Tag Archives: Donnie Brasco

A Week In Film #329: First week

Gorky Park title screen
Gorky Park
Not unenjoyable policier about a cop investigating three brutal murders in pre-perestroika Moscow. Michael Apted directs adaptation of Martin Cruz Smith’s potboiler novel; William Hurt, Joanna Pacuła, Lee Marvin, Brian Dennehy, Ian McDiarmid and Ian Bannen round out the cast.

Cop Land title screen
Cop Land
Sly Stallone as Freddy Heflin, a New Jersey sheriff in Garrison, a New Jersey suburban town dominated by NYPD city cops whose ranks he cannot join due to a hearing impairment. When a corruption scandal rears up in Garrison, Freddy must decide where he stands. Chunky cast includes Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Janeane Garofalo, Annabella Sciorra, Michael Rapaport, Robert Patrick and Peter Berg; all-rounder James Mangold writes/directs.

Donnie Brasco title screen
Donnie Brasco
Mike Newell’s somewhat overwrought screen version of a real-life relationship between a low-level wiseguy (Al Pacino) and and undercover FBI agent (Johnny Depp). Still enjoyable, but feels like a bunch of actors doing gangster tropes.

Hoodlum title screen
Bill Duke’s zesty period gangster flick, with Laurence Fishburne as Bumpy Johnson, Tim Roth as Dutch Schultz and Andy Garcia as Lucky Luciano.

Ronin title screen
Actioner that sets itself up as slightly more cerebral than it really is, but enjoyable nonetheless. Robert De Niro is a retired special ops guy brought into a piece of private enterprise involving a MacGuffin in a briefcase and a multinational crew of ne’erdowells (Sean Bean, Stellan Skarsgård, Jean Reno and Skipp Sudduth) brought together by Natascha McEhlhone and Jonathan Pryce. John Frankenheime directs some fine set pieces, and the script (fine-tuned from J D Zeik’s first time effort by David Mamet) keeps things interesting.

A Week In Film #110: Yule meet again

Mr Moto’s Last Warning
Reclaiming some of that old BBC2 evening vibe, with Peter Lorre doing his not entirely convincing ‘inscrutable’ turn as the Japanese super ‘tec, this time on the trail of saboteurs down in pre-WW2 Port Said. A somewhat baffling plot. An evil ventriloquist is involved, I think.

Scorsese, De Niro, Stone, Pesci, mobsters in Vegas, James Woods crops up, through-the-gaps-in-your-hands moments of violence, great Saul Bass credits.

Donnie Brasco
Mike Newell has a crack at gangsters, with Al Pacino holding his hand, Johnny Depp as the undercover cop who befriends his target.

Manhunt: The Search For The Night Stalker
One of the better TV movies about police investigations into serial killers (can’t believe I typed that), with Richard Jordan and A Martinez as two LA cops on the trail of Richard Ramirez, the nutjob terrorising the city in the 1980s. The final sequence, covering the killer’s capture, is very good indeed.

Dawn Of The Dead
The original, the best, the only. For some reason the missus wanted to see this, even though it’s not really her cup of tea. Don’t think she really enjoyed it, but she gave it a crack, bless.

Wolfgang Das Boot Petersen tackles Homeric epic poetry, leaves out the gods. Kind of good, with some great old fashioned sword-and-sandal story-telling jazzed up for the modern audience, but basically crap. A nice payday for assorted character actors, bad wigs notwithstanding. Brad Pitt and Eric Bana make for a decent pair of antagonists.

Incident On A Dark Street
Terrible transfer, this DVD. A 1970s TV pilot that never took off, about cops and DAs trying to bust mobsters and corrupt bureaucrats in a beige, unhip LA. The occasional hint of flair – gritty location filming, Richard S Castellano (from The Godfather) as a nervous, basically decent peripheral Mafia figure – but mostly dull. Bill Shatner does his best to be all groovy and shit. Buzz Kulik (best known for directing Steve McQueen’s last movie) is in the helm.

The Final Days
Okay, so a TV movie of Woodward & Bernstein’s follow-up to their ‘All The President’s Men’ book about the Watergate cover-up, this time recounting the countdown to Nixon’s resignation, starring Lane Smith (Perry from Lois & Clark) as the embittered, embattled commander-in-chief, probably is not going to reach the artistic heights of Alan J Pakula’s Oscar-winning conspiracy thriller.

But it is quite watchable, and a good companion piece, not to ATPM, in which Tricky Dicky is an unseen, offstage villain (save for TV or radio footage), but the various other screen essays on him, such as Philip Baker Hall in Secret Honor, Frank Langella in Frost/Nixon, or even Bacony Hamkins in Nixon. Filmed with a certain efficiency by Richard Pearce.