of his parents. His job is to just be a getaway driver and get a small cut for his services and that is it while he lives with a deaf elderly he cares for as he also falls for a waitress at a local diner. Edgar Wright’s screenplay definitely owe a lot to crime and chase films but there’s elements of the musicals and fantasy in the film though it’s all set in this high-octane reality that the film’s titular character (Ansel Elgort) is living in.

Yet, Baby is someone that always carry around an iPod to listen to whatever music to display the mood or environment he’s in as his boss Doc (Kevin Spacey) would call him for an assignment as he would hire the people for the job and all Baby needs to do is drive and listen to the music. Though there would be people that Doc would hire constantly such as the couple Buddy and Darling (Jon Hamm and Eiza Gonzalez, respectively) who like what Baby does. Things change when Doc hires the very psychotic Bats (Jamie Foxx) for a job with two other men with Baby as the getaway driver as it becomes very violent. It’s a chilling moment just as Baby was experiencing something new in his life as he befriends the waitress Debora (Lily James) as they bond through music. Unfortunately, Baby’s attempt to leave his life as a getaway driver has him dealing with Doc about a job that is even more dangerous as it includes the service of Bats who has made Baby very uneasy.

Wright’s direction is definitely stylish not just for its approach to action but also treating it as if it is this unconventional musical with the music from Baby’s iPod as its soundtrack. Shot on location in Atlanta as it is a character in the film, Wright creates a film that uses the city as this modern-day backdrop that is quite grimy yet has an air of excitement in its nightlife and mixture of different cultures in hip-hop, country, and rock. While Wright would use wide shots for not just establishing the locations but also in scenes that play into the world that Baby is in as he has a routine in what he does in the aftermath of a robbery as it’s told in an intricate tracking shot with careful choreography and movement with the help of choreographer Ryan Heffington. Wright’s direction favors more intimate moments in some of the locations in and around Atlanta as well as a few sets and what goes on inside a car which Baby is often behind the steering wheel choosing the right song for the chase. Wright’s approach to the music isn’t to use the music as a crutch to help tell the story but rather as some form of accompaniment to express whatever mood that Baby is in and what he needs to concentrate in his job due to his tinnitus.

Wright would also create moments that don’t involve music as it play into the meetings led by Doc about what to do with the job but also these eerie moments that play into the growing tension between Baby and Bats as the former is uneasy about the latter. Wright would create some entrancing compositions that has him put the actors in a certain position for the frame as it help add to some of the drama as well as bits of humor. There are also moments where Wright would inject bits of fantasy in a key scene that play into the sense of hope that Baby wants with Debora but it’s always clashing with this high-octane reality that is quite violent with lots of gunplay and chaos. All of it to the tune of something which feels right for the scene as it also has this offbeat approach to the musical. Overall, Wright creates a sensational and lively film about a getaway driver who uses music as an escape from his life of crime.

Cinematographer Bill Pope does excellent work with the film’s cinematography to capture the look of Atlanta in the daytime exteriors with its sunny and colorful look with some gorgeous lighting for some of the interiors including the scenes set at night. Editors Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss do incredible work with the editing with its usage of rhythms to help play into the music as well as using fast-cuts for some of the chases without deviating into the chaotic speed-editing of typical action films. Production designer Marcus Rowland, with art directors Nigel Churcher and Justin O’Neal Miller as well as set decorator Lance Totten, does fantastic work with the look of the apartment home that Baby shares with his deaf foster father Joseph as well the place where Doc does his meetings and the diner that Debora works at. Costume designer Courtney Hoffman does nice work with the clothes from the waitress dress that Debora wears to some of the stylish clothing of Darling and Bats.

Visual effects supervisor Shailendra Swarnkar does terrific work with some of the visual effects as it relates to some of the action and chase scenes where it definitely look real without having to do too much in order to make it feel real. Sound designer Julian Slater does amazing work with the sound as it is a highlight of the film in its approach to mixing and editing to hear Baby is hearing in total silence as well as the way sound is presented in certain moments of the film. The film’s music by Steven Price is wonderful for its mixture of low-key electronic music, hip-hop, and orchestral bombast to create a thriving score that help play into the suspense while music supervisor Kirsten Lane creates a phenomenal soundtrack that features an array of music from acts such as Queen, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, the Damned, the Beach Boys, Beck, T-Rex, Simon & Garfunkel, Barry White, Young MC, Bob & Earl, Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers, Googie Rene, Carla Thomas, Dave Brubeck, Alexis Korner, The Incredible Bongo Band, Martha and the Vandellas, Blur, Focus, Sky Ferreira, the Commodores, Kid Koala, Danger Mouse with Run the Jewels and Big Boi, Sam & Dave, and Golden Earring.

The casting by Francine Maisler is great as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Killer Mike and Outkast’s Big Boi as a couple of patrons at a posh restaurant, Jon Spencer of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion as a prison guard, filmmaker Walter Hill as a courtroom interpreter, Lance Palmer as Baby’s father in the flashbacks, Viviana Chavez as a diner waitress, Hal Whiteside as the diner cook, Brogan Hall as Doc’s nephew, Allison King as a mail teller, Andrea Frye as a woman Baby reluctantly carjacks, Hudson Meek as the young baby in the flashbacks, and Sky Ferreira as Baby’s mother in the flashbacks whom he adored. Other notable small yet memorable performances include Paul Williams as a notorious arms dealer known as the Butcher, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea and Lanny Joon as a couple of robbers working with Bats, Jon Bernthal as a robber in the first heist in Griff who often questions Baby’s role in the robbery, and CJ Jones as Baby’s deaf foster-father Joseph whom Baby communicates with through sign language and music. Eiza Gonzalez is fantastic as Darling as a smooth-talking yet cool woman who can throw down as well as be quite scandalous as she is also Buddy’s wife.

