First week in a while I’ve not seen anything. Is my movie mojo mashed?
The Onion Field
Gritty true crime business, directed by Harold Sea Of Love Becker from the book by LAPD cop Joseph Wambaugh (who was also behind The New Centurions).
A pair of degenerates (James Woods and Franklyn Seales) kidnap then shoot a pair of cops (John Savage and Ted Danson) in a Californian onion field. Hilarity ensues. Savage does guilt, Woods does sociopathic, Seales does out-of-his-depth, Danson does bagpipes. Worth watching.
A not-as-good-as-United 93 TV movie about the hijacked 9/11 plane that ended up ploughing into the Pennsylvania countryside.
Whilst the Greengrass effort easily outpowers this version, there is some good character work amongst the passengers (and hijackers) onboard the doomed plane. Peter Markle directs efficiently.
Talking of Greengrass, here he brings the Bourne team back together for a Bourne-that-isn’t-Bourne, with Matt Damon a principled soldier in Baghdad who comes across vital evidence that the invasion of Iraq was undertaken on a false pretext! Astonishing.
Obviously very competently staged, just it doesn’t really pull together, either narratively or in terms of visceral thrills.
Beautifully constructed thriller-cum-police procedural from David Mamet, with Joe Mantegna as a New York cop who specialises in getting bad guys to confess through his gift of the gab, who slowly gets drawn into a mystery, and along the way has to come to terms with his long-repressed Jewishness.
Raid On Entebbe
We’re not talking Oscar material here, but a perfectly serviceable telling of the story of the 1977 Israeli operation to free hostages on a hijacked plane in Uganda.
Peter Finch is very good as PM Yitzhak Rabin, wrestling with the dilemma of how to deal with a terrorist outrage so far away from home; Yaphet Kotto is sublime as potty Ugandan president Idi Amin, and Charles Bronson impenetrable as the officer leading the rescue operation. Directed by the helmer of The Empire Strikes Back!
The Looking Glass War
Low-key, talky, meditative adaptation of one of John Le Carré’s lesser books, about a minor Whitehall spook outfit attempting to regain its wartime cachet when some tantalising intell falls into its lap, with a dangerous and foolhardy mission behind the Iron Curtain.
Longtime scriptwriter Frank Pierson (Cool Hand Luke, Cat Ballou) directs with cool efficiency (his directorial competence was confirmed later with TV movies like Citizen Cohn and Conspiracy for HBO), and is seemingly never rushed. The pace does feel uncomfortably slow at times, compared to a modern sensibility, but it does work. Anthony Hopkins and Christopher Jones are both more than bearable, and mostly convincing.
Truands aka Paris Lockdown
Grim, unpleasant crime drama from Frédéric Schoendoerffer, with lots of double-crossing. Good performances from the likes of Benoît Magimel, Béatrice Dalle and ex-cop-turned-director/actor/writer Olivier Marchal.