No Way Out. Really fun, really twisty, really ’80s. I like this version of Costner – slick as hell, and in deep shit. I wish Sean Young’s character had a bit more going for her. Gene Hackman is one of those actors who does so well playing gross people I have to remember that and counteract it.
The French Connection. It’s a great “mean cop” flick. Gene Hackman’s “Popeye” Doyle is pretty unlikeable, but you still find yourself on his side despite all the recklessness and disregard for, y’know, the law. I love the attention to detective details here, the surveillance stuff with all the stake-outs, and the car tails, and the cat-and-mouse following on foot with a switching team. Also: that final chase is legit.
The Conversation. Great, great flick. The scale is so small and focused, and the protagonist is a perfect tragic character, in turns expert and inept. Themes: Surveillance and paranoia. Temptation vs. dull professionalism. Signal, noise, interpretation, expertise. I love how the movie’s opening and closing mirror each other, or maybe I should say echo each other. Gene Hackman is fantastic. Harrison Ford has one of the best scowls in the game. Fun fact: Coppola released both this and The Godfather Part II in 1974. That’s a good year, huh?
The Royal Tenenbaums. Film #3 in my Wes Anderson self-education program. I’d rank this one below The Darjeeling Limited, above Rushmore. Anderson can start a movie with the best of them, but I’m not sure he’s a good finisher. But I can appreciate how he rides the edge between comedy and tragedy. I’m not sure I understand the soundtracks, though. I don’t think it’s simply a bald move for hip points – “Hey, listen to how cool my music collection is. Pretty good taste, eh?” – but I can’t help but find it somewhat annoying.