THE COLOR PURPLE Directed by Steven Spielberg Starring Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Desreta Jackson, Margaret Avery, Oprah Winfrey, Adolph Caesar, Rae Dawn Chong Distributed by Alliance Entertainment
AFTER the success of blockbusters such as Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark and ET in the 1980s, director Steven Spielberg went on a different direction with this moving period drama. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name, this 1985 film is set in the harsh environment of rural Georgia during the early 1900s.
It tells the story of Celie (Whoopi Goldberg), a young and impoverished African American girl, who lives a painful and frightening existence. Under the care of a brutal farmer named Mister (Danny Glover), she suffers disgrace and is constantly beaten, and raped.
But things slowly take a turn for the better when she meets two strong black women — Sofia (Oprah Winfrey), the fiancee of Mister’s son and Shug (Margaret Avery), a jazz singer that Mister fancies.
The two are instrumental in changing Celie’s life by helping her through her struggles and showing her a better life out there.
In the 153 minutes, the film touches on poverty, racism and sexism, and showcases some lovely scenery that serves to dramatically contrast with the depressing and despicable realities of the time.
Goldberg puts in a stunning performance as the shy Celie and it’s a joy to watch how she transforms herself by initially finding her self-worth and finally, true happiness (it’s a shame that Goldberg hasn’t had any good film roles since then).
Although The Color Purple may not be the best drama film from Spielberg, it’s still one with a big beating heart.
DOG DAY AFTERNOON
Directed by Sidney Lumet
Starring Al Pacino, John Cazale, Charles Durning, James Broderick, Chris Sarandon
Distributed by Alliance Entertainment
SOME people are just unlucky. In this 1975 film, Sonny (Al Pacino) and friend Sal (John Cazale) just can’t get a break when they set out to rob a Brooklyn bank.
First, their accomplice chickens out and flees the scene the minute guns are drawn. Then they discover a practically empty vault since they unknowingly arrive just after a cash pickup. The awkward and bumbling antics of these first time criminals further exacerbates the situation and draws unwanted attention, resulting in the bank being surrounded by the police.
Now trapped, they hold the people in the bank as hostages and have to communicate with Detective Moretti (Charles Durning) who acts as a negotiator.
The film, based on a real incident, gradually reveals the motivation and reasons behind Sonny, a Vietnam veteran, and Sal’s actions. Along the way the two emerge as anti-establishment heroes amidst the ensuing media frenzy.
Dog Day Afternoon has some exciting moments and viewers will definitely be rooting for the sympathetic head-above-water duo right up to the dramatic end.
Directed by Brian G. Hutton
Starring Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Donald Sutherland, Carroll O’Connor
Distributed by Alliance Entertainment
THIS war comedy follows the misadventures of a disreputable ad-hoc elite team of US soldiers as it tries to pull off a heist in 1945 France during WWII.
Ex-Lieutenant Kelly (Clint Eastwood), who was demoted to private as a scapegoat for a failed mission, cobbles the team together after he gets news of a stash of German gold located behind enemy lines. Two key personalities integral to the success of the mission are Crapgame (Don Rickles), who provides the supplies and intelligence, and Oddball (Donald Sutherland), a peculiar character in possession of three tanks (he and his tanks are unaccounted for after his commander is killed during a previous battle).
As the group of scoundrels carries out the mission, hilarious circumstances cause its numbers to swell to that of army proportions. This in turn causes the top brass in the army to ironically commend the group for its initiative and bravery, without realising that the group is operating on its own without orders.
With a 145-minute duration, Kelly’s Heroes is a long film and the pacing falters at times with a few slow burn scenes along the way.
The blatant and overreaching anti-war message of this 1970 film, which seems old by today’s standards, may put off some viewers. But the battle scenes are still thrilling and the comedic elements entertaining, thanks to a set of endearingly quirky characters.
Plus it’s great to see old fogies like Eastwood and Sutherland in action during their younger days.