Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, January 29, 2015


CITY HALL (1996). Director: Harold Becker.

When a cop and a lowlife kill each other in a shoot-out, a little boy is caught in the crossfire. Deputy Mayor Kevin Calhoun (John Cusack of Shadows and Fog) tries to find out why the lowlife, Tino Zapatti (Larry Romano), was out on the street when he should have been in jail. His uncle Paul (Anthony Franciosa of Wild is the Wind) is a big shot mobster, and friends with Brooklyn politico Frank Anselmo (Danny Aiello), whom he orders to frame the dead cop. Calhoun's investigation uncovers corruption that goes all the way up to a judge (Martin Landau of Mission: Impossible), who just happens to be a good friend of Mayor Pappas (Al Pacino), whom Calhoun idolizes. Now Calhoun has to figure out if the mayor is involved and how he will handle it if he is. City Hall has a workable premise, and the acting is fine, but Harold Becker's direction isn't exactly dynamic, and the movie just fails to grip the way it should. Bridget Fonda plays a lawyer who tries to help the cop's family and is fine, but the movie is practically stolen by Aiello as Anselmo.

Verdict: Tepid when it should sizzle. **1/2.

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