Friday, December 4, 2015

At Close Range (1986)

Director: James Foley

Writers: Elliott Lewitt, Nicholas Kazan

Composer: Patrick Leonard

Starring: Sean Penn, Christopher Walken, Mary Stuart Masterson, Chris Penn, Millie Perkins, Eileen Ryan, Tracey Walter, R.D. Call, David Strathairn, J.C. Quinn, Candy Clark, Jake Dengel, Kiefer Sutherland, Stephen Geoffreys, Crispin Glover

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Yesterday, Brad was nobody. Today, he's front-page news.

Plot: In 1978 rural Pennsylvania an absentee father is reacquainted with his estranged teenage sons and they become intrigued with romanticized life of crime.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Maybe.

I've never seen this before but the first thing I noticed was the opening bars to Madonna's song, Live to Tell, but the song doesn't happen until the end credits.  The composer of the film is the co-writer of that song and was Madonna's producer at that time.  He gets a lot of mileage out of those few notes throughout the film.  Having 30 years of hearing that tune (I dig it) it's weird to not hear that little theme out of context. Anyway, the film moves along alright for the first hour and a half with things progressing as they should I suppose.  It's not until the final act that the shit hits the fan and it gets REALLY good.  The performances are strong, Leonard's synth score fits the mood nicely, and the relationship between Brad Sr. (Walken) and Brad Jr. (Penn) gets tighter but there's still a distance between them (Sr. keeps the wedge between them as if not to fully trust Jr. or let him get close (maybe hence the title?)).  When the shit starts hitting the fan in the last half hour, that's when the tension is ratcheted up and it's VERY good.  Walken is in full-on Walken mode which is both fun and frightening (fun if you're overly familiar with his work or more frightening if you're not).  It's that last half hour that's going to eventually push me to giving it another look.  I don't know who put it out the DVD I have (MGM and 20th Century Fox are both on the packaging) but it's on a double bill with another Penn flick, Colors (1989).  The print is non-anamorphic widescreen with not a single extra.

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