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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.

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The Truth About Charlie Review


Terrible
It's possible to pinpoint the exact scene where the wheels come off director Jonathan Demme's rickety, pointless remake of the 1963 Cary Grant-Audrey Hepburn thriller Charade, where the whole ride comes to a screeching halt. Following an ill-timed hit-and-run accident that eliminates a crucial character, a hubcap actually rolls down the street and stops by Thandie Newton's noggin. Subliminal? I think not.

We may never know the truth about Charlie. Demme fills his European vacation with endless lies fed to us by self-serving criminals. The result circles endlessly around a thin mystery that the director punches up with inspired visual tricks, though logic would have been preferred.

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Charade Review


Excellent
I don't understand why directors decide to remake perfectly good movies. This thought races through my head because I recently saw Charade, the 1963 Stanley Donen gem featuring Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, and an endless amount of thrills, chills, and sweet goofiness. It's an unabashed delight, featuring two screen legends whose charisma is unmatched whether they're fleeing from danger or feeling each other out.

Jonathan Demme remade Charade in 2002 as The Truth About Charlie, starring Mark Wahlberg and Thandie Newton. I haven't seen Charlie and though I've enjoyed Demme's past work, I'm in no rush to see it. The casting confuses the hell out of me. Wahlberg either gives you befuddled naivety, which he's now too old for, or reserved cool, which comes across as sheer boredom. Just check out The Italian Job. And when did Thandie Newton become the heir to Audrey Hepburn? Was I out sick that day?

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