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Hardcore: when his daughter disappears on a school trip a successful businessman does what he can to find her. Can’t remember the last time I saw a film go from one extreme to the other; opening with smug church folk at Christmas and finishing in a seedy world of snuff, prostitution and worse. The main (George C Scott) is superb as a moral father,hulking out, realistically kicking ass, and doing whatever he can to find his daughter – Peter Boyle (a.k.a. Young Frankenstein) also nails his role as a perverted detective. Despite being +30 years old this is still relevant and hasn’t aged a bit (beyond the flares) – so much so that Taken is just an updated re-make. While it’s quite an ugly film, and not the easiest to watch, the focus on a powerful story make this too easy to relate with. It also opens the viewer’s eyes a bit to the world of prostitution, how it was – and probably still is – run, where the money goes, what makes the business tick etc. Definitely a (genital) warts and all depiction of the down and outs in the sex industry. The writer/director did the screenplay for Taxi Driver, and it’s quite similar territory. It’s a great film, powerful story, superb acting by the leads and totally underrated / overlooked. The original Taken / 8MM.

Score: 7.5/10

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Mystic River: drama/mystery that follows three childhood friends in Boston from a day that changed all of their lives forever. Acting-wise, this is an absolute powerhouse of a roster with too many big names to do justice; Penn‘s passion and attitude are outstanding – a career-defining role for him, Bacon‘s awesome at staying cool and reserved, Fishbourne‘s flawless as a badass cop, Robbins is great at portraying a man on the edge, and hell, even the bit-part boyfriend’s hyper believable… everyone involved is outstanding. Technically, the film’s a masterpiece. Every shot is picturesque, the detail’s all there, the camerawork is spot-on, the direction is simple but effective and the lighting in particular adds a whole other dimension to the film – most noticeable with Robbins, who’s progressively lit to look more crooked and bizarre as the film goes on. The final product is haunting, atmospheric and unbelievably gripping as it builds up to the finale. On paper, this is as depressing a story as any other Eastwood film of late – but with a cast this strong, great pacing and simple storytelling this a proper tour de force – and while it is quite bleak, that’s where all of the mystery and drama comes from. in a nutshell, this is simply a great film.

Score: 9/10