Monday, March 16, 2015

Western Films For 2015

Western Films For 2015


I am always up for an around the camp fire good western film whether it’s new or a remake (i.e. R. Crowe – C. Bale "3:10 to Yuma"). See listed below those Western films that are mostly to be released in 2015 with one only still in production to come to a theater very soon in 2016.

1. "Jane's Got a Gun" - Have been looking forward to Natalie Portman's Western since it was originally scheduled for release 2013. No trailer yet for "Jane GG" and also, unfortunately, they have had been multiple rescheduling of its release which (most often) means something is wrong with the film i.e. more reshooting or re-editing or late casting. 

PLOT: Jane Hammond (Natalie Portman) has built a new life with her husband Bill "Ham" Hammond (Noah Emmerich) after being tormented by the Bishop Boys gang. She finds herself in the gang’s cross-hairs once again when Ham stumbles home riddled with bullets after dueling with the Boys and their relentless leader, Colin (Ewan McGregor). With the vengeful crew hot on Ham's trail, Jane has nowhere to turn but to her former fiancé Dan Frost (Joel Edgerton) for help in defending her family against certain death. Haunted by old memories, Jane’s past meets the present in a heart-stopping battle for survival

2. "The Salvation" is already out in Europe and to be released soon (Date TBD in USA) is starring the excellent Danish Actor Mads Mikkelsen.  He is always excellent and does a good job at selecting unique small slice of life projects (The Hunt") of which in this Western effort is a true story.

PLOT: The Salvation takes place in the 1870s America. When settler John kills his family murderer, he unleashes the fury of notorious gang leader Delarue. Betrayed by his corrupt and cowardly community, the peaceful pioneer must turn vengeful hunter, slay the outlaws, and cleanse the towns black heart. The Salvation is an epic tale of revenge, lost love and greed.

3. "The Magnificent Seven" has rounded out some of its cast. Sources say the Oscar-nominated Ethan Hawke is in serious final negotiations to join Denzel Washington again in MGM’s “The Magnificent Seven" remake with now slated Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) to be behind the  camera, along with HBO's True Detective" creator Nic Pizzolatto and John Lee Hancock (films "The Alamo" and "The Blind Side") co-writing the script. Also Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy & Zero Dark Thirty), and Actress Haley Bennett are also on board to star. With Director Fuqua blood will be shed.

PLOT: if you saw the original with Yul Brenner and Steve McQueen from the 1960’s then you basically already know.

4. Quentin Tarentino's "The Hateful Eight" is on schedule to be released this year around November 13, 2015. 

PLOT: After the Civil War in Wyoming eight westerners who seek refuge in a stagecoach stopover on a mountain pass during a blizzard realize cooped up in one room they may not survive the wintery night. The casts include:

Samuel L. Jackson as Major Marquis Warren aka "The Bounty Hunter"  
Kurt Russell as John Ruth aka "The Hangman"
Jennifer Jason Leigh as Daisy Domergue aka "The Prisoner"
Walton Goggins as Chris Mannix aka "The Sheriff"
Demián Bichir as Bob aka "The Mexican"
Tim Roth as Oswaldo Mobray aka "The Little Man"
Michael Madsen as Joe Gage aka "The Cow Puncher"
Bruce Dern as Gen. Sanford Smithers aka "The Confederate"

5. "The Revenant" with Leo DiCaprio and British Actor Tom Hardy (Hardy soon to be seen in the Mad Max reboot this summer).

PLOT: A western of sorts taking place in the 19th century, here Hugh Glass (DiCaprio), a fur trapper is brutally mauled by a bear while hunting. His companions (Hardy and friends) rob him and leave him to die, but he manages to survive and sets out to exact some hellish brutal revenge on the 3 men who betrayed him. This is also scheduled to be released December 25, 2015 (shooting for Oscar consideration). Directed by recent Academy Award Winner Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman).

6. "Slow West" is an upcoming American-British action thriller western film directed and written by John Maclean. The story follows a 16-year-old boy on a journey across 19th Century western frontier America in search of the woman he loves, while accompanied by mysterious traveler Silas (Michael Fassbender).

7. “Bone Tomahawk” is a story about four men set out in the Wild West to rescue a group of captives from cannibalistic cave dwellers. Stars: Lili Simmons, Geno Segers, Sean Young.

