14 items from 2015
It's fitting that Clint Eastwood and John Wayne both have the same birthday week. (Wayne, who died in 1979, was born May 26, 1907, while Eastwood turns 85 on May 31). After all, these two all-American actors' careers span the history of that most American of movie genres, the western.
Both iconic actors were top box office draws for decades, both seldom stretched from their familiar personas, and both played macho, conservative cowboy heroes who let their firearms do most of the talking. Each represented one of two very different strains of western, the traditional and the revisionist.
As a birthday present to Hollywood's biggest heroes of the Wild West, here are the top 57 westerns you need to see.
57. 'Meek's Cutoff' (2010)
Indie filmmaker Kelly Reichardt and her frequent leading lady, Michelle Williams, are the talents behind this sparse, docudrama about an 1845 wagon train whose Oregon Trail journey goes horribly awry. It's an intense »
- Gary Susman
A few nights ago, Warner Bros. hosted a very canny event that our own Louis Virtel attended at the Playboy Mansion, a screening of "Entourage" that may have felt like virtual reality for those who attended. While I doubt being surrounded by scantily clad bunnies influenced Louis one way or another on the film, it's likely you'll see a number of reviews that are perhaps more enthusiastic than they would otherwise be, and it'd be hard to blame anyone who fell for it. One of the reasons the setting seemed so right for that particular film is because much of the charge of "Entourage" is watching the core ensemble swagger their way through Hollywood, doing whatever they want and rarely if ever facing any consequences as a result. It's always presented with a wink and a smile, just a case of boys being boys. We live in a world right »
- Drew McWeeny
Chicago – Now playing at Chicago’s Music Box Theater and on VOD (but best seen on the largest screen possible), “Slow West,” is a tight genre journey pic that invigorates the western while confirming that its territory remains open, despite the many who have passed through.
It’s a progressive western; recognizable for Fassbender’s Clint Eastwood impression, but offering something new with its ideas of gender and violence. Not for nothing, it also features “The Place Beyond the Pines” actor Ben Mendelsohn in a coat that will change the way you look at fashion.
The story follows a young man (Kodi Smit-McPhee), as he ventures across 19th century America in search of a woman (Caren Pistorius) that he loves. He receives some help from independent traveler Silas (Fassbender), while encountering unpredictable forces of nature (played by Mendelsohn) and brutal inhumanity.
Before his debut film, director John Maclean was in »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
All week long our writers will debate: Which was the greatest film year of the past half century. Click here for a complete list of our essays. How to decide in the grand scheme of things which film year stands above all others? History gives us no clear methodology to unravel this thorny but extremely important question. Is it the year with the highest average score of movies? So a year that averages out to a B + might be the winner over a field strewn with B’s, despite a few A +’s. Or do a few masterpieces lift up a year so far that whatever else happened beyond those three or four films is of no consequence? Both measures are worthy, and the winner by either of those would certainly be a year not to be sneezed at. But I contend the only true measure of a year’s »
- Richard Rushfield
The horror landscape was changing by 1982. People were tiring of slashers; even the Halloween franchise decided to take a left (some would say wrong) turn away from Shatner masks and sharpened knives, and used the brand name to explore the holiday itself in the perpetually under-appreciated Season of The Witch. The genre seemed to be turning towards monsters, from large scale dread fests such as John Carpenter's The Thing to more intimate fare like Frank Henenlotter's Basket Case. The horror films of 1982 displayed a refreshing variety of ways to make audiences jump, squirm, gasp, smile, and when the occasion arose, vomit. The Beast Within giddily checks all the boxes.
Released in February by United Artists, the film took in a total of 7.7 million at the box office. Those were not great numbers, and the reviews were worse. Mainstream critics in general have never been kind to horror; almost »
- Scott Drebit
As of now, the only confirmed cast member for Star Wars: Rogue One is Felicity Jones, and details from Star Wars Celebration last weekend revealed that she'll be playing a Rebel soldier involved with the heist to get the plans to the first Death Star. . However, two more potential names have surfaced to join the first Star Wars Anthology spin-off slated for release on December 16th, 2016 as The Wrap reports The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Mockingjay star Sam Claflin is being eyed for a role and Badass Digest adds that Four Lions and Nightcrawler star Riz Ahmed seems to be attached to the project too. Read on! As of now, Claflin is said to be the frontrunner for what will be a major role amongst an ensemble of actors, with comparisons being drawn to The Wild Bunch and The Magnificent Seven for the kind of character set we can expect. »
- Ethan Anderton
Editor's Note: We're proud to announce that we are now the North American home for Locarno Film Festival Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian's blog. Chatrian has been writing thoughtful blog entries in Italian on Locarno's website since he took over as Director in late 2012, and now you can find the English translations here on Notebook as they're published. To kick things off, we're posting his piece on Sam Peckinpah, who was recently announced to be the subject of the festival's epic retrospective this year. The Locarno Film Festival will be taking place August 5th to 15th. ***The life of Sam Peckinpah sits like a splendid diamond set between two glorious eras for American cinema, one already on the decline and the other still to come. Retracing his career means looking as much at the great classical tradition that preceded him as at the new directors currently leaving their mark on the imagination. »
- Carlo Chatrian
Ever since the early days of cinema and the 1903 short film The Great Train Robbery, filmmakers have had a fascination with violence. As production codes and the surrounding censorship relaxed over the passing decades, more movies began to emerge which pushed the boundaries of on-screen violence.
