Notorious for being expensive, unsuccessful, and killing the relationship between producer Robert Evans and Director Francis Ford Coppola, “The Cotton Club” was also a feature player in a real life murder case where one of the financiers was murdered by contract killer and a former drug associate. With all the bad publicity surrounding the film, it is surprising how good it actually is. There are many faults with the film but the subject matter and the ambitious goals of the film makers were not among them.
I actually own a copy of this beautiful poster
Welcome back to the continuation of the “30 Years on Project” with this dazzling film that doesn’t quite work but comes close enough to be entertaining and worth your time. It features performances from a wide range of actors, a production design that is outstanding and Francis Ford Coppola’s return to gangster movies a decade after his masterpiece “The Godfather Part 2”.
Here we have an anti-war film, set in the Vietnam era, that for the most part takes place stateside and without much reference to the war. The story centers on the history of two traumatized soldiers, who were close friends before their duty in Nam. Each one is coping with what we today would refer to as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) . One has been badly burned in the war and is worried that he won’t recognize himself when the bandages come off, the other has retreated into the fantasy world of flying and birds that he was obsessed with before being in a helicopter crash. The story involves the ability of their friendship to pull them back into the world.
This was a movie given a limited release in Los Angeles in late 1984, to qualify for Academy Awards consideration. It was ultimately a Grand Prize winner at the Cannes film festival in 1985, but it never got widespread distribution. In fact as far as I can tell it only made it onto three screens in the U.S. and it did about one and a half million dollars at the box office. Amazingly enough, I actually saw it in its three week run in Westwood. I dragged my wife across town when we had a holiday break and we saw it in a matinee screening. I doubt that she will remember much about the movie except the final line, which we have quoted to each other with the same tone of Matthew Modine for thirty years now.
[I recommended this film on the Forgotten Film Podcast when I was a guest. It looks like Todd never got any coverage for it in the blogathon, so I am offering it to you to fill in that gap. Be sure to visit as many of the Bloggers participating in the Blogathon as you can, they are doing a great job covering 1984]
Once upon a time, movies were made about adult subjects and were serious about how they told their stories. While the stories were not always great, the actors and directors and the whole crew seemed to take the notion seriously, as if they were doing a play that would run forever on the screen. These stories featured everyday people dealing with unusual or slightly odd situations rather than end of the world scenarios and villains with superpowers. The term “middle of the road drama” would probably be appropriate to describe those films. Maybe in the indie world you still see these occasionally, but mostly they have been banished to cable movie hell. Today’s film fits this category completely.
The film was written by Steve Kloves, who is best known for writing every Harry Potter movie except “Order of the Phoenix”. He has a real feel for the characters in the movie. All of them could have been a cliche but they have enough to say and emotions so real that they transcend what might have been mundane and it is more lifelike than you might have hoped. Continue reading →