The F's


Fail Safe - Tense, dramatic thriller about a mishap that almost triggers World War III (set in 1961). Excellent acting by everyone, and a story that won't quit. Stark sets lend to the mood well. Dr. Strangelove is a parody of this. Walter Mathau is devastating as a Herman Kahn-like man in love with the atomic strategy of megadeath. Based upon the excellent (if a bit dry, at this temporal distance) novel of the same name -- the bit about "the matador" at the end is much better explained in the book.

Fandango - A well-above-average 1960's coming-of-age story of four young men who must decide whether to go to Vietnam or not. Excellent characterisations and some very funny scenes (intermixed with the somber decision they are facing) make this a worthwhile watch.

The Fifth Element - The usual knock about this movie is that it has a lot of good ideas, but doesn't hold together. Well, that's kind of true, but the ideas are great ideas. In a sprawling, heavily technocratized (but still somewhat depressing -- a la "Judge Dredd") future, a big evil thingie is coming to destroy us all, and the only thing to save us is a waifish young woman -- who happens to be an alien superbeing -- and the New York cabbie (Bruce Willis) who helps her -- who happens to be some kind of retired supercommando. All the little details are fascinating, from the sky cabs, to the radio shows (Chris Tucker is a scream - literally), to the aliens, to the entertainment, to the traveling Chinese resteraunt, and on and on. The ending was a little slam-bang; I wish they had been willing to spin it out a little more, but I still liked it. The music was an interesting mix, which is always a plus for me. Good casting; good, snappy dialogue.

The Final Conflict - The third and last of The 'Omen' trilogy, which has Damien an about-30 man,the head of a powerful organization attempting to fulfill biblical prophecies and bring about the anti-christ's reign on earth. The only problem is, Jesus is about to be reborn (again, as prophecied), and Damien must hunt down the child and destroy him. As gory as all the others, but it is the philosophy espoused (primarily by Damien) about good and evil that interested me.

The Final Countdown - I'm a fool for military hardware, and we certainly see a lot of it in this story of a Pacific Fleet nuclear aircraft carrier (the Nimitz) that enters a storm and comes out on Dec. 6, 1941 - one day before Pearl Harbor. Good cast, including Kirk Douglas as the captain, and lots of looks at carrier operations. They kind of cop out at the end (they DON'T carry out the air strike against the Japanese fleet), but still an interesting look at the time-travel effects dilemma.

Fletch - A showcase for Chevy Chase, and he does well in it. Fletch is a Investigative Reporter who is hired by a man to kill him. Stop-and-go pacing, but Chase fills the pauses well with his throw-away-line brand of humor.

Fort Apache - Another classic John Ford western with the Duke and Henry Fonda as cavalrymen at odds over how to fight the indians. The usual well-acted story, with the usual outstanding John Ford direction. Excellent battle-scenes (of course); in something of a rarity: a story in which the cavalry loses. The look at life away from battle is at least as interesting; as we get to see the the foibles (and depth) of a trooper's (or at least a sergeant's) daily life. See this one, "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon", and "Rio Grande". You'll thank me.

48 Hrs. - Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy are spectacular in this cops-and-robbers 'buddy-pic' about Nolte (a flamboyant cop) and Murphy (a convict helping him) set out to stop a psychotic killer with a penchant for high-powered handguns. The interplay between Nolte and Murphy is excellent.

The Frisco Kid - Gene Wilder is endearing as a Polish Rabbi who must journey through the American west of the 1870's to get to San Francisco to take up a position as the Rabbi to the Jewish community there. He has many adventures, most with Harrison Ford, a saddle bum and part-time bank robber. Great fun, and an interesting look at Judaism.


The Falcon and the Snowman - Based on a true story, this one is interesting, but moves too slowly for my taste. Tim Hutton and Sean Penn as two young men who are caught selling information to the Russians. Penn's character of an insufferable wimp is played with such accuracy, that I couldn't stand him - couldn't empathize with him either. Hutton's character is too stilted, so I was left with a story concerning characters I wasn't interested in. Too bad.

Fighting Back - Yrg. Tom Skerret is one of those I've-taken-just- so-much-now-I'm-getting-even guys who forms a neighborhood vigilante squad to beat up deadbeats. Boring, uninteresting.

Final Justice - Incredibly braindamaged plot, stolen pretty much directly from almost any 'McCloud' episode has Joe Don Baker as a Southwestern sherrif up against very stupid mobsters trying to do something or other to someone or other. He shoots them. That wouldn't be so bad, if he didn't insist in talking to them first (and saying the stupidest things!).

The Final Option - An action adventure flick praising the SAS (Special Air Service - British supercommandos) in a story of braindamaged terrorists who grab the US embassy in England. Impossible to follow, the very end is fun (the SAS assault the embassy - surprise). Too violent, and takes 'way too long 'explaining' the terrorists in silly and boring ways. The terrorists are uninteresting even if the director tries gamely to make us understand them. Probably it's the slavish praising of the SAS that really kills the movie.

The Final Terror - Another maniac-slashes-up-teenagers movie. I found myself unable to give a damn about any of the characters, and not at all interested in the killer. Boring, bloody, uninteresting.

Firestarter - Another Steven King 'Carrie' clone, and it shows. Drew Barrymore play a young girl who has the power of pyrokinesis. Big Bad Government grabs her and studies her. Her daddy winds up getting killed, and she burns everybody up. Big Deal.

F.I.S.T. - Traces the life of Sylvester Stallone as a union organizer who builds his union from a labor protection agency to an oppressor of the workers to protect "da' union". Loosely patterned after the life of Jimmy Hoffa. Turgid and boring.

Flash Gordon - Dino de Laurentis's "golden touch" doesn't fail him in this elaborate turkey. The famous hero of 30's radio and serials is brought to some bizarre form of life, clad in shining spandex. EVERYONE overacts their brains out, including Max Von Sidow (Max, where was your brain when you signed for this?) and Topol, who should have stayed Russian and Jewish rather scientific and two-dimensional. Rent Flesh Gordon instead (even though it's a porno flick, it's more fun than this thing.)

Footloose - Flashdance will a male dancer. The dancing is uninteresting, and the story stupid.

The Formula - a paranoia flick casting 'big oil', 'big business' and 'big anything' as the bad guys. Unfortunately, the story just doesn't hold up. The director seems to keep wanting to elbow us in the ribs and whisper, "you know, they're all in it together -- the ones who secretly run everything". It might have been an interesting you-know-this-goes-all-the-way-to-the-top-and-beyond movie, but its just plain boring.

Foreplay - If after watching 'Crocodile Dundee', 'Galipoli', and 'Road Warrior', you think that the Australians really know how to make movies, think again. This one is an entry into the adolescent sex-and-comedy market, with very little sex and absolutely no comedy. The story is for the search for the 'next sexiest man', the son of the last 'sexiest man'. They find him.

The Four Seasons - I hate Alan Alda. Let's say that up front. I think he is too busy making sure we all think the right kind of thoughts and so he runs out of time to tell a story. This movie is one of those. Nice people have a nice time learning how nice life is. Isn't that nice? Nice try.

Foxes - a heart-burning, slow boring story of young women and their troubled lives.

The French Lieutenant's Woman - Slow, slow, slow! Meryl Streep acts as if she were sleepwalking, and the rest of the cast is made of cast-iron. Forget it.

The Fury - A psychic-powers movie that doesn't quite hang together. Kirk Douglas does well as a man searching for his telekinetic son (spirited away by the government), constantly changing disguises to keep ahead of them. Most everybody else does ok, but the story just seems to meander around, and the climax seems over-engineered and hard to believe.