This is another brilliant collaboration between Sidney Lumet and Sean Connery(and Ian Bannen); for those who read my review of The Hill I neglected to mention Bannen's contribution simply because there's so much in The Hill. Not just from Ian Bannen, but without getting sidetracked, like The Hill, this Lumet masterpiece could just as easily be a stage play; set within the confines of bare walls it is unadulterated and intense drama from start to finish. It's simple introduction setting a scene of ma no a ma no interrogation from which literally only one man will walk away-and even then, he won't leave the situation the same as he entered it.
Connery plays the macho man's man copper, no nonsense and straight to the point, whereas Bannen is articulate and softly spoken with a slimy manner, also the question of his guilt is never ascertained. The chemistry between the two actors (Connery and Bannen) is magnificent; the circumstances under which He's brought in, wondering the streets at midnight in what appears a drunken state with mud all over his trousers following the abduction and rape of a young girl who was found in a wooded area are solid reasons for questioning him. And He(Johnson) asks perfectly pertinent questions such as why Baxter doesn't want to call his wife and let her know where he is in case she's worried and why he was doing out at that time and in that state. Baxter responds with dubious answers, at first refusing to speak without a lawyer present and also insisting on giving his speaking with the Chief Inspector but Johnson presses him. There's no real case against Baxter as He's no prior record of any criminal nature but more than making a case Johnson needs to nail Baxter to purge himself of the clear sexual arousal he feels from the horrors He's witnessed in the throughout his career as a policeman. Johnson presses Baxter for answers repeatedly in a psychological duel, one minute one at the others mercy and the next the roles reversed ending in Baxter's murder at the hands of Johnson.
Going back to the pertinent questions put to Baxter by Johnson in a professional capacity, Baxter quickly see's through Johnson's persona of policeman to the vulnerable, damaged person beneath who he begins to taunt and provoke. Now, let's assume Baxter's innocent; a child has been abducted and raped and the police are questioning you for it. Whether he likes the police or not he has children of his own so why can he not appreciate the seriousness of the crime? He instead takes the opportunity to torment an already very tormented man in order to massage his ego. Why would you not just eliminate yourself from their inquiry.
At the end of this film I felt Johnson had achieved the peace of mind he was searching for by a very twisted road.
I've seen videogames with worse graphics but better stories
Admittedly I'm years late with a review for this but what the hell; my inspiration was recently watching other Jim Cameron classics and then remembering just how f**king HORRENDOUS this was and wondered if it was just me. When I saw it had a 7.9 average on here I simply felt compelled to add my own personal feelings on the subject, especially seeing as it's on sequel God knows what by now. Yeah OK Cameron is a director of cult classics generally but even for a commercial movie Titanic was very good, but somewhere in his hiatus he must have sold his soul. Like other excellent sci-fi directors such as Paul Verhoeven, Cameron's work was never devoid of political undertones; but, that said, they endeavoured to maintain their objectivity whilst inspiring the imagination of their viewer in order that the vision of the future laid out in the movie is plausible. This required acting skills and character development in order that it's audience relate to the experiences of it's characters. Cameron in the past packed his movies with a rich multitude of capable actors portraying fleshed out characters e.g Aliens; where the cast interacts, developing affections and animosities as the movie progresses. I feel as if I'm stating the startlingly obvious here but what the hell in a world of lies the truth is a revolutionary thing and anyone and everyone can feel the new world order agenda behind this.
A touch long-winded admittedly, but a well-crafted motion picture still
Any movie based on a successful book never lives up to the book, that said, Kevin Costner never failed to convey the principles laid out in David Brin's excellent novel The Postman about social responsibility and how fragile a thing civilization is. People criticized The Postman simply because the bottom line of it is that you can't wait for someone else to solve your problems for you and that you must consider a greater good beyond yourself and in-turn take the brunt of things on oneself at times. Not a terribly exciting twist I know,but a fundamentally under-realized reality of not just this movie but life itself. When Costner's character first arrives masquerading as a postman on behalf of "The Restored United States" the people of the village bombard him with questions about "the Marines" or "the President" or other institutions in which they'd believed to which he responds by saying "we've all got to do our bit".
He begins as an actor drifting from place to place and simply dons the outfit of a postman by chance, invents a back-story to support his new role and goes through the motions of delivering letters in exchange for sustenance i.e food and shelter. He has the initial luck on the way when by chance there just happens to be a letter in his stolen mail bag for someone in the village he arrives at-but not an implausible amount. From this beginning however his example inspires at first one young man who goes on to recruit his friends who now, because of Gordon, have something to believe in. This movie manages to convey a message of hope that one person can change the course of things dramatically by taking responsibility and daring to challenge established sets of values.
