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Internal Affairs (1990)
On the wrong side of the shield
Serpico, Dark Blue, Unlawful Entry: Some of the many titles we've seen related to police corruption and unorthodox officers' behavior however (and I must admit he's done a stellar job at doing this), Figgis delves deeper into the issue - the corrupt officer's mind, reminding us of Treat Williams in Prince of The City, with a total different outcome of course.
We feel enveloped in fear by Gere's portrayal of Officer Dennis Peck, a shrewd and merciless individual who'll let nothing stand in his way when it comes to masterminding and conducting a series of illicit activities while wearing the LAPD uniform. As such, he'll try to rid himself of Sgt. Raymond Avila, a new entry into the Internal Affairs Division who immediately senses Peck's viciousness and begins investigating him.
Richard Gere, as many of us know, has had an artistic education (pianist and composer) and I do believe such characteristics, besides his obvious talent as an actor, have contributed to his ability to mold his personality no matter the script; I dare to say "to successfully improvise", as many artists have done and do, allowing him to show us what lives behind the movie title.
I believe this will stay in many viewers' minds for quite some time after seeing it.
Anonimo veneziano (1970)
Love: Mankind's biggest fear
What we see here is a rather strong, yet very human, representation of how love truly operates in many people's lives: It sinks its claws into one's essence, making him/her or both leery about what such love could bring and how it could evolve itself. I'm talking about fear, fear of abandonment, being cognizant of the fact that, unfortunately, many situations do not last forever.
The above comment was by me laid out mimicking Enrico's cynicism, not only because of his terminal disease, but due to his awareness of what explained above. Their love explodes, rather than blossoming, a true love I shall say, the love two persons are ready to promise to each other no matter what the odds in life may be. Unluckily for many, such drive (which was not sexual on either side in my opinion) walks its path along with an unwanted travel mate, fear, which deals its lethal blows to a lot of relationships due to past wounds and human vulnerability.
Valeria, notwithstanding her "so-called" new life, shows her devotion to Enrico throughout the entire movie, accepting his behavior, knowing what that really means, knowing that he was acting out of pain, sorrow and FEAR. After all. at one point in the movie, as he angrily throws his briefcase up in the air after disclosing his doom to Valeria, Enrico does say "All of this is happening and I should not be scared?".
Through Salerno's camera, Tony Musante portrays, via his character, the filth and mud he says Venice is made of, a city that sank in the water a very long time before; he admits, by way of his actions and words, to have become part of that squalid scene.
Being human though also implies hope, current or lost that it may be, which we notice only once when he says "There's still a lot of poetry in life" before taking Valeria to purchase a brocade tailor made dress. I won't comment on his citation of Proust Unlike (always in my opinion)Morricone, Stelvio Cipriani creates more of a one-to-one musical situation in the movies accompanied by its scores (e.g., L'ultima neve di primavera, Dov'è Anna et al), where the sounds, always rather somber, act as a narrator while the characters perform.
Musante and Bolkan were a perfect match, as their figures portray "Man and Woman", with every related quirk and problem, underpinned, however, by a love that will never end. Valeria realizes he really always loved her once it becomes obvious to her that he really needed to see her before dying, also when he prompts her to go before missing her last train to Ferrara. Sadly for her, the train she really missed had left Venice 7 years before from a track that only brought it back to her for a few hours that day only, to see it depart again, this time, toward a point of no return.
Valeria will carry on painfully, as she truly always loved Enrico.
Incompreso (Vita col figlio) (1967)
It means being human..
Duncombe, cold and distant father, besides UK Consul General in Florence, carelessly applies his stark communicative methods with his first son Andrew after his wife's death, which Andrew had sensed well before his father's disclosure of the sad news.
Duncombe's several duties, which constantly keep him away from the family, force Andrew to look after Miles, his little brother. Andrew valiantly carries on, humoring his spoiled sibling, putting on the apparent front of a strong man, getting himself into a lot of trouble due to Miles' continuous mischiefs.
Unbeknownst to his father, Andrew silently suffers his loss; blame is all Duncombe lays on young Andrew, probably due to his incapacity to deal with such pain himself.
It will be at the end, as often seen in life, that the diplomat will experience his second loss, probably the ultimate one, the one he negligently couldn't prevent. His coldness will eventually hit him during the last moments of Andrew's early, shattered adulthood.
Comencini gives this young man the power to annihilate the lavish and colorful home and surrounding environment, reminding us that once it's too late there's no return. There's perfect synchronicity between the colors/tones/score and the setting of the picture, a rather clear representation of life in Florence during the late 60's where roles, both social and professional were well defined.
