Tag: robert redford

MUSIC REVIEW | The Candidate (1972)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: The Candidate revels in pointing out just how cut throat, corrupt and broken the world of politics is.  But it never preaches at the audience telling us how it thinks we should fix these problems.”

Candidate 1
“Seriously folks, you better watch your step when he comes out here because he’s a man who shoots from the hip and a man who’s hip when he shoots. Join me in welcoming Bill McKay!”

Good satire can make you angry when it’s made.  Seeing the foibles and downsides of society highlighted by being heightened just a little makes it hard to ignore what’s wrong with the world.  Great satire can make you really pissed off when you see it years, or decades after the fact, and it only works to show how little things have changed.  Or, even more disheartening, how much worse things have become.  The Candidate is more than 40 years old at this point, it does a great job of highlighting what was wrong with politics back then, and how little has changed in the years since.

It’s election time, and the Democrats have no one to run for the senate in California.  The Republican incumbent, Crocker Jarmon (Don Porter) seems unbeatable.  So Democrat big wig and campaign manager Marvin Lucas (Peter Boyle) decides to go with a real underdog.  Bill McKay (Robert Redford) is young, handsome and idealistic.  He’s also the son of the state’s former Governor. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Quiz Show (1994)

Quiz Show

“Cheating on a quiz show? That’s sort of like plagiarizing a comic strip.”

There’s a certain charm when a movie depicts recent history.  Sure, accurate recreations of what historians assume the world was like hundreds of years ago are impressive.  But when something from recent decades is the focus of a story, you have the advantage of people who lived through it being able to put their own spin and hindsight on it.  Robert Redford, director of Quiz Show, was in college when the story his movie tells went down.  And that personal experience, memory and fondness is evident in every frame.


It’s the late 50s and American TV audiences can’t get enough of quiz shows.  One of the most popular, 21, is currently home to long running champ, Herb Stemple (John Turturro).  A Jew with a chip on his shoulder after a life of having his intelligence thrown in his face, Stemple is enjoying his time in the limelight and everything that comes with it. But 21’s sponsor (played by Martin Scorsese in a rare acting role) decides ratings and product sales would benefit from a champ a little more on the gentile side.  So show producers Dan Enright (David Paymer) and Albert Freedman (Hank Azaria) recruit handsome intellectual and college professor, Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes). (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI 100*** #77. All the President’s Men (1976)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.

 allpresidentsmen

“The story is dry. All we’ve got are pieces. We can’t seem to figure out what the puzzle is supposed to look like.”

Watergate is one of the biggest scandals in modern history.  So big, you know a scandal is a big deal these days when it gets post-fixed with ‘gate’.  It was such a big scandal, it was still a thing of common knowledge when I was growing up on the other side of the world several decades after it went down.  Making a movie about such a well known, infamous event is a risk.  When a story is this notorious and well known, people already have their own version in their heads.  And when it’s based on real life events, a lot of the audience is going to consider themselves already an expert.  Which is why the huge success of  All the President’s Men at the time, and the way it’s held up to this day, are such great achievements.


After a robbery at the Democratic Party’s national headquarters, Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) is sent to the courthouse to cover the seemingly innocuous story.  Back in the newsroom, scrappy reporter Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) can’t help sticking his nose in, sniffing out a big story. Initially adversarial, Woodward and Bernstein soon realise that their opposing styles compliment each other perfectly. (more…)

***2014 RECAP*** MOVIE REVIEW | Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Captain-America-The-Winter-Soldier-HD-Wallpaper1

When I was really young, I loved Superman as much as any kid of the male variety.  I assume it comes with the dude DNA.  But it didn’t take long before I grew out of it.  Everything about Superman was just too simple.  He was so all powerful that there were never any real physical threats.  And he was so pure, there was never any inner turmoil or conflict.  It was a strong assumption of the same attributes that made me never pay any attention to Captain America.


But in the lead up to The Avengers a couple of years ago, I thought I should watch the movies that all worked as its intro, so I churned through Thor, the Ed Norton Hulk and the first Cap movie in an intense binge, and was surprised by how much I liked them all, especially Captain America: The First Avenger.  But what I loved most about that movie, was the WWII setting.  And after finding Cap the least interesting character in The Avengers, I wasn’t in any hurry to see his next movie, set totally in present day.  So, how do you make the idealistic, honourable, always-does-the-right-thing, good guy interesting?  Easy, you turn the world against him. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Captain-America-The-Winter-Soldier-HD-Wallpaper1

When I was really young, I loved Superman as much as any kid of the male variety.  I assume it comes with the dude DNA.  But it didn’t take long before I grew out of it.  Everything about Superman was just too simple.  He was so all powerful that there were never any real physical threats.  And he was so pure, there was never any inner turmoil or conflict.  It was a strong assumption of the same attributes that made me never pay any attention to Captain America.


But in the lead up to The Avengers a couple of years ago, I thought I should watch the movies that all worked as its intro, so I churned through Thor, the Ed Norton Hulk and the first Cap movie in an intense binge, and was surprised by how much I liked them all, especially Captain America: The First Avenger.  But what I loved most about that movie, was the WWII setting.  And after finding Cap the least interesting character in The Avengers, I wasn’t in any hurry to see his next movie, set totally in present day.  So, how do you make the idealistic, honourable, always-does-the-right-thing, good guy interesting?  Easy, you turn the world against him.

