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May 1991


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SUZANNE JEANINE LIS <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 21 May 91 13:26:00 EST
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for those of you interested in this friday's release,
we showed it as a sneak last night, and i have a mixed review.
ok, first of all, lemme admit i hate "hollywood happy endings/feel good"
films.  that creates a certain prejudice for me in saying anything
truly complementary about Backdraft.  and lemme also admit i would
have never gone to see it (based on the way it is advertised) if it
hadnt been free.
that aside...
ron howard is not an awful director.  he uses some interesting
camera trackings, close-ups et al.  but he uses slow-mo and mellow-
dramatics that create an over-all cheesy tone to this movie.
the story of the life of a fireman is a (somewhat) interesting and
new subject manner, but this film tries to do too many things at once.
the subplots of affairs, marrital problems, and the *completely ripped off*
use of Donald Sutherland as a pyromaniac consulted exactly as Hannibal
Lector is consulted makes the whole film seem disjointed.
these tangents were unnecessary and made the film longer than it need
be.  i believe it was 2hrs+!!!
there were also problems in the story's abuse of legal factors in what
firemen are able to get away with.  william baldwin (who isnt half bad
despite the fact that he is riding on his looks) jumps back and forth into
the responsibilities of a fireman, and i know (due to a brother-in-law who
is a fireman in the chicago area) that one cannot so easily "jump on
the truck" legally anyway.
robert deniro is obviously underemployed in this film.  he is the only
interesting actor, but again, he is assigned lines like "cmon...youre
clever, but so am i" speaking *to the fire* that could not help but
be reminiscent of Manhunter or Silence.
donald sutherland, despite his unnecessary role, is very good.
kurt russel just comes across as a big sized little boy who plays
tough guy lieutenant who will risk "going down with his burning ship"
in this case, warehouse.
i dunno...its probably what you expect it will be...
a feel good, cheesy, hollywood film.
Its cinematography makes fire look beautiful and alive.
just beware of hollywood hang-ups in a big way.
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