Asking the important question "how far are any(or all) of us from societal collapse
This movie is truly excellent, on the level of being the kind of film that you can watch many times from the many different perspectives that life affords you over time.
Fundamentally, D-FENS begins this movie teetering on the edge of the great abyss of savagery that at his core every man understands at some level. At this moment he is weighing in his mind what he has in life to hold on for and discovers...nothing! No job, no home, no family and in-turn no self respect. In response to this epiphany he decides to simply perform a basic act of visiting his involuntarily estranged daughter as there is no logical justification that he doesn't. Woven into this story are many excellent examples of how things such as Political Correctness and the state of mind that it induces have transformed the world we live in into a living hell. Not just Political Correctness but the whole "no you can't, just in case" culture of the modern world e.g. D-FENS Restraining Order has been granted not because of any violent acts he has committed but because "there were times when I thought he might". Just as Prendergast's restriction to desk duty that his wife insists on is based on him being wounded once in the line of duty. It begs the question of what should we do instead, just in case something might go wrong, nothing? And isn't the living I hell of the world that that philosophy in practice has created worse than the potentially negative outcomes of taking the risks of maybe hurting yourself or someone else or offending someone?
The film is rich in allegory and metaphor with a clear parallel to draw between it's pro and antagonist. At the beginning of the movie D-FENS has lost everything; job, home, family and Prendergast is a man who has lost his only child and is on the brink of an involuntary premature retirement that will mean he will lose his last vestige of manhood and self-respect, in short, his feelings toward D-FENS are ones of empathy.
The climax of the film, which is where the richest metaphor lies in that the two stand at the end of a pier, in Los Angeles(the western-most tip of the western world) where D- FENS is held at gun-point; where he is offered the option of surrendering his miserable existence on one side of the bars for the other when he does what is essentially the simultaneously selfless and selfish thing in one by bluffing Prendergast into a Draw- on-three when he is not really armed. This action is selfish for the obvious reason that D- FENS gets to commit suicide by-proxy(in-turn not facing the consequences of his actions) but selfless in that at the price of his courage to enter a confrontation without knowing that a safe outcome is guaranteed Prendergast gets to experience the uncertainty of life and the enjoyment of triumphing over it and in-turn realizes that his job may be the only thing he has to hold onto that stops him falling down the abyss that D-FENS has.
This movie is brilliant because as a fan of post- apocalypse movies, which commonly come in the Sci-fi genre, this one is on it's own in that it is a contemporary post- apocalypse movie rich in many opposites; hope and despair, tragedy and comedy, with no clear hero or villain and the only thing setting D-FENS apart from anyone he comes into confrontation with being that D-FENS has consciously chosen to surrender his responsibility to society whereas his rivals have likely never asked such questions. One might say that this is a story of too much, too late; when D-FENS protests "I did everything they told me" I would respond by saying that that was what on a large scale had created the world we live in which these days when I see people pushing shopping carts, digging through trash, trying to find something of value to sell to make ends meet between welfare cheques I can't help but to conclude that this movie was ahead of it's time.
I almost overlooked this movie the first time around, simply because I found what I now realize was essential scene-setting for the plot too much; in that the so cool characters it first introduces us to and their so cool lives were such a successful personification of the soulless, shallow Hell that is the modern world that I wrote it off initially as propaganda for that philosophy. But I was only 17 at the time and lacked the patience that this movie was asking for. If anything it's to the credit of it's creators, both seen and unseen that the movie encompassed the impact so early on to stir a visceral reaction in it's viewer.
Frankie's life is one of meaningless fun and the mere thought of anything meaningful to her and her peer-group is out of the question. Frankie clearly, from the outset is not as superficial as her friends; this we see as she takes seriously the prospect of being pregnant whilst her closest friend Donna simply implies that she should get an abortion, also that the casual nature of her relationship with Steven bothers her. As the reality of the Stigmata and all it's ramifications take over her life her friends and colleagues begin to distance themselves from her. I am pleased to say about this movie that as predictable as the involvement between Frankie and the Priest was it didn't degrade the story; Frankie, despite living a shallow existence is at root a kind and what you might say "Christian" person. She gives money to people begging, she doesn't jump to the choice of abortion as a reflex action because she understands that an abortion(termination) is the taking of a life, she resents being used for sex by her lover Steven, in short, subconsciously she is deeply desiring that her life should have meaning. Into this void, in timely fashion steps Father Andrew Kiernan; the interaction between Gabriel Byrne and Patricia Arquette really gives strength to the story for many reasons. One being the excellent chemistry between the two. He incites in her faith as she leads him into temptation. He is a stranger to her who displays genuine compassion when she is someone with many friends who all distance themselves from her as she begins to need them deeply. Underwriting this also is the fact that despite an age gap the prospect of a relationship between the two isn't a ridiculous thing to suggest, partly because the actors in question work well to convince us of it. Gabriel Byrne's character of Father Andrew Kiernan also helps us to see why he is so incongruous to the Priesthood in that he is too genuinely Christian to represent the Vatican. Practising real Christian values such as going out and associating with prostitutes without being judgmental or not feeling threatened by the possibility of the Vatican or organized church in general losing their monopoly on God.
