ONCE UPON A TIME IN DEADWOOD, the new revenge western feature starring Robert Bronzi (recent hit DEATH KISS) and Michael Pare (STREETS OF FIRE), is released on DVD Tuesday, November 19.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN DEADWOOD concerns a notorious gunslinger who is slipped a slow-acting poison by an heiress and told he has three days to track down and rescue her sister, who has been kidnapped by a band of hoodlums and holds the antidote. Rene Perez directs from his screenplay, with Jeff Miller (THE TOYBOX) also contributing.
Bronzi plays the gunslinger. Pare plays the main villain. The cast is rounded out with Karin Brauns (PLAYING WITH DOLLS series), Lauren Compton (CLOWNTOWN), actor-model Chris Matteis, J.D. Angstadt, Jose Varela Garcia, Justin Hawkins, Tony Jackson, and Sierra Sherbundy.
The movie was filmed in California as well as in Western Leone, near Almeria, Spain, site of much of the filming of the famous Sergio Leone/Charles Bronson western ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST.
Miller (who produced the recent DEATH KISS, which Perez directed, as well as the recent thriller THE RUSSIAN BRIDE) is producing with Ronnie D. Lee (THE TOYBOX, OUIJA HOUSE) through their companies Millman Productions and Ron Lee Productions, respectively.
“If you liked DEATH KISS, you’ll love Bronzi again delivering his brand of justice,” says Miller. “We filmed at recognizable locations where Bronson stood 50 years ago on the classic ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, and I can’t wait for fans to check out this latest chapter in our series of films with Bronzi.”
ONCE UPON A TIME IN DEADWOOD is released November 19th on DVD. Uncork’d Entertainment is handling distribution in North America and international sales.
Pistol-packing acclaimed South African western Five Fingers for Marseilles, a thrilling tale that takes its place alongside classics such as Once Upon a Time in the West and contemporaries like The Proposition and No Country for Old Men, stares down the barrel of a national theatrical release Friday, September 7, 2018.
From filmmaker Michael Matthews and screenwriter Sean Drummond comes a thrilling western set against the backdrop of post-Apartheid South Africa. Five Fingers for Marseilles takes place in a small town “governed” by dubious local officials, living in fear of a lawless mob; when an exiled outlaw returns home in search of solace and redemption, brotherhood and loyalty are fused with vengeance.
The film is set with the residents of the colonial town of Marseilles are under the thumb of police oppression and only the young rebels known as the Five Fingers are willing to stand up to them. Their battle is just, until Tau kills two policemen and flees the scene. The remaining rebels disband while the banished Tau resorts to a life of crime. Twenty years later, now known as feared outlaw The Lion of Marseilles, he is released from prison. He returns home, desiring only peace and to reconnect with those he left behind. The battle for South Africa’s freedom has been won, and former comrades-in-arms are in prominent positions as mayor, police chief, and pastor. But it quickly becomes clear to Tau that Marseilles is caught in the grip of a vicious new threat — and he must reconstitute the Five Fingers to fight frontier justice. Standing against former allies and new enemies, the re-formed Five Fingers saddle up and ride out, and put their lives at risk to save their beloved Marseilles.
Starring Vuyo Dabula, Hamilton Dhlamini, Zethu Dlomo, Kenneth Nkosi, Mduduzi Mabaso, Aubrey Poolo, Lizwi Vilakazi, Warren Masemola, Dean Fourie, Anthony Oseyemi, Brendon Daniels, and Jerry Mofokeng, Five Fingers for Masrseilles opens September 7 -across the US via Uncork’d Entertainment.
Summary: The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim, also known as the Man in Black, determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 17th August 2017
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Screenwriter: Nikolaj Arcel, Akiva Goldsman, Anders Thomas Jensen Stephen King (novel), Jeff Pinkner
Cast: Michael Barbieri (Timmy), Idris Elba (Roland), Kenneth Fok (Johnny), Jackie Earle Haley (Sayre), Nicholas Hamilton (Lucas Hanson, Dennis Haysbert (Steven), Eva Kaminsky (Jill), Caludia Kim (Arra), Fran Kranz (Pimli), Abbey Lee (Tirana), Matthew McConaughey (Walter), Robbie McLean (Toby), Nicholas Pauling (Lon), Leeanda Reddy (Dr. Weizak), Tom Taylor (Jake), Matthew Thomson (Jonah), Lemogang Tshipa (Phedon), Robert Whitehead (Cantab), Kathryn Winnick (Laurie), Jose Zuniga (Dr. Hotchkiss)
Runtime: 95 mins
OUR THE DARK TOWER REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Whew… I feel like I have dodged a bullet. Reading reviews before I went into to see The Dark Tower meant I was preparing myself for an abysmal nightmare of a film – one that some critics had labeled the ‘worst film based on a Stephen King novel ever’. So imagine my surprise when I sat down and ended up finding myself watching a fun, intriguing, albeit brief, supernatural action film.
