Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Schtums the word - more conspiratorial fantasies...

Yes, ahem;the Crocodiles fly in Berlin at the sound of frogs trampolining... if your response is; "You need help, serious help" - well done!, thats today's password - the key to another helping of delusional paranoia as we lurch off in a sodium-pentathol induced haze in search of...
Conspiracy Films, Part Two, and nowhere better to start that with this little beauty;


MAGNUM FORCE 

The second in the Dirty Harry series sees Clint Eastwood's tough-nut cop pitched against what seems to be a vigilante killer hell bent on exterminating San Francisco's worst criminals. In what I rate as the best of the films, Harry Callahan bulldozes his way to the chilling truth - just in case you are the one person that hasn't seen this classic, I won't spill the beans on a plot that stands the test of time. The issues dealt with are still relevant to this day, even if cops aren't allowed to tote around artillery pieces - a pity, as that .44 really is the last word in an argument...

 CONSPIRACY THEORY

O.K. I was planning to stick to the Seventies... but how can a list of Conspiracy movies be complete without this favourite from '97?. O.K. - Mel Gibson is Jerry Fletcher, a New York cabbie with serious OCD and a dodgy habit of stalking Julia Roberts (Alice Sutton, who works at the D.A.'s office). Well, turns out poor Jerry was a subject of the MK-Ultra mind control program, which a-la Bourne turned him into an assassin. Enter the sinister Dr.Jonas, played by Patrick Stewart, a CIA mind-bender with apparently no clue that forcibly injecting an unstable killer with LSD might be a tad inadvisable...

Well, the twists and turns are enough to keep it entertaining and pacy, with plenty of satisfying references (Catcher in the Rye, Black Helicopters etc) for us Conspiracy Fans, Mel is convincing enough and the rest of the cast play their parts with straight faces. Somehow, what should have been a Mel Motor (as in Vehicle) rises above his usual output.


   


THE CONVERSATION

In this 1974 legend of a movie, Francis Ford Coppola directed Gene Hackman in the role of Harry Caul, a freelance surveillance man who makes his own equipment and, although he works with the younger Stan (John Cazale), is a loner. Ironically obsessed with his own privacy, Caul is a cautious professional, who is nonetheless plagued with guilt after a previous job led to the murder of the subjects. He is drawn into his current job; a recording of a conversation between a young couple (Cindy Williams and Frederic Forrest). As he cleans up the audio on the tapes, he begins to fear for the safety of the couple.

This film is as close as it gets, with real surveillance gear and techniques reinforcing the authenticity. A thriller that paved the way for the 1998 smash

ENEMY OF THE STATE

Well, Gene Hackman is now Edward Lyle, a former NSA agent and electronic surveillance wizard, who has gone underground. Will Smith's Robert Clayton Dean character is an ambitious lawyer, who has the guts to take on the mob to protect the interests of his union clients. Randomly, Zavitz, an old acquaintance unwittingly video-tapes the murder of a Senator, killed at the behest of NSA empire-builder Jon Voight. Zavitz (Jason Lee) desperately plants the video - now in disc form - on Dean.

Cue lots of satellite-and-computer and spy-techie razzle-dazzle as Lyle takes on his former employers in a battle of kit and wits while Dean runs and stumbles along in his wake before finding his feet and taking on mob and agency in a satisfying finale. All great fun, very slick and well delivered, this is another non-Seventies addition I just couldn't leave out.  


SNEAKERS
Robert Redford is Martin Bishop, who runs a firm of security consultants - if they can break in to a business, they do so, then reveal the vulnerabilities involved for a fee. Unaware Bishop is hiding a secret from his student days, his team - Sidney Poitier as CIA veteran Donald Crease, Dan Aykroyd as 'Mother', River Phoenix as Carl and David Strathairn as the blind 'Whistler' - are the best there is in the hi-tech burglary business.
Offered a job by two men posing as NSA agents who know Bishop's secret - the team goes after a box of tricks invented by Cryptography genius Dr.Janek. Duped by the phoney NSA men, Redford and co track the box to Cosmo, Bishop's old secret, played with manic detachment by the remarkable Ben Kingsley.    

I know. 1992, right?, oh well - sue me. Sneakers is one of those films people seem to forget, but the cast, plot and production are well worth the effort to seek this one out. A fun, light entertainment.

Well, it's nearly tea-time, so I'll just wrap my head in silver-foil before heading off to a dead-letter drop to pick up my copy of Catcher in the Rye... if you don't hear from me - follow the usual procedure, the public must know the truth! (Dribble, foam...)

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