Jon Hamm is excellent as Buddy as a man that loves to rob banks and get its rewards as he also loves his wife Darling where it shows what kind of man he is when he knows she’s been harmed. Kevin Spacey is brilliant as Doc as a drug kingpin who is Baby’s boss as a man who doesn’t bullshit as Spacey brings a dry-wit to his performance where he can be intimidating but also sympathetic. Lily James is amazing as Debora as this kind-hearted diner waitress who befriends Baby where they share an interest for music as well as wanting a life with no complications. Jamie Foxx is incredible as Bats as this very ruthless and psychotic criminal who has no qualms in killing people in order to get his money as he likes what Baby does but also despises Baby for his sense of morals. Finally, there’s Ansel Elgort in a remarkable performance as Baby as this getaway driver with severe tinnitus in his ears which he drowns out through music as he copes with being in the world of crime and his desire to get out to start a new life only to be put into a situation that is troubling as it’s a very restrained yet charismatic performance from Elgort.

Baby Driver is a spectacular film from Edgar Wright. Featuring a great cast, a phenomenal music soundtrack, a thrilling script, amazing locations, and top-notch work in the editing and sound. It’s a film that is very unconventional in its blend of action, suspense, humor, and music as it plays with all sorts of genre while being something that is totally of its own. In the end, Baby Driver is a tremendous film from Edgar Wright.

Edgar Wright Films: (A Fistful of Fingers) - Shaun of the Dead - Hot Fuzz - Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - The World's End

© thevoid99 2017

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Defiant Ones (2017 film)

Directed by Allen Hughes and written by Hughes, Lasse Jarvi, and Doug Pray, The Defiant Ones is a documentary film about the unlikely partnership between music producer/Interscope Records co-founder Jimmy Iovine and rap superstar/producer Dr. Dre. The film follows the two men from their different backgrounds musically and culturally yet would bond due to their need to reinvent the music industry as it’s told in four parts. The result is a very fascinating and exciting film from Allen Hughes.

The film is a four-part story about the partnership that would change the industry as it begins with the news in 2014 when Apple bought the speakers/streaming service known as Beats for $3.2 billion that included the services of its founders in Andre “Dr. Dre” Young and Jimmy Iovine as it was considered a game-changer. It is a triumphant moment for the two who both came a long way as they both come from different backgrounds musically and culturally. The four-part documentary doesn’t follow Dre and Iovine in forming this landmark deal that made them billionaires but also their lives from the very beginning as two both made their mark as producers early on and then took on a much bigger role in the world of popular music.

Allen Hughes’ direction is quite grand as it feature a lot of visuals of different locations while many of the interviews with Dre, Iovine, and people who worked with them as well as colleagues and a few family/friends are all straightforward. Among them are Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Nicks, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, of Black Eyed Peas, Gwen Stefani, Trent Reznor, Bono of U2, Dre’s wife Andre Young, and several others including Iovine’s ex-wife Vicki McCarty. The film doesn’t just follow Dre and Iovine in their businesses and setting up plans to create a program at the University of South California but also their own individual projects as well as their lives early on. Notably in the different backgrounds of Dre and Iovine as the former lived in the ghettos of Compton near Los Angeles while the latter was from Brooklyn from an Italian family that had just moved to America.

With Dre being part of the influential gangsta-rap group N.W.A. with Ice Cube, Eazy-E, DJ Yella, MC Ren, and lyricist D.O.C. while Iovine would get his break mixing a record for John Lennon that would give him the chance to work with Bruce Springsteen and produce albums for Patti Smith, Tom Petty & the Heartbreaks, and Stevie Nicks. Yet, both men would endure some early tragedies in their lives where Dre lost his half-brother Tyree while on tour w/ N.W.A. while Iovine lost his fraternal grandparents and his father in the span of six weeks. The film’s second part ended with the two men at a crossroads with Dre officially leaving N.W.A. over financial issues that eventually tore the group apart while Iovine had become burned out by producing records as he was more interested in the world of business. The film’s third part is about the formation of Interscope Records with Ted Fields as a co-founder as Iovine tried to find the right acts as he would make a few major signings in getting Nine Inch Nails and its leader Trent Reznor to the label by buying out Reznor’s contract with TVT Records which include interviews with its smarmy founder Steve Gottlieb in all of his douchieness.

Dre meanwhile forms Death Row Records with Suge Knight and discover Snoop Dogg yet was still embroiled with legal issues until Iovine came into picture as he would hear Dre’s solo debut The Chronic and get Death Row be part of Interscope against the advice of many executives and corporate people. By 1994, Interscope was huge thanks in part to Dre, Snoop, NIN, and Tupac Shakur but also gain a lot of controversy over its lyrical content which lead to Time Warner getting into big trouble as they wanted Iovine to drop Death Row from Interscope in exchange for the label to be bought out for $150 million. Iovine refuses as he would move the company to MCA/Universal in 1996 where the label was thriving as there was a week where four albums from Interscope were securing the four top spots at the Billboard 200 album charts. Yet, it was bittersweet as 2Pac was gunned down a second time in September of 1996 and later died during the tumultuous Death Row-Bad Boy Records feud that would also claim the life of the Notorious B.I.G. seven months later.

