20 items from 2016
In a Valley of Violence Is a Small Western Packing a Bloody PunchFantasia Film Festival 2016
Writer/director Ti West’s filmography is populated mostly with dark genre fare of the thrilling and/or horrific variety, but while they typically have moments of humor you’d be hard-pressed to call any of them comedies. The possible exception there is his 2011 chiller, The Innkeepers, which delivers more than enough laughs and smiles to justify the label while also being legitimately scary. I’d argue it’s his best film due in part to the masterful balance in tone he creates throughout.
West’s latest leaves the horror genre behind all together for the dry, deadly desert of the post-Civil War American southwest, but while In a Valley of Violence is a traditional western through and through — perhaps too traditional at times —he once again imbues it with comedy and charisma that work beautifully to elevate the entertainment without stifling »
- Rob Hunter
It’s getting to be the Fourth of July and so it’s apropos to think about this country, what it is, what defines it, what makes it America. Those are somewhat large topics for an essay of 500-700 words (which is where I usually clock in) so we’ll just confine ourselves to one small area.
We deal with pop culture here at ComicMix so let’s think of pop culture icons, those things that we use as symbols of this country. We’re going to focus on one – American movie star/icon John Wayne. Marion Robert Morrison (Wayne’s borth name) made gobs of movies, usually westerns, war movies and detective films. He was a star in the old fashioned Golden Age of Hollywood sense of the word. No one was bigger.
Everybody and his/her brother does an impression of Wayne. My brother does one and I have different versions. »
- John Ostrander
On the afternoon when Thomas Bidegain is presenting Les Cowboys at the Alliance Française, where the week before I introduced Axelle Ropert's Tirez La Langue, Mademoiselle, he gave me some insight on working with Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne, Jacques Audiard and Noé Debré. Connecting Paul Schrader's Hardcore with Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver and John Ford's The Searchers by way of Slavoj Žižek in Sophie Fiennes' The Pervert’s Guide To Ideology and the Iliana Zabeth Bertrand Bonello Saint Laurent and House of Tolerance link to Finnegan Oldfield and Nocturama weave through our conversation.
François Damiens (Katell Quillévéré's Suzanne) plays Alain, husband to Nicole (Agathe Dronne) whose daughter Kelly's (Iliana Zabeth) disappearance during a French country-western festival triggers a relentless search that jeopardises the family's unity. »
- Anne-Katrin Titze
It’s hard to blame Thomas Bidegain for thinking that a contemporary remake of “The Searchers” might be a good idea. After all, the same virulent otherness that pumped through John Ford’s classic Western is at the heart of the Islamophobia that plagues modern Europe, and has percolated beneath the surface of its cinema since at least “The Battle of Algiers.” The recent attacks in Paris and Belgium, neither of which occurred until long after “Les Cowboys” was in the can, only serve to add a greater sense of urgency to Bidegain’s film, a vigilante tale whose wayward white hero is stymied by the same cultural divide that terrorists sacrifice their lives in order to deepen and expand.
But Bidegain’s update, however clever and opportunistic it might be, inevitably runs into a problem that didn’t affect the original: It’s not directed by John Ford.
- David Ehrlich
In Thomas Bidegain’s skilful directorial debut, a country-music obsessed family travel to Pakistan after the disappearance of their daughter
Hitherto best known for the excellent screenplays he wrote for several French auteurs, particularly Jacques Audiard (A Prophet, Rust and Bone, Dheepan) and Bertrand Bonello (Saint Laurent), Thomas Bidegain makes his debut as director in his own right with this craftily elliptical, intimate epic. In the mid-1990s, a rural family of four enthusiastic country and western fans, who like all things to do with cowboy hats and line-dancing, are devastated when their daughter disappears one night at the local hoedown. Father Alain (François Damiens, touching) spends years searching for her, despite the fact that she seemingly doesn’t want to be found, having eloped with a Muslim boy who may or may not have jihadist sympathies. Kid, her younger brother (eventually played as an adult by a somewhat stiff »
- Leslie Felperin
Thomas Bidegain has made the transition from screenwriting to directing more smoothly than most with “Les Cowboys,” a contemporary reimagining of John Ford’s “The Searchers.” Bidegain’s updated take on the Western classic stars François Damiens as a Stetson-wearing Frenchman whose teenage daughter suddenly disappears one day, apparently having run off with the Muslim boyfriend her parents didn’t even know existed. Ahead of the film’s theatrical release tomorrow, Indiewire has been exclusively provided with a clip from the film.