8. “Diablo” is a story of a young civil war veteran intent on building a normal life while fighting the ravages of PTSD is forced on a desperate journey to save his kidnapped wife before she disappears forever. Stars: Scott Eastwood, Walton Goggins, Camilla Belle.

9. “Forsaken” is a story about a man who after abandoning his gun and reputation as a quick-draw killer, John Henry returns to his hometown in hopes of repairing his relationship with his estranged father. Stars: Demi Moore, Kiefer Sutherland, Donald Sutherland.

10. “The Timber” is a story in the Wild West where two brothers embark on a journey to collect a bounty in a desperate attempt to save their home: but what they find along the way is more than they bargained for. Stars: James Ransone, Elisa Lasowski, Mark Caven.

11. “The Unbroken” is the story that is set in the Arizona territory in 1863, a loner goes up against a gang of outlaws led by his father in order to save his mail-order bride. Stars: Jeremy Sumpter, Booboo Stewart. 

12. “Western Religion” is a story set in the year is 1879. Gunfighters from the far reaches of the globe descend on the mining town of Religion, Arizona to compete in a legendary poker tournament. Stars: Peter Shinkoda, Miles Szanto, Jonathan Erickson Eisley.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

71 – Review

71 – Review

“71” is a fictional story that takes place in 1971 in both the UK and Ireland with the arc of the film’s story covering a single 18 hour period mostly at night. We also see early in the film the principal figure; a young British soldier named Private Gary Hook played by actor Jack O'Connell who was last seen in the film “Unbroken” and the real life Lou Zamperini.

Initially, we see Gary (somewhat gleefully) going through the rigors of his basic training somewhere in the UK countryside. While a bit shy, Gary is committed to his unit as well to being a devoted father to his 12 year old son who is being taken care by others until he completes his training. His obvious hope is to make the Army his career so as to provide a better life for both him and his soon, which seems especially all the more promising after he gets the general understanding from his commanding officer that upon completion of training he will probably get a relatively easy safe assignment somewhere in Germany or Europe.

But shortly after his training is completed, senior officers tell him and his unit that they will be assigned temporarily to British occupied Northern Ireland to suppress a recent outbreak of riots in the occupied area of Belfast, just long enough to arrest some individuals who are responsible for the violence.

When his Army unit arrives, rioting and chaos start almost immediately on the Belfast streets where they are to make their arrest. During the rock throwing chaos Gary is given orders to chase a particular trouble maker that results in Gary being accidentally separated and ultimately abandoned by his unit. Lost, alone and being hunted, Gary is unable to tell Protestant friend from Catholic foe and increasingly wary of everyone he inadvertently meets as he tries to find his way back to safety.

The Pros: Directed by first time director Yann Demange, the film runs about 1:40 minutes with every moment seemingly had me sitting on pins and needles as I watched Gary literally fight for his life.  While the film clearly has a position - a point of view who is just and right and those who are unjust and wrong (to a degree), it never takes sides so demonstratively to totally not understand respectfully the merits of both sides and their hard fought positions. It also never gets buried down in the needless weeds of ever discussing the specific historical origins and politics of this domestic violent strife.  It stays purposely focused on telling a truly convincing story of raw heavy emotions of real DNA hatred and real DNA revenge without ever being cluttered with unimportant personal backgrounds.

Watching this film I found myself having goose bumps of real tension and real anxiety of what it must be like to being placed in such a perilous situation where the slightest wrong move could result in a quick execution.

“71” is a truly potent, emotional and highly effective film both as a humanistic thriller and as a military thriller, blending very creatively feelings of real drama in the living moment. It also at the same created very convincingly an almost dreamlike sense of confusion as it parallels the feelings of horror; the horror feeling of having something or someone out there purely evil lurking about just to kill you.

The Cons: With the few rare occasions where the dialog involved a heavy Irish brogue accent that left me wondering what someone said on  a few occasions, 71 is executed fabulously in acting, directing, imagination and writing.  

Conclusion: The film is only being released in a limited number of theaters which probably means it is not playing in your community. But when it comes to On Demand I implore you to sit down to see it. For me it is the best film I have seen thus far for 2015 as it is masterful, clever, smart, intense and exhilarating from minute to minute.