The Film's overall message of how Faith can exist in a world that seems determined to destroy it is a satisfying one. One might even say that the scenes of the extreme banal(a contradiction I realize) on which the film opens, but extremes, as terrible as they might be do nonetheless allow us to see if not what a thing is then at least what it is not and that Evil, if it is real(I think it is),would definitely harness Banality and Neutrality because at it's heart the Right decision isn't always an obvious one and that to do the Right thing we must take the chance of doing the Wrong thing and that the worst thing to do is acquiesce and fail to take part.
I've never disliked but never really rated Stallone:
First Blood is the only time I've witnessed Stallone perform in a moving acting performance. This is throughout the whole movie but climaxes in the closing scene where Rambo breaks down in the arms of Trautman, the finely- tuned killing machine of his labours that despite his best efforts is still in possession of the mess of human emotion that you might call a soul. The movie begins with Rambo making his way into a small town to find his former comrades only to find that they're all dead, this opening is essential to setting a scene for the action of the movie which is brought on by Rambo who becomes a dangerous man as he walks into town on a downer, having lost those closest to him and clinging to very little; he is hassled by the despicable Sheriff Teasle. Who decides to assert his petty authority by abusing Rambo's right to move freely about the town in absence of any legislative backing. Rambo stands by his principles however and when ordered to leave the town flaunts Teasle's authority and marches back in to which Teasle pulls out his gun and arrests Rambo on trumped-up charges. The character of Teasle and his behaviour throughout the film really say a lot about the creeping in of Big-Government following the Vietnam war. In the opening scenes of the movie we see Teasle leaving the station, saying a hello to all the town's people, who greet him cheerfully as he herds them like cattle. They basically love their captor, and present no challenges to him as they rely heavily on him to maintain order in the town. Teasle however soon crosses paths with Rambo, who doesn't care for his status as Sheriff and offends his(Teasle's) masculinity. The cops in this story depict Big-Government perfectly, they're for the most-part fat, out-of-shape, out-of-touch amateurs who in the absence of any real civil unrest have taken to simply picking on citizens for not bathing regularly or cutting their hair(literally). Their incongruity to Rambo, a battle-hardened, battle-scarred even, witness to atrocities of war explodes into a chain reaction of events that spiral beyond Teasle's control. Enter Colonel Trautman who proposes to Teasle to swallow his pride and let Rambo "slip through". A prominent underlying theme throughout the movie is male pride, ego, in short. Rambo stands his ground as a man on the edge of society with nothing left to lose, Teasle abuses his position and in-turn Rambo's rights in order to hold onto the stature that the town's people hold him in. Trautman offers sound, sensible advice to Teasle on how to minimize the casualties only because he feels he has the upper-hand in that if Teasle persists in pursuing Rambo then Rambo(the manifestation of his own ego) will obliterate Teasle and his men(which he readily says to Teasle). Towards the end of this movie as Rambo corners Teasle in the station, basically humbling the king in his own castle you can't help but side with Trautman's advice, having seen the whole town brought to it's knees by the stupid pride of Teasle. What underwrites all the action and drama of this movie are the emotional scenes; the first when the pursuit of Rambo begins and the cops venture into the woods in hot pursuit. Where Rambo camoflauges himself and the forest springs to life on Teasle and Rambo holds a knife to his throat. Followed by tears from Teasle; it doesn't take much imagination to know he would be crying because he'd literally peed his pants. And secondly Rambo's tearful confession to Trautman, who for all his showing off to Teasle is I'll-equipped to provide the emotional support that Rambo needs then and there. One major issue of this movie is the treatment of ex-vets, I'm not pro- war, the opposite in-fact. But the majority of people in western societies just simply don't give a damn either way. However, when it comes to unjustified wars a lack of objection is all the support it needs. That said, the same don't give a damn either way attitude is certainly lacking in compassion, something returning veterans are often in desperate need of.
