Tag Archives: Harrison Ford

The Conversation Review

I love reviewing older movies, and along those lines, I take a look at the classic Francis Ford Coppola film, The Conversation.

It’s always old with you. Well, yes, I am a bit of a sucker for classic film, though there are still a few movies made today that know how to get to me. Anyway, so I was sitting around the other night with nothing to do, waiting out the impending snow storm (Snowpocalypse II: This Time It’s Personal!), so I decided to throw a movie on the projector. I ran across an old Coppola film he made in the time between The Godfather and The Godfather part II called The Conversation.

The movie stars Gene Hackman (one of my all-time favorite actors) and also features a young Harrison Ford, Robert Duvall, John Cazale (Fredo), Teri Garr, and more. On rotten tomatoes, the movie received a 98% on their tomatometer, which, as far as numbers go, seems pretty good. Suffice to say, I was intrigued.

Your approval means nothing to me. Well, that’s just it. I’m not sure I would say I approve. The movie is set in the 70′s, and, unlike the Godfather movies that Coppola does such a nice job of making feel like they could have been made yesterday, this movie feels extremely dated. It is all about the dangers of technology, and yet, by today’s standards, the technology is quite laughable. Maybe that was part of the problem, but I don’t think so.

I don’t often mind when things like dated technology come into a movie, because what matters most is the human conflict. I think Gene Hackman’s Harry Caul is a fantastic character (as almost all Hackman characters are {minus his Lex Luthor}), but the movie is terribly paced. And maybe that goes part and parcel with a movie about bugging people’s conversations. It’s hard to make long scenes that involve nothing but play, listen, rewind, play, listen, and rewind stay compelling.

So, you didn’t like it. I get it. I guess I’d say that. I mean, it’s certainly not the worst movie I’ve ever seen. It’s a very interesting concept for a movie, and of course, the acting is superb, but though this movie is only 113 minutes, it feels like it drags. It’s definitely not one of Coppola’s best works. I do like the chances he takes with this film, but at the end of the day, I think they fail.

Still, if you’re stuck inside, wondering if the snow will entomb you and your days on this world may be few, it may be worth checking out. It’s possible I’m impatient and my attention span has become limited to a YouTube clip. I dunno. Anyway, below is the trailer. Make up your mind for yourself.

Aren’t you forgetting something? Ah, yes. A while ago, I’d come up with a rating system for movie reviews (that I have not been using). It goes as follows:

  • “Theatre One”: This is a great movie. You should watch this movie any chance you get in theater. This is the kind of flick to see on opening night and then come back the following day.
  • “Dollar Theatre”: This is a good movie. It’s fun, and you should go out of your way to see it.
  • “Laptop-Worthy”: Laptop-Worthy movies are just that. You’re bored, and you need something to kill time? Try these.
  • “DMV Phone”: If you’re absolutely desperate, and you can watch movies on your 4″ phone, these movies can be appropriate.
  • “NEVER EVER EVER”: There is never a time that is appropriate to watch these movies.

I will try to remember to use this system from now on. On that note, I would say that The Conversation is Laptop-Worthy.

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Where are America’s Leading Men?

I don’t go to the movies much anymore, and frankly, I just plain don’t watch too many new movies. I have some directors I watch regularly, but I think one of the big issues in movies today is that there are no good leading men.

What do you know about leading men? So, I’ve been thinking about this lately: Who are America’s leading men? I mean, when I think of leading men in movies (and by leading men, I mean actors that can carry a movie and are identifiable in their acting style by showing some humanity and humor, etc.), I think of the guy to the left, Humphrey Bogart. Bogey could carry a movie. And we have a long history in this country of great leading men in film: Charlton Heston, Kirk Douglas, Harrison Ford (what happened to you Harrison?), De Niro, Pacino, Hanks, Jimmy Stewart, etc. But who are today’s leading men?

Yes, there are some actors from across a pond or two who can carry a movie. I’m thinking of Christian Bale, Huge Ackman, Michael Fassbender, etc. But when I think of younger American actors, it’s disappointing. The names that come up are Bradley Cooper, Mark Wahlberg, Ryan Gosling, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (though I loved him on 3rd Rock From The Sun), and Leonardo DiCaprio. I don’t think of any of those guys as solid leading men. Yes, they have decent performances here and there, but I don’t think they have the prowess of some of the older actors I’ve mentioned in terms of carrying a movie.

Everything used to be better, eh? Well, I think the most egregious on the list is DiCaprio. A lot of people rave about his work, but I don’t see it. The guy is humorless, and he lacks the humanity of some of these other actors. Yes, he can act, but that doesn’t make him a good leading man. Sad thing is, I think he’s probably one of the best we’ve got. But I’ve heard him mentioned as similar to De Niro (I imagine that comparison is made simply because of the Scorsese association), but I think that comparison is ludicrous. Imagine DiCaprio as Vito Corleone, or in Raging Bull, or in Taxi Driver, etc. I can’t.

Sad thing is, I think DiCaprio’s best work was Catch Me If You Can, which was a movie in which he shared the lead with a competent actor, Tom Hanks. But this is the reality of the situation: when people name Marky Mark as one of America’s best younger actors (his brother Donnie is a better actor), it is truly a sad day.

All you do is complain, bro. I mean, there’s nothing to be done with this. I feel like this is probably one of the reasons that movies are struggling in the US, and I feel like many people accept these actors as decent because they haven’t allowed themselves to experience these other classic actors. In essence, I wonder if today’s movie watchers simply don’t know better. I don’t know, but I hope that’s true. I know the black-and-white screen can be intimidating, and some people get immediately turned off by it, but classic films are worth giving a chance.

Wrap it up, Scorsese! OK, OK. People like what they like. Maybe I am just picky. Maybe I am in love with old things … this may be true, but it’s also possible that we’re buying into inferior products. This is my assertion.

So, who is your favorite “young” American leading man? I put young in quotes, because I’m willing to accept anyone under forty-five.

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