Months before 2Pac’s death, Dre would leave Death Row due to the East coast-West coast feud as well as the violence that was happening in the label as he would form Aftermath Records which struggled to succeed until 1999 when Dre produced Eminem’s major-label debut as it became a major hit. The discovery of Eminem would start the fourth part as the film would also reveal why the album Detox that was supposed to be Dre’s third solo album was never released as he focused his time on creating the Beats headphones and speakers which he partnered with Iovine. The film, which is shot by cinematographer Charles Parish along with several others, have this gorgeous look to the locations as it follows Dre and Iovine in the course of two years. Editors and the film’s co-writers in Lasse Jarvi and Doug Pray would compile a lot of footage and such including rare performances and music interviews to help tell the story with sound editor Jay Nierenberg and sound designer Brent Findley providing a nice sequence in the way music sounds during a mix.

At the heart of the film is the music as it doesn’t just feature a lot of the music from the artists Dre and Iovine were involved with as well as those from Interscope. It also feature some ambient score music by Iovine’s in-laws in Atticus and Leopold Ross and Atticus’ wife Claudia Sarne.

The Defiant Ones is a marvelous film from Allen Hughes. While it is a bit flawed due to the fact that it’s kind of an advertisement for Beats headphones/speakers while it also have some very exaggerated stories. It is still an engrossing and entertaining film about a partnership that proves to be fruitful and profitable. In the end, The Defiant Ones is a remarkable film from Allen Hughes.

© thevoid99 2017

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: Amusement Parks

For the second week of July 2017 as part of the Thursday Movie Picks series hosted by Wanderer of Wandering Through the Shelves. We venture into films that are either set in amusement parks or feature amusement parks. Instead of going for the obvious, here are my three picks:

1. Big

The film does feature a few sequences at a theme park though the premise is about a boy wants to become big so he can ride this rollercoaster. Instead, he ends up being grown into a man in his mid-30s as he’s still a kid though he does eventually get to ride a roller coaster but it’s really more about this magic fortune teller he finds who would grant him his wish.

2. Encino Man

Though it’s more of a film about a caveman who wakes up in the 20th Century and be introduced to the eccentricities of the modern world. There is a great scene in which Brendan Fraser’s caveman character Link and Pauly Shore both to an amusement park and go nuts as they ride rollercoasters and beat up a guy in a costume. All in good fun.

3. 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain

We go from a classic and a cult film to one of the worst films ever made. The 3 Ninjas franchise had a good first film but its two follow-ups were pretty bad as it catered to the lowest common denominator when it comes to family films. Then there’s this one starring Hulk Hogan, Loni Anderson, and Jim Varney as it feature none of the original actors with the exception of Victor Wong (in his final performance) as their grandfather as it’s just an awful film where it has some horrific violence too silly for kids and parents and a lot of karate calls that is just fucking annoying. Plus, we have Hogan as some washed-up TV star who tries to spout positive bullshit that he never stood for like the real Hogan was in his time.

© thevoid99 2017

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Dead Pool

Directed by Buddy Van Horn and screenplay by Steve Sharon from a story by Sharon, Durk Pearson, and Sandy Shaw, The Dead Pool is the story of a police inspector who learns he’s part of a dead pool in which celebrities are targeted for murder as the man learns he’s also a target. The film is the fifth and final film of the Dirty Harry series that finds Harry Callahan become the target as he tries to protect others that is part of this dead pool as Callahan is once again played by Clint Eastwood. Also starring Patricia Clarkson, Liam Neeson, Jim Carrey, and Evan Kim. The Dead Pool is an exciting and dazzling film from Buddy Van Horn.

The film revolves around a death list created by a horror filmmaker as a joke to see what celebrities would be killed as the pool unfortunately turns real as Harry Callahan’s name is in the list as he’s already being targeted by mobsters for putting a mob boss in prison. It’s a film that has Callahan already being this unlikely public figure who is hounded by the press for an interview which he repeatedly declines though he would befriend a reporter in Samantha Walker (Patricia Clarkson) who would also receive this list as she realizes some of the fallacies of what she does. Steve Sharon’s screenplay starts off with Callahan being commended for his work in putting a mob boss to prison where it seems that he’s adapting to the ways that the San Francisco Police Department wants but trouble often follows him. Especially as there are those who think he’s next in this hit list created by the filmmaker Peter Swan (Liam Neeson) who is seen as a suspect as the murders were done in the same way he has characters killed in his films. Yet, Callahan doesn’t think it is Swan at all though he still doesn’t trust him while Callahan’s new partner Al Quan (Evan Kim) would make a discovery into who it might be.

Buddy Van Horn’s direction is quite simple in its approach to action and suspense while also playing into this growing culture of horror films and music videos as well as the increasing reliance of the news wanting to get exclusives. Shot on location in San Francisco, the film definitely go for something that is straightforward in its visuals as Van Horn would use wide shots for some of the locations but would use close-ups and medium shots for some of the suspense including the killing of a few victims. One sequence that is one of the most exciting involves Callahan and Quan in their car as they find themselves being chased by a remote-controlled car with a bomb as it is fun to watch. Though the film’s climax is predictable and a bit lacking in terms of high-octane action, it does have a payoff as it has Callahan be the badass despite the fact that the reveal of the film’s killer is disappointing. Overall, Van Horn creates a thrilling and fun film about a police inspector targeted as part of a death pool gone horrible wrong.

Cinematographer Jack N. Green does excellent work with the film’s cinematography as it is straightforward for many of the scenes set in the day with some lights for some of the interiors as well as scenes at night. Editors Ron Spang and Joel Cox do terrific work with the editing as it play into the action and suspense with some rhythmic cuts for the chase scenes. Production designer Edward C. Carfargno and set decorator Thomas L. Roysden do fantastic work with the look of the film sets that Swan is creating as well as the police station where Callahan works at. Sound editors Robert G. Henderson and Alan Robert Murray is superb for the sound effects that are created as well as the natural sound such as the gunfire and such that is captured. The film’s music by Lalo Schifrin is wonderful for its jazz-based score that feature some synthesizers and orchestral elements to play into the suspense and drama.