In the scene, Damiens makes his way through the makeshift encampment where he thinks his daughter might be hiding out. She’s not there, of course, but some residents who don’t take kindly to his presence certainly are.
- Michael Nordine
Excepting the chance that some very obvious parallels went over a critic’s head, there’s nary a review of Thomas Bidegain’s Les Cowboys that lacks mention of John Ford’s The Searchers, so let’s lay those cards on the table before going much further. The cowboy-led search for a girl kidnapped by Native Americans in the American west circa 1868 has been replaced by a father-son pairing (François Damiens and Finnegan Oldfield, respectively), a willful runaway, Islamists of (it-seems-purposefully) vague nationality, a mixture of European towns and (it-seems-purposefully) vague Middle Eastern terrain, and more-or-less-contemporary surroundings. What are we left with? Old and young men, prejudices against a dark-skinned other, the wonders and horrors of unknown land, and an unknowable woman at the center of every component.
- Nick Newman
The French dramatic thriller “Les Cowboys” has a scope and ambition as wide as the open range, but it’s a bumpy journey following a modern-day father’s pained quest to find his missing teenage daughter. Screenwriter Thomas Bidegain, making his feature directorial debut after collaborating on noteworthy screenplays with Jacques Audiard (“A Prophet,” “Dheepan”), is in territory reminiscent of Audiard’s brand of tough emotionalism. The twisty story calls up John Ford’s “The Searchers” and Paul Schrader‘s “Hardcore,” and touches on the War on Terror while remaining distinctively European in its aesthetics and tone. That’s a »
- Robert Abele
"How far would you go for family?" Cohen Media Group will be releasing the indie drama Les Cowboys starting this week in the Us - check out the trailer and see the film. The modern French western is inspired by John Ford's masterpiece The Searchers, about a family that goes out desperately searching for a missing daughter taken from their prairie town in the east of France. John C. Reilly appears as "L'Américain", but it also stars François Damiens, Finnegan Oldfield, Agathe Dronne, Jean-Louis Coulloc'h, Ellora Torchia, Gilles Treton, Mounir Margoum, and many others. This looks quite impressive, and it looks like they end up somewhere in the Middle East, with excellent cinematography capturing all the locations. Here's the official Us trailer (+ poster) for Thomas Bidegain's Les Cowboys, direct from YouTube: A vast prairie, a country and western gathering somewhere in the east of France. Alain is a central figure in this community. »
- Alex Billington
A review of tonight's Preacher coming up just as soon as I'm a right-handed Sagitarius who's never seen the Pacific and thinks The Big Lebowski is overrated... "What if this is the me God wants?" -Eugene Two episodes in, and Team Preacher doesn't seem particularly worried about storytelling that explains itself to any large degree, trusting that the style of it all will be so undeniably fun that the audience will just go with it until answers (hopefully) begin to reveal themselves. And so far, stylishness has, indeed, carried the day. "See" opens with a lengthy 19th century vignette that won't make much sense to anyone who hasn't read the comic(*), with a former man of arms making a desperate ride to get medicine for his ailing daughter. There are no hints at all of how it connects to Jesse Custer's story (other than the town the gunslinger rides into has the same name, »
- Alan Sepinwall
John Ford puts a Technicolor sheen on Monument Valley in this second cavalry picture with John Wayne, who does some of his most professional acting work. Joanne Dru plays coy, while the real star is rodeo wizard Ben Johnson and the dazzling cinematography of Winton C. Hoch. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon Blu-ray Warner Archive Collection 1949 / Color / 1:37 flat Academy / 103 min. / Street Date June 7, 2016 / available through the WBshop / 21.99 Starring John Wayne, Joanne Dru, John Agar, Ben Johnson, Harry Carey Jr., Victor McLaglen, Mildred Natwick, George O'Brien, Chief John Big Tree. Cinematography Winton Hoch Art Direction James Basevi Film Editor Jack Murray Original Music Richard Hageman Written by Frank Nugent, Laurence Stallings from the stories War Party and The Big Hunt by James Warner Bellah Produced by Merian C. Cooper, John Ford Directed by John Ford
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
Have you never seen real 3-Strip Technicolor used for terrific outdoor photography? »
- Glenn Erickson
Every week we dive into the cream of the crop when it comes to home releases, including Blu-ray and DVDs, as well as recommended deals of the week. Check out our rundown below and return every Tuesday for the best (or most interesting) films one can take home. Note that if you’re looking to support the site, every purchase you make through the links below helps us and is greatly appreciated.
