What movie was that...?

30 September 2009

Unforgiven

directed by Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood said he had to wait several years before he was ready to make Unforgiven, and I say it was worth the wait. Ex-outlaw Bill Munny (Eastwood) has cleaned up his life and quenched himself of his villainous ways, but when a young gunfighter offers him a share of a bounty in Big Whiskey, Will takes the offer. Teaming up with another former outlaw, Ned (Morgan Freeman), they head out for one last kill. Eastwood and Freeman play their roles to perfection, and Gene Hackman is absolutely superb as the brutal and frightening lawman determined to make Big Whiskey a nice place to live, no matter what the cost. This movie is beautiful from the first frame, and when it erupts into its terrifying, chilling climax, you are left with a feeling that lingers well after the movie is over. A classic of the genre, if you can only see one Clint Eastwood western, it should be this one.

29 September 2009

Bronson (Trailer)

film directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

Watch the trailer first on Trailer Addict:


Though I'm going on record as stating that Nicolas Winding Refn's new Molotov cocktail of a film will be one of the cinematic high points of 2009, this review will only concern itself with the exquisitely crafted trailer for Refn's new film, Bronson, starring an incendiary Tom Hardy. The film trailer, like the commercial, is an art unto itself. Emotion, plot, and intrigue must be distilled into a compact, concise and (in this case) gut-punchingly visceral fragment of the whole. In the case of Bronson, the film seems so explosively charged, so magnificently unstable that the trailer was ejected like a kind of filmic shrapnel, and trust me, when you watch the trailer, you'll feel the sting. Tom Hardy plays Charlie Bronson, aka Michael Peterson, a disturbed man determined to make a name for himself by becoming Britain's most infamous criminal. Think Andrew Dominik's Chopper, but with a grandiose, sureally operatic pulse. Utilizing amazing title art, after effects, music and cinematography, this gem of a trailer seems to simultaneously be at odds with itself and to coalesce perfectly, creating a scathing, broken mirror portrait of a man unnervingly unabashed in his determination to will his vision into existence. In Hardy, Refn finds a virtuoso, a napalm-blooded embodiment of the persona birthed behind prison bars. Usually, film trailers serve a strictly utilitarian purpose, but some, like Bronson and the trailer for the upcoming film Van Diemen's Land, are award worthy (if such a thing existed). If such a thing did exist, Bronson would have my vote.
If you're thirsty for more, watch the alternate trailer also on Trailer Addict:

23 September 2009

America (A Levi's Commercial)

directed by Cary Fukunaga

Cary Fukunaga, the talent behind the visually gorgeous film Sin Nombre, has outdone himself with what I would call the best piece of American propaganda ever produced! Lush, deep black and white imagery overlaid with rough, confident subtitle art that rivals those of Fukunaga’s Sin Nombre preview, subtitles that punctuate an audio recording of what is believed to be Walt Whitman himself reciting his poem, America. Do I need to say more? Listening to Whitman’s rugged song of a voice recite his own words against a background of Americana that could only be described as surreally concrete is an experience that, frankly, I wasn’t prepared to have by watching evening television. Like the Andrew Douglas meditation on the South, Searching for the Wrong Eyed Jesus, Fukunaga distills a feeling from the elements at hand, and somehow, miraculously, bottles 250 Fourth of Julys into a 30 second television spot! The art of the good commercial is all but lost, dying a quiet death alongside the inspired music video. What will become of our future geniuses, our Spike Jonzes and Tarsem Singhs, our David Finchers? The inevitable is coming, but until then, thank you Levi’s, thank you for filling my heart with Fukunaga’s vision.

To the rest of you: Find it. Hunt it down. Watch it. It may be the last of its kind.
In case you need help, here is the commercial posted on YouTube:

Peter and the Wolf

directed by Suzie Templeton

Ok, fine. Sue me. I love stop motion animation! The cat’s out of the bag! It would be a stop motion cat, of course, and if its emergence from said bag were to be directed by Suzie Templeton, then it just might be as brilliantly dazzling and hauntingly beautiful as her short film, Peter and the Wolf. Weighing in at 30 minutes (30 wordless, wonderful minutes), the film centers on a young outcast named Peter and an encounter with a wolf intent on attacking a few of his farm friends. Using Sergei Prokofiev’s rich music as inspiration, Templeton’s vision unfolds like a piece of pure cinematic pleasure. Note the low angle shot of the tree outside of Peter’s yard. Any of you who took me up on my Hedgehog in the Fog recommendation (Yuri Norstein’s stop motion masterpiece) will see what I mean. Awesome. Simply awesome.

18 September 2009

Sorry for the delay, I was returning some videotapes.

Army of Darkness

directed by Sam Raimi

Well, if I am going to review Sam Raimi’s twin masterpieces, The Evil Dead and The Evil Dead II, I definitely need to include the nutso awesomefest that is the third film in this epic trilogy. Raimi comes out swinging in the ridiculously entertaining (not to mention ridiculously ridiculous) Army of Darkness, where Ash (Bruce Campbell, the chinniest actors this side of Kirk Douglas) is no longer the nice enough but goofy looking hero just trying to get out alive. This time around, Ash is a badass, boned-headed, shit-talking, deadite-stomping rock star who gets sucked in a time vortex and ends up in King Arthur’s court. Really, King Arthur’s court, you say? Yes, I say, yes! Ash bumbles and stumbles his way into an all out war with the newly resurrected (Ash’s bad, woops) Deadite army commanded by a totally pissed off evil dead general (also played with a crazed hilarity by the genius Bruce Campbell). If you thought the Evil Dead films were less than meticulous, then brace yourself for the reckless ununiformity of Raimi final piece of the puzzle. It’s as if the motto for this film was, “Continuity? We don’t need no stinking continuity!” I couldn’t agree more. When you’re having this much fun at the movies, talking points like Ash’s inexplicably bizarre hair length variations, and set decoration that only concerns itself with the most rudimentary sense of consistency only work to enhance the watchability of the film. A pre-ghost Scrooge would scorn Raimi’s inattention to detail, but a post-ghost Scrooge would be howling and loving it just like the rest. In the quest for the cult film throne, there can be only one. Hail to the King, baby.