Tag Archives: J.E. Freeman

The Set of 400: #12 – My Favorite Artist With a Thompson

Today! Because, hell, I ain’t embarrassed to use the word. I’m talkin’ about ethics –

Miller’s Crossing (1990)

Directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (x6)

Starring Gabriel Byrne (x2), Albert Finney (x5), John Turturro (x5), Marcia Gay Harden, J. E. Freeman (x3), Jon Polito (x2), Steve Buscemi (x4), Mike Starr (x3), Al Mancini, Tom Toner, Michael Jeter (x4), Mario Todisco, Richard Woods, Michael Badalucco (x4), Sam Raimi, Frances McDormand (x4)

My favorite Coen brothers movie, their earliest effort on this list, with one of the best screenplays ever written, Miller’s Crossing is a gangster movie, unquestionably, but it is really so much more. Its twisty plot of continually shifting loyalties and multi-directional romances can be a bit bewildering at first, as the whole thing is given a very light touch and seems the breeziest of crime chronicles. It adopts a comical old-timey vernacular right from the jump, and showcases character quirks and extremes so rapidly and immediately that you might suspect you’re in for a decidedly light-hearted movie. At first.

Back when the main topic of the film appears to be Ethics

But quickly the story drills down into the group’s complex, internecine strife and we’re off to the races. It’s a film I saw too young to fully comprehend, to be sure, to the point that it literally took decades of sporadic rewatching for me to pick up on everything. Not that it’s all that complicated, but to a ten-year-old it seemed just a lot of hokey turns of phrase, over-the-top shouting, and operatic violence – entertaining, but not necessarily in depth. Thanks for the early primer, early ’90s HBO! Like many of the top, top films on my list, Miller’s Crossing is something I can rewatch endlessly, but it is the rare one that fits the old saw often floated about great works of art – every time I see it I find something new.

Are we all actually Tom’s hat??

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The Set of 400: #175 – My Favorite Heat Signature Battle

Today! Because I couldn’t just stand there and watch him shoot those people right in front of me. It was…rage –

Patriot Games (1992)

Directed by Phillip Noyce

Starring Harrison Ford (x3), Sean Bean, Patrick Bergin, Anne Archer, Thora Birch, Samuel L. Jackson (x3), J.E. Freeman (x2), Polly Walker, James Earl Jones (x4), James Fox, Richard Harris, Hugh Fraser, Ted Raimi (x2), Bob Gunton (x3), Jonathan Ryan, Alex Norton

There have been a bunch of Tom Clancy/Jack Ryan adaptations, but only one was released at the center of my film universe – 1992! And so, Patriot Games, the best and my favorite of the Jack Ryan movies I’ve seen (sorry, Sum of All Fears!)! It’s not as baggy as Clear and Present Danger and is more exciting than Sean Connery’s Russian sub commander in The Hunt For Red October. We only went and saw the Chris Pine Shadow Recruit (I think it was called?) thing because we were literally travelling to Moscow the following month, and thought it might be a good travelogue primer. It was not!

It’s a plenty scary work trip for everyone who goes!

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The Set of 400: #328 – My Favorite Explosive Matryoshka

Today! Because they had trouble with the surface to air missiles, so it’s in the shop –

The Man Who Knew Too Little (1997)

Directed by Jon Amiel

Starring Bill Murray, Joanne Whalley, Alfred Molina, Peter Gallagher, Richard Wilson, John Standing, Geraldine James (x2), Anna Chancellor, Terence Harvey, Eddie Marsan (x2), J.E. Freeman, Maxwell Caulfield

We finally reach the first film from future list frequenter William Murray, in what many consider one of his lesser efforts. Disagree! Sure, it’s kind of light, silly nonsense, but Murray’s committed performance as unwitting boob Wallace Ritchie, thrust into a real world spy adventure he thinks is performance art elevates what could’ve been trifling silliness to something often near absurdist brilliance. You don’t often think of Bill Murray as being overly adept at playing morons – his track record is mostly arrogant jerks rebelling against authority figures – but here and there across his filmography you’ve got Caddyshack and What About Bob? and The Man Who Knew Too Little and a few others, all solidly funny performances against type for the comic legend. Continue reading

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