Federico Fellini‘s epic 1980 fantasia introduced the start of the Maestro’s delirious late period. A surrealist tour-de-force filmed on soundstages and locations alike, and overflowing with the same sensory (and sensual) invention heretofore found only in the classic movie-musicals (and Fellini’s own oeuvre), La città delle donne [City of Women] taps into the era’s restless youth culture, coalescing into nothing less than Fellini’s post-punk opus. Marcello Mastroianni appears as Fellini’s alter »
- The Film Stage
John Wayne’s attempt to plant his legendary persona into an arena potentially more hostile than any he’d ever faced before: The Seventies. Thanks to a cadre of good friends, who also happen to be good actors, including Richard Boone and, touchingly, Maureen O’Hara, he nearly succeeds. This quasi-retread of The Searchers’ basic plot (Wayne is on the look for his kidnapped grandson) is helped mightily by Elmer Bernstein’s rousing score and a seventies-friendly screenplay from Dirty Harry scribes Harry and Rita Fink.
- TFH Team
With editors and cinematographers chiming in on the best examples of their craft in cinema history, it’s now time for directors to have a say. To celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Directors Guild of America, they’ve conducted a poll for their members when it comes to the 80 greatest directorial achievements in feature films since the organization’s founding in 1936. With 2,189 members participating, the top pick went to Francis Ford Coppola for The Godfather, one of three films from the director making the top 10.
Even with films from nonmembers being eligible, the male-dominated, America-centric choices are a bit shameful (Kathryn Bigelow is the only female director on the list, and the first foreign film doesn’t show up until number 26), but not necessarily surprising when one looks at the make-up of its membership. As with any list, there’s bound to be disagreements (Birdman besting The Bicycle Thief, »
- Jordan Raup
Following the release in March of ‘A Man Called Gannon’ (1968), Simply Media in the UK continue to release more Universal-International westerns, this time of 1940s and ‘50s vintage. The new releases, out on 18 April, are ‘Calamity Jane & Sam Bass’ (1949), ‘Cattle Drive’ (1951) and ‘Black Horse Canyon’ (1954). This trio of films are literally ‘Horse Operas’, with the accent on thoroughbred steeds and their importance and role in the working west. Be they cattle drovers, stock breeders or outlaws, where would any of them be without the horse? The answer, of course, is walking.