On a mission with Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Steve Rogers (AKA Captain America), begins to realise that his employer S.H.I.E.L.D, lead by Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury, might not have the same idealistic, honourable, always-does-the-right-thing, good guy intentions as himself.  This is where we meet Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), a suit, high up in the World Security Council, who’s about to launch three massive air battle stations that will stop criminals and threats, before they commit crimes or become a threat.

This is a little too ‘big brother’ for Rogers.  Soon, Fury’s being attacked, Rogers and Black Widow are on the run, and it turns out  that S.H.I.E.L.D has been steadily infiltrated by a group of baddies known as Hydra, for last few decades.  Also, there’s a bad guy named the Winter Soldier, who’s really just more of an annoyance than a formidable villain.  Buggers me why he gets his name in the title.

Without the WWII setting, without the support of Iron Man, Thor and the Hulk, without a big, famous bad guy from the comics, Captain America: The Winter Soldier really delivers.  Chris Evans as Cap nails the tricky balance of all American 40s hero, and modern day, super hero.  While the skin tight cat suit can take some of the credit, Johansson’s more than just a bombshell.  She makes Black Widow a really fun ass kicker.  New addition to this Marvel movie universe, Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson (AKA the Falcon), bounces of off them both perfectly.  And as an unnamed World Security Council member, Alan Dale gives me a great excuse to link to my review of Houseboat Horror.

The brothers Russo, Anthony and Joe, seemed like a weird, out of nowhere pick to direct something this massive.  Before now, they had two movie credits to their names, the totally under seen and under appreciated Welcome to Collinwood, and the understandably under seen and since forgotten, You, Me and Dupree.  Their major successes had been on the small screen, most notably with the totally awesome Arrested Development and the totally overrated Community.

At first, I couldn’t figure out why a studio would take this chance on such an important, tent pole movie by giving it to these two TV veterans.  Then I realised it’s not such a wild choice.  Arrested Development and Community are both so heavily reliant on meticulous timing to make their jokes work.  The kind of meticulous timing that’s needed to pull off big, action set pieces.

The hiring of the Russo brothers also points to another decision the big studios seem to be getting increasingly right with comic book movies.  They’re less and less being given to big budget hacks like Michael Bay and Brett Ratner, and more and more being given to not to just comic book nerds, but real film nerds.  The kinds of film nerds who worship the 70s cinema of people like Scorsese, Coppola and Friedkin, and bring that 70s grit to these glossy, modern behemoths.  Captain America: The Winter Soldier is big, loud, dumb, fun, action.  But it’s big, loud, dumb, fun, action done right.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Directed By – Anthony RussoJoe Russo
Written By – Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely

MOVIE REVIEW | All is Lost (2013)

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Every year there a few upsets when Oscar nominations are announced.  How did one movie get nominated when another didn’t?  How did some performance win all the critics choice awards in the lead up, then not even get a mention at Academy Awards time?  Why did anyone ever think a glorified tele movie like The Kids Are Alright deserved a nomination (don’t remember that movie?  Exactly).   This year, the one Oscar snub I seem to have heard about the most is how did Robert Redford get overlooked for his performance in All is Lost?  Now that I’ve seen All is Lost, the question I have is, HOW DID ROBERT REDFORD GET OVERLOOKED FOR HIS PERFROMANCE IN ALL IS LOST?


The movie opens 1700 nautical miles from the Sunda Strait.  A voiceover from Robert Redford (billed as ‘Our Man’ in the IMDB credits) proclaims that all is lost.  He’s stranded at sea, has no radio or means of communications and his down to his last half day rations.  Cut to eight days earlier.

Our Man is woken below decks by a massive crash.  He finds water spewing through a gaping whole in the side of his galley.  Above decks, he finds a rogue shipping container has slammed into the side of his yacht and is now wedged in the hole it created.  What follows is an amazing example of composure, expertise and ingenuity to overcome this first hurdle.  What follows for the next 90 minutes makes the container and its impact seem like a drop in the ocean (see what I did there?).

All is Lost is all about Redford’s performance.  Besides his opening voiceover, a brief attempt to send an SOS message and one very short, very earned outburst, the rest of this movie is completely dialogue free, and Redford manages to tell the entire story purely through his actions.

I don’t know a thing about sailing or boats, but somehow All is Lost made sure I was never confused.  The intricacies of sailing on a clear day seem complicated enough, add to that holes in the boat, massive storms and broken instruments, and it could be an intimidating information overload for the viewer.  But Redford’s Our Man makes sure we always know what he’s trying to do, why he’s trying to do it, and how important his actions are.

At 77 years old, Redford is in amazing shape and does a lot of really physical, really strenuous acting in this movie.  If you were to read this story on paper, you’d think the age of the main character would make it a complete fairytale.  But with All is Lost, you get to actually see this almost octogenarian do all of these things.

I’ve dedicated 500 words to this movie and Redford’s performance, and I haven’t been able to even scratch the surface of how good All is Lost really is.  It’s seriously intense, edge of the seat, nail bighting stuff.  And once the real severity of his situation is clear, it doesn’t let up for a single second.  I’m sure I haven’t done this movie any justice with this review, you just really need to see it.

All is Lost
Directed By – JC Chandor
Written By – JC Chandor