After watching the 1961 Billiards classic The Hustler for yesterday’s film, I couldn’t pass up on watching the sequel which took 25 years to make. I’m Certainly ok with it taking that long considering that The Color Of Money was directed by Martin Scorsese (The Wolf Of Wall Street). Paul Newman (The Hustler) is back as Fast Eddie Felson, but he has kept to his promise that he made in the first film where he doesn’t play pool. The game has certainly changed as the nine ball has become the preferred game. One day, he sees a kid named Vincent (Tom Cruise) that he sees a lot of potential in so he decides to take him on the road to train him in how to hustle in billiards, but this will inspire Eddie to return. The film also stars Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves) as Carmen, Helen Shaver (The Land Before Time) as Janelle, John Turturro (Transformers) as Julian, Bill Cobbs (Oz the Great and Powerful) as Orvis, Forest Whitaker (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Amos, Bruce A. Young (Jurassic Park III) as Moselle, and the film featured real pool players like Grady Matthews, Keith McCready, and Steve Mizerak.
The thing that I loved about this film is that while it sort of takes a cue from the first film, it definitely carves it’s own path as it differentiates itself from the original. For one, there is a little more nudity in this film than there was in the original thanks to a scene with Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. The real difference between this film and the other film is that Fast Eddie just didn’t know when to quit and he didn’t realize what he had in front of him until it was too late. In this film, he is trying to teach Vincent that you don’t always show your stuff right from the get go, but that will bite him in the you know what later. That is the difference between the two films as far as story is concerned and I like that about this film. The pool scenes were incredible as usual, but they sped up a lot of the action too for time purposes. Tom Cruise was great as this kid who thinks he’s all that, but is really insecure inside when it boils down to it and Mastrantonio is great as the girl who pulls the strings on him. I loved the ending of the film because they leave it open ended where you sort of figure out for yourself who may have won that match. This was an example of a film that may have taken years to do, but they did it right. I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.
We only have so many days left in the year so I am trying to be selective about what films I choose for the challenge. For today’s film, I wanted to clean up my Netflix queue a little so I decided to watch the 1981 military drama Taps. Life at Bunker Hill Military Academy is business as usual with cadets coming in and cadets leaving to bigger and better things under the watchful eye of the acclaimed General Bache (George C. Scott). After being appointed the new Major, Cadet Major Moreland (Timothy Hutton) finds out that the school is going to be shut down in favor of condos. After an accidental shooting takes their beloved general away and speeds up the closing process, Moreland and the cadets take a stand and they take over the school. The film also stars Sean Penn (Mystic River) as Cadet Captain Dwyer, Tom Cruise (Top Gun) as Cadet Captain Shawn, Evan Handler (Sex And The City) as Edward West, Giancarlo Esposito (The Jungle Book) as Cadet Captain Pierce, Ronny Cox (RoboCop) as Colonel Kerby, Billy Van Zandt (Anything But Love) as Bug, Donald Kimmel (As Luck Would Have It) as Billy Harris, Wayne Tippit (Nurse Betty) as Master Sergeant Kevin Moreland, and the film was directed by Harold Becker (City Hall).
You know I often wonder if Tom Cruise and Sean Penn knew what kind of megastars they’d end up becoming during the 80’s. They are definitely two of my favorite actors to emerge from that decade along with some others. Timothy Hutton proves in this film that he can give some strong performances because he did in this one. They definitely captured the essence of what it means to be a kid who is forced to try and act like an adult in a world that when they step up for something, they are once again treated like children. That is definitely the eternal struggle for kids who were brainwashed that there are far worse things in life then death by a man who has known nothing other than that lifestyle. The great thing about this film is that it emulates war movies where in the beginning you are gung-ho about the battle at hand then when the film continues on, it starts showing scenes of war is hell as the soldiers begin to crack or in this case the cadets. I loved the cinematography in the film especially the final scene where you may be shocked by what happens or if you are like me you had an idea of what was about to happen. Sean Penn does such an amazing job in the film and I would consider it a stellar performance as well as Tom Cruise who plays that war monger character who is just inching to become Rambo. The film is available on Netflix like I said, but for right now I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.
Since the beginning of this bog, I don’t think I covered a film that starred Tom Cruise (Top Gun) who was one of my favorite actors from the 80’s. For today’s film, I chose All The Right Moves which stars Cruise as Stefen Djordjevic, a kid from Ampipe, a steel town in Pennsylvania. You see in Ampipe, there are only two options it seems for most of their residents, you either work in the dying steel mills or you go to college. All Stefen ever dreams of is to have the chance to get out of Ampipe and so he uses football as the means to an end. The only problem is that Stefen’s attitude and his high school coach Nickerson (Craig T. Nelson) stands in the way of his escape. The film also stars Lea Thompson (Back To The Future) as Lisa, Charles Cioffi (Shaft) as Pop, Gary Graham (Alien Nation) as Greg, Paul Carafotes (Fight Club) as Salvucci, Christopher Penn (Best Of The Best) as Brian, Sandy Faison (Guiding Light) as Suzie, Leon (Cool Runnings) as Shadow, Jonas Chaka (Biker Boyz) as Mouse, Keith Diamond (Dr. Giggles) as Fox, James A. Baffico (Dawn Of The Dead) as Bosco, and the film was directed by Michael Chapman (The Clan Of The Cave Bear).
This was your average early 80’s teen flick that happened to star a future megastar and one of the finest women of the 80’s. While the scene between Thompson and Cruise isn’t very long, it surely is a really good one. Tom Cruise was well he is Tom Cruise so he puts on the performance you would expect from him and have seen in all of the movies he has been in. Lea Thompson is great as the first under appreciated girlfriend who has to make a tough decision later on in the film even though it could be the end. The football parts of the film are pretty good, but the real story of this film is the town itself. There was a time in this nation when certain production heavy cities like Pittsburgh and Detroit were in big trouble because production was moving elsewhere and you see that touched upon in this film. People are getting laid off and one character whose in high school even resorts to armed robbery because he feels he has no other option. So, while the film is essentially about the struggle of two characters who are looking to get out of this town, there is a bigger picture around it. I didn’t understand the title of the film because clearly Cruise’s character makes all the wrong moves, but it all works out for him in the end because even Coach wakes up. I liked the movie and so I am going to give it an B+ for a final grade.