Using a term I have commented with for a different movie, we are seeing a positive-negative image of Comencini's Pinocchio, where the father is constantly running after his son, both for loneliness and to keep him out of trouble. I think some of us will agree with the fact that Miles' role somewhat reminds us of the fictional character.
The comment's title has, for the record, its ambivalence.
The Persuaders! (1971)
Utmost 70's Opulence
One may watch one of the episodes and say "They certainly weren't that creative". We must take a look at what we have come to in today's day and age when it comes to movies, which, in many cases, are nothing but a portrayal (in the minds of many of us) of what we wish we were, from a standpoint of lifestyle, socio-economic standing, looks and, last but not least, power (gosh, why did I put that for last..?).
Let us remember how the 70's were and what they have left us with; I'll give you a few examples of the mark they made on our memory: Elegance, passion, style, prestige and DETAIL. If we watch the Persuader's end theme, we'll notice a line in the end credits saying "Lord Sinclair's clothes designed by Roger Moore". If some of you had a chance to catch a few episodes, you will have noticed that he was quite the creative type, whose ideas and personality molded Lord Sinclair's character remarkably well, along with his charming looks and sex appeal.
Roger Moore and Tony Curtis (along with their cover girl-like lady friends) were then who many of us now try to be in places like Montecarlo, Nice, Cannes, the Italian Riviera and, of course, London except the fact that, unfortunately and fortunately, that kind of genius with respect to the aforementioned details, cannot be replicated in lieu of one simple reason: It doesn't exist anymore.
The Persuaders are a staple of the 70's message that jumped at us from the screen, a message of self-confidence, sex appeal (Let's look at Suzy Kendall for instance) and style. Automobiles like Aston Martins, Jaguars and Ferraris made quite the impression then, while they sure don't nowadays due to how many you see on the big screen every time a movie comes out.
In The Persuaders one will find that pastel and bright colors are in total harmony with each other, ticket-pocket blazers that blend lusciously with high-collared shirts and men's foulards. There weren't that many thongs for women then and I tend to prefer the looks of a simple bikini bottom which, if worn by a 70's woman, heightened beauty far more than what we see now. The two men were the image of free-spirited life, accompanied by a high sense of style, the right "Aplomb" any man should have.
Tony Curtis (aka Bernard Schwartz): A true American star. Roger Moore: The true British Lord.
I won't say much about John Barry's Theme, as it speaks for itself and everything I have said, a true masterpiece that voices out and underpins what the show meant to be. It will always bring us back either by the edge of a pool with a Martini or into a London private library with a superb scotch.
Marathon Man (1976)
I must admit that, albeit my being impartial at all time, New York City in the 70's is my weak spot from a photography standpoint and that's the second main reason why I was very pleased by this motion picture.
Dustin Hoffman is known by his fans as an excellent improviser on the movie set, a comment Schlesinger also made, and that makes him a standout compared to other big screen artists. That's what I loved the most about Marathon Man.
Hoffman is in his 40's in this movie however his young features and demeanor fit perfectly within the Columbia University PhD student profile, especially the one of a young man coming from a family of historians (I guess it was inevitable to pair up such a character with the movie plot). It was amazing seeing how such a cruel and intricate part of last century's history creeps up on Hoffman's role through his brother's sinister ties with some government agency and a Nazi on the run from South America to New York in the attempt to recuperate a fortune in diamonds. Somewhat predictable was instead Lawrence Olivier's (Szell) true identity discovery by a jeweler on West 47th Street, being that you certainly won't find Italians or Spaniards in that specific area..
Roy Scheider (The late Roy Scheider I have to say), as in many other roles he covered, was extremely thorough in his acting, with his very charming and stern looks as usual. He truly fit the international intrigue profile in his movie and I honestly have to say that no one else could have been a better choice for his part.
Wiliam Devane and Marther Keller were the icing on this bitter-sweet cake (I'll leave it up to the connoisseurs to understand what I mean by bitter-sweet) which melts perfectly under an even more bitter-sweet sunset seen from the New York City reservoir fences.
Aime ton père (2002)
I am usually not so strict and judgmental in my comments however I must say that, besides being a rather dramatic example of a spoiled father-son relationship, I have found this movie to be long and extremely empty in its plot.
Its cold strokes remind me a lot of Chabrol's "Merci pour le Chocolat", with Isabelle Huppert and Jacques Dutronc. I must say that, although I am a Depardieu's fan in most cases, Aime Ton Pere has left me empty handed at the end of the tape. I can't really say much about Guillame Depardieu, given the movie's lack of plot and spinal cord and the fact that I haven't had a chance to analyze his other performances. I can already say though that he belongs to a different breed of actors than the one Gerard comes from. If you care to see a cold and cynical Depardieu senior in a true quality performance, 36 Quai des Orferves will keep you on your toes.