The casting by Phyllis Huffman is great as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from the rock band Guns N’ Roses as themselves, Bill Wattenberg as a victim of the killer who is killed by a bomb, Ronnie Claire Fisher as a local film critic who is on the death pool list, Michael Currie and Michael Goodwin in their respective roles as Callahan’s superiors in Captain Donnelly and Lt. Ackerman who are more concerned with the positive public image of the San Francisco Police Department rather than doing their job, Anthony Charnato as the mob boss Lou Janero that Callahan sends to prison as he is forced to make a vow for Callahan during his prison sentence, David Hunt as a troubled fan of Swan, and Jim Carrey in a terrific small role as a troubled rock star in Johnny Squares that is dealing with his drug addiction.

Evan Kim is fantastic as Al Quan as Callahan’s new partner as a Chinese-American who is a resourceful man that could kick some ass as he becomes the most stable partner that Callahan has while also being someone who knows how to stay alive. Liam Neeson is excellent as filmmaker Peter Swan as this arrogant horror filmmaker who created the list as a joke but suddenly goes wrong as he becomes a suspect as he tries to defuse the problem only to make things worse for himself. Patricia Clarkson is amazing as Samantha Walker as a local news reporter who is trying to do her work and get an exclusive interview with Callahan only to share in his views about the media. Finally, there’s Clint Eastwood in an incredible performance as Harry Callahan as the no-nonsense police inspector whose weapons are his wit and his .44 Magnum pistol as he copes with the sensationalism of the media coverage around him as well as the new and unknown enemy that is trying to kill him as it is Eastwood just playing it cool.

The Dead Pool is a remarkable film from Buddy Van Horn that features a winning performance from Clint Eastwood as Harry Callahan. Along with strong supporting performances from Patricia Clarkson and Liam Neeson as well as some fun action scenes. It’s a film that does what it needs to do in being in a thrilling suspense-action film. In the end, The Dead Pool is a marvelous film from Buddy Van Horn.

Dirty Harry Films: Dirty Harry - Magnum Force - The Enforcer - Sudden Impact

© thevoid99 2017

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Sudden Impact

Directed and starring Clint Eastwood and screenplay by Joseph Stinton from a story by Earl E. Smith and Charles B. Pierce, Sudden Impact is the story of a detective who is investigating a series of murders of men who were part of a gang rape as one of the women who was raped is going after them. The fourth film in the Dirty Harry series has Eastwood reprise his role as Harry Callahan as he once again explore the world of vigilante justice as it involves a woman who is dealing with the trauma and injustice that was done to her. Also starring Sondra Locke, Bradford Dillman, Albert Popwell, and Pat Hingle. Sudden Impact is an evocative and gripping film from Clint Eastwood.

The film follows Harry Callahan who is assigned to a murder case at a small town in Southern California after angering his superiors, once again, while he’s unaware that the killer is a woman seeking revenge for a gang rape that she and her sister were victims of a decade before. It’s a film that explores not just vigilante justice which Callahan isn’t fond of but also know that his tactics in just bringing criminals down isn’t enough anymore due to the need for courts who unfortunately don’t do their job in putting criminals in their place. It’s something this woman in Jennifer Spencer (Sondra Locke) is aware of as she knows the men who raped her and her sister not only weren’t put into justice but were able to walk away free.

Joseph Stinton’s screenplay, with un-credited work from Dean Riesner, goes back and forth into Callahan dealing with his suspension due to his often troubling encounters with criminals going after him and Spencer killing off the men who raped her one-by-one by returning to the town of San Paulo, California. When Callahan is sent to the town from San Francisco to work a case, he has to contend with its local chief Lester Jannings (Pat Hingle) about Callahan’s tactics despite the fact that it worked once he arrived in stopping a bank robber. He would meet Spencer but is unaware of what she is doing yet does find a connection into the men who are killed and who could be the next victims. There is also a subplot involving those who were participants in that rape coming together led by a local figure in Ray Parkins (Audrie J. Neenan) in preparing for a showdown with Spencer but also realize the trouble that is Callahan.

Clint Eastwood’s direction is definitely stylish as it has elements of film noir in terms of some of the visuals he would create. Though some of it is shot on location in San Francisco, much of the film would be shot in Santa Cruz, California as it would mark a change of pace for the film series as much of it was set in San Francisco. While Eastwood would use some wide shots to establish some of the locations, he would go for more intimate shots in his approach to close-up and medium shots to play into the suspense and some of the drama. While there are moments in the film that are humorous which includes a pet bulldog Callahan receives from a friend as well as the moment he arrives at San Paulo where he stops a robber while driving a small bus for retirees. The film does remain serious as it relate to Spencer’s flashback about the gang rape she and her sister were victims of as it is quite brutal with Eastwood’s usage of handheld cameras and close-ups to play into the drama. The film is still quite violent in the way Spencer confronts her rapists while the film’s climax at an amusement park is definitely stylish where Eastwood’s approach compositions and building up the suspense is key to what makes the moment so thrilling. Overall, Eastwood creates an engrossing yet exhilarating film about a police inspector investigating a series of murders from a woman taking revenge for the rape she and her sister were victims of.

Cinematographer Bruce Surtees does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography as it has an element of style for many of the scenes at night with its usage of intricate lighting to help set a mood for some scenes including the film’s climax. Editor Joel Cox does excellent work with the editing as he would use some stylish jump-cuts for some of the action including the chase sequence in San Paulo as well as some rhythmic cuts to play into the suspense. Production designer Edward C. Carfango and set decorator Ernie Bishop do fantastic work with the look of the hotel room that Callahan stays at in San Paulo as well as some of the locations in the city including bits of the amusement park. Sound mixer Donald F. Johnson does nice work with the sound as it is quite straightforward with the exception of the film’s action scenes as well some of the scenes at the amusement park. The film’s music by Lalo Schifrin is wonderful for its jazz-funk score that play into the suspense and drama as it includes a song sung by Roberta Flack.

