HTF PICKS OF THE WEEK - February 20, 2004

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, Feb 19, 2004.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    [​IMG]

    Week Ending February 20, 2004


    Last week I took a look at four different DVD titles
    that I chose as top picks. This week, I'm going to
    ease back and make it easy on myself and all of you.
    I picked two films that I believe are worth your hard
    dollar purchase.


    [​IMG]

    Runaway Jury



    The sad current state of cinematic affairs is that
    we are running out of great actors. If you mean to
    tell me that future film legacy will depend on the
    likes of Ben Affleck, The Rock and Adam Sandler, then
    we should all be very afraid to ever go to the movies
    again.

    The most enjoyable part of watching Runaway Jury
    has nothing to do with its storyline (which is quite
    good), but rather the performances of Dustin
    Hoffman
    and Gene Hackman. It's such a
    pleasure to watch these two men grace the screen and
    remind us just what true Box Office talent is all
    about.

    From the best-selling novel of John Grisham (who
    also gave us The Rainmaker and The Firm) comes this
    court-room thriller about a trial too important for
    the jury to decide -- it's a high-profile lawsuit
    against the gun manufacturing industry.

    In the one corner is attorney Wendell Rohr (Dustin
    Hoffman), who is representing the wife of a husband
    killed in a rampant shooting spree. Rohr is very
    confident that his case will win on its own merits,
    opening the gun industry to future suits. In the
    other corner stands Rankin Fitch (Gene Hackman),
    representing the gun industry, who thinks nothing
    of manipulating everything concerning this trial
    from selection of the jury to underhandedly swaying
    their opinions in his direction.

    Nothing could prepare these men for Nick Easter
    (John Cusack), a juror with his own agenda. With
    the help of his girlfriend Marlee (Rachel Weisz),
    Easter puts the entire jury up for sale, with the
    verdict pending on who offers the best price.

    Runaway Jury certainly shows our legal
    system in such fictional light that its sure
    to raise an eyebrow, but that's the fun of watching
    this highly unethical thriller unfold before your
    eyes. Gene Hackman's performance is especially
    good here, playing one of the meanest S.O.B.
    characters of his career.

    Though both Hackman and Hoffman filmed most of
    this film separately, a special "bathroom scene"
    was written at the last minute just to throw these
    two men together. That scene becomes the focus of
    most of the supplemental material included on this disc.

    Transfer quality is fairly decent, though because
    of the lighting conditions used in the film this
    doesn't come off as being one of Fox's better efforts.
    Surround use is kept at a minimal (except for
    outdoor scenes), as most of the film is dialogue
    driven.

    Runaway Jury succeeds as a cat-and-mouse
    thriller that makes for a highly entertaining evening.



    [​IMG]

    Pickup on South Street



    Pickup on South Street explores a few
    days in the life of Skip McCoy (Richard Widmark)
    a crook who spends much of his time above and below
    the streets of New York as a pick-pocket. He
    may be a three-time loser, but Skip has managed to
    masterfully skill the art of his craft. The film
    opens aboard a Subway train where we find Skip's
    fingers silently rummaging through the pocketbook
    of an unsuspecting female named Candy (Jean Peters).
    Not before long, Skip has wallet in hand.

    What Skip doesn't realize is that within this
    wallet lies film of classified government secrets.
    From hereon, Skip gets caught in the middle between
    Federal agents and Communists who will stop at nothing
    to get this film back in their hands.

    For a film out of the early 1950's, I was shocked
    at how brutal of a movie this was. There's a riveting
    scene of Jean Peters (Candy) getting assaulted that
    had me a little unnerved. I am sort of wondering how
    people at that time had dealt with this issue being
    portrayed so vividly on screen.

    On a brighter note, I fell in love with Thelma
    Ritter's character. Her bedroom scene can certainly
    be considered one of the most memorable moments
    in classic film. I was trying to figure out where
    I had seen her before.....then it dawned on me...
    she was alongside Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window.

    Doing a little research on this film, I discovered
    that Pickup on South Street was initially
    intended as a film about drug pushers. However,
    since this was filmed during the infamous McCarthy
    era, the filmmakers chose to take it in a new
    direction most appropriate for its time.

    The transfer is exceptional, though I wouldn't
    consider anything less from the efforts of THE
    CRITERION LIBRARY. The print is in immaculate
    condition with narely a sign of any film scratches
    or other assorted debris. This transfer ranks up
    with some of the best you would find from the Warner
    Bros. camp.