The Dark Tower sees a story that took King seven novels to tell told in a film that clocks in at just over an hour and a half. It begins with New York being rocked by earthquakes that have experts confused. Meanwhile, young Jake (Tom Taylor – Doctor Foster, Legends) is having terrible nightmares in which he sees a Dark Tower and dark characters including a Gunslinger and a man in dark jacket. Jake’s mother, Laurie (Kathryn Winnick – Vikings, Love & Other Drugs) is convinced that the dreams are the result of the trauma of Jake’s father dying while on duty as a firefighter and seeks medical advice for him.
However, soon the jigsaw pieces start falling into place for Jake. The earthquakes are being caused by the man in the black jacket… aka Walter (Matthew McConaughey – Interstellar, Dallas Buyers Club) using children’s minds in horrific experiments to try and bring down The Dark Tower – a tower that prevents the darkness of other worlds taking over our own dimension. The only man who can stop Walter is the last known gunslinger, Roland (Idris Elba – Prometheus, Zootopia) who is haunted by the fact that Walter has killed everybody that has ever meant anything to him.
Walter then realises that with Jake’s psychic ability he has the one mind that can bring down the Dark Tower so he orders all his minions to go after Jake who has found Roland… cue the music for the battle to end all battles.
When you put everything into perspective director Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair, Truth About Men)and his screenwriters have actually done a pretty good job at making The Dark Tower work. Putting seven novels worth of work into one relatively short feature film has taken a mountain or work. You could have been forgiven if this had been stretched out into a trilogy or at least a film that went well over the two-hour mark. But somehow Arcel and team have managed to tell the story without making it feel incomplete or leaving the audience not understanding the world that we find ourselves in. Somehow the fact that some of the beings that surround Walter aren’t fully explained means we get to see the story from the point of view of Jake a little more… and it least Arcel doesn’t fall into the trap of filling the film with scenes and scenes of exposition.
Visually The Dark Tower looks great. Darkened scenes of man versus monster are stark reminders of films like Harry Potter while the harshness of a lot of the scenery in most scenes brings back memories of films like Priest or The Book Of Eli. Even the CGI effects work pretty well, more than enough to draw the audience into the world at hand, and while some films suffer when they try to mix the supernatural with a modern day city there is no such issue here with the scenes of modern day New York flowing well with the rest of the film, and thankfully they steered away from a battle that involved the entire city falling from the sky or the like. Really the last battle in this film just needed to be between Jake, Roland and Walter and that was what delivered, now why couldn’t we have had something like that in Wonder Woman?
The films two leads also seem to be enhanced the short nature of the film. Matthew McConaughey seems to have a lot of fun playing Walter and whether it be a scene where he is torturing poor Kathryn Winnick or messing with the mind of Roland he seems to embrace the evilness of his character while remaining smooth and charming… much like Jack Nicholson did years earlier in The Witches of Eastwick. Idris Elba is also fantastic as the cowboy inspired gunslinger. He is perfectly cast in a role that demands his action/stunt ability but also at times needs him to step up in a dramatic, gut-wrenching scene. Likewise, he is well supported by young Tom Taylor whose emotional portrayal of Jake shows that he is an actor to watch in the future.
Don’t be fooled The Dark Tower is not the mess that everybody is saying that it is. With its dark storyline that doesn’t hold back to spare the audience’s emotions and great special effects, this is just one of those supernatural thrillers that you can sit back and enjoy while you munch on popcorn. The only weakness that really annoyed me was that I could have easily spent another half an hour in this universe, but still, this is an enjoyable film with a nice graphic novel feel to it.
Average Subculture Rating (out of 5):
Other Subculture Entertainment The Dark Tower Reviews: You can listen to Dave Griffiths’ The Dark Tower review that aired on That’s Entertainment in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane on The Talking Lifestyle network on 17/08/2017 right here.
