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|163 reviews in total|
"The Killing Fields" is something I recommend every person watch. The Khmer Rouge were one of the most evil organizations on the face of the Earth and without a doubt committed the worst acts of genocide in my lifetime. Even worse than Bosnia and Rwanda. Original estimates put the death toll at one million, later the number was upgraded to two million. The Khmer Rouge were not sub-human, that implies they had some humanistic qualities. They were in-human. To do those sorts of things you must have no heart, no feelings, and no soul. To them, human life is not cheap. It is worthless. And to allow these vermin to carry out this program of degradation and mass slaughter gives the whole world a black eye, not just America. America was involved in Vietnam, which spilled over into Cambodia. We were "responsible" for that, although it most likely would have happened anyway. To allow it to continue unabated for the next decade was the real crime. I suppose the real question here is "Should America be the world's policeman? And if not, who will be?" The easy answer is "No. The U.N. is the world's policeman." But the U.N. has proved itself time and time again to be unreliable at best and at worst completely useless. I honestly don't know if the U.S. has the right to interfere in foreign affairs. But if the U.S. doesn't do something, no other country will. And these kind of atrocities will continue in Asia, Africa, and elsewhere until the world ends.
This is one hell of a true story. Almost too wicked to be true yet true it is. Sean Penn is electric in At Close Range. Penn plays the role with the attitude of a 16 year old, who thinks he's smarter than his dad. He isn't. This becomes obvious about 1/3 thru the film. Christopher Walken is the Main Attraction here make no mistake about that. God he was a perfect choice and I mean perfect. Walken's Big Brad Whitewood is very clever, alluring, charming, and extremely deadly. Penn's Little Brad is like the apple who fell from the tree and rolled down the hill it was on for a quarter of a mile. Walken has a crew that is capable and proficient. Penn has a crew that couldn't even complete high school. Dim bulbs is the term I would use. Walken's men are the suburban versions of Scorsese's Goodfellas. They don't look like thieves, they look like killers who are also professional thieves. At Close Range starts off looking like your basic crime film and then escalates to Walken and his gang committing acts of unspeakable evil that some criminals wouldn't even contemplate. All of these guys were bad bad bad people and whom no one would be sorry to see go to prison for the rest of their lives. Why Walken has not given an Academy Award nomination for this I am still trying to reason out. Perhaps because he was given one for the Deer Hunter I suppose but still one was in order. When you see Walken's face come out of the dark of night into his house's screen door and see Penn, he doesn't show shock. He doesn't show fear. He doesn't even blink. That is the mark of a true master criminal and/or psychotic. He gives him no emotion whatsoever then slowly the Cheshire Cat smile and invites him right in. You can't buy that kind of sinister inhumanity. You have to be born with it or learn it for yourself. And what Big Brad Whitewood did defies belief. Certainly without question one of the best films of 1986.
Bronson was a legend to many people all over the world, including myself. And I have always harbored warm feelings for Coburn, perhaps I see a lot of my personality mirrored in his acting. The fights were terrific. I spent the whole film waiting for the big brawl that we knew was going to take place. It was well worth the wait. And to be honest, I wasn't sure what was gonna happen there. That aura of the unknown did a nice job of capping off the ending. I loved Bronson, and I loved Coburn. And I was very sad when they both passed away. They were two talented actors and good men. I've never heard an unkind word towards either. Bronson's wife has a small and relatively insignificant role as well. She was beautiful.
But it leaves you asking at the end "So what?" Really, so what? The acting was good, the cast was spectacular, and even the script was fine (even if it was loaded with too many curse words). I just feel that a film should never leave you thinking that question. A film should never ever ever do that to the viewer. Which to me is interesting only from the standpoint that any Mamet film I've ever watched has never done that. Not House of Games, not Heist, not even Spartan. So why this film? I suppose it's due to the fact that the audience wants some kind of justice for these dreary souls and they don't get any. Even Spacey's character, who is a jackass by the way, isn't taken down for his bad managing skills and complete lack of salesmanship knowledge. At least give us Baldwin's character's head or somebody halfway important. The feeling that all of these guys were monumental losers with the possible exception of Pacino's Romo just weighed you down and gave you a mixed feeling of disgust and shame. If this is what being a salesman is cracked up to be, then I'm relieved I have never been one.
