The Getaway, a review by Jon
The Getaway ****
4 out of 5
Political manoeuvring gets Doc (Steve McQueen) out of prison even when a parole board said no. Now he has a bank to rob for benefactor Benyon (Ben Johnson) with the help of his wife (Ali MacGraw) and Rudy (Al Lettieri). The job goes wrong and now Doc and his wife are on the run from Benyon's enforcers and Rudi, looking for the $500,000.
Five years after Bonnie and Clyde re-wrote the rulebook and one year after the enigmatic Vanishing Point and Two-Lane Blacktop, we're well into America's New Wave cinema and Sam Peckinpah doesn't disappoint with a typical example of how to mix thriller and art-house. The first 10 minutes is like a European short film; Bonnie and Clyde ruffled a few feathers with abstract editing, against the Hollywood idea of invisible cuts, but Peckinpah goes one better to show Doc's frustration at prison. It's a powerful, almost wordless sequence and forever separates the director from modern pretenders.
Don't be put off by the prospect of contemplative arty stuff like that though. This is as tough a thriller as any and the King of Cool McQueen was never cooler, channelling Bogart to deliver one of his best characters as Doc. He is utterly fantastic. Just look at the scene where he calmly buys a shotgun to immediately use on the police car that's pulled up outside. Or his memorable one-liners ("How ya doin', Slim?" ) and the way he deals with MacGraw! I mean, she's not a great actress, but she does convince, so she hardly deserved getting slapped around!
There's another example of how Hollywood had changed, allowing women to be slapped. Peckinpah really out-does himself though with the injured Rudy, taking a vet and his wife hostage, they end up cuckolding "poor little Harold"! Al Lettieri is great as Rudy, always menacing even when he's playing games. He was supposed to star in Rabid Dogs for Bava two years later and that film does owe a lot to this in many ways. Interesting how that happens. That European cinema should influence a shift-change in America, a change that Europe itself picks up on.
Certainly The Getaway revels in violence enough to be honourary Giallo. Revels may be the wrong word though, because this is another intelligent and accountable commentary on a violent society (see how the kids wander over to look at a recent corpse, similar to how children tease the scorpion in The Wild Bunch). Peckinpah's set-pieces are incredible, reminding one of Leone's spaghetti westerns, especially with the bizarre Morricone influenced score. And he was the best at slow-motion photography since Kurosawa. Certainly John Woo could take a few lessons.
Walter Hill's (The Driver) screenplay is tough, but a lot of fun, with terse to-the-point dialogue. Scenes like Doc retrieving the lost bag of money was indulgent, but I wouldn't miss it for anything ("when you work a lock, don't leave scratches"). Overall, a very watchable, powerful action-thriller, the like of which is sorely missed and probably makes Michael Bay cry. All the CGI flashy shit that passes for action movies these days can't recreate a partnership like McQueen, Hill and Peckinpah.
(From Stop Thief! The Robbing Bastard Marathon on August 16th, 2009)
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, a review by Jimmy
Title : Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
Michael Rooker is unforgettable as Henry, a soft-spoken loner with a cool exterior masking an inner rage that boils at blast furnace intensity.
When fellow ex-con Otis invites Henry to move into his Chicago apartment, he becomes a willing participant in Henry's senseless, random killing sprees. Meanwhile, Otis' unsuspecting sister, Becky (Tracy Arnold) is smitten with Henry, whose broken childhood mirrors her own.
Masterfully directed by John McNaughton, HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER is a chilling character study of a mass murderer that continues to shock and disturb twenty years after its debut.
Now I'm happy that my favorite horror movie was selected for this marathon. I know that some will disagree that this film is an horror movie, but for me it's the most frightening film I've ever seen (as you know I'm only frighten by the movie that could happen in real life). This movie is an evidence that it's possible to make a great film without a budget (100,000 $ for it). The acting is great and really convincing, seriously this is the best work of Michael Rooker and Tom Towles is the perfect choice to play Otis Toole. The movie doesn't always show the violent murder, but the result and this is scary to see only the dead victim and an echo of the murder action. Of course some murder are shown and the familly murder is the scarier thing I've ever seen on screen (I'm certain that the people who had seen the film understand) it's so realistically filmed and possible with all the crazy people living outside. The way Michael Rooker play Henry you had no choice to think that these kind of psychopat live a perfectly anonymous and normal life in reality.
Really nothing negative to say about this film (even the music score is frightening). They had changed some little fact about the real story by exemple the real Becky was the 12 years old niece of Otis, but I'm not sure that it's a bad thing since at one point enough is enough.
(From Jimmy's 2009 Horror Marathon on October 22nd, 2009)
Tom's TV Pilots marathon, a review by Tom
Take two aspirin before you see the doctor! Anchored by the hilarious performance of television star TED DANSON (TV's Cheers™), BECKER™ arrives on DVD for the very first time! Dr. John Becker, who operates a small medical practice in the Bronx, is annoyed with his patients, co-workers, and practically everything else in the world. But don't let the curmudgeonly demeanor fool you. As his blind newsstand friend Jake (ALEX DÉSERT) and beautiful diner owner Reggie (TERRY FARRELL) would tell you, the rants of the outrageous physician mask a softer side, which he only occasionally displays to his nurse Margaret (HATTIE WINSTON) and wacky office worker Linda (SHAWNEE SMITH). This 3-disc set contains all 22 Season One episodes of the immensely popular series BECKER™, TV's most outrageous physician!
1.01 Pilot (1998-09-02)
Writer: Dave Hackel (Created By), Dave Hackel (Writer)
Director: Andy Ackerman
Cast: Ted Danson (Dr. John Becker), Terry Farrell (Reggie), Hattie Winston (Margaret), Shawnee Smith (Linda), Alex Desert (Jake), Amy Aquino (Bev), Robert Bailey, Jr. (M.J.), Davenia McFadden (Annette), Bill Capizzi (Mr. Capelli), Rocky McMurray (Customer), Michael Reid Mackay (Man)
A perfect introduction to the characters, especially Becker. This pilot shows that even though he acts like real ass, Becker has a good side to him when it comes to his profession.
(From Tom's TV Pilots marathon on March 27th, 2011)