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Old February 26 2012, 12:42 AM   #292
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Re: Movies Seen in 2012

stj wrote: View Post
Turning Walker into a lone madman lets the slavers off the hook, doesn't it?
That's not what the movie does, really. Yes, Walker is shown to be mad, but the madness is pervasive and a matter of policy. (And the film does address his restoration of slavery in Nicaragua rather directly.)

Having said that, it can't be stated enough how far the movie is from being a bio-pic of Walker, a nuance that many reviewers didn't get. I know our tastes in movies and television are often widely divergent, but I think you'd enjoy Walker.

30. Lonely Are The Brave (A-)
31. Executive Action (C)

Lonely are the Brave: I was rather surprised by this quasi-Western, adapted from the Edward Abbey novel by once-Blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo and directed by the underrated David Miller. It's really quite good, featuring great performances by Kirk Douglas (he's called this his favorite movie), Walter Mathau, and Gena Rowlands. The dialogue is crisp, and the directing and editing keeps the proceedings tense (when they're not being played four laughs, which happens often, to my welcome surprise). Really, the only thing that doesn't quite work is the tragic ending. Carroll O'Connor plays a truck driver who we intermittently see throughout the movie. In the end, he runs in Kirk Douglas while he's on his horse. Douglas survives (probably) but the horse does not. I'm not sure why it doesn't quite work; I'd have to see the film again. Maybe it's a matter of tone. But, short of this, the movie is nearly a masterpiece.

It's also pretty hard to avoid reading a number of scenes (especially those set in jail) in light of Dalton Trumbo's imprisonment after refusing to testify to HUAC. The characters often speak both in bitter and righteous tones that are pure Trumbo.

Executive Action: This JFK-conspiracy thriller isn't that far afield from Oliver Stone's movie that would be made twenty years later, as far as its conspiracy theory goes, but in execution it often betrays its low production values and can be quite dull. The problem is that much of the movie relies on old men sitting around a table discussing their plans to assassinate the President rather clinically. It's not very dramatic, and having seen Stone's film first, not very interesting, either.

It is interesting to see historical footage from the period intermixed with footage of the actors (and you see a lot of it; archive footage probably constitutes at least 25% of the movie); it gives a real sense of how turbulent 1963 was politically. It also, unfortunately, overwhelms any sense of dramatic narrative. By the end, it's all archival footage, save for a few obligatory shots of the conspirators getting away. It also has an absolutely appalling performance by the actor playing Jack Ruby (luckily, he's only in a few scenes).

Like Lonely Are The Brave, the film is a collaboration between writer Dalton Trumbo and director David Miller. Neither's efforts, however, are as good as that earlier movie. It's worth seeing only if you're fascinated by media depictions of the JFK assassination, or find it necessary to view Trumbo or Miller's complete filmography.

Theatres: 14 +2
Home Video: 16
Computer: 1
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