Fabulous Films has released a lot of back catalogue Universal films in the past week and I’ve been ill so here is a succession of short and snappy reviews on a few of those titles.
The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover (dir. Peter Greenaway, 1989)
Peter Greenaway’s best known film and arguably his most accomplished film even if I may prefer A Zed & Two Noughts over it slightly. Darkly comedic tale involving gangsters, sex and of course a lot of food. Strong cast led by Helen Mirren and Michael Gambon as the course gangster (The title’s thief) along with supporting roles from a young Tim Roth, Ciarán Hinds and even a rare acting outing from pub rocker Ian Dury. Exquisite set design and photography which is expected from Greenaway even in his worst films. It also has the first film which had costumes designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier and is typically style retro but futuristic which lends to the timeless quality of the film.
Crime,Romance | UK, 1989 | 18 | Dir.Peter Greenaway | Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren | Buy: [DVD]
Sleepers (dir. Barry Levinson, 1996)
One of Levinson’s better films from a notorious spotty career since his sensation debut feature Diner. Enormously helped by a ensemble of bonafide movie stars such as Brad Pitt, Robert De Niro and frequent collaborator Dustin Hoffman. A group of young boys are molested by guards when they are sent to a detection centre after playing a prank that goes horribly wrong. Years later some of the kids who are now adults beat one of the guards to death as revenge and one of the other kids goes after the case to help his fellow victims out. It was certainly oscar bait but it’s a solid drama which also deals with the mob and Kevin Bacon especially stands out as one of the rapist guards.
Crime, Drama | USA, 1996 | 18 | Dir.Barry Levinson | Robert De Niro, Kevin Bacon, Brad Pitt | Buy: [DVD]
Frost/Nixon (dir. Ron Howard, 2008)
When Ron Howard is good he basically a kind of lower rent Spielberg and I mean that as a compliment. Frost/Nixon is a stagey (it’s based on a stage play) but satisfying dramatization of interviews between British broadcaster David Frost (Michael Sheen) and then recently disgraced former American President Richard Nixon (Frank Langella). Nixon was arguably the most interesting president of the 20th century and not for all the right reasons, he was equally politically and emotionally complex. The real life interviews are electrifying and the cinematic ones equally are and Langella despite not having a huge physical resemblance to Nixon pulls it off magnificently. Frost may have broken the rules of interview etiquette (like paying the interviewee) but the results were ground breaking and films displays this with enough flare that is doesn’t come off a TV movie.
Drama, History | USA, 2008 | 12 | Dir.Ron Howard | Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Kevin Bacon| Buy: [DVD]