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City Heat (1984)
Underrated and under appreciated
This doesn't deserve all the hate it gets.If the finished film doesn't quite come together as it should,it comes down to the fact that the shooting was a troubled production.Two actresses quitting their roles,a director been replaced and Burt Reynolds suffering an injury that caused him to become addicted to painkillers and becoming increasingly difficult to work with,and forcing Clint Eastwood to handle a lot of the tension amongst the cast and director.Bearing all that in mind,this is still far from been the worst of it's kind.
Set in the 30's,former police partners Eastwood and Reynolds are caught in the crossfire between two rival gangs when Reynolds' sidekick Richard Roundtree (Shaft)tries to con the local Mr.Big.The plot is a little confusing at first but by the halfway point everything makes sense and sets up the film's action-packed second half.
There's plenty to enjoy here.Eastwood and Reynolds' banter (despite his difficulties during,Reynolds still does quite well)the settings,and the shootouts.One of the best things about the shootouts is the lack of intrusive music on the soundtrack which for me ruins a lot of movies.
This is a surprisingly pleasing combination of comedy and film noir thriller,with Eastwood in particular sending up his own macho image at every opportunity.
The Hard Way (1991)
Two completely different actors team up for a thrilling ride
This is a great,fun film.Michael J.Fox and James Woods team up in another one of John Badham's (Stakeout,Bird On A Wire) fast paced comedies.On the surface it's just another buddy cop picture that were so popular in the 80's/90's,like Lethal Weapon,Tango & Cash etc,but what sets this film apart is the fact that one half of the duo (Fox on hilarious form) is not a cop,but an Hollywood Movie star,posing as a detective whilst researching a role for a movie.Woods is the angry,tough and unlucky cop who has to babysit him,while he has his little real life experience amongst the crime ridden streets of New York.But he gets more than he bargained for when he finds out that Woods is on the trail of a psychotic serial killer called The Party Crasher (a deliberately over the top Stephen Lang).The action sequences in the film (back when there was no CGI)are terrific,and the pace of the film never slows down for one second,it is absolutely relentless. And last but not least,the main reason why the film works so well for me is simply the chemistry between the two leads.On paper,the thought of Woods and Fox,two completely different style of actors,teaming up in a comedy would seem ridiculous,but they make it work superbly.It is one of the best films from each of them and it's a shame they never appeared on screen together again.It's a fun action comedy,with a slant on the typical cop movie and lots of digs at the Hollywood industry.
Doc Hollywood (1991)
" I'm in the twilight zone "
I'm one of the biggest Michael J.Fox fans there is, but for some reason I always hated this movie as a kid. Probably because it's a leisurely paced comedy filled with quirky characters. However, having viewed it again recently, the very reasons I may have disliked it in the past, are the reasons why I rate is so highly now.
Fox is firing on all cylinders as Dr.Ben Stone,who finds himself stranded in a rural town, and gradually transforms from a money obsessed egotist, to a more down to earth nice guy, who realises the things that really matter in life.
Julie Warner gives a believable performance as the attractive ambulance driver Lou,who quickly catches Fox's eye in what could very well be the sexiest entrance in a romantic film.The film is Fox's vehicle and is carried by him, but it's to Warner's credit that the scenes between them are evenly matched and she gives a lot more personality to a role which could have easily just been a one dimensional love interest.The dialogue and chemistry between the two of them never seems forced.
Of course, like all of these types of films, it's obvious from the start, that the guy will get the girl in the end, but it makes no difference because unlike many similar movies,the relationship seems natural and, to the film's credit, there are a few non-contrived obstacles before the "happy ever after" moment.
All in all, I'm glad I saw the film again recently because I found it to be an highly enjoyable, unpretentious ROM-com (how many ROM-Com's show the two leads urinating all over the forest)that delivers a fine set of quirky characters and humorous situations.
Per qualche dollaro in più (1965)
The most underrated but the best
Why this is has never been held in the same "classic" status as A Fistful of Dollars and The Good,The Bad and The Ugly is anyone,s guess. This is director Sergio Leone,s true masterpiece of the trilogy. More stylish and ambitious than the first,but not as overlong or pretentious as the third.It,s the greatest spaghetti western ever made.
Clint Eastwood,s second performance as The Man with No Name sees him team up with ageing gunslinger Lee Van Cleef to bring down psychotic Gian Maria Volonte (one of cinema,s most evil villains) and his gang. The plot is cynical and brilliant,the stark imagery is perfect and Ennio Morricone,s score is my favourite.
