David Rayfiel

David Rayfiel

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Three Days of the Condor Review


Good
In Sydney Pollack's strange spy thriller Three Days of the Condor, Robert Redford plays a playful and somewhat geeky analyst for the C.I.A. He spends his days reading books, journals, and any manner of written correspondence that is published or publicly available, searching for codes, keywords, and country names to cross-reference with Langley. He has a code name, Condor, which he has no particular use for until the day he returns from a lunch run to find his entire department murdered. Suddenly, he is on the lam, indulging in ramshackle espionage plots and rubbing elbows with foreign assassins. He's not a spy but he plays one pretty well.

Unlike the Condor, the viewer may only pick up the salient points. There's a smattering of names for several chiefs and directors: Wicks, Wabash, Atwood, Higgins, etc. Even the switchboard operator is given the title "The Major." There's a woman, Catherine Hale (Faye Dunaway), whom the Condor takes hostage and quickly embarks on a semi-romantic partnership with. When he's not busy connecting the dots, the Condor is being hunted by a tall gun-for-hire with a foreign accent given the codename Joubert (the indefatigable Max Von Sydow) and another assassin named simply The Mailman. It doesn't seem to matter much but, for what it's worth, it all seems to have something to do with a possible war in the Middle East and oil.

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'Round Midnight Review


Excellent
In 1986, director Bertrand Tavernier turned his attention to... the growth of jazz in 1950s France, courtesy of black American expatriates? An odd choice for the director of Coup de torchon -- and featuring Martin Scorsese in a supporting role no less -- but Tavernier could write his own ticket at the time, and write it he did.

The story is as threadbare as something that might have been conceived over bottomless goblets of wine at 3am in a smoke-filled Montmartre jazz club. Francis Borler (Fran├žois Cluzet) is absolutely obsessed with sax player Dale Turner (real-lilfe musician Dexter Gordon), to the point where he leaves his pre-teen daughter at home and spends his nights sitting outside clubs in the rain while Dale plays his sax inside.

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The Firm Review


OK
Run, Tom, run! Mr. Cruise got a workout in this picture, a film that had him on the run from the evil law firm that employed him and whose clients consist only of mobsters, killers, and other crooks. An all-star cast otherwise makes up for a largely uninspired, overly complex, and far too long movie that nonetheless maintains audience interest throughout a 2.5+ hour runtime. Holly Hunter is particularly good as a slutty private eye's assistant -- in fact, she was nominated for an Oscar for the cheeseball role. Hal Holbrook also earns high marks as an appropriately evil and mysterious bossman.
David Rayfiel

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