Tag Archives: Sydney Pollack

Random Hearts

Sargeant “Dutch” van den Broeck (played by Harrison Ford) is a Washington DC cop, happily married to his beautiful wife, Peyton (by Susanna Thompson) who’s a fashion director for an up-market department store. One Friday, Peyton is called away on business at the last minute and leaves a phone message for Dutch to let him know she’ll be away a few days. On the other side of town, Kay Chandler (by Kristin Scott Thomas) is an intelligent and capable candidate for the upcoming election who is totally focussed on her political image and her ambitions to change the world. Kay and her husband are busy professionals who both must travel as part of their jobs and who spend much of their marriage passing like “ships in the night”.  On this day, an aircraft crashes into the river in DC but neither Kay nor Dutch take much notice as it’s a flight to Miami, not on the itinerary of either of their partners – until Dutch realises his wife is not yet home. He checks his messages and discovers she may be on the plane. He finds out that she is, in fact, on the plane but she has lied about the reason for her travels. At the same time, Kay discovers her husband is killed in the crash and a series of circumstances leads Kay and Dutch to lean on each other during this very difficult period in their lives.

I like this movie – the drama unfolds well and it is only predictable to a point. Both Harrison Ford and Kristin Scott Thomas are great. Ford plays his typical rough-around-the-edges kind of guy, who also has deep sensitivity and Scott Thomas is excellent as the stylish, no-nonsense political animal who is a straight-talker but who won’t admit to any vulnerabilities. I like it because it doesn’t go where you expect it to and doesn’t end in the predictable way.  It’s a good drama, but probably a bit too long.  There is a parallel (virtually redundant) storyline around Dutch’s work to investigate a murder, but this really only serves to show the audience that he is really a cop. The main interest is with the unfolding story of the partners who have been killed. A good movie. 

Made in 1999. Directed by Sydney Pollack

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Posted by on July 15, 2012 in Movies


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Out of Africa

Danish Baroness Karen Blixen [also known as Isak Dinesen] (played by Meryl Streep) is living in Denmark in 1914. She has married Baron Bor Blixen-Flecke (by Klaus Maria Brandauer) for convenience and after seeing a business opportunity, the Baron decides to relocate himself and his wife, Karen, to operate a coffee plantation in Kenya, Africa. Once the arduous journey to Africa is over and they settle on the plantation, Bor Blixen starts to spend more and more time away, either on business or womanising. Karen is left to run the plantation on her own, to deal with a series of challenges and to improve relations with the local natives who staff and work the plantation. She works particularly closely with Farah (by Malick Bowens) and Kamate (by Joseph Thiaka). On a visit to town she encounters Denys Finch-Hatton (by Robert Redford) and his best friend Berkley (Michael Kitchen) and they become friends. Finch-Hatton, a ruggedly handsome and enigmatic man, is aloof but fascinating and although they both pride themselves on their independence, Karen is enthralled by him and a tentative relationship follows. After a very happy time spent together at the plantation and on safari, Karen wants more for her life than Denys is prepared to give – he still wants his freedom – so their relationship becomes difficult and starts to falter. In 1931, Karen decides to return to Denmark, but she has gained a solid understanding and huge regard for Africa and its culture along the way.

I think this is the most beautifully made movie I have ever seen. The cinematography captures the wonderful colours, broad landscapes and endless sky of Africa in all its stunning glory, the original music makes your heart soar and if you have never heard Mozart before, its exquisite use in this movie will make you seek out more. To go alongside all this, the pace of the film is perfectly measured and the performances are strong. Meryl Streep is particularly good – she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.  Redford is good as the offhand, aloof and enigmatic Finch-Hatton and Michael Kitchen is also very good. Klaus Maria Brandauer was also nominated for an Oscar for his support role.  In all the movie was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won seven. The movie is based on the writings of Isak Dinesen/Karen Blixen.

This is just a marvellous movie and one of my all time favourites.

Made in 1985. Directed by Sydney Pollack.

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Posted by on June 12, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Husbands and Wives

Gabriel Roth (played by Woody Allen) is a Professor of English in a New York City university. He has been married to Judy (by Mia Farrow) for the past ten years. One evening, their friends Jack (by Sydney Pollack) and Sally (by Judy Davis) arrive to go to dinner with them and announce that after more than 20 years of marriage they are splitting up. Gabe and Judy are taken aback by the news, but since Jack and Sally are relatively calm about it, they try to “take it in their stride” and all move on with their lives. Except they can’t … Gabe and Judy try their best to be supportive to their friends during this unstable period, but they find themselves questioning their own relationship and themselves more and more. Jack and Sally both take up new partners – Jack with Sam (by Lisette Anthony), a young, fit, health-nut aerobics instructor; and Sally with Michael (by Liam Neeson), her handsome and chivalrous work colleague. As time goes on, Gabe and Judy watch as Jack and Sally start to remember their attraction and affections for each other, but Gabe and Judy’s questioning doesn’t abate and they start to acknowledge their attraction to others – Gabe to a beautiful and brilliant student in his class, Rain (by Juliette Lewis) and Judy to another man she works with. Where will all this discussion, questioning and exploration end – can it be leading to a good outcome?

As a piece of theatrical and cinematographical art, this work is magnificent. The camerawork is excellent, directing is marvellous and the characters are unrelenting in their engagement of the flawed people in this drama. The performances are all excellent, particulary Mia Farrow, Juliette Lewis and Judy Davis.  I can’t help thinking that Woody Allen is just being himself, but perhaps that’s where his talent lies – as he makes it look so easy. However, as a piece of movie entertainment it is hard-going. The piece is basically a two hour talk-fest where characters either talk to each other, or to camera (as if speaking with their therapist) to check and question and re-check the situations in their lives and try to explain them. Because the characters are all totally self-absorbed, this can get frustrating. Overall, it is an excellent commentary on people and relationships, but I am not sure that everyone is as neurotic as these people are depicted.

Made in 1992. Directed by Woody Allen.

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Posted by on May 15, 2012 in Movies


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