What always surprised me about Good/Bad/Ugly was how underwritten Eastwood and Van Cleef,s parts were.Basically the film was about Tuco.But in this film,Leone actually seems equally interested in all three of the main characters and brilliantly fleshes them out.Eastwood was always meant to be quiet and mysterious,but in this,you get a sense of his personality and purpose,unlike the third,where he came across a bit bored,which he probably was by that time. And Van Cleef was a great addition to the film.Although I,m not usually a fan of his,he was great here in his most sympathetic role as the haunted army veteran. Together the two formed one of cinema,s greatest partnerships.Their stony eyed double act is a joy throughout,especially in the sequence where they shoot at each other,s hats in the street. Leone even put some thought into Volonte,s role.As Indio,he is not a cardboard villain.He is sadistic,psychotic,treacherous to his own men and (dare I say it)even almost human in sequences where he flashes back to a despicable act he,s committed.
The first 30 minutes of the film are riveting,showing the main characters in unrelated incidents before the strands twists together for the main story,which is never short of suspenseful,involving and enjoyable.It combines black humour,melancholic moments and great shootouts that all build up to an unforgettable climax and tops off my favourite Leone film.
Good but incredibly overrated
The third and final chapter in the Clint Eastwood/Sergio Leone/Ennio Morricone "Dollars" trilogy is regarded by many as the crowning achievement of the trio,s collaboration.It boasts towering star performances by (as usual)Clint and his old co - star Lee Van Cleef and his new co - star Eli Wallach,a memorable score,an unforgettable showdown in a graveyard and is possibly the most visually stunning western ever made.However,it is also overlong,slow and episodic.
The main problem with the film is Leone was trying to do too many things at once.He was trying to be a more epic director,thus making scenes at an almost excessive length and simultaneously he was trying to make anti -war statements,which the film is littered with and sometimes brings the film to a standstill.Also,after the casting of Wallach as Tuco,he was finally directing someone who,s work he,d always admired,resulting in him shifting the focus of attention towards Tuco at the expense of The Man with No Name,which is a big problem I have with the film.I thought Wallach was fantastic as the greedy bandit,but a bit less of him and a bit more of Clint and Van Cleef would have gone a long way.The title is The Good,The Bad and The Ugly,not The Ugly Tuco show.The other problem I have with the film is the plot.Although good,it is very awkward and illogical.
In the beginning of the film,Eastwood and Wallach are in the same town as Van Cleef pulling off a bounty hunting scam.Then sometime later after Wallach and Clint fall out,Wallach spends a lot of time tracking Clint down and they make a long trek across the desert.And just as Wallach is about to kill Clint,low and behold,a carriage of horses gallop along just in time to save Clint,s life (having already been saved earlier in the film by an exploding cannon).Then it turns out,inside the carriage is the very man that Van Cleef has been trying to track down.Then after Eastwood and Wallach are captured by the Union army,they end up unbelievably in the very same camp where Van Cleef is.And the contrivances go on and on.The Dollars films always had black humour,but this played like an unintentional spoof.
In For a Few Dollars More,Leone was stylish,but never lost track of the plot.And he shifted the focus towards Col.Mortimer,but The Man with No Name was still part of the story.But sadly in this,Clint is too much in the background and at times it comes across as if he,s too aloof from the main action.I don,t really like to slam the film because it does contain some great moments,and I,ll always watch Clint as The Man with No Name,but his shrunken part in the story,some slow pacing and some laughable plotting are three reasons why it will never match the criminally underrated For a Few Dollars More.
Greed has never been funnier.
I absolutely love this film.It's one of Michael J.Fox's best and very much underrated.It definitely deserves a bigger audience. This tanked at the box office in 1994,but I'm clueless as to why.I can only assume that their were so many great films that came out in the mid 90's that this little gem went under the radar.
After a slow opening with Jimmy Durante performing a number (it's explained later),the film gets down to business by introducing one of the most dysfunctional families in film history.The Macteague's. Greedy,backstabbing and ruthless in their pursuit of their Uncle Joe (Kirk Douglas') fortune.
Fox has top billing on the credits, but this is more than just a typical movie vehicle for the likable actor,it's a great ensemble comedy that also sees Phil Hartman, Ed Begley ,jr and Olivia D,Abo filling out the cast.
Directed by Jonathan Lynn (who also appears as the butler),the film moves along at a leisurely pace,but it's all the better for it.It gives all of the characters time to be properly introduced and to set the dark comic tone of the story.There aren't many likable characters in this, which is refreshing,but thanks to the performances you can't help but like them.Even the usually squeaky clean Fox seems to be enjoying himself in a mildly disreputable role. The sparky banter between the cast is a joy throughout.The scene with the family having breakfast with Uncle Joe,and the scene at the lawyer's office,in particular are comedy gold.
Amidst the snappy dialogue and physical comedy,Douglas' mischievous antics keep the surprises coming right up until the final,sly twist in this highly enjoyable comedy.