James Woods, Jim Belushi, Michael Murphy, Elpedia Carrillo & John Savage.
Written by Oliver Stone & Richard Boyle.
Directed by Oliver Stone.
Richard Boyle (Woods) is a sleazy, unemployed photojournalist who, with nothing to lose, heads to El Salvador in Central America with his best friend Dr Rock (Belushi) in tow. It is 1980, and El Salvador is in the grip of a vicious civil war that has claimed the lives of many thousands of civilians through US-aligned death squads. This is the perfect setting for the indulgent Boyle – a chance to redeem his career and in the process, save his own soul. Followed in the same year by Platoon, Stone’s Salvador packs a wallop, hurtling the viewer into the chaos of a country torn apart by bloodshed. It is also a deeply affecting personal drama, anchored by an astounding performance from Woods and afforded equally impressive support from Belushi. Based on the true story of co-writer Boyle’s experiences in Central America, this intelligent and gripping film is as pertinent today as it was in its year of release. One of Stone’s best films that sits proudly alongside the director’s masterpiece JFK.
Midnight Run (1988)
Robert DeNiro, Charles Grodin, Yaphet Kotto, Dennis Farina, John Aston & Joe Pantoliano.
Written by George Gallo.
Directed by Martin Brest.
When an embezzling Mob accountant (Grodin) skips bail, it’s up to a foul-mouthed, chain-smoking bounty hunter (DeNiro) to find him and transport him from New York to LA. But that ain’t as easy as it sounds. With two idiotic Mob cronies, the FBI and a fellow bounty hunter hot on their trail, the mismatched pair must essentially join forces to make it to California alive. This crackerjack action comedy was one of the funniest films of the decade, combining hilarious dialogue with rough and tumble action scenes. Following on from the success of 1984’s Beverly Hills Cop, director Martin Brest delivers one of his best films with the superlative casting of the two leads providing much of the films’ joy. Featuring a talented supporting cast including the brilliant character actor Kotto and Beverly’s own Ashton, Midnight Run is two hours of pure escapist fun.
Directed by Godfrey Reggio.
If you have never seen Koyaanisqatsi, you have missed one of the most unique film experiences in cinema history. Once you see Koyaanisqatsi, you will never view the world the same again. It is nigh on impossible to describe this film - there is no plot and no characters. It spans the United States providing astounding images of nature juxtaposed with the industrial world. Shot almost thirty years ago, its imagery oftentimes belongs to a disappeared era, yet the raw powers of the visuals are overwhelmingly relevant no matter how you slice it. From the sheer beauty of the sky and ocean, to the dilapidated shells of inner city slums, Koyaanisqatsi sweeps across vistas in a ninety-minute ode to a ‘life out of balance’, all set to a magical score by composer Philip Glass. Imitated by the inferior Baraka (1993), Koyaanisqatsi is an almost psychedelic trip through nature and a powerful treatise on humanity’s inability to successfully co-exist with its surroundings.
(Wadrick Jones is a freelance writer for GritFX and posts weekly film reviews on this blog.)