The casting by Marion Dougherty is amazing as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Lisa Britt as Spencer’s catatonic and traumatized sister Elizabeth, Matthew Child as one of rapists in Alby, Nancy Parsons as the mother of one of the rapists who runs a fishing company, Mark Keyloun as a local San Paul police officer who helps out Callahan, Michael Currie as one of Callahan’s superiors in Lt. Donnelly, the trio of Paul Blake, Wendell Wellman, and George Wilburn as a trio of the more brutish rapists, and Michael V. Gazzo in a terrific small appearance as a mob boss Callahan confronts at his granddaughter’s wedding. Albert Popwell is superb as a fellow detective of Callahan who would give him a bulldog as a present to keep Callahan company while Bradford Dillman is fantastic as Captain Briggs who doesn’t like what Callahan does and wants him suspended.

Audrie J. Neenan is excellent as the tough local crime boss Ray Parkins as a woman that likes to do bad things to people while Jack Thibeau is brilliant as the most vicious criminal Kruger who is the most crazed of the group of people that raped Spencer and her sister. Pat Hingle is marvelous as San Paulo police chief Lester Jannings as a man who is suspicious about Callahan’s presence in his town but also know that Callahan is a persistent man that is willing to find answers as he also holds a secret about the case Callahan is on. Sondra Locke is remarkable as Jennifer Spencer as an artist who is trying to move on with her life until she sees one of the men who raped her as she goes on a journey for vengeance as it’s very calm yet eerie performance from Locke. Finally, there’s Clint Eastwood in a phenomenal performance as Harry Callahan as a police inspector with unconventional methods in taking down criminals as he is forced to take a case out of San Francisco where he makes some chilling discoveries but also be aware of what is really going on as it is Eastwood at his finest.

Sudden Impact is an incredible film from Clint Eastwood that features top-notch performances from Eastwood and Sondra Locke. Along with its great supporting cast, eerie visuals, and a chilling score, it’s a film that explore the world of vengeance and a cop trying to understand this woman’s motivation as well as her need for justice. In the end, Sudden Impact is a sensational film from Clint Eastwood.

Dirty Harry Films: Dirty Harry - Magnum Force - The Enforcer - The Dead Pool

Clint Eastwood Films: (Play Misty for Me) – High Plains Drifter - (Breezy) - (The Eiger Sanction) - (The Outlaw Josey Wales) - (The Gauntlet) - (Bronco Billy) - (Firefox) - (Honkytonk Man) - (Pale Rider) - (Heartbreak Ridge) - (Bird) - (White Hunter Black Heart) - (The Rookie) – Unforgiven - (A Perfect World) - (The Bridges of Madison County) - (Absolute Power) - (Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil) - (True Crime) - (Space Cowboys) - (Blood Work) - (Mystic River) – Million Dollar Baby - Flags of Our Fathers - Letters from Iwo Jima - Changeling - (Gran Torino) – (Invictus) – (Hereafter) – (J. Edgar) – (Jersey Boys) – American Sniper - (Sully)

© thevoid99 2017

Monday, July 10, 2017

Tour de Pharmacy

Directed by Jake Szymanski and teleplay by Murray Miller from a story by Miller and Andy Samberg, Tour de Pharmacy is the story of the infamous 1982 Tour de France in which five of its top contenders did whatever it took to win while raising awareness of steroid use. Told in a documentary style, the film chronicles the notorious event as well as the people who were involved in that race as it is narrated by Jon Hamm. Starring Andy Samberg, Orlando Bloom, Freddie Highmore, John Cena, Daveed Diggs, Jeff Goldblum, Julia Ormond, Dolph Lundgren, Danny Glover, James Marsden, Will Forte, Maya Rudolph, Kevin Bacon, Phylicia Rashad, J.J. Abrams, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Mike Tyson, Joe Buck, Chris Webber, and Lance Armstrong. Tour de Pharmacy is a wild and outrageous film from Jake Szymanski.

In the 1982 Tour de France, one of the most notorious cycling races occurred as many of the riders participating in the event were all taking some kind of drugs in which five of them were able to continue as this documentary on these five racers are profiled in this film as four of them talk about the race. The film is a mockumentary about a fictional moment in racing as it’s told in a documentary style similar to what HBO sports does as well as ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. The film follow the events in the 1982 Tour de France in which many of its participants paid the then-UCI president Ditmer Klerken (Kevin Bacon) $50,000 in exchange to not be tested as Klerken would use the money to pay off his massive credit card debts. Among those that didn’t pay Klerken were the five riders who would be able to continue the race till the end as the ones who did pay Klerken were all disqualified.

Among these five participants who would continue the race are the American cyclist Slim Robinson (Daveed Robinson/Danny Glover), the Nigerian cyclist Marty Haas (Andy Samberg/Jeff Goldblum), the Austrian cyclist Gustav Ditters (John Cena/Dolph Lundgren), the French cyclist Adrian Baton (Freddie Highmore/Julia Ormond), and the Italian cyclist JuJu Peppi (Orlando Bloom). Four of them would talk about the event that happened many years ago as Baton was really a woman disguised as a man so she can participate in the Tour de France as she was also on some drugs. Murray Miller’s script doesn’t just go into this back-and-forth narrative of the riders talking about the event but also the event itself as it also features commentary from an anti-doping agency head in Stu Ruckman (Nathan Fielder) as well as filmmaker J.J. Abrams and boxing legend Mike Tyson. The latter of which reveals his own original aspirations to be a cyclist until someone stole his bike and he beat the shit out of the guy.

