The past couple of weeks have been busy, so I haven’t had a chance to watch many movies, but I sneaked a few in. So forthwith are my reviews of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Taking of Pelham 123 (Tony Scott version) and Man on Wire.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s – What can you really say about this one? It’s the granddaddy of romantic comedies, starring a radiant Audrey Hepburn and a handsome George Peppard (yes, the leader from A-Team). Hepburn plays Holly Golightly, the “real phony.” Holly is a woman who ran away from her life (and marriage to a much older Buddy Epsen) to come to New York and reinvent herself. The only problem is, she doesn’t really know who her real self is. She is terrified of commitment, so much so that she won’t even name the stray cat she has found, only calling him “Cat.” Then she meets George Peppard and commences on a love/hate relationship with him. Anytime he gets too close, she does what she can to drive him away. This being a romantic comedy, the ending is a foregone conclusion, but the trip in getting there is a great trip indeed. All the acting is superb, down to all the supporting characters. The one exception is Mickey Rooney, who plays (overplays) an agonizingly stereotypical Asian. It’s all buck teeth and mispronounced L’s. It’s cringeworthy in the extreme. I’m sure all of this isn’t Rooney’s fault. It’s Blake Edwards’s direction coupled with the times (the movie is 50 years old), but it could have disappeared from the film and not been missed. That aside, this is well worth seeing if you like well-written trotting down a (by now) familiar path. It should be required viewing for anyone attempting to write a romantic comedy. 8/10
The Taking of Pelham 123 – This Tony Scott directed film is based off the 1974 film starring Robert Shaw and Walter Matthau. The original was a laid-back, stylish thriller with doses of comedy (and stereotypical Asians too. I just realized that) that had a somewhat anticlimactic (but typically 70′s) ending. This new version, as typical of Tony Scott, is amped, ramped, and pumped up for an MTV (or I guess now it might be Twitter) generation. There’s more profanity, more explosions, more chases, and a much more dramatic (and violent) ending. The story concerns Walter Garber (Denzel Washington) who works at the central station of New York’s Metro Transit Authority. Things are going fine until Ryder (John Travolta) and his cronies hijack a subway train (The Pelham 123 of the title) and demand a million dollars in an hour or they start killing passengers. From there it’s the tension of Garber trying to keep Ryder from doing anything stupid, while the city’s leaders work to put the money together in time. I enjoyed this film. It was a fun thrill ride with some pretty good back and forth between the two main characters. Travolta went a little overboard at times, especially when he was trying to be “ghetto tough,” but Washington did a wonderful job. The action scenes, as per any Tony Scott film, were top-notch. Lately, Scott has has a tendency to go overboard with “style,” using filters and camera moves and whip fast editing to tell his story. It could get distracting. Fortunately, he holds himself back this time (except for a dose in the opening credits) and that helps make it a much better film. He could have easily screwed this one up (just watch Domino for an example of how). All in all, this a fun ride. Certainly more fun than actually riding a New York subway. 7/10
Man on Wire – This movie tells the true story of Phillipe Petit, the only man to ever walk a tightrope between the towers of the World Trade Center. Using actually footage, recreations and modern day interviews with the participants, the movie shows the planning that went into pulling off this daring (some would say insane) escapade. Using a small team of people, Phillipe sneaks into the still under construction towers, sets his line, and then walks between the towers for 45 minutes. The film is intriguing, showing some of Phillipe as a young man (recreations) and then showing the tension involved in trying to plan such a feat. The really amazing thing is how much the people involved filmed of what they were doing. Overall, this is an interesting film. I think it could have been served being 15 minutes shorter, but it becomes riveting when they talk about the night they pulled it off, and the pictures of Phillipe actually between the towers are breathtaking. Just the thought of even attempting something like that can give you the willies. Another thing that would have been nice is to get their thoughts on the destruction of the towers, but I suppose it really wasn’t important to the subject of the movie. Check this one out when you get the chance. 7/10
I’m going to start trying to post about each movie after I see it, instead of grouping them together like this. I can’t promise anything though.