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The Score

Directed by Frank Oz

Starring: Marlon Brando, Robert de Niro and Edward Norton

I have always strongly believed that the right successor to Marlon Brando is Robert de Niro and Al Pacino. No films have highlighted this fact any other than the first two Godfather films. In the first, Pacino plays son to Brandos Don Corleone, while in the second, de Niro plays the younger Corleone. While Pacino never appeared with Brando again, de Niro gets to be paired with the old master of Method in The Score, a slightly lethargic but exciting heist caper. Imagine, movie buffs, the young and the old Vito Corleone in the same scene! Very exciting.

In addition to these casts, we have Edward Norton, a hotshot young actor, and since this is a genre film, everybody is more or less just enjoying himself or herself. Of course, I have got to mention this; Brando had problem with the director Frank Oz, and wanted de Niro to direct all his scenes. This news is debatable, and personally I dont care. Scenes with and without Brando worked very well.

Heist movies have mostly worked, and I believe The Score should be listed as one of the classics, simply for the last forty minutes when the actual heist takes place. There, remains the problem. It takes time to develop its story, introduce the character and build the suspense. The latter is not realised until the final part and fans of action may be disappointed with it. I sat through the whole thing mainly for its actor.

I cannot take my eyes of Brando and de Niro. These two guys defined and redefined acting for Hollywood, and probably anywhere else. Both have gone to the extend very few have, and many imitated. Here, both are relaxed, and mostly, enjoying themselves. Only of recent, both of them have involved themselves in commercial genre films, considering that in the past, most of what they did were award material. Here, there is no need for Method, just follow the script and everything will fall in place. One must congratulate director Frank Oz for the good build-up towards the climax.

As usual, lighten up and enjoy it. You might find plenty of problems during the first half. There is still suspense here and there, but a trifle on the cliché side. If you are patient, you are in for a big treat. There is plenty of hardware involved, and even if they look a bit fancy, they are, like the characters, very believable. Sooner or later you will understand what is going on. It is simple and doesnt need the audience to crack theirs or others head. The final scene had me literally on the edge of my seat. It has been a long time since that happened.

Again, fans of action need to back off. No explosions, no car chase and no fights. Just plenty of suspense and edge-of-your-seat thrill. Oh yeah, there is a statement about listening to the older and the wiser.

Terrorist (1975)
Directed by: Caspar Wrede
Starring: Sean Connery and Ian McShane.
This film is also called The Ransom, not to be confused with the mild action film starring Mel Gibson.

The film set in the Scandinavian country (called Scandinavia in the movie, while it is shot in Norway), the snow atmosphere and the heavily dressed characters somehow dictated the slowness of the pace in the movie. Nevertheless, it's exciting. The whole look is not your conventional Hollywood actioner, while at the same time deserves the same class as that of the late sixties/early seventies crime/caper movies like Bullit, French Connection, Taking Pelham One, Two and Three and Dirty Harry.

Connery is fun to watch. He really adds to the atmosphere of the movie and the relatively tame climax looks good with his presence. Good movie.


Total Recall (1990).

Directed by: Paul Verhoeven

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenneger and Michael Ironside.

About million years ago, (ten to be exact) I saw this movie and thought of it simply as "Hey, another Arnold shoot-em-up, bash-em-up" stuff. I was much younger and had less use of my brain. The latter was what I supposed to do for Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. Leave em out and enjoy the guilty pleasure.

But wait! Ten years forward and I got to see it again. What a surprise! The movie worked way better than it did. What better, I got to do thinking these days, and applied it in this movie with good results. This movie is certainly a thinking man's action sci-fi. No offence to non-thinking man, since it can still entertain too, as it did for me ten years back.

There is enough plot twist and turn in this Paul Verhoeven directed feature to make The Matrix look like an episode of Tom and Jerry. No offence to Tom and Jerry, of course. The story, based on Philip K. Dicks short story, never seem to date, and it gave Arnold a lot of excuse to actually er...act. You got me right. He actually did some serious acting in this movie. I'm serious. But what is an Arnold movie without Arnold being...Arnold. The violence is still pretty gory, but acceptable when it is okay with the story. Arnold usually doesnt punch bad guys. He THUMPS them. And here, he got to do more than that.

There are the usual special effects that made us go WHOA!!! with capital letters those days. It still looks okay, but with a pair of eye trained to spot even the CGI scenes in Lord of the Ring, I felt a trifle uncomfortable with them. Just consider the time it was made and you'll be fine.

