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Tag Archives: Richard Gere

Flick Clique: March 13-19

Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009). This sad telling of a gorgeous Akita dog’s loyalty to his owner is the ne plus ultra of Heartwarming Dog Tales, but don’t hold that against it. Richard Gere stars as a college professor who happens upon the pup, abandoned at his hometown’s train station where he commutes every day. The two forge a bond despite the protests of his wife, Joan Allen. Director Lasse Hallström fashions the story in a simple, straightforward way which includes shooting (somewhat unsuccessfully) from the dog’s viewpoint. It’s manipulative as all get out, but damned if we didn’t get teary-eyed near the end. The dogs used in this production are beautiful creatures, and good actors as well. I was especially touched by the scene in which Allen comes across the now elderly Hachi at the station, waiting for the long deceased Gere to return (sniff, sniff). This was based on a real, revered dog in 1920s Japan, one whose statue at his Shibuya train station attracts visitors to this day. The story probably would have worked better as a period piece with Japanese actors, but this is an okay substitute. The only unfortunate choice was the overly loud, unsubtle soundtrack.
poster_mister880Mister 880 (1950). An appealing, underrated light drama with Miracle on 34th Street‘s Edmund Gwenn as a cuddly old man who prints up counterfeit dollar bills to make ends meet. His handiwork comes to the attention of federal investigator Burt Lancaster, who traces the bills to Gwenn’s kindly neighbor Dorothy McGuire. A crystalline print of this Fox production ran on This TV; I found it to be a pleasant surprise, despite Gwenn’s character being milked for all the maudlin, sticky sweetness it can possibly get (a piano “Aud Land Syne” accompanies every scene he’s in!). Lancaster is a delight in a role much lighter than what we usually think of for him, and the smart McGuire is a good match for manly Burt. This is supposedly based on a real life story, although like Hatchi the events were likely embellished with about ten pounds of maple syrup.
The Thin Blue Line (1988). Pioneering documentary that I shockingly haven’t seen until this past week. Erroll Morris’ examination of a 1976 police officer’s shooting in Dallas still seems startlingly fresh — it has a distinct point of view and gives its points in a way far removed from the standard “talking head” style of the day. Morris focuses on one Randall Adams, a drifter who was wrongly accused and given the death penalty for the officer’s shooting death. Although most of the evidence pointed to the troubled teen whose car Adams shared that fateful night, local law enforcement and the Texas judicial system basically steamrolled Adams into a hasty conviction. Morris uses reenactments, close-ups of documents and newpaper clippings, and a pounding Philip Glass score to prove that faulty memories and eyewitness accounts can be shaped to whatever point of view the stronger side can obtain — often to tragic results. Adams is an appealing, aw-shucks kind of guy, but I also enjoyed the colorful and very Texan cast of supporting characters. These include a defense attorney who is a vocal clone of Roseanne Barr and a trashy blonde who describes herself as a helpful busybody while footage from an old Nancy Drew-esque b-movie is playing. Although the film ends before the full Randall Adams story has played out, it’s still an interesting film in itself. I couldn’t imagine things like Bowling for Columbine or Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room being made without having paid a partial debt to The Thin Blue Line.