Saturday, August 29, 2009
While all of the hype on this remake of the 1957 Western classic hinged on the chemistry between Christian Bale and Russell Crowe pretty much everybody overlooked the fact it was based on a short story by my man Elmore Leonard and what a story it is. I've liked James Mangold as a director since his debut with HEAVY but with 3:10 TO YUMA he simply outdoes himself. I think it unfair to compare this with TOMBSTONE, the films are different beasts but as far as character studies go I'd say you would be hard pressed to find anything better than this. One could almost say it's the chick flick of Westerns making it a perfect choice for a night in as not only will the ladies enjoy the eye candy but there is enough emotional weight to more than satisfy. As for the action, the shoot out at the end looks like it could have come from a John Woo film and special mention must be made of Peter Fonda who seems to only get better with age.
The late director Richard T. Heffron would bounce back and forth between features and television and this shows in this sequel to WESTWORLD. Certainly ambitious for the time it was the first motion picture to display computer generated graphics which of course STAR WARS would come right after and make this poor film look like a child's science class project. An interesting story if not entirely developed, FUTUREWORLD does make for a fine view if you don't mind waiting while they show off the new technology. Peter Fonda displays his cynical side and though this is listed as Yul Brynner's final film it is, as far as I know, by default of stock footage. Certainly worth doing as a double with WESTWORLD.
Friday, August 28, 2009
While I don't remember a particulat timeframe being mentioned for when DIAMOND MEN takes place the thing surprising me the most was it being made in 2000. Robert Forster, who produced this Dan Cohen directed independant feature, gives a career performance as an on the road salesman forced into retirement and on one last run to show Donnie Wahlberg, his replacement, the ropes. Of course it wouldn't be much of a movie if a few things don't happen along the way. There is one great scene involving an "eye" which I won't dare ruin for you. The lovely Kristin Minter has some fine moments and this could very well be the only film in which Nikki Fitz stays clothed. May be a tad slow for some but it is a neat little character study and well worth a look should you stumble across it.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I'll have to see this sucker at least a dozen more times before I can fully say just what I think about it but I can say this, it's Tarantino's best film to date and I absolutely loved it. He get's a little too cute for my liking at times with his style but the spots where he does this got a good pop from the audience so who am I to question Quentin. I will most certainly question the Academy is Christoph Waltz does not get at least an Oscar nod here as his work is beyond stunning. As for Brad Pitt, not sure if he was trying to channel Cary Grant or what but his character is an interesting oneproviding some much needed comical relief it what, contrary to how it is being marketed, is NOT a funny film. In fact, there are scenes of violence here which shocked even me. We all know Tarantino is a film buff but with INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS he seems to zero in on paying homage once again to Sam Peckinpah with some heavy doses of Godard and a hint of Francois Truffaut al the while keeping the work uniquely his own. Brave move appropriating David Bowie's title song from CAT PEOPLE for his own in a beautiful scene with Melanie Laurent who also may get an Oscar looksie. Special tip of the hat given to the special effects department who provide some amazing splat and listen for well noticeable vocal cameos from Samuel L. Jackson and though not credited I swore I heard Harvey Keitel in there. You won't have to look hard to catch Mike Myers but a double take may be needed to peg the great Rod Taylor as Chruchill. Overall just a fantastic viewing experice destined to become another Tarantino classic.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The Bank Job
Because of the way this was marketed and the fact it stars Jason Statham I was expecting something like a cross between OCEAN'S ELEVEN and THE TRANSPORTER. What I ended up with was more like THE EASTENDERS meets THE SANDBAGGERS and what a bloody great surprise. Roger Donaldson knows how to direct, doesn't matter if it's COCKTAIL or SPECIES the guy delivers the goods but with THE BANK JOB he outdoes himself. Statham shows some diversity in his chops though we are treated to a taste of what made him famous towards the end. I simply can't say enough about how effective Saffron Burrow is and David Suchet, who has played some great bad guys in his day, gives up a truly unlovable baddie here. What makes THE BANK JOB so special is the scripting. Doesn't matter if it is in fact true or not, it is well constructed and makes for one hell of an enjoyable view. Look very closely for Mick Jagger in a special role.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Yes, yes, it's great and I don't have to ramble on about it. Is it the best in the series so far like so many have proclaimed.....it didn't strike me as better or worse, simply part of the ongoing whole. The opening scene is assuredly a spectacle well worth making to catch in 3-D on the IMAX and the special effects overall are top drawer. It was refreshing to see Radcliffe to at last be able to inject some humor into the Potter role but the thing which struck me the most about the HALF-BLOOD PRINCE was the horror elements. Yes, they have been there throughout and yes critics and public alike have noted the darkness of this feature. It's to be expected as the book sure presented it and we are getting ready for the all out battle with you-know-who who shall not be named but one scene in particular stood out for me and it didn't involve the undead either. It concerns a "floating body" and the ferocity of the nature in which director David Yates delivers the incident will bugger people up for yearsto come. You can chalk it up there on the board with the classics it's so well done. I was a little let down by how the death of Dumbledore was handled but this was minor when compared to what amounts to yet another great episiode in the saga.
Rails & Ties
This is the only film to date directed by Alsion Eastwood (yes, Clint's little girl!) and while certainly a great debut it's a shame she didn't have a better script to work with. While about as credible as an honest investment banker it is an interesting story and if taken as a rather morose fairy tale it is quite compelling and examines many issues surrounding terminal illness, death and suicide and how we cope with it. What makes the film work despite the script is the strong performances of the principal cast. Kevin Bacon can easily cary a work like this but the support he receives from the young Miles Heizer is excellent and Marcia Gay Harden is spot on. She has a bathroom scene which may very well be the best work of herlife and it doesn't matter, male or female it will have a powerful effect on you. No doubt in my mind you will be able to catch this in regular rotation on the Women's Network soon and compared to most of the junk they broadcast film wise these days it will be a welcome addition.