James Foley – At Close Range (1986)

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One of the overlooked films of the 1980s, perhaps because it is such a downbeat tale of an amoral family. Sean Penn plays a kid whose small-time criminal impulses are stoked to a new level when he falls in with his father (Christopher Walken), a vicious career criminal for whom no problem is so large that it can’t be solved by a murder. At first exhilarated by the attention from his father (and the jobs he gives him to do), he gradually catches on to just what a bad guy Dad really is. But when he tries to extricate himself, he discovers that Dad now has him squarely in his sights. Penn is terrific in a role of emotional complexity, while Walken, king of the creeps, is positively frightening as this soft-spoken but highly lethal patriarch. Continue reading

James Foley – After Dark, My Sweet (1990)


The movie, based on a novel by Jim Thompson, the poet of circa-1950 pulp noir, has a stubborn, sullen truth to it, focusing on its handful of characters during the course of a particularly incompetent kidnapping. The story is so intimate that everything depends on the performances, and Jason Patric, Rachel Ward and Bruce Dern, and a character actor named George Dickerson, bring a grim, poetic sadness to the story. Film noir, we are reminded, is not about action and victory, but about incompetence and defeat. If it has a happy ending, something went wrong…
“After Dark, My Sweet” is the movie that eluded audiences; it grossed less than $3 million, has been almost forgotten, and remains one of the purest and most uncompromising of modern films noir. It captures above all the lonely, exhausted lives of its characters…
It begins with exhaustion and despair, stirs itself into half-hearted evil, and then in a final desperate sequence finds barely
enough heroism to bring itself to a stop again. I have seen “After Dark, My Sweet” four times, and it only deepens with the retelling.–Roger Ebert
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James Foley – Reckless (1984)


James Foley’s (At Close Range, Glengarry Glen Ross) first film, as well as Aidan Quinn’s, this flashy, empty, very 80’s movie features Quinn and Daryl Hannah in a midwestern, steel-mill version of Romeo and Juliet. Shot by Fassbinder, Scorsese and Redford’s DP, Michael Ballhaus, and written by Chris Columbus (Gremlins, The Goonies, director of Home Alone 1 and 2, the first two Harry Potter films, and the classic, Bicentennial Man), it is filled to the brim with hideous, yet hilarious dialogue, mostly via setting up “tough guy” Aidan Quinn and his motorcycle antics, who, no matter how old he was at the time, always looks 35, betraying the notion that he’s a high school student. Hannah looks amazing throughout (and nude), with this and Splash, one wonders if she ate at all in 1984. Features a very silly/spazzy/awesome prom dance sequence cut to “I might like you better if we slept together,” no surprise the guy who edited it ended up directing Purple Rain. This movie is the very personification of 80’s MTV. Be happy that you can experience it, because your life would be meaningless without it. Continue reading