I would define this movie as an example of a job well done of France's 1970's cinema. The cast is excellent and, as I may already have said in other comments, Sautet's direction acts a magic wand in his works. A little bit like "Je Vous Aime" with Catherine Deneuve and Jean Louis Trintignant, Vincent, Francois, Paul...et les autres shows the "after life" of certain characters trying to cope with their sentimental failures and mix-ups, except the fact that in this movie not everyone is an ex-husband of one of the female stars.
This certainly isn't as dramatic as Sautet's "Les Choses de la Vie" but there is just as much of a bitter final after taste, although everyone is alive at the end. Sautet has thus far left me with a "punch in the stomach feeling after seeing several of his movies. Nelly and Monsieur Arnaud for instance is another one of his unresolved romantic story, where no one knows at the end whose feelings were hurt.
Albeit its solemn Sautenesque tones with regards to love, Vincent, Francois, Paul...et les autres keeps its focus on a bizarre yet strong friendship among several men, preventing their unsolved love relationships to tamper with its strong lesson on the fact that, often times, friends last longer than partners.
Mr. Jones (1993)
He took her away...on the fly.
In this intense and emotional tale of compassion, rescue and love, director Mike Figgis portrays the antithesis of the Richard Gere he had shown us three years before Mr. Jones' release: A needy, fragile, unstable yet creative and fascinating character versus the sinister, cold-blooded and self-confident officer Dennis Peck in Internal Affairs.
Gere's ability to absorb the script and bring it to life through his inimitable histrionic demeanor has once again amazed me, bringing me into the scene as if I were observing from behind the camera. Another example of a woman assisting a man throughout his struggle is Figgis' Leavign Las Vegas, where Elizabeth Shue chooses to be by Nicholas Cages' side, with the exception of a very sad ending (In this case we had pills instead of bottles). From Final Analysis, Gear switches into the patient's role, making us hold our breath and, needless to say, get a good use out of our handkerchiefs.
The Prince of Tides (1991)
The tides will hold your memory...
It is indeed very awkward how sometimes we set off to help someone and we become the ones needing help. Nick Nolte offers a great performance in showing how some of us can be masters at keeping secrets until the prying words of a shrink (The shrink's perfume has something to do with it apparently..) and the ability to re-exhume some buried memories can crack open a big Pandora's box.
By now (It's 1991) Nick Nolte owns the art of playing extremely dramatic roles (You will see a great Nolte in 1993's Lorenzo'Oil, along with Susan Sarandon) and, no less, a convincing family man. It sure made me emotional to see him with his daughters playing, laughing and, above all, trying to hide what was happening between him and his wife. I must say that, although the name Barbra Streisand is synonymous of song, love song, I appreciated her as an actress as well. The story is totally credible, the original score is enchanting and every aspect of the photography was excellent.
I must say that, although New Yorkers were a bit "wilder" in 1991 compared to nowadays, I have to say that the New York attitude portrayed in the movie was a bit too much for my taste and they could have toned it down a notch. The cast was a fit for the story (But why George Carlin?) and seeing this movie again after about seven years was rather pleasurable.
36 Quai des Orfèvres (2004)
I saw this movie on an Air France flight four days ago and I must say that, although Auteuil and Depardieu are my favorite French actors together with Tcheky Karyo, I was a bit disappointed with regards to some cut and paste work done with the plot. Everyone who saw "Heat" (1995 De Niro/Pacino) will agree with me with regards to the fact that the hold up scene at the beginning is basically the same as the one in the American movie (C4 explosive to blow the truck's door open and the Molotov cocktail inside the same van at the end of the robbery); the gunfight with the foes was also "rather" similar to the one outside the bank in the movie Heat and that to me was somewhat cheap. Although there were a few flaws, the general story in itself is interesting and French movies are usually very good, especially when it comes to drama.
Gerard Depardieu is very good at playing the rough man's role however I was rather impressed by Daniel Auteuil's interpretation of Vrinks (Certainly not the same kind of cop he portrayed in Les Voleurs-1996). My positive reaction to his interpretation comes from the fact that he has a not-so-common ability to sway from character to character, a trait I don't easily see in Depardieu. I recently read about Ron Howard's cast of "The Da Vinci Code", based on the book by Dan Brown. I have a hard time seeing Jean Reno as Bezu Fache, the chief of the French Judicial Police, while I see Depardieu as a perfect fit for it instead.
I am not sure of the release date of this movie in the U.S. but I'd keep my ears and eyes open for it.