Welcome back, beautiful ones…How I’d love to hold you all! As I can’t, I’ll regale you with stories from the world of cinema.
As the dramatic and sometimes terrifying new western thriller Bone Tomahawk hits the screens this week, something very interesting makes itself clear. Kurt Russell is back with a slow vengeance, and I like that. Now, with two eerie westerns on his new year’s plate (the first being The Hateful Eight), it will be interesting to see what he has up his sleeve in this phase of his career. In the film, we spend the first act chilling in a tiny settlement where most of the men have departed on a cattle drive. Left behind are an injured ranch foreman (Patrick Wilson) and his doctor wife (Lili Simmons), the Sheriff (Russell), and some other oddball characters played by Matthew Fox, Richard Jenkings, even David Arquette and Sean Young have their own thankless roles to play. This scenario doesn’t leave a lot of able-bodied men to choose from when several townspeople are killed and abducted by what are described as “Troglodytes—a spoiled bloodline of inbred animals who rape and eat their own mothers.” As those who are able-bodied head out on a journey to retrieve the captives, we know that they’ll eventually find the monsters out there. And, of course, the intensity increases when we see what has become of those doomed souls who ventured forth in good faith and intention. Let’s just say…gruesome comes to mind as they prep for their rendezvous with the unthinkable. New western thriller genre encapsulated by gore...love it! ###
‘Brangelina’ finally released their latest film last week, their labour of love so to speak, or at least it was for Jolie, as she is the director and producer of By the Sea. The film, which they made together as a married couple, precisely highlights the celebrity feeding frenzy so many are obliged to adapt their lives to. The protagonist couple (Vanessa and Roland) are estranged, and our director/star keeps a slow and aware pulse throughout the film, but you keep watching not just because she and Brad and the Mediterranean are beautiful, but also because the intricate details keep you drawn in. Jolie, playing pill-popping Vanessa, and Pitt as Roland, an alcoholic-prone writer, both carve out nuances that I frankly did not expect, and though the rumour mills between NYC and L.A. have them at the precipice of separation, this film actually makes me root for them for the first time in their well-documented history. This is Jolie’s third directorial affair, and she may have missed some marks here, but damn if she doesn’t hit more than her fair share! ###
Finally today…ugh…Kung Fu Panda 3. Firstly, to all the parents who are consistently dragged to these outings to see every new animated film, I’m sorry and commend you for your service to the already screen-ravaged lives of our newest generations. Alas, please be aware and cautious of the things they feed their minds because though I will be the first to say that the film is not terrible and attempts to teach some wannabe zen truths about ‘finding the you within’, the manner in which they do it is so dumbed-down, it’s sad. Sad in the fact that so little is expected these days in regards to allowing young minds to think broader and for themselves without the use of bad pop music sounds and a million CGI flashes thrown out in order to keep their attention. This new film I reiterate is not bad, just vapid and formulaic; it finds lead character Po finally meeting his biological father and then embroiling himself in an adventure when his mates and Kung Fu masters go missing and he has to go about teaching the village and his friends the noble strength of kung fu using his chi energy. I get it…a layman’s way of teaching zen philosophy to young ones. But if we can’t even attain a child’s attention without the use of lights, flashes and colour, do we really expect them to soak up the philosophical aspects? I think not! ##-1/2