Steven Keats

Steven Keats

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The Friends of Eddie Coyle Review


Excellent
Throughout Peter Yates' masterful The Friends of Eddie Coyle, crooks, thieves and the occasional police officer use terms of complacent endearment -- friend, nice guy, good man -- but the words never seem to carry any meaning. All of them tend to agree that Eddie Coyle (Robert Mitchum), a career criminal at 51, is a nice guy, but that doesn't mean they aren't willing to put him in the dirt if it makes their lives easier. Coyle can't really blame them for it; he knows the way of the world.

As its title points out, Friends has a very marginal interest in Eddie himself. In his first scene, Coyle goes about telling a gun dealer (Steven Keats) about how some associates of other associates slammed his fingers after a deal went sour. A low-level hood since God-knows-when, Eddie speaks about the situation congenially before telling the dealer that he needs 30 guns. Coyle has been supplying guns to a pack of bank robbers, the head of which is played by Alex Rocco. The money he's making is to support his wife and kids before he reports for a two-year stint in a New Hampshire prison; he doesn't feel his family should be scraping by on welfare.

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Death Wish Review


Good
If you were a mugger, would you prey on a guy that looked like Charles Bronson? I guess this wouldn't have worked with Petula Clark in the lead, but Death Wish -- which spawned four sequels and endless knockoffs -- is a real piece of filmed Americana. Bronson plays Paul Kersey, an architect (and conscientious objector during Vietnam!) whose wife is senselessly killed by a mugger. Soon he learns the joy of the .32 handgun and begins shooting up the town whenever he spies a mugging, or -- more lifely -- when he is the victim of an attempted mugging himself. Bronson probably shoots more bullets than he utters lines of dialogues, and the police work in tracking down Kersey is uncannily good. All told this is a compulsively watchable bit of '70s nostalgia, a curious counterpart to Dirty Harry and an icon of New York-brand justice. (Make sure you dig the wallpaper in Kersey's kitchen.)

Black Sunday (1977) Review


Excellent
If the plot of Black Sunday seems familiar, that's probably because you're remembering the wholesale rip-off it was given by The Sum of All Fears just a year ago. But Sunday is immensely better. If you've seen the latter but not the original, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

The story has since been done to death: terrorist group plans to cause massive carnage, this time at the Super Bowl by blowing up the Good Year Blimp overhead. But Black Sunday is distinguished by its unique focus not on the hero but on the villain: Bruce Dern as an angry Vietnam vet, pilot, and former prisoner of war. He holds a grudge against the U.S. like you wouldn't believe (brainwashed? shellshocked?): Enough to convince him to join forces with a Palestinian militant group called Black September. It doesn't help that he's just plain crazy. Even the Black September operatives are a little afraid of what he might do.

Continue reading: Black Sunday (1977) Review

The American Success Company Review


OK
Extremely strange, The American Success Company gives us poor schlub Harry (Jeff Bridges), who's married to the boss's daughter but has absolutely no spine. Solution: He takes lessons from a hooker on how to be an asshole. And succeeds -- his marriage is reinvigorated and he turns things around at the office. He goes a little too far, of course, which is where the fun begins. Hard to find and more than a little confusing, this extremely weird entry from A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon director William Richert is worth a peek on late-night cable.
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