Summary: Seven gun men in the old west gradually come together to help a poor village against savage thieves.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 29th September 2016
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Screenwriter: Nic Pizzolatto, Richard Wenk, Akira Kurosawa (original script), Shinobu Hashimoto (original script), Hideo Oguni (original script)
Cast: Alix Angelis (Clara Wintrhop), Mark Ashworth (Preacher), Walker Babington (Dicky), Jackson Beals (One Eyed Lucas), Emil Beheshti (Maxwell), Haley Bennett (Emma Cullen), Thomas Blake Jr. (Earl), Matt Bomer (Matthew Cullen), Sean Boyd (Topper), Sean Bridgers (Fanning), Vic Browder (Arcade Jones), Ryan Brown (Ken Pigeon), Vincent D’Onofrio (Jack Horne), Griff Furst (Phillips), Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (Vasquez), Cam Gigandet (McCann), Luke Grimes (Teddy Q), Ethan Hawke (Goodnight Robicheaux), Clint James (Fenton), Cedric D. Jones (Curtis), Vinnie Jones (uncredited), Jonathan Joss (Denali), David Kallaway (Turner/Blacksmith), Derek Lacasa (Len Pigion), Dylan Langlois (R.L. Garrett), Carrie Lazar (Leni Frankel), Byung-hun Lee (Billy Rocks), Heath Lemme (Heath), David Manzanares (Referee/Eddy), Rictchie Montgomery (Gavin David), Jody Mullins (Caleb Frankel), Matthew Posey (Hank Stoner), Chris Pratt (Josh Faraday), Dodge Prince (Anthony), Chad Randall (Bartender/Powder Dan), Dane Rhodes (Sheriff Harp), Peter Sarsgaard (Bartholomew Bogue), William Lee Scott (Moody), Martin Sensmeier (Red Harvest), Billy Slaughter (Josiah), Denzel Washington (Chisolm), Kevin Wayne (Monday Durant)
Runtime: 133 mins
OUR THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN REVIEWS & RATINGS:
One question always has to be asked when a remake of a film surfaces… why was the remake made? Was it because a director thought he had a more creative or ‘modern’ way to tell the original story? Was it because a team of filmmakers thought that current day technology could improve on what was made decades ago? Sadly, none of these questions seem to answer that question about the remake of the legendary western The Magnificent Seven (which itself was a remake of Seven Samurai).
Directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) this remake sees honest lawman Chisolm (Denzel Washington – American Gangster) recruited by innocent widow Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett – The Equalizer) whose husband was murdered when he stood up against corrupt gold mining company owner Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard – Green Lantern) who has taken a town hostage as he takes land via violent means.
When Chisolm is convinced to take on Bogue and his men in a bid to rescue the town he puts together a group that includes gambler Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt – Guardians Of The Galaxy), burnt out Civil War veteran Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke – Good Kill), tribe hunter Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio – Law & Order: Criminal Intent), knife expert Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee – Terminator Genisys), native warrior Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeir – Lilin’s Brood) and the wanted outlaw Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo – Cake).
There are of course positives and negatives to this remake. One of the positives is getting to see Denzel Washington play yet another strong leading man, and I would be lying if I said it’s not great to see a big budget Western back on the big screen, hopefully this is a start of a lot more.
Sadly though the negatives outweigh the positives. While the film holds up its entertainment value and looks visually good the disappointing thing is that this is modern remake doesn’t offer the audience anything different to what we have been watching in this genre for the last fifty years. There’s no new tactical ways for a battle to be fought out or even any new creative ways to shoot the movie by Fuqua and his team.
The other big disappointment is the screenplay. While the film does at times raise the suspense and tension it misses other key moments that really could have made this a better film. It is really believable that a native American warrior would fight on the same team as a tribe hunter without any form of hostility or tension? Likewise there needed to be a better explanation to why Chisholm joins the fight in the first place… the explanation comes way too late in the film. Don’t even get me started on the weak CGI graves at the end of the film either.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment though is how the screenplay lets down the cast. Denzel Washington gets a chance to star in this film… the rest don’t. Chris Pratt is obviously there for comic relief (a hat that certainly doesn’t fit his character) and ends up just playing the same character he did in Guardians Of The Galaxy. The rest of the cast seem to end up playing clichés though with Manuel Garcia-Rulfo completely wasted in his role. The only other upside with the acting is with Emily Bennett who does more than enough to suggest that she can be a leading lady in the future.
The Magnificent Seven may be enough to entertain a modern audience and provide the odd bit of suspense throughout. But for seasoned fans of the Western genre the film offers nothing new and will easily be seen as a fair bit weaker than the original.
John Sturges’ classic 1960 western The Magnificent Seven made stars out of Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and James Coburn (who all later appeared in Sturges’ epic WWII adventure The Great Escapein 1963). Sturges’ film was inspired by the Akira Kurosawa’s classic The Seven Samurai, regarded by some critics as the greatest action movie ever made. Kurosawa was inspired by the Hollywood westerns of the 50s, and, ironically, his film influenced many westerns that followed including the spaghetti westerns of the late great Sergio Leone. The 1960 film was a huge success and spawned a couple of sequels and even a short lived television series. And now we get this remake from director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Olympus Has Fallen, etc) who knows his western tropes and has in turn borrowed heavily from some the great directors of the genre, from John Ford through to Eastwood, Peckinpah and Leone.
It’s 1879. The small but peaceful farming town of Rose Creek is under threat from ruthless and greedy mining magnate Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard), a robber baron who is desperate to corner the market on all mining activities in the region. Anyone who opposes him is either viciously beaten or killed, and the megalomaniacal Bogue has assembled a veritable army of mercenaries and lawless types to enforce his will. But the newly widowed Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett, from The Equalizer, Hardcore Henry, etc) wants to stop Bogue. She approaches bounty hunter Sam Chisholm (Denzel Washington) and pleads with him to help. Chisholm agrees and sets off to round up an assortment of gunslingers to make a stand in what could well be a suicide mission. (Sounds familiar? It was a key plot device of films like The Dirty Dozen and the recent Suicide Squad.)
