The Assassination of Richard Nixon

I had already seen this many years ago, so long ago in fact that I can’t find an entry for it in this blog. I had forgotten a lot of it though, so I didn’t mind watching it again.

This is the partly-true story of Samuel Byck who tried to hijack a plane which he wanted to fly into the White House to kill Richard Nixon. Most of the story focuses on the events leading up to the hijacking, starting out one year before the event, with the actual hijacking taking up only the last fifteen minutes. So, it is a long slow-burner mostly.

The acting is fine, especially Sean Penn who I find to be great in some films, and not so great in others. Naomi Watts and Don Cheadle are both equally good.

The story left out a lot of details such as Samuel picketing the White House dressed in a Santa Claus suit, or being investigated by the secret service after he threatened the president (although these events took place before the events portrayed in the film). The actual hijacking was reasonably accurate though.

Not great, not bad, somewhat forgettable.

Date watched: February 21st
Score: 7/10
Film count 2018: 17

Colors

I remember this coming out, way back in 1988, and the thing I remember the most about it was the title song by Ice-T, a catchy song.

Back in the day this was a controversial film because of the subject matter. It is of course about gang violence and the cops trying to stop it. These days it seems quite tame as there are no extreme violence scenes where peoples heads are exploded by gunshots, or innocent bystanders are wasted by a psycho-drugged-up Crip or Blood gang member. It was more about the story back then, and great acting.

And the acting is probably the best thing about this film, both Robert Duvall and Sean Penn are both great. The supporting cast including Don Cheadle, María Conchita Alonso, and a one-scene one-line appearance by Jack Nance, are good but not as great (except Nance of course).

The producer hired actual gang members during filming to act as guardians, and two were apparently shot.

Dennis Hopper directed, his first film as director since Easy Rider. He shot many scenes in actual Blood or Crip areas using either Bloods or Crips as extras depending on where he was filming.

Sean Penn got a bit miffed at an extra taking photos of him without permission and gave him a good punching…33 days in prison for him.


The guy on the right in this image amused me. Not only did he look out of place in a Chicano gang, but he also basically took on this pose in almost every scene. A later scene kind of explained later on why he looked like this (he was drugged out of his mind), but it was weird nonetheless.

This is described as a “police procedural” on Wikipedia which it is I suppose, but not as procedural as those of the 1950’s. The story was pretty standard stuff actually. It followed Duvall and Penn who grudgingly become buddies, and together they set about finding out who blew a gang member away in a drive-by shooting (Don Cheadle did it!). It had all of the usual police, gang, love-interest, and car-chase tropes we expect from a police/gang story. But, I guess it portrayed the gang culture of the time well, but I wouldn’t really know.

I would not say this is an essential watch, not these days anyway, and if it wasn’t for Duvall’s and Penn’s acting skills, and Ice-T ‘s nice song, it would not rate as well.

Date watched: February 3rd
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2018: 9

The Red Shoes

This is a 1948 British film about the director of a ballet company, a story by Hans Christian Anderson, a rather good ballet dancer, and a rather good composer.

The acting is all chipper British acting, quite refreshing and awfully damn good. Rather! The actor playing the ballet company director, a German chap, was especially good. The actress playing the lead ballet dancer was also brillo as not only was she a very charming actress, but she was also an accomplished ballet dancer.

Some of the cast were first and foremost ballet people such as a Russian fellow, who was probably just playing himself for the most part, all very flamboyant and he did everything with flair.

The story was based on The Red Shoes, a Hans Christian Anderson tale about a girl who puts on cursed red shoes and gets the dance boogie fever. Actually, talking about boogie fever, this film would have been a great remake in the 70’s. John Travolta could be the guy played by the Russian, Cindy from CHiPs the ballet dancer, The Heston as the ballet director, and Mikhail Baryshnikov, Don Cheadle, and Kate Bush somewhere in there too. And all set to music from the Bee Gees, Donna Summer, Chic, E.L.O., and Boney M. Dang! That would be something to see. The 2010’s version would suck.

Anyways, I enjoyed this even though I am not a fan of people dancing around on tippy-toes and waving their arms and spinning a lot. The acting was brillo, the sets very well done, and at times it got rather trippy. All good fun.

Date watched: September 4th
Score: 8.5/10
Film count 2015: 115

If only trailers were still made like this…

Here is Kate Bush’s interpretation, inspired by this film. Good ol’ Kate.

Traitor

This was pretty much a random choice at the rental place, the main reason I chose it was because it had Guy Pearce and Don Cheadle so it couldn’t be too bad. I had no idea what it was about.

And it turned out to be not too bad. It is a thriller about terrorism, undercover agents, double crossing-ness, and stuff. It wasn’t overly thrilling at all really but Don Cheadle held it all together well with Guy Pearce doing a pretty good job too. It was quite realistic really, no over the top plot or impossible action sequences. One thing did ruin it a bit which was the inside man in the feds, okay for 24 but not this kind of film.

But I liked it and the ending while not overly exciting did have a nice twist.

Date watched: September 15th
Score: 8/10
Film count 2012: 91