The Hill is one of those movies that's easy to overlook, if it weren't for the power of the drama involved; it's cloudless, bleak setting. Filmed in black and white by choice, set to a backdrop of stone walls means that it's cast really have to work bard to bring it to life-which of course they do. And that's where it's strength lies, in that it can be watched over and over and reveal more each time. It's main strength is it's authenticity, but depending on the perspective you watch it from it's many story lines running parallel can take precedence over others depending on your individual perspective. What I'm trying to say is this movie challenges the meaning of the saying "reading between the lines": e.g the first time I watched The Hill I was 14, watching it with my dad. I took in the face value of Williams vs Roberts whereas my dad emphasized to me the dangerous nature of RSM Wilson, the what could only be implied at the time of the medical officer's negligence to his responsibilities to the inmates and is merely using his position to vent his frustrated homosexuality. The Commandant, taking a wage and leaving the running of the prison to RSM Wilson, who on closer contemplation is so clearly narcissistic; take for example the scene in which the prisoners are on the verge of rioting, Wilson keeps his cool and demands the men be let out to face the guards who will not arm themselves(his orders) and basically stands toe-to-toe with the whole prison by calling their bluff. For those of us conscious at this point, you can't miss Wilson's arrogance/confidence/narcissism as he beckons the call to confront the might of the common man in this miniature society surviving in the isolation of the desert. Everything in his actions displays his contempt toward the inmates as he dances in the mouth of the beast, in effect saying to anyone listening that anyone can do his job if they have the courage, but they do not. On the subject of Williams, he, like Wilson, is a narcissist; constantly pushing his luck. Exceeding the limits dictated to him, and demanding that those around him protect him by keeping his secrets. This movie offers a brilliant insight into the dynamics of power and hierarchy and how they are so easily surpassed by one person who has, be it the arrogance,courage,gall,contempt or what ever one might call it, depending on their opinion on the subject. Also Wilson's relationship with Roberts; I personally feel that Wilson can't help but feel inadequate to Roberts, not only is Roberts his equal in rank but he is the real deal in that he is fresh from the battlefield. Wilson and all the staff of the prison are simply "scared of the sound of gunfire". Because of this Wilson can't break Roberts because he hasn't the higher ground of authority, either from rank or experience to speak from.
In the closing summary, The Hill asks questions such as where does civilization begin and barbarity end or vice-versa? What is social responsibility,and when and where is the point that we simply cannot ignore our own individual social responsibility? It's climax displays the inevitable(but not predictable) end. Roberts, being bright enough to have foreseen it, has pleaded for the support of his cell mates; all of whom have been reluctant to give it. In mitigation one might do well to remember that these men, if unsuccessful could face the charge of mutiny which carried the death penalty in the time in which the film is set. The overall message this film carries is that conflict in life is unavoidable, and that if you don't confront what is looming it will eventually find and demand the confrontation it seeks.
Cyborg is pure Sci-Fi for the old school of tin foil, sticky back plastic, and silver spray paint special-effects team. Sets range from rubbish tips to derelict buildings and sewers; there's no complex story lines to dwell on. Just a plague induced apocalypse and a personal vendetta for justice to set the backdrop for some of the greatest choreographed fight scenes of all-time. A nobody cast of big body nasties who look the part and have little to no dialogue. It's this perfect brew that allows the directors vision to come through unadulterated, and yet in spite of it's simplicity Cyborg manages to be deep and meaningful for those who care to look. For example, in the closing scene, upon delivering the cure, Gibson refuses the hospitality of those in Atlanta, stating to his partner "we're needed out there, let's go". Also, Gibson's vendetta towards Fender is for revenge for the murder of his adopted family and the attempted murder of himself. This narrative is told through flashbacks throughout the movie, in which he recalls his surrendering his way of life as a Slinger, laying down his arms to live a life of peace with the woman who has taken him as her husband and the children who have taken him as a father figure to them. Their murder is recalled by Gibson as he hangs from the crucifix crafted by Fender's cronies, it is his recollection of laying injured at the bottom of a well alongside their corpses and his realization that he IS still alive that prompts him to climb, despite his injuries, despite his grief, toward the daylight; and in defiance of the evil of the world in which he lives, fight for life and civilization and this in turn spurs him to fight free from the crucifix on which he hangs. This is, to me, symbolic in a religious sense; a man put to death on the cross returning to claim victory over his enemies. Also it speaks of the indomitable human spirit that refuses to admit defeat, Gibson's chosen life as a Slinger, which his murdered spouse questions as little better than that of the Pirates. Gibson could just as easily join a pirate gang and become party to their evil if he were willing to sell his soul and take pleasure in the pain of others, yet he chooses to retain his individuality and in turn his integrity.
There's nothing to not love about this movie, if you want a kick arse no brainer action movie you got it, but if you care to look, you've got great action to keep you entertained underwritten with a deeper lesson about the human spirit to survive.