I’ll review the DVDs in the order I watched them. First up is ‘Cattle Drive’, a 1951 western directed by Kurt Neumann. Chester Graham Jnr (Dean Stockwell), the spoilt, arrogant son of railroad magnet Chester Graham Snr (Leon Ames), is accidentally left behind when the train he is travelling on makes a water stop. »
- email@example.com (Cinema Retro)
Guns! Guns! Guns! John Milius' rootin' tootin' bio of the most famous of the '30s bandits has plenty of good things to its credit, especially its terrific, funny cast, topped by the unlikely star Warren Oates. The battles between Dillinger's team of all-star bank robbers and Ben Johnson's G-Man aren't neglected, as Milius savors every gun recoil and Tommy gun blast. Dillinger Blu-ray + DVD Arrow Video U.S. 1973 / Color / 1:85 widescreen / 107 min. / Street Date April 26, 2016 / 39.95 Starring Warren Oates, Ben Johnson, Michelle Phillips, Cloris Leachman, Harry Dean Stanton, Geoffrey Lewis, John Ryan, Richard Dreyfuss, Steve Kanaly, John Martino, Roy Jenson, Frank McRae. Cinematography Jules Brenner Special Effects A.D. Flowers, Cliff Wenger Edited by Fred R. Feitshans, Jr. Original Music Barry De Vorzon Produced by Buzz Feitshans Written and Directed by John Milius
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
There it was in the dentist's office, an article in either »
- Glenn Erickson
The films of writer-director Jeff Nichols are all about characters, ordinary men and women pushed to the limit by forces outside of their control. Again and again, Nichols trains his eye on the themes of family, its bonds and hardships: his films often about not only what it means to be a father, but also what it means to be a son or daughter. The setting is usually classically American small towns and back roads, where a person can look up at the sky and find an ocean of stars. Under those stars, Nichols lets his dramas —Mud, Take Shelter, and Shotgun Stories — play out, some darker and more bloody than others.
His newest film, Midnight Special, is out this week in limited release. Its plot follows a father forced to go on the run with his young son, a boy possessing mysterious powers, to escape a team of ruthless government agents. »
- Tony Hinds
Bone Tomahawk, 2015.
Directed By S. Craig Zahler.
Four men embark on a dangerous journey to rescue one of their womenfolk from a tribe of native cannibals.
Taking cues from John Ford’s classic The Searchers, S. Craig Zahler’s directorial debut Bone Tomahawk applies the same format of man-on-a-mission adventure through the dangers of the wild terrain in search of a missing person, and injects it with substantial dosage of grim, uncompromising brutality, to create a western that’s bold, bleak and occasionally horrific.
Prior to Bone Tomahawk, Zahler plied his trade as an author and screenwriter, having penned a succession of critically acclaimed novels in the realms of westerns and crime fiction. Despite selling a number of screenplays, the only one that came into fruition was Asylum Blackout, an overlooked tour de »
- Kieran Fisher
Cult status could beckon for this well-made, macabre and violent western-horror from cinematographer turned director S Craig Zahler. It’s a film with a parched, sunbleached look appropriate for the drying of human bones, and it appears to be a gruesome, pulpy twist on John Ford’s The Searchers.
Kurt Russell plays a sheriff in the wild west who gathers a posse to rescue local doctor Samantha (Lili Simmons) when she is abducted by a tribe known as the Troglodytes. Four men ride out to get her back: the sheriff, Samantha’s husband Arthur (Patrick Wilson), an old-timer called Chicory (Richard Jenkins, channelling Walter Brennan) and the sinister, vengeful dandy, Brooder (Matthew Fox).
Continue reading »
- Peter Bradshaw
Sarah Koenig, Mark Boal, and company return today with the fourth episode of the Bowe Bergdahl story following a two-week holiday hiatus. It felt more like two months. The episode’s title, “The Captors,” has the stark resonance of a classic Western. Before I even pressed play, the credits from John Ford’s 1956 film The Searchers, were rolling through my head, encouraged by the quasi-animated blue background graphics on the website. But as evocative as the title of the episode is, it’s also sort of misleading. This latest episode isn’t what we were promised at the end of the last one: a peek into America’s political and diplomatic machinations to bring Bergdahl back. It isn’t even necessarily about just his captors themselves, giving equal weight to Bergdahl’s experiences as a Pow — putting his torture in recent historical context and giving a visceral account of how he experienced neglect and boredom. »
- Scott Beauchamp
20 items from 2016
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