4 Stars   

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Chappie – Review

Chappie – Review

From Director Neill Blomkamp, whose previous works includes the provocative and imaginative science fiction films “District 9” and “Elysium,” we see his latest effort entitled “Chappie”. A story in the not so distant future where crime is now managed by a strong armed mechanized police force and the counter balance story of gang infestation running amuck throughout the city.

The films story begins in the troubled Soweto region of Johannesburg where we see finally the local police is getting its crime problem under control thanks to the performance of a genius designer named Deon’s and his robot police officers who are totally functioning walking and talking robots that can go in and do the dirty work no one else wants to do.
Of course (for story sake) all this peace and harmony must be destroyed by the human vices of temptation and greed; and such is the case when one of the police droids (who is eventually named Chappie) is stolen and given new some programming that allows him to become the first robot with the ability to think and feel entirely for himself. As powerful, destructive forces start to see Chappie and Deon’s ideas as a danger to mankind and order, those forces will stop at nothing to maintain the status quo and ensure that Chappie is the last of his kind.

The Pros of the film: While rated R (for violence, language and brief nudity), there is plenty of action adventure to this film tale that I believe is always critical to any good science fiction effort. It also draws off of being very inventive and realistic looking with its plot point of “Chappie” evolving from being a totally working technically managed device by humans (like computers) to having his own consciousness infused into his software where he starts to learn initially like a child to eventually like an adult figuring out both complicated situations to eventually understanding the nuances of the human mind and soul.

The Cons of the film: Running almost 2 hours long, “Chappie” is an intellectual sink hole of a film as the dialog is almost laughable with it attempts to be serious. It also hampers some rather accomplished actors here i.e. Hugh Jackman – Sigourney Weaver, who seem to be almost fighting the instincts of either not laughing on screen or to the point of almost cringing on screen in having to say time after time some rather corny lines. I have seen better dramatic story screenplay development on the old “Dukes of Hazards” TV show.

Conclusion: With only a few moments that connected with me that were genuinely heartfelt and meaningful, overall Chappie is an abundant waste of your movie going time.

With the exception of some rather fascinating visuals, the film “Chappie” is “Crappy”.

1-1/2 Stars 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

30th Anniversary of 1985 Films

30th Anniversary of 1985 Films

A Chorus Line (1985) 
Nightmare on Elm Street 2:(1985)         
A Room with a View (1985)   
A View to a Kill (1985)
After Hours (1985)     
American Flyers (1985)         
Back to the Future (1985)      
Better Off Dead... (1985)       
Brazil (1985)   
Brewster's Millions (1985)      
Clue (1985)    
Cocoon (1985)
Commando (1985)    
Day of the Dead (1985)         
Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)   
Enemy Mine (1985)   
European Vacation (1985)     
Fletch (1985)  
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
Fright Night (1985)     
Girls Just Want to Have
Into the Night (1985)  
Jagged Edge (1985)  
King Solomon's Mines (1985)
Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)  
Legend (1985)
Lost in America (1985)          
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)       
Mask (1985)   
Murphy's Romance (1985)    
My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)         
Out of Africa (1985) 
Pale Rider (1985)   
Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985)
Phenomena (1985)    
Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985) 
Police Story (1985)    
Prizzi's Honor (1985)           
Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)      
Ran (1985)     
Real Genius (1985)    
Red Sonja (1985)
Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985)           
Roadhouse 66 (1985)
Rocky IV (1985)        
Runaway Train (1985)           
Silver Bullet (1985)    
Silverado (1985)        
Spies Like Us (1985) 
St. Elmo's Fire (1985)
The Breakfast Club (1985)    
The Color Purple (1985)      
The Falcon and the Snowman (1985)           
The Goonies (1985)   
The Jewel of the Nile (1985) 
The Legend of Billie Jean (1985)       
The Man with One Red Shoe (1985)
The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)      
The Return of the Living Dead (1985)           
To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)           
Vision Quest (1985)
Weird Science (1985)
White Nights (1985)   
Witness (1985)          
Year of the Dragon (1985)     
Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)        

Nominated for Academy Award Best Picture
Winner of Academy Award for Best Picture