Gabriel Katzka

Gabriel Katzka

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The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) Review


Excellent
An archeological specimen from nearly two decades before the advent of the Metrocard, Joseph Sargent's expert thriller The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, like brethren Serpico and The French Connection, is another quintessential 1970s New York City movie that might read as alien dialect to those who aren't familiar with the geocentric love/hate relationship between the city and its inhabitants. To those who are familiar, however, the film will unfold like ghostscript, a bygone era of Abe Beame, Gotham teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, and President Ford's apocryphal claim that the city could "drop dead."

There certainly aren't any Urban Outfitters to be seen in 1970s Manhattan, though a train ride on the 6 is still a life-and-death proposition. That becomes a bit more literal for the dozen or so that are held hostage on a single car by a pack of hijackers who refer to themselves by color; a gimmick Tarantino would cop 20 years later in Reservoir Dogs. The leader is a coiled ex-soldier-of-fortune who goes by Mr. Blue (the brilliant Robert Shaw, a year before Jaws) with Green (Martin Balsam), Grey (Hector Elizondo), and Brown (Earl Hindman) under him. His foil, a metro cop named Zach Garber, is oddly played by Walter Matthau.

Continue reading: The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) Review

The Falcon and the Snowman Review


Excellent
Underseen (and true) spy drama set in the early 1970s, The Falcon and the Snowman tells the perplexing tale of Christopher Boyce (Hutton), a low-level document controller who filtered reams of material to the Soviet Union. His mistake? Using his coked-up drug pusher buddy (Penn) as his bagman. As Penn's character falls apart, so does the plan. And in a way, so does the film. While most of Falcon is great, some of it drags and doesn't make sense. Still, you do get to hear a bit about Boyce's motivation: His conscience, which told him to expose the CIA for some of its more nefarious and off-topic activities. A good companion piece to better-known thrillers of the era like All the President's Men.

The Beast Within Review


Terrible
Really, truly Godawful werewolfish kind of movie, which gives us Ronny Cox and Bibi Besch, the latter of whom gives birth after being raped by a werewolf, starting the cycle over again and again and oh the humanity. Though it has a few creepy scenes -- including one grotesquely unforgettable transformation -- the movie on the whole is a real disaster. Nonsense, hammy acting, and the most tired of plots... it's a Beast indeed.
Gabriel Katzka

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