6 items from 2014
Mark Kermode: a handsome translation of Eastwood's 1992 western offers a grand spectacle
Westerns have traditionally borrowed from Japanese legend (The Magnificent Seven reworking Seven Samurai etc) so now it's time to repay the compliment with this handsome translation of Clint Eastwood's Oscar-winner from Korean-Japanese film-maker Lee Sang-il. Set on the northernmost island of Japan at the dawn of the Meiji era (the time period matches that of the original), the narrative unfolds as before; a bounty offered on the heads of two men who assaulted and scarred a young woman draws vigilantes from afar. Ken Watanabe steps into Clint's Bill Munny boots as Jubei Kamata, a retired warrior whose promise to abandon the sword has been weakened by the death of his wife. Teaming up with an ageing comrade and a young firebrand, Jubei leaves his two children to head off once again into the fray, and back into the abyss. »
- Mark Kermode
Director Lee Sang-il's version of Clint Eastwood's 1992 western is well told, but holds few surprises
The symmetry is irresistible. 1964's A Fistful of Dollars, a remake of Kurosawa's Yojimbo, made an international star of Clint Eastwood; now Eastwood's valedictory 1992 western has been remade by Korean-Japanese director Lee Sang-il. The tale of an ageing warrior (here Letters from Iwo Jima's Ken Watanabe) who returns to the saddle to avenge a vicious attack on a prostitute translates fluently to the late samurai era, allowing Lee to refresh the action in pitting rusting swords against the emergent pistol. Narratively, it's limited by a lack of surprises: if the territory's new-ish, the characters are ported over unaltered from David Webb Peoples' screenplay, and their interplay doesn't yield any insights on the grim business of killing that Clint hadn't already spat out. Still, it's an enduring yarn, well told: a rare remake that functions independently, »
- Mike McCahill
The Oscar-tipped actor will star alongside Ken Watanabe in the film about a pair of men who meet in a Japanese 'suicide forest'
The film centers on a pair of men who travel to the Aokigahara forest in Japan, a popular location for suicides – but instead of killing themselves, their meeting prompts a reflective journey. Ken Watanabe, the Japanese actor known for his roles in Inception and Letters From Iwo Jima, will play the second man.
It's the latest in a series of weighty dramas from McConaughey, previously the king of the glitzy romcom – his critical appreciation has exponentially increased with roles in the likes of The Lincoln Lawyer and Killer Joe, alongside deft, crowdpleasing turns in Magic Mike and The Wolf of Wall Street. He's now the firm »
- Ben Beaumont-Thomas
With films like Raze getting a lot of attention lately, the question beckons... will combat horror be the next subgenre to hit it big? Given that Donald Lawrence Flaherty’s Brutal has added aliens to the mix, it just might!
Described as Fight Club meets “The Twilight Zone,” the film stars Morgan Benoit (Forbidden Kingdom, 47 Ronin) and features fight sequences created by two of Hollywood’s top stunt performers, Colin Follenweider (Avatar, X-Men) and Chris Torres (Letters from Iwo Jima).
Brutal centers on Trevor (Morgan Benoit), who is abducted at the age of fifteen by an unseen alien presence. Forced into nearly two decades of no-holds-barred fights against other abductees, Trevor evolves from an innocent boy into a brutal fighting machine.
Derek (Jeff Hatch), an ambulance chasing lawyer, is the latest lab-rat abductee forced to fight Trevor. As they exchange increasingly violent beatings over the course of weeks and months, »
- Uncle Creepy
When the Oscar nominations come out, there should be a couple of surprises. Knowing where they will crop up is the hard art of predicting. The most important factor in determining Oscar upsets is looking at the preferential voting process that is different from most other award groups. You can read about it in detail here but the bottom line is: a contender which appears 4th or 5th on every ballot will get trumped by a contender that appears 1st or 2nd on just over one sixth of ballots. A candidate with a small pocket of passionate support will get in over broad consensus choices. It's how "Letters From Iwo Jima" and "The Reader" were able to unseat "Dreamgirls" and "The Dark Knight" in their respective years. Let's have a look at this year: "Saving Mr. Banks" and "The Butler" will appeal to certain parts of the academy for sure »
It’s not often that Oscar nominations follow right on the heels of the Golden Globes, but here we are: We’re a day away from the 2013 Academy Award nominations. Have you already bought a “Get Well Soon” card to send to the crew of Fruitvale Station and Prisoners? Because they’ll be coming up with nothing on nomination day. Let the Hallmark healing begin.
Before the big announcement, let’s voice our last minute prayers: our biggest (and perhaps least probable) wishes for the 2013 Oscars. Pretend I’m saying all of this in the voice of Rayon from Dallas Buyers Club for maximum poignancy.
The nebulous number of Best Picture nominees ever year depresses me. What was wrong with five? We enjoyed five. Five! Like Spice Girls . With five, everything stood a chance. »
- Louis Virtel
6 items from 2014
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