This movie is heaven sent for Arnold fan, and definitely worth checking out for non-Arnold fans. I think this is easily Verhoevens best work. Yes, the violence, the campy dialogues and the one-liners are all there, but all in the name of fun and some serious thinking. Unravelling the plot, for a slow bugger like me, takes time, but it was worth the ride.

By the way, did I mention Sharon Stone is in this picture? Great, huh? Well, don't get excited, buddy. She never strips.

Von Ryan's Express (1965)

Director: Mark Robson

Starring: Frank Sinatra, Trevor Howard,

I was never a fan of Frank Sinatra. While I had always like him as a singer, I never thought he would make a good star, especially competing with other tough guys like Steve Mc Queen, and later, Eastwood and Connery. Hah! I am still right, but I learned to like him. Especially after this movie.

The second hour of this movie is fast. Really fast, and suspenseful. Honestly, I didnt expect this from a movie of that time. You will find yourself with the characters and root for them as they escape from the Germans in World War Two. Oh yes, thats what the plot is all about.

While the first hour is equally good, there might be a bit of drabness. A Ive-seen-it-all stuff, especially when it concerns the World War 11 prison life. We have seen it in Wilders Stalag 17, Sturges The Great Escape and many others. But it contained this line which tickled me:

American prisoners (When Frank, an air-Corp colonel, couldnt do much for them): I shouldnt known. Hes a bird colonel.

Sinatra: Well, a bird colonel outranks birdbrain. Clear!

It goes on for a while, all that prison scenes. But when Sinatra and the gang are out, boy you are in for a great thrill ride.

I will not spoil you with the details of the escape. But the ending...I mean...it should have...but it was good. Just that...oh, hell, check it out yourself. It is a brilliant piece of filmmaking. I wonder what happened to Mark Robson. Is he related to Bobby and Bryan? Lets check IMDB.


Note: The cast is interesting. Theres Trevor Howard, who is in his Captain Bligh mode (He did the Brando version of Mutiny of the Bounty remember). There was Adolfo Celi, who, in the year before, appeared as Bond Baddie, Emilio Largo. We get to hear his real voice in this one, and goddamit! It sounds the same as his dubbed voice. Also, watch out for a young Edward Mulhare, who would, in the eighties, appear as Devon in The Knight Rider. As if you care! Hey, I do okay. It was a damn nice car.

White Hunter Black Heart (1989)
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Jeff Fahey
Forget Eastwood in Unforgiven. This film marks the best performance of his career, as an actor and director. Loosely based on events concerning the making of The African Queen, especially the director John Houston, the film takes us for a journey into the wilderness of Africa as well as the mind and the antics of the wild and unpredictable director. Film buffs can catch a hint or two of the original film, but what fascinates is the way Eastwood capture the essence of the role. John Wilson will be the most memorable role in Eastwood's career. Should have titled in Hearts of Darkness.

What separates this from most of other Eastwood' especially the self-directed features is the central role itself. Eastwood had just directed Bird at that time, a biography about Charlie Parker, a great saxophonist, and a great talent with a penchant for self-destruction. It was played by Forest Whittaker. John Wilson (or Houston) has similarities with Charlie Parker, with a touch or grandeur in himself. His obsession with the killing of elephant is more than filmmakers dream for symbolism. It was an adventure by itself, when first and foremost, he is supposed to be filming another.

What a character Wilson turned out to be! Consider this dialogue (not exact, but somewhere there), when Peter Viertel (Jeff Fahey) confronts Wilson (Eastwood) about killing the elephant, which he thinks is a crime.

Wilson: Its not a Crime to kill an elephant, kid.... Its a sin! Its the only kind of sin that you can get a license and go out and kill an elephant. And you know why I am doing it?

Viertal doesnt know.

Wilson: cause its the wrong thing to do.

Eastwood, his cigar, the mannerism, the slight stammering, the movements of his hands, gesticulating his words, are all but the mark of a professional actor. Eastwood excelled himself in this one; something he never did afterwards, even in Unforgiven, which was not a great deal of work for him compared to this.

Though it can be seen as trifle depressing, it is not disappointing in entertainment value. Eastwood delivers. He didnt disappoint the critics, but the audience was at those times. I would like to plead with the audience to give it another look. Its great.


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