Thursday, March 4, 2010

Two-Minute Warning (1976)

Dir: Larry Peerce
5 Star Max HD broadcast

First off, let's talk about the cast! We have a collection to frazzle the brain with this ensemble starring; John Cassavetes, Charlton Heston, Beau Bridges, Gena Rowlands, Martin Balsam, Jack Klugman, David Jannsen, and Walter Pidgeon! So what brings this group of TV actors, indie auteurs, and NRA members together? A sniper at a football game. At an event that I surmise was supposed to be the Super Bowl, a man with a rifle is spotted by a blimp cam on top of the scoreboard. We never see his face but he does have his own music cue that sounds similar to that of a movie slasher and we get plenty of close-ups of his disgusting finger nails. The narrative cuts between this unseen baddie and the lives of the people his actions will effect, a gambler, a young family, a couple trying to figure things out, and the policia, Heston of course. After the sniper attacks a maintenance man, Heston must call in the Swat team, led by John Cassavetes. Some macho posturing occurs, ninety minutes pass, then the shit goes down. It's a fine thriller that tries to break into Altman territory (scarily enough) with camera movements that leave one conversation for another in midstream to give us a natural feel and a sense of urgency. There's actually one incredible sequence where everyone in the video booth watches helplessly as the sniper attacks in such a way that the crowd can't see. The main problem with the film is how much time we spend seeing the lives of the various spectators, but it's both shocking and unintentionally hilarious to see Beau Bridges back hand one of his kids in public, ah the good ol' days. It's also interesting to see Heston ask the killer where he got his gun with such anger, you know that's acting!
Universal released this on DVD over a decade ago and it's now out of print. The HD broadcast from Cinemax looked pretty good and I couldn't tell that framing was too tight even though it was presented 1.85:1 and the movie was reportedly shot 2.35:1.


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