Frederic Forrest

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Apocalypse Now Redux Review


Essential
Just issued on a remastered DVD, Coppola's 1979 masterpiece gets the director's cut treatment in this Redux version, as 49 minutes of previously edited footage are reinserted to bring the film in line with the director's original vision.

And the result is stunning, making an astonishing film even more powerful ...

but changing it completely in the process.

Continue reading: Apocalypse Now Redux Review

Hearts of Darkness Review


Excellent
For a portrait of cinematic obsession and unbridled megalomania rarely seen outside of a Werner Herzog home movie, one would be hard pressed to find a more satisfying piece of work than Hearts of Darkness, co-directors Fax Bahr and George Hickenlooper's 1991 documentary on the making of Apocalypse Now. It was a film that didn't make sense; in fact it had never really made sense. Orson Welles had tried to make a film out of Joseph Conrad's Hearts of Darkness back in the 1930s -- that didn't work so he went ahead and made Citizen Kane instead. Nobody in the mid-1970s seemed interested in a film about the nation's just-ended nightmare, the Vietnam War, much less one with a murky and heady script based on a dense novel people had to suffer through in high school. The film as planned was going to cost far too much money before it even started to go insanely over budget.

But none of that was going to stop wunderkind Francis Ford Coppola from mortgaging every last ounce of the Hollywood credit he had garnered from making The Godfather Parts I and II (not to mention most every penny he had to his name) and hauling his family along with an army-sized cast and crew off to the Philippines (in the middle of an ugly civil war, mind you) for a few years to make a film whose ending he hadn't quite yet figured out. The results were perhaps predictable, even before the monsoons destroyed most of the sets, he fired his lead actor, and star Martin Sheen suffered a heart attack. When Apocalypse Now premiered at Cannes in 1979, a still-shaken Coppola announced that what had was that he had gone into the jungle -- like the Americans into Vietnam, in yet another of his grandiose analogies -- with too much money, too much equipment, "and little by little we went insane."

Continue reading: Hearts of Darkness Review

Apocalypse Now Review


Essential
In the grand tradition of movies that explore the reality that is the Vietnam War, one film stands out -- for defying reality.

Martin Sheen stars as Captain Willard, sent upriver in war-torn 'Nam to "terminate, with extreme prejudice" one Colonel Kurtz (Brando), a former green beret who has gone primal all the way in Cambodia and has taken on the guise of a god to the local people of the area.

Continue reading: Apocalypse Now Review

Apocalypse Now Review


Essential
In the grand tradition of movies that explore the reality that is the Vietnam War, one film stands out -- for defying reality.

Martin Sheen stars as Captain Willard, sent upriver in war-torn 'Nam to "terminate, with extreme prejudice" one Colonel Kurtz (Brando), a former green beret who has gone primal all the way in Cambodia and has taken on the guise of a god to the local people of the area.

Continue reading: Apocalypse Now Review

The Two Jakes Review


Weak
Never willing to leave a classic alone, Hollywood finally dug up Chinatown and sequelized it with The Two Jakes, and they even let Jack Nicholson take the director's chair.

Continue reading: The Two Jakes Review

Tucker: The Man and His Dream Review


Excellent
Francis Ford Coppola's labor of love... about Preston Tucker's labor of love. Jeff Bridges stars as the charismatic man who tried to take on Detroit (and lost badly) by making his own line of safe, fast, stylish, and efficient automobiles in the 1940s. Detroit retaliated, landing Tucker in a fraud lawsuit, and this is his story. Tucker: The Man and His Dream is shot with Coppola's signature stylishness, aided by fine performances from Bridges, Joan Allen, and Martin Landau. A few impatient ones may get bored with the attention to detail that Coppola has infused in his film, but Bridges' riviting performance should keep the rest of you glued to your set and longing for one of his rocketship cars.