This time around the seven he assembles are a much more racially diverse bunch. Apart from Chisholm himself there is Faraday (Chris Pratt, from Guardians Of The Galaxy and Jurassic World), a wise cracking card sharp and gunslinger; the boozy Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), a sharp shooter who is still damaged by his experiences of fighting in the Civil War; his knife wielding offsider Billy Rocks (Korean action star Byung-hun Lee); the hulking John Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio, from Full Metal Jacket, etc), a renowned and feared Indian hunter; the Texican gunman Vasquez (Mexican actor Manuel Garcia-Rulfo); and the comanche warrior Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier), who has been cast out of his tribe. This motley crew have just seven days to train the frightened townsfolk in the skills necessary to fight back against Bogue and to defend their village.
The build up to the key siege of the town is a little slow. There are several scenes of the men sitting around in a saloon and drinking and talking, and these scenes slowly tease out character details and backstories, and show the slow camaraderie that develops between them before all hell breaks loose. There is fair amount of humour here to leaven the violence.
Unlike many recent remakes that have tarnished the memories of the original film (think Ben Hur, etc), this new take on the classic The Magnificent Seven is quite good. It exploits the tropes of a traditional western in its formula. Many of the classic westerns of yesteryear explored the myth of one good man standing up to evil on the wild frontier and dispensing justice. But writers Richard Wenk (The Equalizer, etc) and Nic Pizzolatto (True Detective, etc) also effectively use the formula to explore some more contemporary themes of corporate greed, courage, loyalty, heroism, sacrifice, and even a hint of feminism that will resonate strongly with modern audiences.
As he showed with Olympus Has Fallen, Fuqua knows how to stage some exciting and spectacularly visceral action sequences. There is an early gunfight in the dusty streets of Rose Creek that is tense and well-staged, and it sets the scene for the climactic attack on the town. This rousing 30 minutes action sequence is the highlight here, a gritty and violent and superbly choreographed set piece full of gun play, carnage and pyrotechnics that doesn’t disappoint. In the original, the villainous Calveros brought just thirty bandits to attack the village; here Bogue brings a veritable army of a hundred men, plus a deadly Gatling gun, to the fray. This version of The Magnificent Seven has the highest body count of any western since The Wild Bunch.
The film looks good thanks to the widescreen cinematography of Fuqua’s regular cinematographer Mauro Fiore that captures the harsh beauty of the epic landscapes. The film also features the last soundtrack composed by the late James Horner, and the music also pays homage to Elmer Bernstein’s memorable theme music for the 1960 original.
Performances are a bit of a mixed bag. This is Washington’s third collaboration with Fuqua (following his Oscar winning turn while cast against type in Training Day and The Equalizer) and the director seems to be able to tap into the meaner side of an actor known for playing essentially decent characters with strong moral fibre. Pratt brings a jocular and easy going charisma to his role and he provides most of the comic relief. Sarsgaard comes across as the cliched bad guy with no redeeming features whatsoever, and he does all but twirl his moustache with a cliched performance as Bogue, who is filled with contempt for the poor struggling and hardworking farmers. Hawke brings some pathos and nuances to his performance as the former soldier wrestling with a form of psychological disorder following his experiences, and he is the most complex character here. Bennett’s performance as the feisty Emma reminded me a little of Hailee Steinfeld in the recent remake of True Grit.
As a genre, the western has been dead for many years despite some attempts to bring it back to life on the big screen with films like Tarantino’s superb and violent Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight, and the visually stunning The Revenant, etc. This reimagining of the classic The Magnificent Seven is a solid western, full of action, gunplay, and featuring a strong ensemble cast that should appeal to audiences.
Cast: John Aylward (Pastor Wilson), Preston Bailey (Young Albert), Johnny Bautista (Carl), Alex Borstein (Millie), Amick Byram (Marcus Thornton), Ardy Brent Carlson (Cowboy Ardy), Jean Effron (Elsie Stark), Jamie Foxx (Django), Ralph Garman (Dan), Gilbert Gottfried (Abraham Lincoln), Christopher Hagen (George Stark), Neil Patrick Harris (Foy), Evan Jones (Lewis), Rex Linn (Sheriff/Narrator), Christopher Lloyd (Doc Brown), Seth MacFarlane (Albert), Ewan McGregor (Cowboy At Fair), Aaron McPherson (Ben), Liam Neeson (Clinch), Jay Patterson (Doctor Harper), Ryan Reynolds (Man Killed By Clinch In Bar), Giovanni Ribisi (Edward), Brett Rickaby (Charlie Blanche), Mike A. Salazar (6-Year-Old-Albert), Amanda Seyfried (Louise), Sarah Silverman (Ruth), Patrick Stewart (Dream Voice), Wes Studi (Cochise), Charlize Theron (Anna), Debbie Waters (Mother Of James Addison)
Runtime: 116 mins
OUR A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Television fans worldwide had always known that Seth MacFarlane was a comedy genius. His show-pony, the hilarious Family Guy had revealed a dark sense of humor that wasn’t always politically correct but was always worth a laugh or two. Then came Ted, a film that centered around a foul-mouthed, alcoholic, drug abusing bear, a film that also proved that Mr MacFarlane’s comedic talents could also transfer to the big screen.