The whole CIA thing was magic. No one had ever done a story like this on them before. Well not a believable one anyway. Henry Silva was what gave "Above the Law" acting legitimacy. His character Kurt Zagon easily makes my list of top ten favorite villains. Henry Silva was 60 years old at the time. I hope I look that good when I'm 60. Wow. A guy I knew once said when he first heard Silva say "I'm gonna teach you never, never to fu@k with my opium!" that he had only one reaction. "Whoa." That sums it up better than anything I could have come up with. This is the side of the CIA that nobody publicly wants to talk about. Wars, drug dealing, assassination, torture, illegal arms dealing, money laundering, and the epic sized criminal conspiracy that naturally accompanies it. If anyone can be truly be above the law, these guys are it. No oversight, no accountability, and no rules. Not the kind of individuals you want to mess with. Unless you are Steven Seagal. Lol.
It helped cement Patrick Swayze as a star (after Dirty Dancing that is) but it wasn't what I would call the motion picture event of the decade. It mostly involved Swayze beating the crap out of a ton of guys and saying something genuinely funny before or afterwards. Sam Elliott did a wonderful job of assisting with ass kicking and the humorous lines. And yes, before I neglect to mention it, Kelly Lynch is a gorgeous woman. A so so actress with a beautiful face and body. I wouldn't give her an Oscar but I'd marry her so it all works out. Ben Gazzara is the only one in Roadhouse who appears to be acting. He is convincing as the filthy rich jerk who runs the town.
A compelling story and yet the camera work makes it seem like a made for TV movie. A good cast yet some cheesy acting and ridiculous situations. Alec Baldwin is believable and strong while Demi Moore is not. What makes this film worth watching is the surprise ending which did come as a little bit of a shock. That and the solid Italian-American actors who signed on to make The Juror realistic. Baldwin's character is a sick deranged bastard and any crime family who would even consider recruiting a guy like that gets what they deserve. I really thought they had him towards the end, and in real life, they would have. The Juror had it's moments but isn't what I would call a barn burner, watchable at best.
Clint Eastwood, like John Wayne before him, always gave the audience what they wanted. But in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot his character shows you a deeper side to his character than what we had seen before. He becomes attached to his friend and partner Lightfoot, played brilliantly by Jeff Bridges. Bridges has always been one of my favorite actors due to this performance. The bond between the two men is evidenced by the last scene they are together in. It was one of the most emotional scenes I have watched. And George Kennedy was terrific. His character, Red Leary, is unlikeable, mean, and ultimately villainous, yet one comment me makes in the film gives him the mystique of actual honesty and shows you that Eastwood's character is not as bad as he would have you believe he is. If there is a moral to this film it would be that there is a price to pay for everything and even when you win you can still lose something. It's a classic Eastwood and a fun ride.
No Oscar nominations for Washington, Crowe, or Scott? Are you fricking kidding me? And I was becoming convinced that the Academy had turned things around with its celebration of Martin Scorsese's The Departed. Washington's performance of Frank Lucas is twice as good as his portrayal of Alonzo in Training Day. What are we getting tired of phenomenal performances? This is Crowe's best work since "A Beautiful Mind" people. And what about Ridley Scott, he hasn't been right on the money like this since Gladiator. And what does this film get? Two nominations. Not eight, not five, two. This is the film to buy this year, alongside We Own the Night and Gone Baby Gone. I admit, I don't love every single film that Denzel has done but I can't ever question the quality of his performances, even if I didn't like that particular picture. But I loved this one. I loved him, I loved the fact that it was a real story, and I loved how it was told. You can't expect any more from a film than that. As far as I'm concerned, this was the best film of 2008.
It was the 80's. It was my generation. Well, close enough. Most motion pictures cannot boast this. And very few leave such a lasting impression twenty years later. Michael Douglas made this film. It was his greatest achievement. Fatal Attraction made him the most money, but Wall Street gave him the status as a leading actor that he enjoyed afterwards. Gordon Gekko represents everything a man secretly wants to be. Rich, successful, handsome, powerful, and admired. The foundation behind his persona is built on deception, lies, backstabbing, manipulation, and naturally, greed. Insatible, all consuming, greed. What this film is really showing you, at its most purest form, is a deal with the Devil. Bud Fox is Faust, and Gordon Gekko is the Devil. Not literally, but figuratively. The deal is made right there in Gekko's limo. Give me your full commitment(his soul), and I will give you fantastic wealth beyond your wildest dreams. Fox's flaw is that he believes he can be an equal partner with Gekko. He jumps at this one chance after he has thought about the serious consequences and still does it. But you cannot be "partners" with the "Devil". It just doesn't work that way and never will. Gekko's flaw is that he believes he can screw everyone in sight and get away with it. They are both ultimately wrong. This film was made as a cautionary tale concerning the excesses of the Eighties. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And greed will be our downfall. Oliver Stone was right on both counts. Americans know this but still haven't really learned it. Greed is not good.
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