Tag Archives: Robert Duvall

THX 1138 (1971, George Lucas)

Director Lucas makes one attempt at audience accessibility in THX 1138. It’s actually the first thing he does–he shows a clip from an old Flash Gordon serial to let the audience know the story is about the future. The clip also lets the audience know the future isn’t going to be happy.

And once he’s made that concession, he stops being accessible at all. There are no explanations in the film, no foreshadowing, no acknowledgement of the characters’ realizations, Lucas doesn’t even introduce his leads in an easy fashion. Lucas instead just quickly visually familiarizes the audience with the leads–Robert Duvall, Maggie McOmie, Donald Pleasence–before focusing in on Duvall amid the first action confusion.

Lucas’s secret weapon in THX 1138 is co-writer and sound designer Walter Murch. While the film definitely has distinctive visuals right off, the sound is even more important to setting the film’s tone. Lucas and Murch confuse the viewer at the same time they confuse Duvall–it’s the only way to put the viewer on anything near a similar level. Later on, when Pleasence is exploring his future world for the first time (and the viewer’s), he stops and gives up, not wanting to know. Only then does his introspection reveal anything to the viewer about the future world.

Except there’s no explanation of the terminology, which leaves the viewer again removed.

The film’s biggest problem is its length–it’s just too short to submerge the viewer–but it’s still a masterfully produced film. Great photography and editing too.

3.5/4★★★½

CREDITS

Edited and directed by George Lucas; screenplay by Lucas and Walter Murch, based on a story by Lucas; directors of photography, Albert Kihn and David Myers; music by Lalo Schifrin; produced by Larry Sturhahn; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Robert Duvall (THX), Donald Pleasence (SEN), Don Pedro Colley (SRT), Maggie McOmie (LUH), Ian Wolfe (PTO), Marshall Efron (TWA), Sid Haig (NCH), John Pearce (DWY) and James Wheaton (OMM).


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Jack Reacher (2012, Christopher McQuarrie)

The first third of Jack Reacher is an elegantly told procedural, with director McQuarrie emulating a seventies cop movie. Of course, there are some garnishing, but nothing monumental. Tom Cruise’s cop is actually an ex-Army cop, it takes place in the twenty-first century (but I don’t think there’s a single computer turned on in the entire picture) and it’s a got an action movie finish. The finish is great–McQuarrie doesn’t give the violence flare, it’s all matter of fact. It knocks the movie’s quality down a little, but only because McQuarrie has to stop making a cop movie.

Technical standouts are Caleb Deschanel’s photography and Joe Kraemer’s music. Kraemer (until the last bit, when he’s just scoring action) does an amazing job. The music gives Reacher a lot of its personality, especially since the film often leaves Cruise in the first half to do other things.

Some of these other things involve Rosamund Pike, who I’ve never liked before but here is phenomenal, and Jai Courtney as a bad guy. Courtney’s good too. He doesn’t have a lot to do, but McQuarrie makes sure it’s all important. Same goes for Richard Jenkins and David Oyelowo. They’re both great. And Alexia Fast is good too.

As for Cruise?

At the end of the big action finale, Cruise tells a bad guy about how he’s a badass. Maybe McQuarrie waited with the line because he had to know Cruise had earned it.

And Cruise (and Reacher) definitely earn it.

2.5/4★★½

CREDITS

Directed by Christopher McQuarrie; screenplay by McQuarrie, based on a novel by Lee Child; director of photography, Caleb Deschanel; edited by Kevin Stitt; music by Joe Kraemer; produced by Tom Cruise, Don Granger, Paula Wagner and Gary Levinsohn; released by Paramount Pictures.

Starring Tom Cruise (Reacher), Rosamund Pike (Helen), Richard Jenkins (Rodin), David Oyelowo (Emerson), Werner Herzog (The Zec), Jai Courtney (Charlie), Vladimir Sizov (Vlad), Joseph Sikora (Barr), Michael Raymond-James (Linsky), Alexia Fast (Sandy), Josh Helman (Jeb), James Martin Kelly (Rob Farrior), Dylan Kussman (Gary) and Robert Duvall (Cash).