    Pickup On South Street is just excellent film
    noir featuring a memorable performance from one of
    my newest tough-guy favorites, Richard Widmark. Do
    yourself a favor and watch this!

    That's it for this week. See you next week!
     
  2. jake moosey

    jake moosey Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm gonna have to pick up, Pick up on south street. Thanx for the reccomendation Ron.
     
  3. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    Thank you Ron; Pick Up on South Street and the magnificent Tunes of Glory are winging their way to me right now, and I can barely wait.

    ---
    So many films, so little time...
     
  4. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    Ron,

    You've discovered Thelma Ritter--perhaps among the top 5 character actresses of all time. Do a search under her name at IMDB and pick up some more of her stuff, really excellent.
     
  5. Casey Trowbridg

    Casey Trowbridg Lead Actor

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    Ron, thanks for this, I'm going to check out run away jury, I'm a big Hackman fan.

    I look forward to your thoughts next week, and I'll just ignore what you said about the Rock...
     
  6. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    Me too John... in fact craving more Widmark, I just threw in Don't Bother To Knock this evening to tied me over... Ron, that's one you might like...(?)
     
  7. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    Didn't have to wait long! Came this morning. Both look absolutely fantastic after a cursory flick through - Tunes of Glory in particular is quite stunning, excellent colours and as pin-sharp as I've seen it.

    Alec Guinness is quite simply superb in this larger than life role; one of his finest hours IMHO. You'll love it Herb!

    ---
    So many films, so little time...
     
  8. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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    Dang it, Ron, stop it with your recommendations! My wallet is emptying! That goes for everyone else, too! [​IMG][​IMG]

    Looks like I'll be ordering Pickup on South Street and Tunes of Glory soon.
     
  9. Mark Bendiksen

    Mark Bendiksen Screenwriter

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    I agree, and I'll go one step further and praise John Cusack's performance. He does a fantastic job with a potentially tricky role. The whole movie I kept asking myself if I was supposed to root for his character or not. The movie kept me fairly off-balance (in a good way) in that regard, even if the hunch I developed about him proved to be true in the end.
     
  10. Brian W

    Brian W Stunt Coordinator

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    You can't miss her in any movie she is in, she was a scene stealer that one...always memorable.

    All About Eve
    Pillow Talk
    The Misfits

    just to name a modest few...
     
  11. Chuck Bogie

    Chuck Bogie Second Unit

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    They should have stuck with the original tobacco industry plot. I'm not going to spend my money on what is essentially hollywood-spawned propoganda.
     
  12. Colin Davidson

    Colin Davidson Second Unit
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    I too am now intrigued with Pickup on South Street and will be purchasing it.

    I saw Runaway Jury in the theater and while the performances you mentioned Ron are great I just wasn't that enthralled with the story.

    Thanks for your reviews/recommendations.
     
  13. Howard Glenn

    Howard Glenn Stunt Coordinator

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    Ron,

    Thanks for your comments. I'm really looking forward to Pick Up on South Stree...there's quite a few new Criterion releases to get caught up on!

    H
     
  14. Brajesh Upadhyay

    Brajesh Upadhyay Supporting Actor

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    After reading critics' reviews at rottentomatoes.com for "Runaway Jury", I was skeptical, but this is a pretty solid movie. Like Ron said, the performances make it worth watching; the story itself is okay.
     
  15. Ocean Phoenix

    Ocean Phoenix Supporting Actor

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    Why are people criticizing The Rock? His "acting" may have been awkward and unconvincing in "The Scorpion King", but I felt that he grew as an actor by leaps and bounds between that and "The Rundown". His performance in "The Rundown" was very confident and entertaining, and unless people just can't get over the fact that he is a professional wrestler, I can't see any reason to dismiss him as an actor.

    I don't believe he is a reason to worry about the future generation of actors at all. He was very natural in "The Rundown" with great comedic timing, charisma, and presence. My reaction after seeing it was thinking to myself "that guy must have gotten lessons from an excellent acting coach". Come on people...give him a chance, I think he has a lot of potential, and I only see a promising future for him as an actor.
     
  16. JohnTRU

    JohnTRU Stunt Coordinator

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    I wouldn't go so far as to call Ben Affleck a bad actor, rather a pretty good actor who chooses absolutely terrible movies to be in.
     
  17. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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