A Scotsman and an Irishman go to the Wild Frontier – it’s not the start of a joke, it’s Slow West, a low-budget meander through the bleak Wild West. Fassbender’s lone gun-slinger Silas befriends Kodi Smit-McPhee’s love-lorn Scottish laird, Jay. But the girl he’s pursuing has a price on her head and there’s a gang of outlaws after the reward money. Will the immigrant odd couple get to her before they do? And what is Silas’ motive for helping?
Sundance-winning Slow West has epic New Zealand standing in for the epic landscapes of the Old West, and despite nods to old Westerns of bank robbers, bounty hunters, men with no name and fewer words, this is an altogether more complex, European-inflected affair. Continue Reading
How does a film from the team that created the huge hit Pirates of the Caribbean’fail at the box office?
Here’s how: take a children’s radio and TV Western adventure series and remake it, cram in a mix of styles that don’t match, rack up an extraordinary level of violence, amorality and gore and add cannibalism, prostitution and a random threat of rape and you end up with a film that doesn’t know who its audience is.
It’s presented as a tale told to a child by a disconcerting Old Tonto at a 1930s sideshow, but one moment it’s ‘don’t take it seriously, do it all tongue in cheek’ – then the next, there’s a gross scene reminiscent of ‘Soldier Blue’. Continue Reading
No, I am not going to give Tarantino the satisfaction of quoting his full, childishly immature, mis-spelt title. It’s bad enough I sat through his childishly immature World War II comic-book pantomime.
Here’s a talented director, as proven by Reservoir Dogs and the under-valued masterpiece Jackie Brown. So why can’t he keep a script or his direction on the rails? As for this attempt to re-invent the WWII movie as a pulp comic-book, I just despair. Continue Reading
“I know, let’s put James Bond and Indiana Jones together in one of those genre mash-up movies. It’ll make a fortune.”
The cynical desperation of this dumb idea is not the surprise. The surprise is that anyone signed off the $150m cheque to make it. You thought Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was a dumb idea? Shakespeare, compared to this.
Humourless Harrison Ford mumbles his grumpy way through bad dialog like he’s counting down the days toward death, while a badly miscast Daniel Craig is the cleanest, suave-est Western bandit you’ve ever seen. They both pick up fat cheques whilst staring blankly at a bunch of green-screen special effects while Favreau blows a lot of s*** up.
And I wrote that part of the review before I even saw the movie. Continue Reading
Opening with a hand-written card ‘Oregon Territory, 1845’ and followed by a boy grafittiing a fallen tree trunk with the single word ‘lost,’ we quickly see why. Three wagons split from a Westward train travel the wilderness led by ‘guide’ Stephen Meek (Bruce Greenwood), alleged tracker, Indian fighter and consumate *BS* artist.
This ‘pre-Western’ directed by Kelly Reichardt is a tale of macro landscapes and micro performances. This is the frontier before Sam Pekinpah, Sergio Leone and John Ford, an elegy not to the passing of the Old West, but the beginning of the New West. There are no gun slingers or railroads and only one Indian. The perils are the divisions between the three families and their guide, and the common dangers of a harsh, uncharted and unforgiving landscape.
Risking ridicule, I’m going to nail this as the women’s Western, as Reichardt makes over the Western wagon train as a portentous, yet largely mundane and domestic travelogue, in which everything except the landscape is understated. Continue Reading
“This land will be civilised.”
The local constable, Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone), captures Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) and younger brother Mikey, wanted for rape and murder of a settler family. Captain Stanley presents Charlie with an ultimatum; go out into the Ranges, beyond the reach of the law, to capture or kill older brother Arthur, or else Mikey will be hanged in nine days, on Christmas day.
While Charlie sets off across a harsh, hostile landscape to find Arthur (Danny Houston) and his gang, holed up in hostile territory controlled by rebel natives, Stanley has to contend with mutiny among his men, a vengeful, self-righteous mayor (David Wenham) and keep safe his well-bred wife Martha (Emily Watson).
The spirits of Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinpah fill this lyrical, beautiful and sad tale that is also shocking, brutal, filthy and savagely violent. This is an 1880’s Western. In Australia. Continue Reading