Throughout the twentieth century movies have unleashed all manner of carnage on the silver screen: from the slow motion shoot outs of Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch and Arthur Penn’s Bonnie And Clyde through to the horror excesses of the 1970s and onwards – when the term “video nasties” emerged as a perfect summary of an era of gory cinematic oneupmanship – violence at the movies went from one extreme to the next.
The turn of the twenty-first century certainly hasn’t seen an about turn either in the lengths filmmakers will go to shock or the desire for such thrills from movie lovers – indeed, »
- Andrew Dilks
I don’t know when the term revisionist Western came into widespread use, but it’s time we retired it. Even when it meant something, it was a bit of an overstatement; most of the great Westerns bucked convention in one way or another. But starting around the 1960s, it seemed like every entry in the genre pointedly tried to rewrite our collective dream of the West. The unmaking-of-a-myth in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, or the heightened violence in The Wild Bunch, or the anti-romance in McCabe & Mrs. Miller, or the ugliness of justice in Unforgiven — they all told us, “It’s not like you thought it was. It’s not what the movies have told you.”But the movies haven’t been telling us much for some time. And now we’ve finally gone through the looking glass with The Salvation, which is about as conventional and »
- Bilge Ebiri
Cinedigm Corp. has closed a three year deal to acquire domestic rights to 12 films from The Asylum. Cinedigm will handle all film rights including theatrical, digital, video-on-demand, and physical home, and will make the titles available to their growing slate of over-the-top (aka streaming) digital networks, including CONtv, which is targeted to fanboy audiences. The Asylum, led by partners David Michael Latt, Paul Bales and David Rimawi, has been behind such genre, high concept titles such as Syfy’s cult hit Sharknado. Among the titles in the Cinedigm pact that will get The Asylum satiric treatment are: Troy: The Odyssey (Action Fantasy), Little Dead Rotting Hood (Horror),Butch Cassidy and The Wild Bunch (Western) and Fortune Cookie (Horror). Asylum finances, produces and releases 20-25 films a year through its direct distribution to top retailers and foreign partners. The deal was negotiated on behalf of The Asylum by David Garber and Cinedigm’s Yolanda Macias. »
- Anthony D'Alessandro
Now this is a list that could result in a lot of fascinating dissection and thanks to HitFix it comes to our attention almost three years after it was originally released back in 2012, celebrating the Motion Picture Editors Guild's 75th anniversary. Over at HitFix, Kris Tapley asks, "Is this news to anyone elsec" Um, yes, I find it immensely interesting and a perfect starting point for anyone looking to further explore the art of film editing. In an accompanying article we get the particulars concerning what films were eligible and how films were to be considered: In our Jan-feb 12 issue, we asked Guild members to vote on what they consider to be the Best Edited Films of all time. Any feature-length film from any country in the world was eligible. And by "Best Edited," we explained, we didn't just mean picture; sound, music and mixing were to be considered as well. »
- Brad Brevet
A random bit of researching on a Tuesday night led me to something I didn't know existed: The Motion Picture Editors Guild's list of the 75 best-edited films of all time. It was a feature in part celebrating the Guild's 75th anniversary in 2012. Is this news to anyone else? I confess to having missed it entirely. Naturally, I had to dig in. What was immediately striking to me about the list — which was decided upon by the Guild membership and, per instruction, was considered in terms of picture and sound editorial as opposed to just the former — was the most popular decade ranking. Naturally, the 1970s led with 17 mentions, but right on its heels was the 1990s. I wouldn't have expected that but I happen to agree with the assessment. Thelma Schoonmaker's work on "Raging Bull" came out on top, an objectively difficult choice to dispute, really. It was so transformative, »
- Kristopher Tapley
Rome — The Locarno Film Festival will pay tribute to Sam Peckinpah with a complete retrospective of the maverick Hollywood director’s works, which include landmark Western “The Wild Bunch,” once called the “Citizen Kane” of the Vietnam generation, and other groundbreaking films such as “Straw Dogs,” “Ride the High Country” and “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.”
The Swiss festival dedicated to indie cinema will present Peckinpah’s complete filmography – with several films screened in newly restored prints – and a selection of his efforts for television ranging from works he wrote, produced or co-directed to those in which he performed as an actor. The screenings will be accompanied by discussions and a roundtable led by invited critics and filmmakers.
The retro is curated by Italian film programmer and historian Roberto Turigliatto.
Co-organizers are the Cinémathèque suisse in Lausanne, and the Cinémathèque française in Paris, which will host the entire program in September. »
- Nick Vivarelli
Pioneering woman director Lois Weber socially conscious drama 'Shoes' among Library of Congress' Packard Theater movies (photo: Mary MacLaren in 'Shoes') In February 2015, National Film Registry titles will be showcased at the Library of Congress' Packard Campus Theater – aka the Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation – in Culpeper, Virginia. These range from pioneering woman director Lois Weber's socially conscious 1916 drama Shoes to Robert Zemeckis' 1985 blockbuster Back to the Future. Another Packard Theater highlight next month is Sam Peckinpah's ultra-violent Western The Wild Bunch (1969), starring William Holden and Ernest Borgnine. Also, Howard Hawks' "anti-High Noon" Western Rio Bravo (1959), toplining John Wayne and Dean Martin. And George Cukor's costly remake of A Star Is Born (1954), featuring Academy Award nominees Judy Garland and James Mason in the old Janet Gaynor and Fredric March roles. There's more: Jeff Bridges delivers a colorful performance in »
- Andre Soares
14 items from 2015
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