Two New York cops get involved in a gang war between members of the Yakuza, the Japanese Mafia. They arrest one of their killers and are ordered to escort him back to Japan. In Japan, ... See full summary »
Set during the grand, sweeping Napoleonic age, an officer in the French army insults another officer and sets off a life-long enmity. The two officers, D'Hubert and Feraud, cross swords ... See full summary »
A British investment broker inherits his uncle's chateau and vineyard in Provence, where he spent much of his childhood. He discovers a new laid-back lifestyle as he tries to renovate the estate to be sold.
A true story about a group of American teenage boys who crew a school sailing ship to gain experience, discipline, or whatever their parents feel they lack. The voyage is a true adventure for them all but it has its downs as well as ups. Written by
could've been corny and preachy but is actually rousing and tough and formidably directed
White Squall is based on a true story; ultimately tragic but also of the 'inspiring' sort we get often at the movies. It could've been the kind of corny 'this is what I learned and now I'm blah blah' kind of storytelling that gets excruciating after a while in Hollywood movies. Apparently, thankfully, Ridley Scott knew this and took on White Squall as a challenge: take a character ensemble, the kind of 'male camaraderie' picture that with a few alterations (i.e. reduce some sexual content) could have been produced in the 50s or 60s with a Burt Lancaster or other as the lead, and make it mostly tough and sentimental only in that rugged John Ford sort of sensibility. He succeeded admirably as his film is what it wants to be, which is surprising considering the "it's Dead Poets Society at sea" criticisms I had read online. It's fairly old-fashioned in some ways, but its presented in all the ways that matter.
What's also impressive is seeing Scott attempt an ensemble based around character and, up until the last quarter of the picture, not really based on plot. He's done other pictures that have been ensembles, in fact a lot of them, but mostly they're wrapped around the story as it unfolds. In White Squall a lot of things happen, and characters come and go and lessons are learned and there are even a few tears, but it's based around character and it's fascinating to see Scott work with this nearly loose structure. Certainly his cast is a big help, as Jeff Bridges makes an equally formidable lead as the Skipper of the Albatross, the ship for a group of young men going for many months out to sea to "become men", or rather take the SATs and become a stronger community on a ship. While we only see snippets of how excellent he can be as an actor throughout until the final agonizing scenes during and after the ship wreck, the rest of the cast holds up just as well (Scott Wolf, Balthazar Getty, Ethan Embry, a really good Jeremy Sisto in an unpredictable 'rich kid' role, and John Savage as the older 'intellectual' type).
It goes without saying sometimes White Squall does run into some hokey or just some territory that is almost put in as an intentional INSPIRATION scene (in caps), like when the boys are at the remote island and run around up the hill to sign that buried book. Yet it's not what doesn't work but what does that makes the film impressive, and it holds up extremely well against its counterparts that don't have a keen eye for the facts in the story as well as making the characters not simply cardboard cut-outs. It's pretty conventional, but in the finest way imaginable, and has a pretty amazing climax out at sea with the title event (maybe not Perfect Storm but without computers all the more impressive).
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