In 1987 Alan Parker wrote and directed the film Angel Heart based on the novel Fallen Angel. It stars Mickey Roarke as a gumshoe in the mid 1950s who is sent by the mysterious Louis Cypher (Robert DeNiro) to find Johnny Favorite, a man with a great debt owed and a mysterious past. The film is bleak, atmospheric, spooky and thoroughly enveloping. It is a tragedy of Oedipal proportions and the scenes between Roarke and DeNiro are worth the price of admission itself. The subtleties in DeNiro's performance, revealing anger, self control, and a silent mocking is terrifying.
That same year George Miller directed The Witches of Eastwick, starring Cher, Michelle Pfieffer, and Susan Sarandon as three women who inadvertently call the man of their dreams onto their doorstep and it turns out to be Jack Nicholson in one of his most decadent and yet oddly humorous characters he has ever played. He dominates the film though Veronica Cartright's performance as the one woman who senses his true identity was in my opinion an under appreciated acting performance worthy of reexamination. Of the three films, this is the lightest in tone.
Ten years later Taylor Hackford expertly directed Al Pacino as the centerpiece of evil opposite a well cast Keanu Reeves as well as an early American screen performance by Charlize Theron proving even back in 1997 that she was more than a beautiful woman. The film was The Devil's Advocate. Theron would go on to earn Oscar gold a few years later. Pacino's interpretation rivals Jack Nicholson's animated performance, but The Devil's Advocate takes on an operatic tone toward the end that is riveting in it's implications.
All three films offer nihilistic philosophical arguments that are intriguing and prove that these films are not just supernatural thrillers, cautionary tales and morality plays, they are three titans featuring three of the best American Actors to play the Devil in the last two decades of the twentieth century.
All three are available via online streaming services like iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, and VUDU. They have also been released on home video though it might just be easier to rent them online. As a Halloween triple feature, Angel Heart, The Witches of Eastwick and The Devil's Advocate offer intellectual stimulation with genuine chills.
(C) Copyright By Mark Rivera
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