Last week, on Out of Theaters, we focused on “Fight Club.” The week before, “Seven.” And this week, it’s “Glengarry Glen Ross.” And you could argue that, of the three movies, “Glengarry Glen Ross” is the most violent of them all. It’s not physical violence, like in “Fight Club” or “Seven.” There are no punches thrown, and no one’s body is left bloody and shattered on the floor of the sales office. But on an emotional level? It’s one of the most brutal movies ever made.
There are hundreds of serial killer movies, but none of them is quite like “Seven.” It’s not the first, (Fritz Lang’s 1931 thriller “M” predates “Seven” by more than six decades, but even it wasn’t the first). It’s not the most acclaimed. (“The Silence of the Lambs,” which arrived four years earlier, took home five Oscars, including Best Picture, Actor and Actress). It’s not even the most realistic. (“Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer,” made almost a decade earlier, is so true-to-life that it’s almost unwatchable at times.) But “Seven” is arguably the best of the bunch.
Hollywood had been making gangster movies since the days of the silents, but it wasn’t until “The Godfather” arrived in 1972 that a gangster movie finally felt real. Part of the reason was the cast. In the classic era, Hollywood gangsters were played by actors who tended to be Irish (James Cagney), Jewish (Edward G. Robinson, aka Emmanuel Goldenberg) or upper class WASP (Humprey Bogart, believe it or not).
Back in 1994, two movies dominated the cultural conversation. “Forrest Gump” won the Oscars, and “Pulp Fiction” changed the industry, but somehow, when no one was looking, another film released in that year became the favorite movie in the whole wide world.
Two serious detectives with silly names try and halt the heroin deal of the century in The French Connection (1971). Popeye (Gene Hackman) and Cloudy (Roy “you’re gonna need a bigger boat” Scheider) are on a series of undercover stakeouts as they try to bring down an elaborate heroin-smuggling ring. The film, based on a true story, is the first R-Rated movie to win the Academy Award.
Loathed by bleeding-heart liberals and loved by gun-toting ‘Muricans, Death Wish (1974) is the movie that set out to prove vigilante heroes don’t need capes or super powers: they just need a gun. The Second Amendment propaganda film tells the story of self-proclaimed “bleeding-heart liberal” Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson in his most famous role). After his wife is killed and daughter is raped by a trio of criminals (including Jeff Goldblum in his film debut as Freak No. 1), Kersey decides to become one-man vigilante taking on New York’s seedy underbelly with his .32 caliber nickel plated Colt Police Positive.
The lasting brilliance of Pulp Fiction (1994) lies within the film’s ability to create tension and humor in the same breath. Now 21 years old, the screenplay from Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary still holds all of its original style. The dark comedy is defined by its distinctive dialogue and nonlinear telling of interlocking stories. It manages to draw laughs in places you don’t want but can’t resist because of the peculiarity of it all.
American Psycho was polarizing when it was released at the Sundance Film Festival in 2000. Some audience members and critics didn’t appreciate the dark satire. They preferred a comedy that was more commercial and therefore more satisfying in a narrower way. But others recognized Christian Bale as an artist, and I want to stress the word artist. The film commercially and artistically came into its own after being released on DVD. Viewers began to recognize it had a far more bitter, cynical sense of humor than other films.
From USA Today’s Dad Rock Show, Jim Lenahan visits via Skype to talk about The Blues Brothers. It’s been 35 years since the theatrical release of the action comedy about two men with a mission from God. Speaking of that mission: Jake and Elwood Blues’ quest to put the band back together in order to raise enough cash to prevent their former church-run orphanage from closing was apparently religious a theme enough for the Vatican’s official newspaper to declare it a “Catholic classic.”
A brilliant cast and exquisite cinematography bring Max Allan Collins’ graphic novel Road to Perdition to life in the 2002 movie by the same name. Tom Hanks plays Michael Sullivan, a mob enforcer with conscience working for an Irish crime family in 1931. His surrogate father John Rooney (Paul Newman in his final live-action role) is the boss. Tyler Hoechlin plays 12-year-old Michael Jr., whose curiosity about his father’s career leads him to witness a hit executed by John’s son Connor (Daniel Craig), pitting Sullivan against his former crime family and setting the plot in motion.