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Month
May
Year
1994
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Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
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Agenda Publications
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[1 993. Directed by Andrew Davis. Cast Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones. Warner Bros.Wa mer Bros. Home Video. 130 mins.] It's not too often that action movies give us a two-for-two deal. The standard action fare has one bad guy and one good guy - a two-for-one deal - with everyone else getting the heil out of the way as we follow these two characters' conflict to the bitter end. To his credit, Andrew Davis' 'The Fugitive" turns this logic upside down by giving us a two-for-two deal. And when the two turn out to be movie stars of the caliber of Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones, it's enough that Davis gets out of the way and simply arranges the furniture. He wisely Iets these two bad boys do the heavy lifting. Based on the 1 960s televisión series, "The Fugitive" is the story of Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford), who returns home one night from an emergency medical cali to find his wife viciously attacked. Convicted of murder, Kimble manages to escape a sure death sentence when the van carrying him to his fate is ambushed. Kimble survives this extraordinary wreek and launches himself upon a singleminded pursuit f or the one-armed man he saw running away from his home that night. The movie version of "The Fugitive" only jazzes the story enough to allow for the hightech developments that have taken place in lawenforcementthrough these last thittyyears. What hasn't changed from the sm all screen to the large screen is the relentless pursuit of Kimble by U.S. Deputy Marshal Sam Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones). There's no obstacle large enough, tough enough, oreven small enough, todetour Gerard from going after his man. Jones' richly deserved 1993 Oscar highlights the equally single-minded obsession Gerard brings to his work. He's clearly a man who enjoys his job. In fact, so much does Genard likehis job.healsoallows us to enjoyit.too.And t's this repeated reversal (and counter reversal) of antagonist and protagonist that makes "The Fugitivo" such a mindbending thriller. Foronone hand, we've got to root for Kimble. A victim of circumstances who is desperately trying to bring the perpetrator of his wife's brutal death to justice, Kimble is ensnared in a nightmare of Hitchcockian proportions. Yet Gerard's dogged persistence also allows us the vicarious thrill of joining the hunter in seeking his prey. Indeed, perhaps the irony of "The Fugitivo" is that the massive set pieces Davis employs to get the film rolling - for example, the aforementioned train wreek - only set the stage for far more exciting foot chases down the line. Perhaps there's nothing in drama to top the simple pursuit of one human stalking another for sheer excitement. Or maybe "The Fugitive" is tapping recesses deep within our primal instinct Although, more likely, it's merely great editing that keeps our attention riveted on the film as it keeps rolling along. Either way, Davis has directed one of the best action films of the last decade. Admittedly, the movie gets a little convoluted with a fantastic plot device involving patent stealing and medical espionage. But by this point, we're hooked far too well to care much how the story ends. Like a great amusement park ride, "The Fugitive" rushes forward to its furious climax from a tremendous height. It's so much fun, we want to do it again. THE REMAINS OF THE DAY [1993. Directed by James Ivory. Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, James Fox. ColumbiaColumbia Home Video. 134 mins.] Examining the milieus of courage and cowardice, "The Remains of the Day" manages to be simultaneously an enthralling cinematic venture and an exasperating film. The classic pace, superb cinematography, and delibérate cinematic devices of this film are so expertly handled, it will be only after the film is over that the plot's ambiguities begin to disturb one's memory. Forthis film is on one hand a most peculiar story of love's labors lost, while on the other hand a damning indictment on the theme of all-too-human frailties. Anthony Hopkins and EmmaThompson- both Oscar-winners in the last couple of years (and both nominated f ortheir performances in this film)- turn n what may be the high points of their acting careers. Hopkins plays James Stevens, the stuff ily correct butler of a manor owned by Lord Darlington. Thompson plays MissSally Kenton, the housekeeper whogives Stevens his only real chance at forging an intímate relationship. Unctuous, yet also privately romantic, Stevens' only seeming ambition in life is to be the gentleman's gentleman. Kenton, by contrast, is a realist. A pragmatist whose deepseated need for security drives her into the manor's "service," she accepts her position comfortably until her expectations are raised by a suitor who promises that together they will open a modest bed-and-breakfast. The third member of this film 's triangle is Lord Darlington (James Fox). Dariington is a well-meaning, if also slightly fuzzy-minded, aristocrat whose disillusionment with the 1 91 9 Versailles Treaty is so great, he's willing to accommodate the Germán Nazi govemment to maintain Europe's uneasy status quo. Dartington's fate as an "appeaser" is contrasted against the hot and cold relationship that ultimately develops between Stevens and Kenton. 'The Remains of the Day" moves resolutely between these plot-lines with as sure a hand as ever helmed by James Ivory. When, however, one begins to dissect the film, one is left with the unsettling feeling that Ivory's penchant for soulful ambiguity gets the better of him this time out A spl t-narrat ve sand wiching World War 1 1 between the pre-war and post-warperiods of the 1930s and 1950s, Stevens' and Kenton's unspoken affection for each other serves as the bond holding the two halves of the story together. Yet there are enough multiple deceptions among these three main characters - both conscious and unconscious - to cloud the film's moral status to the point of near distraction. Forthose whose interests (and tolerance) in cinema extend to a certain amount of successive shading of gray, "The Remains of the Day" is certainly the tonic one might wish for. In those extraordinarily suppressed and passionate moments when Stevens and Kenton warily circle each other like wounded birds with a wing down, Ivory puts Martin Scorcese 's effort at subdued chemistry in "The Age of Innocence" to shame. The electricity running between Hopkins and Thompson makes Daniel Day-Lewis and Michelle Pfeiffer look like near-amateurs. Ultimately, it's this bittersweet quality that propels the film's momentum. Between the dubious ethics of surrendering one's personal pride to appease aggression in others - whether on a national or personal level - the fine balance between doing the right thing and merely doing nothing becomes a matter of exquisite timing. The fact that Stevens, Kenton, and Darïington never quite manage to get their timings right ultimately makes all the difference in their world. RATING KEY iL Acting H Cinematography Direction 3E Editing Ln Narrative Sound Special Effects Mften a symbo appears following a tule, t implies that the corresponding category is a strengthofthemovie.

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