Jake Szymanski’s direction definitely owe a lot to not just the documentary style of most documentary sport films but also has elements of French New Wave to play into France’s own coverage of the sport but also 1980s television. Notably as Szymanski uses some grainy video footage of the race which was covered by the BBC and its reporter Rex Honeycutt (James Marsden) as many of the compositions in the film are straightforward. The present-day scenes with the older bikers and some of the people interviewed including an anonymous racer (Lance Armstrong) as that interview is played for laughs in trying to conceal the identity of this racer. The film also play into some of the outrageous moments as it’s narrated by Jon Hamm that include a few animated sequences including one story about red blood cells that is created by a controversial animator in Victoria Young (Phylicia Rashad). Szymanski’s direction becomes more outrageous as the story goes on whether it’s Ditters on roid-rage or Peppi having to urinate while riding. It all plays into craziness of what goes on in the Tour de France. Overall, Szymanski creates an over-the-top yet exhilarating film about one of the most notorious races in the history of Tour de France.

Cinematographer Craig Kief does excellent work with the film’s cinematography from the clear and stylish look of the present-day interviews to the grainy VHS look of the race itself. Editors Michael Giambra, Daniel Reitzenstein, and Bijan Shams do amazing work with the editing with its usage of jump-cuts for the French coverage as well as some of the more straightforward elements in the interviews. Production designer Almira Corey, with set decorator Izzy Ross and art director Jen Dunlap, does fantastic work with the look of the set for the interviews as well as a massage room for the five riders to be in. Costume designer Romy Itzigsohn does some nice work with the look of the spandex costumes of the riders as well as the clothes they wear when they’re older.

The hair/makeup work of Annie Cardea, K.T. Chandler, Megan Nicholl, and Adina Sullivan do brilliant work with the look of the characters from the fake-drawn mustache of the young Baton to the crazy hairstyles of some of the characters including Peppi’s blond goatee. Visual effects supervisor Daniel Barone does terrific work with some of the visual effects in some of the photos as well as the look of the VHS footage. Sound designer Ken Cain does superb work with the sound in the way some of the fighting is presented as well as the VHS tapes. The film’s music by Gregory James Jenkins is wonderful as it play into the period of cheesy music that often accompany sporting events during the 1980s.

The casting by Susie Farris is great as it feature appearances from Joe Buck, Mike Tyson, filmmaker J.J. Abrams, and basketball legend Chris Webber as themselves talking about the event while Lance Armstrong is hilarious as the anonymous racer who talks about all of the things that happened at Tour de France that involves doping. Other notable small roles include Phylicia Rashad as the controversial animator Victoria Young, Maya Rudolph as a cycling magazine editor who lusts for cyclists, Will Forte as a French policeman who accidentally injects himself with amphetamines, and Kevin Bacon in a terrific performance as the former UCI president Ditmer Klerken who would waste all of his money on things that would amass into a big credit card debt. Nathan Fielder is fantastic as an anti-doping agency head who reveal what effects the drugs would do while Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is superb as Hass’ childhood neighbor who really hates Hass. James Marsden is excellent as the BBC reporter Rex Honeycutt as the man covering the event as well as doing what he can to interview the cyclists during the race.

Daveed Diggs and Danny Glover are brilliant in their respective roles as the younger and older version of Slim Robinson as the nephew of Jackie Robinson who was eager to become the first black cyclist to compete at Tour de France with Diggs being quite brash while Glover is more reserved yet both are very funny. Dolph Lundgren and John Cena are amazing in their respective roles as the younger and older version of Gustav Ditters with Lundgren as a more calm yet enjoyable approach as the older Ditters yet it is Cena who is a fucking riot as the overly-excited and roid-rage version of Ditters who would also use a mysterious substance. Freddie Highmore and Julia Ormond are marvelous in their respective roles as the younger/older version of Adrian Baton with Highmore as a young woman pretending to be a man with a drawn mustache and fake boobs while Ormond is just very straightforward as Adrianna Baton though where she’s interviewed is very surprising.

Andy Samberg/Jeff Goldblum are remarkable in their respective roles as the younger and older version of Marty Hass with Samberg as this very outrageous young version who is trying to prove that he’s a true African when he’s really hated by actual Africans while Goldblum is just funny in how laid-back he is. Finally, there’s Orlando Bloom in a hilarious performance as Juju Peppi as the Italian cyclist who is considered the best as he is willing to do whatever he can to win as Bloom just play him for laughs and delivers in every way.

Tour de Pharmacy is a phenomenal film from Jake Szymanski. Not only is it a hilarious mockumentary short about the world of doping in cycling but also play into the things that are just shocking but in a very funny way. In the end, Tour de Pharmacy is a sensational from Jake Szymanski.

Related: 7 Days in Hell

© thevoid99 2017

Sunday, July 09, 2017

The Enforcer

Directed by James Fargo and screenplay by Stirling Silliphant and Dean Riesner from a story by Gail Morgan Hickman and S.W. Schurr, The Enforcer is the story of Harry Callahan teaming up with an inexperienced yet determined woman detective to take down a terrorist ring. The third film in the Dirty Harry series has the often-prejudiced and cynical Harry team up with a woman for the first time as he shows her the ropes in the world of homicide and crime as he’s once again played by Clint Eastwood. Also starring Tyne Daly, Harry Guardino, Bradford Dillman, and DeVeren Bookwalter. The Enforcer is an exhilarating and intense film from James Fargo.

