THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT Michael Cimino, director/ Second Sight Films Blu-Ray Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges star in the debut film of Michael Cimino (later of Heaven’s Gate), Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, which makes its Blu-ray bow looking like it was made yesterday. Eastwood is a retired thief, who has the perfect plan to recover his lost loot with the help of his old gang. The idea is to steal the money, hide it in an old schoolhouse, lay low and collect it when the heat is off. But things don’t go to plan and while trying to escape a gunman he has a chance encounter with drifter Lightfoot (Jeff Bridges). Strong support from a brutal George Kennedy, and a surprisingly poignant finale. No hint of the indulgence that was to be the hallmark of Cimino’s later career.BRAQUO: COMPLETE SERIES 3 Olivier Marchal, director/Arrow If you consider yourself an aficionado of the most uncompromising crime series on TV — and you haven’t yet watched Braquo — you’re missing something. This flint-edged, dyspeptic and utterly compelling series (often described as the French The Wire) is so uncompromising — even nihilistic — in its view of French police work that it makes such gritty rivals as Spiral look positively rose-coloured. Apart from its impeccable ensemble playing (with Jean Hugues-Anglade mesmerising as ever — and stoking down his customary easy charm — as a compromised Parisian cop finding himself drawn ever deeper into realms of corruption and violence after the suicide of the leader of his squad), the really provocative aspect of the series lies not so much in the visceral impact of the filmmaking but in the uneasy dialectic it orchestrates with the viewer. As the team is drawn into ever more brutal territory in pursuit of a variety of criminals, with an internal affairs team (presented in highly unsympathetic fashion) hard on their heels, it’s hard to decide how much director Olivier Marchal wants us to sympathise with the beleaguered maverick heroes. And it’s a measure of the sheer skill of Braquo that most viewers will spend their time veering between being on the side of the French cops as they perform another outrageous, ill-advised stunt (including armed robbery) or shouting at the screen: ‘What are you doing?’ Never comfortable viewing, the series is essential for those who favour the equation: crime drama=strong meat.
FEMALE ON THE BEACH Joseph Pevney, director/Odeon Steamy (for the day) 1950s melodrama, delivered at full throttle by the always-watchable Joan Crawford. She plays Lynn Markham, recently widowed, who moves into a beach house where the former owner fell to her death. What seemed like an accident turns to suspicion of murder as Lynn finds herself drawn into a torrid affair with a handsome beachcomber (Jeff Chandler). Great fun for Crawford aficionados.