Curtis Hanson’s adaptation of James Ellroy’s 1950s-set crime novel fizzes with period flavour, nudges up to film noir without really going in two-footed, and gives us a relentless, multi-layered thriller that jumps between protagonists seemingly on a whim.
Great cast – Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, James Cromwell, Kim Basinger, Danny De Vito – and unfussy direction are aided by a punchy pace and a lack of pretentiousness.
Spielberg’s original big hit, with fidgety ex-city cop Roy Scheider trying to enjoy his new sinecure as police chief of an upscale New England tourist town with a hungry new visitor. Throw in some snappy editing to hide a chunky puppet, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss jostling with each other for prominence, John Williams’ score, and some well-judged thieving from Hitchcock’s palette, and you have a full 10/10.
Sean Penn directs Jack Nicholson as a just-retired cop haunted by a child’s murder.
A Time To Kill
John Grisham adapted by Joel Schumacher, and you know where that’s going – certainly not the go-to team you’d think of first if you wanted a thoughtful, sensitive treatise on America’s inability to face up to slavery and racism. Still, watchable-enough courtroom dreck, with Matthew McConaughey, Samuel L Jackson, Kevin Spacey, Donald Sutherland, Patrick McGoohan, Oliver Platt and, um, Brenda Fricker.
Schumacher’s previous effort in taking Grisham to screen, and in much the same ball-park when it comes to subtlety. With Brad Renfro as a young trailer trash kid who witnessed a Mob-related violent death who secures the services of lawyer Susan Sarandon in the face of attempts by Federal legal hot-shot Tommy Lee Jones to secure his evidence.
The Gambler (2014)
Remake by Rupert The Escapist Wyatt and William The Departed Monaghan of Hollywood sex-pest James Toback’s 1974 movie about a nihilistic academic and his gambling addiction. Mark Wahlberg in the lead is actually pretty good, backed up by his star student Brie Larson. Michael K Williams and John Goodman are larger than life as a pair of shylocks who lend him money he can’t pay back.