The film revolves a terrorist plot in which a group of people claiming to be revolutionaries as they demand a huge ransom prompting the police to try and stop things with Harry Callahan trying to find their identity after one of his colleagues was killed during a theft. While it’s a revenge movie of sorts, it’s also a film that explore a cop trying to do what is right but know he’s dealing with something different as well as coping with some of the politics in the police force. Joining Callahan in his pursuit is his new partner in a female rookie in Kate Moore (Tyne Daly) who has been selected as part of a new affirmative action enforced by the mayor which makes Callahan uneasy due to Moore’s inexperience on the field as she spent much of her work in records.

The film’s screenplay doesn’t just explore Callahan’s reluctance in taking in someone inexperienced as his partner but also the fact that he’s dealing with a group of people who are just causing terror. When Callahan talks to a black militant leader in “Big” Ed Mustapha (Albert Popwell) who knows a former member of his group that is part of the organization. Things become complicated behind the scenes as it’s an election year where Callahan’s superiors want to make Callahan and Moore as poster-people for all that is good yet neither of them are proud. Especially the former who sees what he does is just a job and nothing else as commendations and such don’t mean anything other than see that justice is served.

James Fargo’s direction is quite simple in terms of the compositions he creates as it doesn’t have any kind of stylish angles though it begins in a darkly-comical manner in which two men from a gas company pick up a gorgeous woman wearing scantily-clad clothing. Of course, they are just pawns in the game of these individual who practically kill them and use their truck for other means as it establishes who the antagonists are and what they aim to do. Much of Fargo’s direction has him use medium shots and close-ups to focus on some of the action and interaction between characters while he would a lot of wide shots for the many locations in and around San Francisco where the film is set. Fargo’s approach to the action is intense as is some of the violence where there are moments that is quite graphic in how some people are killed which is something that Moore is being introduced to in such a big way. Even as the film include a bombing and a scene early in the film in which Callahan disrupts a robbery by giving them what they want as it shows his no-nonsense approach to getting the job done. The film’s climax at the island of Alcatraz prison where it is this big showdown between this gang of terrorists and the duo of Callahan and Moore as it’s all about trying to save San Francisco. Overall, Fargo creates a thrilling and gripping film about a cop and his new partner taking down a terrorist group wreaking havoc in San Francisco.

Cinematographer Charles W. Short does excellent work with the film’s cinematography as it is quite straightforward in the way the daytime scenes look as well as the usage of low-key lights for the scenes at night. Editors Joel Cox and Ferris Webster do nice work with the editing as it is straightforward for its approach to the action and suspense. Art director Allen E. Smith and set decorator Ira Bates do fantastic work with the look of some of the places the characters go into such as a church, a mysterious brothel, and a porno film set during a chase scene.

Costume designer Glenn Wright does terrific work with the costumes from the ragged hippie/army-like clothing of the terrorist group to the more straight-laced look of Callahan and Moore. The sound work of Bert Hallberg is superb for the presentation some of the action as well as way gunfire and rocket launchers sound. The film’s music by Jerry Fielding is amazing for its jazz-driven score that help play into the suspense and some of the film’s action scenes as it is a highlight of the film.

The casting by Mary Goldberg is brilliant as it feature some notable small roles from Joe Spano and Rudy Ramos as a couple of liquor store robbers that are taken down by Callahan, M.G. Kelly as a corrupt priest who is helping the terrorist group, Jocelyn Jones as the scantily-clad woman that is actually part of the terrorist group, Samantha Doane as another female member of the terrorist group named Wanda, Michael Cavanaugh as the terrorist group’s second-in-command, and John Mitchum as Callahan’s old friend and partner Frank “Fatso” DiGiorgio. John Crawford is terrific as the mayor who sees the pairing of Callahan and Moore as good publicity that he wants to use for his re-election while Albert Popwell is superb as the black militant leader “Big” Ed Mustapha who would help give Callahan some information as he sees Callahan as one of the few white people he can trust.

DeVeren Bookwalker is wonderful as the crazed terrorist leader Bobby Maxwell as someone who is just trying to pretend to use a cause for his actions when he is really just about money. Harry Guardino is excellent as Lt. Bressler as a superior of Callahan who is a man of reason as he’s trying to make sure Callahan doesn’t go overboard. Bradford Dillman is fantastic as Captain Jerome McKay as Callahan’s top superior who doesn’t like Callahan or his methods as he tries to make him the poster-boy for accepting this new wave of affirmative action as he’s more concerned with advancing his career prospects rather than do what is right. Tyne Daly is amazing as Inspector Kate Moore as a police officer who transferred from records to homicide in this new affirmative action initiative is someone who is determined to do her job and impress Callahan as well as get into the real aspects of her work in homicide. Finally, there’s Clint Eastwood in a marvelous performance as Harry Callahan as the no-nonsense police detective who knows how to get the job done as he’s trying to fulfill his duties for justice while being reluctant in taking in a new partner as he also copes with the loss of a friend and refusing to become some poster-boy for one’s political gain.

The Enforcer is a remarkable film from James Fargo that feature top-notch performances from Clint Eastwood and Tyne Daly. Along with some thrilling action and suspense scenes as well as a look into the world of homegrown terrorism and political ambition. It’s a film that explore a man dealing with changing times but also knowing that justice still matters. In the end, The Enforcer is an excellent film from James Fargo.

Dirty Harry Films: Dirty Harry - Magnum Force - Sudden ImpactThe Dead Pool

© thevoid99 2017

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Magnum Force

Directed by Ted Post and screenplay by John Milius and Michael Cimino from a story by Milius with ideas from Terrence Malick, Magnum Force is the second film in the Dirty Harry series that has Harry Callahan dealing with renegade cops who have taken the law into their own hands seeing his own ideas become distorted. The film is an exploration of vigilante justice and its fallacies as Clint Eastwood reprises his role as Dirty Harry Callahan as someone who has his own methods of justice is trying to make sure it’s done for the right reasons. Also starring Hal Holbrook, Robert Ulrich, David Soul, Mitchell Ryan, Felton Perry, and Tim Matheson. Magnum Force is a thrilling yet eerie film from Ted Post.