Music Box (1989) Review


Grim
Is daddy really a Nazi living under an assumed identity in America? In this impressively stupid collaboration between Costa-Gavras and Joe Eszterhas (you will not find a more unlikely pair since Oscar and Felix) we have to wait almost two hours to find out if Armin Mueller-Stahl is indeed the monster he's accused of being or if it's a Commie plot. The catch? Daughter Jessica Lange is defending him at a Nuremburg-style trial.

In the vein of Jagged Edge and Basic Instinct (all Eszterhas movies, actually), we're kept guessing as to whether hedunit, only in Music Box, we couldn't care less. If the characters aren't speaking in thick, phony accents, they're speaking in foreign languages altogether -- through long, drawn-out courtroom scenes where immigrants reflect hazily on whether Armin's our man.

Continue reading: Music Box (1989) Review

Whatever Review


Terrible
Whatever? Exactly. Susan Skoog's indulgent tale of two teenagers who experiment with booze, drugs, sex, and more sex is hopeless and uninspired, probably ripped out of Skoog's diary (that assuredly has a little lock on it so her mommy can't spy on these dirty thoughts). Headlined by the singularly unappealing Liza Weil, Whatever isn't so much a turn-off as it is an utter waste of time. Two or three moments of comedy don't redeem this movie for its limp stupidity, and the tacked-on Happy Ending only makes matters worse. View at your own peril.

Apocalypse Now Redux Review


Essential
Forget The Godfather. The sheer brilliance of Francis Ford Coppola lies in the images and words of his real masterpiece, Apocalypse Now. Twenty-two years ago, Coppola ventured into the jungles of the Philippines to shoot an adaptation of Joesph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, set against the turmoil and fury of the Vietnam War. Coppola assembled an impressive cast of actors -- 14 year-old Laurence Fishburne, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen (replacing Harvey Keitel), Dennis Hopper, Frederic Forrest, and the great Marlon Brando -- and set out to shoot a war epic. By the end, Coppola had lost 100 pounds, principal photography ran for 16 weeks, Martin Sheen had a heart attack, Brando demanded all of his shots be done in shadow, and Coppola had invested millions of his own money to keep the production going, all while threatening suicide numerous times. After all the pain, Apocalypse Now was finally revealed, exposing itself as one of the most amazing pieces of celluloid ever produced, capturing not only the ugliness and ridiculousness of Vietnam, but exposing the dark heart of man as well.

The end result: 8 Academy Award nominations (including Best Picture) and 2 wins for Cinematography and Score. Apocalypse Now additionally cemented Coppola's place as an A-plus-list film director, giving him free rein for the next 20 years to make crap like Captain Eo and Jack, junk which no one in Hollywood would dare criticize.

Continue reading: Apocalypse Now Redux Review

Shadow Hours Review


Unbearable

In "Shadow Hours" -- a bottom-feeder shocksploitation flick full of vapid, infernal biblical metaphors -- writer-director Isaac Eaton expects the audience to identify with a worthless, weak-willed, reprobate recently out of rehab who abandons his gorgeous, loyal, pregnant wife to follow a rich stranger into a hellish fantasy version of L.A.'s seamy underbelly.

Balthazar Getty -- the poor man's Charlie Sheen -- stars as an grumpy skid row gas jockey working the graveyard shift when a mysterious slickster (Peter Weller) pulls up in a Porsche, dark sunglasses and a $2,000 suit. He's looking for some gritty, down-and-out soul to torture as a "research assistant" on a book, apparently about the joys of social malignancy.

Soon Weller is dragging our complaisant hero around to strip bars, drug dens, graphically depicted S&M dungeons and dingy basements where they bet on bloody bare-knuckle brawls. But even after finding himself utterly appalled by his experiences, Getty's pump attendant -- already sickened by daily exposure to the dregs of humanity at his ghetto gas station -- continues to ride shotgun for the mystery man night after night.

Continue reading: Shadow Hours Review

Frederic Forrest

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