With a penchant for press relations, Clint Eastwood in the later stages of the 1990s was obsessed by the charms and cutthroat nature of newspaper reporting. True Crime is better for showcasing that rougher edge than Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, his preceding piece to the against-the-clock thrills found in True Crime. Murder is still the key to this feature, with a reporter usurped by a sudden revelation in a case he is covering. A classic case of getting too close to your sources, and the dangers of that are adapted briskly and intensely by Eastwood. He ducks behind the camera and throws John Cusack into the spotlight. It is a sink or swim situation for the up and comer.
We live in the land of rejection, but much of The Player is focused on how we adapt to sore losers than an implicit desire to improve upon refusal. Its tale of a studio executive hounded by death threats from an anonymous writer is in pole position to criticise and chastise the Hollywood scenery. With Robert Altman helming a finely-tuned ensemble, it is hard to see where or why he could put a foot wrong when presenting Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins) to audiences. As its tracking shot makes the hectic life of a studio producer known, The Player introduces us to the lust, allures and obscenities of star-power, stardom and desire.
As he fires through a third rendition of Good Vibrations’ melody, there is a mixture of anguish, relief and fear on the face of Brian Wilson. It is this versatility that makes Paul Dano and, to a greater extent, Love & Mercy, work. While Pet Sounds does not do all that much for me, I have such a deeply held respect for Wilson. He put his sanity, family and marketability on the line to create something he believed in. What director Bill Pohlad wishes to do here is showcase the shockwaves this caused, both the immediate tensions and the decades-long mental deterioration of a man who, at his peak, was considered a genius of music.
Coming from a glorious era of time where Nicolas Cage re-invented himself as an action hero, Con Air slips seamlessly into his filmography. That manic energy he possesses, something that has dragged its way to the forefront of his last few years, was once a valuable asset, rather than a meme-oriented landslide. Con Air brings some high-flying energy, a plane packed with convicts taken over by a criminally insane opportunist and his hopeful gang, attempting to gain their escape. Biding their time is not on the agenda, director Simon West wastes no time at all in rifling through the thrills, spilling them over the cockpit and controls, in its wake a disaster of engaging, action-packed nonsense that should win over those looking for light-hearted relief.
The various waves and styles there are to the work of director David Cronenberg make it very easy to digest his work. From his early days as a shlock creator, to the maturity he found in the body horror of his prime work, and the eventual spiral into more contemporary oriented, paranoid dramas. With such a level of consistency, it’s no surprise that every fan of his has their preferred era for his work. Me personally, I love his body horror films, and as someone that isn’t particularly fond of horror, I’d say that’s the best praise I could ever get a director. Maps to the Stars is the most recent film from Cronenberg, and by the looks of it, probably his last film. A shame to go out on a rather dud note, but there’s still merits to be found throughout.