Following the death of a mob leader after he was acquitted for a crime he did commit, the film revolves around Harry Callahan trying to investigate these murders as he believes that it’s not in the hand of criminals but rather people in the San Francisco Police Department. Notably as they’ve taken on the idea of vigilante justice which makes Callahan uneasy though others believe the murders are in the hands of rival mobsters and such which is something Callahan doesn’t think is true. The film’s screenplay by John Milius and Michael Cimino doesn’t just explore this wave of vigilante justice that is causing trouble but also Callahan’s own reaction to it as some believe that he started it. Callahan doesn’t get involved in the investigation due to having to work another assignment as he takes a closer look at these killings where he finds himself having to spar with his new superior in Lt. Briggs (Hal Holbrook).

With his new partner Earlington “Early” Smith (Felton Perry) helping him, Callahan doesn’t just try to do his job and take down criminals but he is someone that is aware of his limitations. One of the themes in the film is limitations as the line “man’s got to know his limitations” is something Callahan would often say as it would also refer to Lt. Briggs who tries to maintain some control. The script also play into Callahan’s personal life as he does live alone while also helps out the wife of a fellow officer in Charlie McCoy (Mitchell Ryan) who is becoming unhinged through alcoholism. McCoy is initially a suspect since the script reveals that the killer is a traffic cop often riding a motorcycle but Callahan doesn’t think it’s him as he catches the eye of four new traffic cops who would compete with him in a shootout contest.

Ted Post’s direction does have some elements of style as it starts off with a sequence at San Francisco’s City Hall where a trial had just finished where he uses hand-held cameras to get through the crowd and then follow into this sequence of a mobster in his car with his attorney and two associates as they’re stopped by a traffic cop who kills them. Shot on location in San Francisco and areas nearby, Post’s direction would have him use a lot of wide shots for some of the locations but also in scenes that play into the suspense such as an attack on a pool party or a hit from a penthouse with the cops watching from a building across the street. Yet, he favors more intimate shots in close-ups and medium shots while putting in bits of style such as the low-camera angle shots or high angle shots for some scenes as it relates to the investigation.

The close-ups are a big deal for some of the violence such as the first kill and other kills as it help obscure the identity of the killers. The moments of violence are far more intense as it relate to what the killers are doing in comparison to what Callahan does when he has to deal with criminals. The third act isn’t just about the reveal of who are the vigilante cops but also their ideas of justice which doesn’t sit well with Callahan as it reveal what kind of man he is and why he will always do what is right no matter how much he can disagree with the ideas of the law. Overall, Post creates a chilling yet engaging film about a police investigator dealing with the idea of vigilante justice.

Cinematographer Frank Stanley does excellent work with the film’s colorful cinematography with the look of the daytime exterior scenes as well as the usage of low-key lights for some of the interiors in the day and night. Editor Ferris Webster does some nice work with the editing as it is quite straightforward with some rhythmic cuts for some of the suspense. Art director Jack T. Collis and set decorator John Lamphear do fantastic work with the look of the offices of the police as well as the apartment home of Callahan. The sound work of James R. Alexander is terrific for the way gunfire sounds as well as some of the intense action that is presented. The film’s music by Lalo Schifrin is amazing for its jazz-driven score that help play into the suspense as well as some of the film’s action scenes.

The casting by Nessa Hyams is superb as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Suzanne Somers as a topless pool girl killed in a massacre, Adele Yoshioka as a neighbor of Callahan who flirts with him, Richard Devon as a mob leader who is acquitted and then killed early in the film, Tony Giorgio as a mob leader who is suspected for all of the killings, Christine White as McCoy’s wife, Bob McClurg as a cab driver befriending a hooker who is later confronted by her pimp, Margaret Avery as the hooker, Albert Popwell as the pimp, John Mitchum as Callahan’s fellow inspector Frank “Fatso” DiGiorgio who would stakeout one of the mob targets who would be assassinated, and Mitchell Ryan as Callahan’s troubled traffic cop friend Charlie McCoy who is unraveling through his alcoholism as he becomes a suspect because he’s a motorcycle cop.

The quartet that consists of Kip Nevin, Robert Ulrich, Tim Matheson, and David Soul are fantastic as rookie traffic cops that intrigue Callahan as Soul’s character John Davis is the big standout as someone who is very good with a gun. Felton Perry is excellent as Callahan’s new partner Early Smith as a man who is new to the world of homicide as he is also quite resourceful in getting the job done and handle things under pressure as he is one of the few who sticks with Callahan’s views on what is really going on. Hal Holbrook is brilliant as Lt. Neil Briggs as Callahan’s new superior who tries to instill his own ideas of enforcement where he makes Callahan uneasy but is willing to listen to what Callahan is thinking about. Finally, there’s Clint Eastwood in an incredible performance as Harry Callahan as the no-nonsense investigator whose weapon is a .44 Magnum as he is aware of what is happening but also uses his instincts to know something is off as he believes that the killer or killers aren’t hitmen but rather someone in the police force as it’s Eastwood at his best.

Magnum Force is a sensational from Ted Post that features an iconic Clint Eastwood in one of his defining roles. Along with its strong ensemble cast, a gripping screenplay by John Milius and Michael Cimino, and top-notch action. It’s a film that explore the ideas of justice and how it can be distorted for some forcing Dirty Harry to set things right. In the end, Magnum Force is a remarkable film from Ted Post.

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