Now comes MacFarlane’s real test, that difficult second film… very often the film that will make or break a filmmaker. Just to raise the bar even higher MacFarlane has decided the tough task of making a comedy western, a genre that works well in the shape of Blazing Saddles but has also delivered some severe duds along the way. Besides that he has also decided to star, direct, write and produce the whole shebang. The good news for his fans though is he delivers the goods.
MacFarlane (Movie 43, Ted) plays Albert, a kind-hearted sheep farmer who is a bit of a loser when it comes to life. He spends most of his time concerned at the million or so ways that the old west can kill you while also seemingly fail at being a sheep farmer considering his sheep are normally found wondering all around the town he calls home.
To add to his loser status he suddenly finds himself dumped by his girlfriend, Louise (Amanda Seyfried – Epic, The Big Wedding) who decides that she is better suited the much more successful and moustached Foy (Neil Patrick Harris – Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2, The Smurfs 2). Worse still is the fact that Foy has challenged Albert to a gun duel and despite his surroundings he has never fired a gun before in his life.
Enter Anna (Charlize Theron – Prometheus, Snow White And The Huntsman) the attractive gun-slinger who rides into town and takes an interest liking to Albert. She is more than happy to train him for the gun fight and along the way they learn that they also share the same interests… and sense of the humor. The one thing that she fails to tell him though is that she is married to, Clinch (Liam Neeson – The Lego Movie, Non-Stop), a tough, violent outlaw who is not impressed when he finds about Anna and Albert.
While A Million Ways To Die In The West does ultimately work it is on occasions hit and miss… although the hits do outweigh the misses. The typical MacFarlane humour is there that his fans have come to know and love, the cheap shots at everyday life and the occasional black humour moment that makes you laugh despite the fact that you feel it is not a topic that you should be laughing at. To his credit this type of humour works throughout the film but at times it also feels that MacFarlane works too hard to get his comedic point across. For example do we really need to see Foy kick over a hat full of diarrhoea to get the joke, or do we need a close-up of a sheep penis to find the fact the sheep relieves itself on Albert hilarious?
Then there are the parts of the film that work amazingly well. Albert is set up as a character that you are going to like and while some of the characters, such as Clinch, could be described as clichés there are interesting peripheral characters such as Edward (Giovanni Ribisi – Gangster Squad, Ted) and Ruth (Sarah Silverman – Gravy, TV’S Louie), a Christian couple that don’t have sex before marriage despite the fact that she works as a prostitute. It’s these kinds of side stories that certainly keeps the audience focussed on the film and laughing throughout.
When it comes to the acting side of A Million Ways To Die In The West a few of the cast get really smooth runs. Liam Neeson plays Clinch well but it feels like he is in cruise control while at times it almost feels like Charlize Theron is playing herself. Sarah Silverman, Giovanni Ribisi and Neil Patrick Harris all nail their comedic timing, while MacFarlane has shown that he is a good actor when he steps in front of the camera. Hopefully we see him do more of that in the future and not just concentrate on voice work.
A Million Ways To Die In The West is not the kind of comedy that will appeal to everybody, some of the jokes may go into some people’s ‘too crass’ pile, but for others this is going to be the kind of film that you will get laughs at throughout. Maybe not as good as Blazing Saddles but still a worthwhile comedy with a good romantic subplot.
Summary: Outlaw couple Bob Muldoon (Casey Affleck) and Ruth Guthrie (Rooney Mara) find their crime spree at an abrupt end when they surrender after wounding a cop (Ben Foster) in a shootout. Four years later Bob escapes from prison in search of Ruth and their daughter, Sylvie, born after their arrest. Along the way, his past starts to catch up with him. Set in Texas in the early 1970s and opening at the place where most outlaw films end, Ain’t Them Bodies Saint is a lyrical and moody film about longing and absence
Australian Cinema Release Date: 19th March, 2014
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: David Lowery
Screenwriter: David Lowery
Cast: Casey Affleck (Bob Muldoon), Kentucker Audley (Freddy), Charles Baker (Bear), Will Beinbrink (Lt. Townes), Keith Carrdine (Skerritt), Steve Corder (Lt. Boone), Steve Corner (Lt. Brule), Ben Foster (Patrick Wheeler), Augustine Frizzell (Sissy), Annalee Jeffries (Mary), Rami Malek (Will), Rooney Mara (Ruth Guthrie), Frank Mosley (Lt. Carson), Nate Parker (Sweetie), Turner Ross (T.C.), Jacklynn Smith (Sylvie Guthrie), Kennadie Smith (Sylvie Guthrie), Eric Steele (Miles), Artist Thornton (Altman), Gwen Waymon (Margaret), David Zellner (Zellner)
It seems a lot of reviews for “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” have been likening the film to the work of director Terrence Malick. That in a sense is a slap-in-the-face for “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” as Malick’s recent efforts, “To The Wonder” and “The Tree Of Life” have been boring affairs that have the potential to lapse their audiences into a coma. “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” may at times be a slow watch but its screenplay and acting certainly lifts it higher than anything Malick has been doing recently. In fact “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” could well be one of the better films this year.
