Alan Parker

Alan Parker – Bugsy Malone (1976)

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At first the notion seems alarming: a gangster movie cast entirely with kids. Especially when we learn that “Bugsy Malone” isn’t intended as a kid’s movie so much as a cheerful comment on the childlike values and behavior in classic Hollywood crime films. What are kids doing in something like this?

But then we see the movie and we relax. “Bugsy Malone” is like nothing else. It’s an original, a charming one, and it has yet another special performance by Jodie Foster, who at thirteen was already getting the roles that grown-up actresses complained weren’t being written for women anymore. She plays a hard-bitten nightclub singer and vamps her way through a torch song by Paul Williams with approximately as much style as Rita Hayworth brought to “Gilda.” She starts on stage, drifts down into the audience, arches her eyebrows at the fat cats (all about junior high school age), and, in general, is astonishingly assured. And her performance seems just right in the film; “Bugsy Malone” depends almost totally on tone, and if you put kids in these situations and directed them just a little wrongly the movie would be offensive. But it’s not, and it’s especially right with Foster. Read More »

Alan Parker – Birdy (1984)

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Birdy is a 1984 American drama film directed by Alan Parker and starring Matthew Modine and Nicolas Cage. It is based on the novel of the same name by William Wharton, although the film is set in the Vietnam era and not during the Second World War.

Synopsis:
Plot: Based on William Wharton’s transcendent novel of the same name, this film is about many things: friendship, war, and, of course, birds. The framing device is an effort by a horribly scarred combat soldier (Nicolas Cage) to break through to his best friend, Birdy (Matthew Modine), hospitalized after seemingly being driven mad by fighting in the Vietnam War. Cage then flashes back to their boyhood, where Birdy, a canary aficionado, was considered the school weirdo but managed to be a solid companion nonetheless. Directed by Alan Parker, it works best as a coming-of-age story, but misses the bizarre psychological transferences of the book, in which Birdy imagines himself within the world of canaries he creates in his bedroom at his parents’ house. Modine is brilliant as an out-of-it misfit enraptured by his own little universe. Read More »

Alan Parker – Angel Heart (1987)

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Quote:
Alan Parker paints a picture that is rich, dark and dank. While his flashy visual style may seem like sloppy editing, it poetically leaves a viewer with an odd, disorienting series of partial memories that blur in and out of one another. His script is equally as clever, if at times in need of tightening. Many small snippets of dialogue including the metaphorical rhetoric of Cyphre and the constant self-contradiction of Angel are easy to overlook in a single viewing. The dialogue gives lots of clues just like the ones Harry Angel has to work with: some subtle, some glaringly obvious. Read More »

Alan Parker – Shoot the Moon (1982)

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Quote:

All George Dunlap (Albert Finney) wants to do is to give his 13-year-old daughter a typewriter for her birthday. It is hardly the impossible dream; it isn’t even an unreasonable request. But George recently walked out on his wife Faith (Diane Keaton) and their four daughters, for all those vague but somehow imperative reasons for which people leave people these days, and Daughter Sherry (Dana Hill) is not buying any of them. Nor is she covering her confusion with forgiveness. Better just not to speak to the creep. When Faith tries to avoid a scene by keeping George out of their handsome old Marin County house, George breaks in and pounds up the stairs to confront his eldest. She fights off his blend of bewildered love and rage. He spanks her. She threatens him with a scissors. They end in a sodden tangle of bodies and emotions on her bed. Read More »

Alan Parker – Midnight Express [+Extras] (1978)

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All Movie Guide wrote:
Midnight Express is a harrowing tale of a naïve American caught in a nightmare of his own making thousands of miles from his home. Billy Hayes (Brad Davis) is an American tourist visiting Turkey with his girlfriend Susan (Irene Miracle) when he’s caught by customs officials trying to smuggle a large amount of hashish out of the country. The crime would normally carry a sentence of four years, but officials decide to make an example of Billy, and he draws a 30-year sentence despite the promises of his Turkish legal counsel. While Susan and Billy’s father (Mike Kellin) pledge to do everything they can to speed Billy’s release, in fact there’s little than can be done. Billy quickly finds himself in a hellish prison that’s a nightmare of filth, violence, rape, inedible food, and unspeakable health conditions. However, Billy gains a few confidantes behind bars: Jimmy (Randy Quaid), an American in a constant state of emotional overdrive; Max (John Hurt), an intelligent, drug-addicted Englishman; and Erich (Norbert Weisser), a gay Scandinavian who is attracted to Billy but accepts his gentle refusals of sex. Before long, Billy is convinced that he can take no more, and he makes plans to take the “midnight express” — jailhouse slang for escape. While his friends are willing to help, they also make clear that almost no one who has tried to escape has lived to tell the tale. Based on a true story, Midnight Express was a box-office hit which won wide acclaim for the performances of Brad Davis and John Hurt; and the screenplay, by Oliver Stone, won an Academy Award. Read More »

Alan Parker – Angela’s Ashes [+ Commentary] (1999)

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Plot:
Based on the best selling autobiography by Irish expat Frank McCourt, Angela’s Ashes follows the experiences of young Frankie and his family as they try against all odds to escape the poverty endemic in the slums of pre-war Limerick. The film opens with the family in Brooklyn, but following the death of one of Frankie’s siblings, they return home, only to find the situation there even worse. Prejudice against Frankie’s Northern Irish father makes his search for employment in the Republic difficult despite his having fought for the IRA, and when he does find money, he spends the money on drink. Read More »

Alan Parker – The Commitments (1991)

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Quote:
Foul-mouthed, fast-talking and very funny, this is Parker’s best to date. It’s an intentionally ‘small’ movie that treats a familiar subject (kids forming a rock band) with a deft intimacy. But as the young hopefuls from Dublin’s working-class Northside go through the round of auditions, rehearsals and gigs, it becomes clear that the film is big in heart. For Parker and his excellent, mostly non-professional cast are indeed committed to characters, milieu and music: classics from Otis, Wilson Pickett, Aretha et al. For one thing, the script precisely captures both the witty banter and the modest dreams of the streetwise kids. For another, Parker never over-emphasises the unemployment and poverty, nor does he glamorise the band. The result is a gritty, naturalistic comedy blessed with a wry, affectionate eye for the absurdities of the band’s various rivalries and ambitions; and the songs are matchless. Read More »