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Open Range (2003, Kevin Costner)

Because I’m a cynic, I have to point out the following–in order to revive the Western, that most American of genres (sort of), Costner had to film Open Range in Canada.

It’s hard to think of a more traditional Western than Open Range. But the way Costner films it, it’s nouveau-Technicolor–the sky impossibly blue, the prairie impossibly green. There’s a subtle thread running through Range about progress and participating in it and not participating in it… but the film’s not about that collision.

Instead, it’s a straightforward Western–some drama, some action, some comedy. There’s even Costner putting in an unexpected Waterworld reference, as Michael Jeter swings around.

Most of the film takes place over a day and a half. It’s not real time, but there’s a deliberate pace and Costner’s able to keep every plot development significant. It makes the film speed through its two hours and twenty minutes. The first act, with this delicate introduction to Costner, Robert Duvall, Diego Luna and Abraham Benrubi, is exceptional filmic storytelling.

The acting’s all great. Costner and Annette Bening have their gentle romance–the most un-Western thing about the film is Costner casting someone his age as his love interest. Then there’s Costner and Duvall’s friendship–these two awkward, asocial men bonding–it’s all very thoughtful and very special. Luna’s good as their sidekick.

Plus, James Russo is fantastic as the corrupt marshal.

Open Range is a quietly spectacular film; it’s tragic Costner’s not recognized for it.

4/4★★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Kevin Costner; screenplay by Craig Storper, based on a novel by Lauran Paine; director of photography, J. Michael Muro; edited by Michael J. Duthie and Miklos Wright; music by Michael Kamen; production designer, Gae S. Buckley; produced by David Valdes, Costner and Jake Eberts; released by Touchstone Pictures.

Starring Robert Duvall (Boss Spearman), Kevin Costner (Charley Waite), Annette Bening (Sue Barlow), Michael Gambon (Denton Baxter), Michael Jeter (Percy), Diego Luna (Button), James Russo (Sheriff Poole), Abraham Benrubi (Mose), Dean McDermott (Doc Barlow) and Kim Coates (Butler).

Badge 373 (1973, Howard W. Koch)

Badge 373 sounded good because it’s seventies Robert Duvall (before he was eighties and nineties Robert Duvall). My high hopes were quickly dashed. It’s poorly written, with lousy direction.

It’s amateurish, far beneath Duvall’s abilities.

I thought Howard W. Koch was somebody–I thought it was because of the New York mayor (Ed Koch), but it’s really Howard non-W. Koch (co-screenwriter of Casablanca). It’s rather confused why I thought he was a good director. He’s not.

It doesn’t feel much like a post-Dirty Harry cop film. It’s just another one of those seventies, bigot cop movies. There’s only so much time one has for that genre.

It’s certainly the worst performance I’ve seen from Duvall in the 1970s. Though not as ludicrous as some of his nineties work.

Trying to come up with anything else to say about the film is difficult, but it’s boring and long with unlikable characters. It’s based on the life of a real cop, who achieved some notoriety as the inspiration for The French Connection. He appears in the film and is a terrible actor.

It doesn’t compare to that film in the filmmaking or the script.

Verna Bloom is in it, who I like from–not High Plains DrifterAfter Hours. It’s After Hours I’m thinking of, the film where I really like Verna Bloom.

If you were full of crap and promoting the film, you could say it was 1970s American cinéma vérité.

It’s not; it’s just really poorly made.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Howard W. Koch; screenplay by Pete Hamill, inspired by Eddie Egan; director of photography, Arthur J. Ornitz; edited by John Woodcock; music by J.J. Jackson; production designer, Philip Rosenberg; produced by Koch and Jim Di Gangi; released by Paramount Pictures.

Starring Robert Duvall (Eddie Ryan), Verna Bloom (Maureen), Henry Darrow (Sweet William), Eddie Egan (Lt. Scanlon), Felipe Luciano (Ruben Garcia), Tina Cristiani (Mrs. Caputo), Marina Durell (Rita Garcia), Chico Martínez (Frankie Diaz), Jose Duvall (Ferrer), Louis Cosentino (Gigi Caputo) and Luis Avalos (Chico).