Written and directed by David Lowery (“St. Nick,” “Deadroom”) “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” is set in Texas around 1970 and begins with lovers Ruth Guthrie (Rooney Mara – “Her,” “Side Effects”) and Bob Muldoon (Casey Affleck – “Out Of The Furnace,” “ParaNorman”) involved in a robbery and subsequent pursuit with police. After becoming holed up in an old farmhouse during the resulting shootout the pregnant Ruth shoots and wounds local police officer Patrick Wheeler (Ben Foster – “Lone Survivor,” “Kill Your Darlings”).
After he takes the blame for the shooting Bob is jailed for life. While in prison he writes to Ruth and their daughter every day and he annually tries to break-out of prison. On one attempt he succeeds and soon he is making his way across America to Ruth. While friends such as Sweetie (Nate Parker – “Red Hook Summer,” “Arbitrage”) are quick to help him he also has enemies wanting him dead and Police Officers desperate to catch him. Then of course there is the fact that Ruth is now fairly close to Patrick.
The work that Lowery delivers with “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” is impressive. As a director he has mostly worked on short films so for him to produce a film of the caliber of this is a complete surprise. The film looks brilliant. Yes, Lowery has learnt so much of Malick’s filmmaking techniques on how to make a film look good, but he also has the knack for creating a good script which certainly helps it out there.
At times the film is slow, but that doesn’t mean that it drags. Lowery doesn’t muck around with spelling everything out for the audience nor does he waste a lot of time on back story, he just puts on screen what people need to know. The script will see audience members react in different ways – some will feel sorry for Bob, others will find themselves wanting to see Patrick and Ruth together. Whichever journey you decide to take though will be a pleasurable one as Lowery has created a gem of a film.
Lowery also takes some chances with the casting. Rooney Mara hasn’t always been as impressive as she was in “The Social Network.” She was well and truly below par in “Side Effects” while the studio set her up for a fall in the remake of “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” but her Mara silences her critics and shows that she certainly is a star on the rise. Her performance here is similar to the one that Michelle Williams so brilliantly delivered in “Wendy And Lucy.”
The other casting chances are with Ben Foster and Casey Affleck. Neither are really the kind of actor that you immediately think of being able to play the romantic lead but both step up well. Foster is extremely likable as Patrick Wheeler and it’s not hard to see why audience members will warm to him. Meanwhile Casey Affleck captures the same acting magic he did with his work on “The Killer Inside” and delivers another powerful performance.
“Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” is a brilliant piece of American cinema that really announces David Lowery as a director to watch. It looks stunning visually and has enough suspense to keep its audience interested throughout.
Summary: Set in the South two years before the Civil War, Django Unchained stars Academy Award®-winner Jamie Foxx as Django, a slave whose brutal history with his former owners lands him face-to-face with German-born bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Academy Award®-winner Christoph Waltz). Schultz is on the trail of the murderous Brittle brothers, and only Django can lead him to his bounty. The unorthodox Schultz acquires Django with a promise to free him upon the capture of the Brittles – dead or alive.
Success leads Schultz to free Django, though the two men choose not to go their separate ways. Instead, Schultz seeks out the South’s most wanted criminals with Django by his side. Honing vital hunting skills, Django remains focused on one goal: finding and rescuing Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), the wife he lost to the slave trade long ago.
