Public Eye, The (1992)

US / 98 minutes / color with some bw / Zemeckis, Universal Dir & Scr: Howard Franklin Pr: Sue Baden-Powell Cine: Peter Suschitzky Cast: Joe Pesci, Barbara Hershey, Stanley Tucci, Jerry Adler, Jared Harris, Gerry Becker, Dominic Chianese, Del Close, Richard Foronjy, Tim Gamble, Richard Riehle, David Gianopoulos, Patricia Healy, David Hull.

In 1943 or 1944, NYC freelance news photographer Leon “Bernsie” Bernstein (Pesci), aka The Great Bernzini, seems to have a near-prescient ability to arrive at the scene of mob hits before the cops can get there. In fact, he has a good relationship with many of the cops because often he’s the one who phones in the crime before they otherwise learn of it. He also has an uneasy relationship with many of the city’s crime bosses; at the very least, they know he’ll take a better picture of him than anyone else will.

Public Eye - Bernsie at work

Bernsie (Joe Pesci) at work.

One night he’s called in by the owner of the swanky nightclub Café Society, Kay Levitz (Hershey). She inherited the club not so long ago from her older husband Lou; a man called Emilio Portifino (Gianopoulos) has turned up claiming that Lou had entered into a partnership, so that now he’s a co-owner of the business with Kay. Kay claims that Bernsie was one of the few people Lou trusted, and that Lou frequently told her Bernsie knew everyone in the city. Could Bernsie find out, she asks, who Portifino is and where he comes from? Smitten, Bernsie agrees.

But before Bernsie can investigate very far he finds Continue reading

Company You Keep, The (2013)

US / 122 minutes / color (with brief bw in the form of archive and faux-archive footage) / Voltage, Wildwood, Brightlight, Kingsgate, TCYK, Sony Dir: Robert Redford Pr: Nicolas Chartier, Robert Redford, Bill Holderman Scr: Lem Dobbs Story: The Company You Keep (2003) by Neil Gordon Cine: Adriano Goldman Cast: Robert Redford, Shia LaBeouf, Julie Christie, Susan Sarandon, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Terrence Howard, Stanley Tucci, Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick, Brendan Gleeson, Brit Marling, Sam Elliott, Stephen Root, Jacqueline Evancho, Gabrielle Rose.

Decades ago, during the horrific height of the Vietnam War, the Weathermen, or Weather Underground, were at the cutting edge of domestic protest against it; they were classified by the authorities as terrorists, although later judgement of their activities tends to be kinder. According to the backstory of this movie, one of their crimes was a bank robbery in which a security guard was shot dead; the perpetrators have been on the run ever since.

The movie starts with the arrest by the FBI of one of those perpetrators, Sharon Solarz (Sarandon), now the respected pillar-of-the-community mother of teenage kids; she has in fact been on her way to NYC to give herself up, but the FBI, having caught wind of this through wiretaps, decided to seek kudos by pre-empting her. Her friend from the old radical days, Billy Cusimano (Root), tries to enlist public-spirited lawyer Jim Grant (Redford) for her defense, but he declines, pleading that, recently widowed, he has to focus on rearing his 11-year-old daughter, Isobel “Izzy” (Evancho).

Izzy (Jacqueline Evancho) and her Uncle Daniel (Chris Cooper) confronted by the FBI.

Into the picture stumbles brattish local journalist Ben Shepard (LaBeouf) of the Albany Sun–Times, eager to make a name for himself. He manages to dig out evidence that “Jim Grant” is in fact Nick Sloan, wanted by the FBI as Continue reading