A Real Great Train Wreck

Tired of having your circuits overloaded by CSI? Longing for the kind of thrills that come not from guys crawling along the floor in front of a blue screen (to be filled in later by computer) but from gutsy stunt men doing actual stunts?

If so, then get yourself a copy of Runaway Train. This gritty 1985 film was written by a fascinating crew, from Ed Bunker, the former San Quentin inmate turned director (Straight Time, The Longest Yard) to the renowned Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. Not only that, but it stars Jon Voigt, Eric Roberts, and Rebecca de Mornay; and was directed by Andrei Konchalovsky, a member of the Russian film aristocracy.

This one-of-a-kind gem starts with a hard-ass escape from a maximum security prison in Alaska, and is not appealing at first (due to what used to be graphic violence and an unpleasant trip through a sewer). But mercifully, it soon plunges the two anti-heroes, escaped prisoners Manny (Voigt) and Bunk (Roberts), into the vast, frozen wilderness, where they hop what turns out to be the wrong train.

Before long they are hurtling across the frozen landscape, sans conductor and sans brakes, and their reactions are not pretty, Manny being the hardest of the hard and Bunk the callowest of the callow. But when they discover they are not alone, that their onrushing fate is shared by a young female assistant engineer (de Mornay), the story lifts off and soars to a whole different level.

To repeat, what you see on the screen is a real train (four engines coupled together) hurtling through some real bleak, real Arctic, real estate. And the interaction among the unwilling passengers, torn between wanting to live and wanting to stay free, is even more real. Pay attention to what happens at the end, because this is not a trivial action flick but something more akin to a short story by Tolstoy. Needless to say, they don't make 'em like that any more.

October 27, 2007 6:51 PM | | Comments (0)


Leave a comment


PRC Pop 

The Chinese pop music scene is like no other ...

Remembering Elvis 

The best part of him will never leave the building ...

Beyond Country 

Like all chart categories, "country" is an arbitrary heading under which one finds the ridiculous, the sublime, and everything in between. On the sublime end, a track that I have been listening to over and over for the last six months: Wynnona Judd's version of "She Is His Only Need." The way she sings it, irony is not a color or even a set of contrasting colors; it is iridescence.

Miles the Rock Star? 

Does Miles Davis belong in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame? Here's my take on his career ...

Essay Contest 

Attention, high school jazz listeners ...

more trax

Me Elsewhere

Edward Hopper 

Painter of light (and darkness) ...

Dissed in Translation 

Here's my best shot at taking Scorcese down a few pegs ...

Henri Rousseau Revisited 

"Henri Rousseau: Jungles in Paris" appeared at the National Gallery of Art in Washington this fall ...

Paul Klee's Art 

Paul Klee was not childish, despite frequent comparisons between his art and that of children...

Our Art Belongs to Dada 

Rent my "Dadioguide" tour of the Dada show (before it moves to MoMA) ...

more picks


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Serious Popcorn published on October 27, 2007 6:51 PM.

PRC Pop was the previous entry in this blog.

Moment of Clarity is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

AJ Ads

AJ Blogs

AJBlogCentral | rss

About Last Night
Terry Teachout on the arts in New York City
Artful Manager
Andrew Taylor on the business of arts & culture
blog riley
rock culture approximately
critical difference
Laura Collins-Hughes on arts, culture and coverage
Richard Kessler on arts education
Douglas McLennan's blog
Dog Days
Dalouge Smith advocates for the Arts
Art from the American Outback
Life's a Pitch
For immediate release: the arts are marketable
Mind the Gap
No genre is the new genre
Performance Monkey
David Jays on theatre and dance
Plain English
Paul Levy measures the Angles
Real Clear Arts
Judith H. Dobrzynski on Culture
Rockwell Matters
John Rockwell on the arts
Straight Up |
Jan Herman - arts, media & culture with 'tude

Foot in Mouth
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
Seeing Things
Tobi Tobias on dance et al...

Jazz Beyond Jazz
Howard Mandel's freelance Urban Improvisation
Focus on New Orleans. Jazz and Other Sounds
Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...

Out There
Jeff Weinstein's Cultural Mixology
Serious Popcorn
Martha Bayles on Film...

classical music
Creative Destruction
Fresh ideas on building arts communities
The Future of Classical Music?
Greg Sandow performs a book-in-progress
On the Record
Exploring Orchestras w/ Henry Fogel
Harvey Sachs on music, and various digressions
Bruce Brubaker on all things Piano
Kyle Gann on music after the fact
Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
Slipped Disc
Norman Lebrecht on Shifting Sound Worlds

Jerome Weeks on Books
Quick Study
Scott McLemee on books, ideas & trash-culture ephemera

Drama Queen
Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off
lies like truth
Chloe Veltman on how culture will save the world

Aesthetic Grounds
Public Art, Public Space
Another Bouncing Ball
Regina Hackett takes her Art To Go
John Perreault's art diary
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary
Modern Art Notes
Tyler Green's modern & contemporary art blog
Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.