Django and Schultz’s search ultimately leads them to Calvin Candie (Academy Award®-nominee Leonardo DiCaprio), the proprietor of “Candyland,” an infamous plantation. Exploring the compound under false pretenses, Django and Schultz arouse the suspicion of Stephen (Academy Award®-nominee Samuel L. Jackson), Candie’s trusted house slave. Their moves are marked, and a treacherous organization closes in on them. If Django and Schultz are to escape with Broomhilda, they must choose between independence and solidarity, between sacrifice and survival.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 24th January, 2013
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Screenwriter: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Todd Allen (Dollar Bill), Michael Bacall (Smitty Bacall), Ned Bellamy (Rice), Christopher Berry (Willard), Edwick Browne (Joshua), Kesha Bullard (Crazy Sadie), Jarrod Bunch (Banjo), Laura Cayouette (Lara Lee Candie-Fitzwilly), Amari Cheatom (Roy), Dennis Christopher (Leonide Moguy), David Coennen (Mr Wigglesworth), Kim Collins (Randy), John Michael Corbin (Samson), Bruce Dern (Old Man Carrucan), Leonardo DiCaprio (Calvin Candie), Omar J. Dorsey (Chicken Charlie), Jamal Duff (Tatum), Doc Duhame (Ellis Brittle), Ato Essandoh (D’Artagnan), Jamie Foxx (Django), M.C. Gainey (Big John Brittle), Nichole Galicia (Sheba), Miriam F. Glover (Betina), Walton Goggins (Billy Crash), Dana Michelle Gourrier (Cora), Gary Grubbs (Bob Gibbs), Jonah Hill (Bag Head #2), Lee Horsley (Sheriff Gus), Cooper Huckabee (Lil Raj Brittle), Samuel L. Jackson (Stephen), John Jarratt (The LeQuint Dickey Mining Co. Employee), Don Johnson (Big Daddy), Kinetic (Franklin), Rex Linn (Tennessee Harry), Escalante Lundy (Big Fred), Richie Montgomery (Overseer Johnny Jerome), Franco Nero (Amerigo Vessepi), Johnny Otto (Dr. Brown), Michael Parks (The LeQuint Dickey Mining Co. Employee), Sharon Pierre-Louis (Little Jody), James Remar (Butch Pooch/Ace Speck), Dane Rhodes (Tennesse Redfish), Kim Robillard (Saloon Keeper Pete), Sammi Rotibi (Rodney), James Russo (Dicky Speck), Lewis Smith (Jinglebells Cody), David Steen (Mr. Stonesipher), Craig Stark (Tommy Gilles/Pedestrian), Don Stroud (Sheriff Bill Sharp), Quentin Tarantino (The LeQuint Dickey Mining Co. Employee), LaTeace Towns-Cuellar (Cleo), Mark Ulano (Gabby The Banker), Misty Upham (Minnie), Christoph Waltz (Dr. King Schultz), Kerry Washington (Broomhilda), Danielle Watts (Coco), Tom Wopat (U.S. Marshall Gill Tatum)
Runtime: 165 mins
Dave Griffiths’s ‘Django Unchained’ Review:
Remember the Western genre? The genre of film that your Dad used to pull out and make you watch when you were a kid. A genre full of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood in his early days? Well now Quentin Tarantino has taken the whole genre and turned it on its head with ‘Django Unchained’ a sensational film that already puts its hand up for film of the year.
The film opens with Django (Jamie Foxx – Horrible Bosses, Rio) being forced to walk across a freezing landscape as part of a slave chain gang. But then he is rescued by a dentist-come-bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz – Carnage, The Three Musketeers) who wants Django to help him track down two cruel slave owners that have a bounty on their head.
Schultz offers Django a deal, if he will help point out the two wanted men he will teach him to shoot, will give him a freedom and will also help to hunt down his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington – A Thousand Words, TV’S Scandal). With the first part of the deal done Django and Schultz learn that Broomhilda is now owned by the cruel and nasty Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio – J. Edgar, Inception) is supported by his workers including his loyal man-servant Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson – Zambezia, The Avengers) and the rough-and-ready Billy Crash (Walton Goggins – Officer Down, Lincoln).
Tarantino’s script is brilliant from start to finish. The dialogue flows so well that even dialogue scenes seem to just flow by quickly while the tension that Tarantino manages to develop throughout the film draws the audience right in. The fact that he has created ‘good guys’ that the audience can’t help but like only enhances that tension when they find themselves in danger.
‘Django Unchained’ does has your typical Tarantino style which means it is extremely violent, so violent in fact that the shootout at Calvin Candie’s mansion must have ‘bled’ dry the fake blood supply in holiday. And while some have criticized the amount of violence and the use of the magic ‘n’ word in the film it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to work out that those are two of the things that make the film’s natural feel so realistic.
Of course like many of Tarantino’s films the wonder director once again brings the best out in his cast. Christoph Waltz pulls out a remarkably display of character acting while Leonardo DiCaprio seems to morph into Jack Nicholson as he relishes the chance to play the vile Calvin Candie. And if you’ve never been a fan of Jamie Foxx then this is the film that will win you over.
‘Django Unchained’ is Quentin Tarantino at his absolute best… yes folks it’s even better than ‘Pulp Fiction’.
