Insomnia (2002) Film Review


Will Dormer (Al Pacino) is a LA Cop who, with his partner Hap Eckhart (Martin Donovan) have been sent to Alaska to assist on a horrible crime – a young girl, beaten to death. However, he is in trouble, under investigation back home. Arriving in Alaska to the midnight sun and with so much on his mind, he can barely sleep. Then, whilst chasing a suspect, things so wrong, and he is in a world of pain and confusion, and the whole time, feeling like he may lose his mind from fatigue.

It’s a stunning film. Beautiful, clear Alaskan scenery. Clever storyline, well acted. Fabulous. I come and go with Al Pacino sometimes – but this here he gives such a strong performance. I know that sense of fatigue, the frustration that everything is getting on top of you, that you can barely hold your eyes open. He does everything but drool – and I guess toward the end it seems over the top, but I don’t mind. All I know is that I really, really wanted to get some sleep.

Then there is Robin Williams, so good at that gentle, disturbed kind of character.

The Godfather : Part III (1990) Film Review


The third part in The Godfather Trilogy, this film sees an aging Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) still trying to take his business straight. How? By going into business with the Vatican. Because that makes sense.

I’ve heard it said that many consider this to be the weakest of the films, yet I think it is still considered to be a good film. I dunno… I found that in the previous films, I quite liked Michael and hoped that he would come good. In this film, I felt he was too far gone – he was just so over the top, quite a caricature of who he’d been previously. And the whole Vatican story I found… quite stupid, really. I just couldn’t care less. Perhaps it was just too much Godfather in one weekend.

The Godfather : Part III was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Andy Garcia), Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction – Set Decoration, Best Film Editing and Best Music, Original Song


The Godfather: Part II (1974) Film Review


The Godfather: Part II tells two stories – firstly, the early days of Vito Corleone (played by Marlon Brando in The Godfather and Robert De Niro in this film) as he arrives in America as a child and his rise to power in New York; secondly, Michael Corleone’s (Al Pacino) rise and rise as he has taken over the family after his father’s death.

This was another mammoth effort of a film – two hundred minutes long. And really, it could easily have been two films. Actually, it would have been awesome as a series. Or a couple of series. As a whole, it was long, but great. I really enjoyed this one a lot more than the first. I especially enjoyed the scenes in the early days in New York. Some of the scenes in Cuba lost me a little, but I didn’t mind it too much.

The Godfather : Part II won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Robert De Niro), Best Director (Francis Ford Coppola), Best Writing, Screenplay Adapted From Other Material (Francis Ford Coppola, Mario Puzo), Best Art Direction – Set Decoration, Best Music, Original Dramatic Score and was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Al Pacino), two nominations for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Michael V. Gazzo, Lee Strassberg), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Talia Shire) and Best Costume Design.


The Godfather (1972) Film Review


You know when you leave it too long to watch a classic movie and it means you just don’t quite get what it was all about? I knew I’d watched The Godfather years ago, but I couldn’t remember a lot of it. Which perhaps in itself suggests that this is not the film for me.

If you don’t know (as if you don’t know) Marlon Brando is the Godfather. The head of the mafia family, the Corleones. The film follows him and his family after there is an attempt on his life. Plans are laid and families are against each other. It’s violent and dark.

I understand why it has such a great wrap, but I just didn’t really like it all that much. You know why, I think? I think it is because I am used to long form storytelling, and (despite it being almost three hours worth of film) there just isn’t enough time to tell such an epic story. I am well aware that if it were not for The Godfather, we wouldn’t have The Sopranos. Still, I thank The Godfather for starting it all.

The Godfather won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Marlon Brando) and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (Mario Puzo, Francis Ford Coppola). It was nominated three times for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (James Caan, Robert Duvall and Al Pacino), Best Director (Francis Ford Coppola), Best Costume Design, Best Sound, Best Film Editing and Best Music, Original Dramatic Score.


Dog Day Afternoon (1975) Film Review

Dog Day Afternoon

Sonny Wortzik (Al Pacino) and his mate Sal (John Cazale) walk into a bank in Brooklyn and hold it up. And then things go wrong, pretty quickly. As Sonny negotiates the release of the prisoners for safe passage out of the country, the staff start to see him as a gentle person rather than a criminal. Policeman Moretti (Charles Durning) is attempting to control the situation within the bank as well as the growing crowd outside. It’s a crazy hot day, and when it is revealed that Sonny has held up the bank to get money for a sex change operation for his lover, Leon (Chris Sarandon), things get even crazier.

This is a fabulous performance; it is Pacino’s best performance, it is well scripted, very natural and, especially given it is a true story, very believable. I remember seeing this years ago after first seeing a documentary on the actual event; this time, I watched the special features documentary on the making of the film. Fascinating.

Dog Day Afternoon won an Oscar for Best Writing, Original Screenplay (Frank Pierson) and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Al Pacino), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Chris Sarandon), Best Director (Sidney Lumet) and Best Film Editing.



88 Minutes (2007) Film Review


Jack Gramm (Al Pacino) is a forensic psychologist for the FBI and a lecturer in some things – it seems there is an element of him being a lecturer in being an expert witness in court cases, if that is a thing. Anyhow, he had something to do with putting away a nasty serial killer, Jon Forster (Neal McDonough) but now there are more murders in the same fashion. Are they copycat killings or was the wrong person convicted? And will this film be able to make you care? Then, he receives a nasty call and is told that he has 88 Minutes to live. Of course, the 88 minutes are significant, but I really can’t be bothered going into that.

It’s a thriller, and it’s got a lot of excitement in there, but I really struggled to care about any of it. I didn’t care who did what, I didn’t care if anyone got caught for what they did, and I didn’t care who lived or died. There are quite a few women in the film, which the feminist in me would say is quite nice, except that it seems their roles in general are just to be supporting the Al Pacino case in a variety of different ways, and that even those who seemed like strong female characters turned out to be a bit crap.


Angels In America (2003) Television Miniseries Review


Angels in America was a six-part mini-series made by HBO in 2003 based on lives affected by the AIDS epidemic of the mid-eighties. Prior Walter (Justin Kirk) is a young, gay man who has started showing symptoms of AIDS. His partner, Lou (Ben Shenkman), is unable to emotionally deal with Prior’s demise and leaves him. Joe Pitt (Patrick Wilson) is a Mormon, Republican attorney who is in denial about being gay. His wife, Harper (Mary-Louise Parker), is a Valium addict who veers in and out of reality. Pitt’s boss is Roy Cohn (Al Pacino), an extremely powerful and influential lawyer who is also gay, although keeps it to himself. He also has AIDS.  During his hallucinations Prior sees an angel who urges him to become a prophet.

The mini-series was based on a two-part play written by Tony Kushner. The adaptation of the play to the screen has kept all of the poetry of the play, giving it a feeling of a very-much heightened reality. The cast is absolutely amazing, with additional roles played by Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson and Jeffrey Wright. The AIDS epidemic is something that needs to be remembered, especially as (at least in Western society) people can live a long time with HIV or AIDS. Everything about this series is extremely beautiful and magnificent. Watch it. I urge you, watch it.