Falling Down ★★★★

One of a slew of major '90s movies that I've somehow never seen before, and it's a doozy. Michael Douglas is incredible in the lead, fully understanding the mythos (or in this case, the ugly truth) of the put-upon white-collar husband and father in his odyssey across the sun-bleached city to see the wife and daughter who would rather he stayed away. That he's often quite reasonable, and even likeable, in his righteous anger at 'the system' makes his more insidious characteristics and desires all the more chilling.

The film around him falls by comparison, as the narrative is pretty much trope city (down to the 'last day on the job' cop routine by Robert Duvall, though in fairness it's kind of an in-joke that's taken to its extreme). But it's never less than thrilling, helped by a tangible sense of the oppressive dirty heat of a hot summer day in LA; only Spike Lee, of the big US director bunch, has captured a similar atmosphere in his films. Joel Schumacher really caught lightning in a bottle here.

And it still says a hell of a lot about US/western culture today, too, even if that wasn't necessarily intended. Specifically, there is so much blatantly obvious social commentary in the film that it's probably a stretch to tease out glossed-over points like Douglas' character's actions being ignored or dismissed because he's white, or his ex-wife's fears being discounted because she's a woman. Yet they are there to read nonetheless.