Summary: The year is 1845 and a wagon team of three families is setting off across the sparse terrain of the Oregon desert, in northwest USA. They are guided by mountain man Stephen Meek, who claims to know a short cut, but when they become lost in the dry rock and sage, their faith in their guide, and in each other, weakens. After days of wandering, suffering the hardships of the inhospitable landscape and unable to find water, a Native American wanderer crosses their path. The pioneers are torn between trusting their guide or a man who has always been seen as the enemy.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 5th June, 2011
Australian DVD Release Date: 5th October, 2011
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Screenwriter: Jonathan Raymond
Cast: Paul Dano (Thomas Gately), Bruce Greenwood (Stephen Meek), Shirley Henderson (Glory White), Neal Huff (William White), Zoe Kazan (Millie Gately), Tommy Nelson (Jimmy White), Will Patton (Soloman Tetherow), Rod Rondeaux (The Indian), Michelle Williams (Emily Tetherow)
Runtime: 104 mins
OUR REVIEWS/RATINGS OF ‘MEEK’S CUTOFF’:
Kelly Reichardt seems to have done something over the years that has upset those responsible for making sure she wins an Oscar because while it was disappointing that Wendy & Lucy didn’t get nominated it is an absolute crime that Meek’s Cutoff wasn’t. While this isn’t a film for the popcorn set it is a film that will be lapped up by real film lovers. It is a film that will actually make you think… now you can’t say that about much modern cinema, can you?
Meek’s Cutoff follows a group of settlers as they make their way across the harsh Oregon landscape in 1845. The group which is made up of Soloman Tetherow (Will Patton), his wife, Emily (Michelle Williams) as well as the Gately Family and the White Family is being led by Stephen Meek (Bruce Greenwood) who is supposed to be a great tracker, but seems to have got the group lost. As the continue to wander aimlessly through the un-inhabitated land the realisation that they could die of starvation or thirst becomes reality, while Meek continues to warn them that the only thing they have to fear is the savage Indian tribes that are ‘watching them’. The racist Meek then takes an Indian (Rod Rondeaux) captive which divides the group.
Those familiar with Reichardt’s style will know that she likes to use minimal dialogue in her films. She once again uses this in Meek’s Cutoff and it enhances the film a million times over. It truly gives the audience a real feel of the loneliness that the characters are going through, and while some audience members will be annoyed by her ‘slow-moving’ style scenes such as the opening scene can really only be described as pieces of cinematic brilliance that true film lovers will fall in love with instantly. It is work like this that show just how good of a director Kelly Reichardt really is.
Meek’s Cutoff is penned by Jonathan Raymond (the same screenwriter who wrote Reichardt’s brilliant Wendy And Lucy) and this is one combination that seems to be a marriage in heaven. Raymond’s fine script only enhances Reichardt’s film-making style even more and if it is true that Raymond used the politics of George Bush vs. Barack Obama as a basis for the storyline of this script then he really is a screenwriting genius… and if he didn’t well he should just shut-up and let people think that he did.
This film also once again reminds the world just good Michelle Williams is as an actress. Once again she puts in a faultless performance and it seems that since her Dawson’s Creek days she has continued to grow as an actress and never once put in a bad performance. Those critical of her acting should see her ‘stand-offs’ with Bruce Greenwood in Meek’s Cutoff because they are truly sensational.
Meek’s Cutoff shows that are still some creative films that can surface from the U.S. and only proves the fact that Kelly Reichardt is one of the most important filmmakers of our generation.
Other Subculture Media Reviews of ‘Meek’s Cutoff′: This review of ‘Meek’s Cutoff’ by David Griffiths originally appeared in Buzz Magazine.
If you’re a fan of director, Kelly Reichardt (Wendy & Lucy, Old Joy) then you are sure to love her new offering Meek’s Cutoff. But like her past work it is hard to see Meek’s Cutoff being lapped up by the popcorn set, instead this is a movie for the film-connoisseur, and one that will be well-loved by those who consider themselves at Reichardt fan.
Meek’s Cutoff is set in Oregon in 1845 as a group of settlers make their away across the country in order to stake a ‘claim’. The group which is made up of Soloman Tetherow (Will Patton – Knucklehead, Waking Madison), his wife, Emily (Michelle Williams – Shutter Island, Blue Valentine) as well as the Gately Family and the White Family is being led by Stephen Meek (Bruce Greenwood – Super 8, TV’S Young Justice) who is supposed to be a great tracker, but seems to have got the group lost. The racist Meek then takes an Indian (Rod Rondeaux – TV’S Comanche Moon & Into The West) captive which divides the group.
Reichardt once again uses her familiar style of ‘very little dialogue but brilliant cinematography’ to get the very important message held in Meek’s Cutoff across to her audience, and this is one film that is really enhanced by her ‘slow-moving’ style. The opening scenes of a wagon crossing a river a brilliant, and only goes to show just how good Reichardt is as a director.
Reichardt’s skills are only enhanced by a terrific script by Jonathan Raymond (Wendy & Lucy, TV’S Mildred Pierce). If the rumours that Raymond uses a metaphor of George Bush vs. Barack Obama are true then he is a screenwriting genius… if they aren’t true then he can simply rest on the laurels of the fact that he has created an amazing film that once again gives actress, Michelle Williams a chance to show off her brilliant skills. Any of the scenes that she does here with Bruce Greenwood are truly sensational.
Meek’s Cutoff shows that are still some creative films that can surface from the U.S. and only proves the fact that Kelly Reichardt is one of the most important filmmakers of our generation.