Tag Archive: western


12 Years a Slave Trailer

UK Release Date: 24th January 2014

Stars: Steve McQueen (director), Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, Michael Fassbender, Scoot McNairy

Plot: In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.

Films about slavery seem to be becoming the new Western. Every year there are now high profile stories of slavery being told on the big screen and 2014 will be no different with Steve McQueen gunning for Oscar glory. Perhaps the most noticeable thing about this trailer is in fact Brad Pitt’s beard, just for the sheer ridiculousness of how it looks… but that might just be me.

However, if you can look past Pitt’s beard what you’ll find is this really touching, almost unbelievable true story about one man’s descent into slavery and his fight against it. Chiwetel Ejiodor is not a name that everyone will be familiar with but he has starred in a huge number of films over the years and finally takes centre stage in a star studded cast.

Established stars Pitt and Fassbender, who looks like he’s playing an incredibly nasty piece of work and doing it so well, join rising star Paul Dano and the incredible Scoot McNairy who I am a big fan of!

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Django Unchained is Quentin Tarantino’s latest adventure into history following the success of Inglourious Basterds. ‘Unchained‘ delves deeper into America’s past and examines, in a way that only Tarantino could do, the ugly side of American history that is often brushed over in the mainstream.

Jamie Foxx is Django, a slave freed by bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz. Schultz employs Django to help him bring three overseers of slave farms to their demise and the two grow a mutual respect between one another as they journey. Upon learning of Django’s wife being a slave at Candieland, owned by Calvin Candie, King Schultz decides to train and help Django embark on a revenge mission to free his wife.

It’s a fantastic story of revenge and as you would expect Django Unchained is wonderfully written. Tarantino is famous for his dialogue and while he seems to reign that in here there are still a few scenes where you get the back and forth, quick moving dialogue which is fun to see and listen to. One thing Tarantino doesn’t reign in, however, is his love of violence and gore; the blood flies everywhere at such ridiculous angles and guts come flying out of dead bodies in a way that is hilarious, but that is what makes Tarantino so enjoyable. As a person in interviews he is so over the top and you expect that from his films, it’s brilliant.

Jamie Foxx’s lead performance helps to make Django one of the coolest characters ever committed to film in my opinion. Django is just a complete character, he is so likeable and has so many different colours to his personality which makes him very interesting to watch, so credit to Tarantino for his creation but also Foxx for bringing him to life. There is one scene in particular that springs to mind involving Django and two of the Brittle brothers where Foxx really lets loose all of Django’s pent up anger and this makes this particular scene difficult to watch but so enjoyable at the same time because you’re on his side; there’s a wildness in his eyes.

The rest of the cast is almost flawless too. Christoph Waltz is nominated for an Oscar for his performance as Dr. King Schultz and rightly so, he’s such a likeable character and Waltz’s performance is the root of a lot of laughs due to his mannerisms. Leonardo DiCaprio is one of my favourite actors and it is great to see him playing a villain for the first time in his career and this gives him a chance to really let go of himself and bring a very intense and uncomfortable feel about his character; it’s so different to what he has done before but it is up there with his best performances. For me, there were only two let downs: I thought we would get to see a different side of Samuel L. Jackson after the early hype about him but he was just the same as always and largely disappointing for me; and all the way through I was hoping for a Tarantino cameo but when it finally came it was just underwhelming and restrained.

I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the running time and how Django Unchained sort of falls short because of this but I didn’t feel this to be the case. I did feel like it could have ended at earlier points and been drawn to a close quicker but then what followed those points I really enjoyed and was glad that they carried it on. On the whole, Django Unchained is just a really cool and incredibly stylish film. The beginning is good, the middle is better, and the end is fantastic. Not a realistic choice at the Oscars for Best Picture in my eyes but Tarantino could easily pick up Best Original Screenplay.

All in all, not Tarantino’s best, but far from his worst!

My Rating: 8/10.

January sees the big Oscar contenders come to the UK. Many of these films have already been released over in the states to critical acclaim as you might expect.

 

The Impossible – 1st January

Based solely on the trailer, The Impossible is THE film to see this January. It is the first film to be released that uses the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami at the heart of it’s story, telling the tale of one family caught up with thousands of strangers in a horrible natural disaster. Featuring the brilliant Ewan McGregor and the incredible Naomi Watts.

 

Gangster Squad – 10th January

Finally, the all-star long awaited gangster flick will be arriving on UK screens. Delayed after the tragic shootings in Aurora, Gangster Squad is a film that many people have been looking forward to seeing and now you get your chance. Featuring a cast of Josh Brolin, Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone among others.

 

Les Miserables – 11th January

A new interpretation of the hit musical comes to the screen this year and if you’ve managed to avoid the adverts featuring Anne Hathaway singing then well done. I think Les Mis is bound to do well thanks to all it’s Oscar buzz and having already been nominated for 4 Golden Globes but it’s not that high on my list thanks to all of it’s competition.

 

Django Unchained – 18th January

And if Les Miserables thinks having 4 Golden Globe nominations is something to shout about then step aside for Django Unchained‘s 5. This is Quentin Tarantino’s first attempt at a full on Western and it certainly will not disappoint! It has been nominated for Best Drama, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Leonardo DiCaprio and Christoph Waltz both have nominations for Best Supporting Actor; Oscars are sure to follow.

 

Lincoln – 25th January

Now cynics may think that Lincoln has been made with the intention of winning awards rather than pleasing audiences… that is what I believe as well. This looks like Oscar-baiting in all it’s glory: a film about one of America’s most celebrated Presidents telling the story of a pivotal time in America history. If this isn’t Steven Spielberg shouting “GIVE ME OSCARS” I don’t know what is. It seems to be working though.

 

Zero Dark Thirty – 25th January

Back in 2010, The Hurt Locker surprised everyone to become one of the lowest grossing winners of the Best Picture Oscar ever. Zero Dark Thirty is director Kathryn Bigelow’s follow up film and tackles the events of the manhunt for Osama Bin Laden and his following death. I don’t think this one will do as well as The Hurt Locker but it should make for some interesting viewing at least.

Steinfeld made a name for herself as always being one of the best dressed stars on the red carpet.

In 2010, young actress Hailee Steinfeld burst into the world of film with a truly magnificent performance in True Grit alongside Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon. Steinfeld’s performance in the Western was nominated for an Academy Award. The nomination strangely came in the category of Best Supporting Actress; strange because Steinfeld was really the only female character, logically making the lead actress er… Matt Damon. Anyway, since that performance Steinfeld has moved away from acting but looks set to return with a very busy schedule ahead for films released in the next couple of years.

Steinfeld began her career acting in short films at the age of 8, in order to gain experience of the acting industry. In 2009 she starred in the award winning short film She’s a Fox which featured at many international film festivals so people in the know really recognised her as a great talent even before True Grit hit the cinema screens. Clearly her talent shone through at the True Grit auditions as Hailee Steinfeld was chosen out of 15,000 girls to play the part of Mattie Ross, the girl who hires Jeff Bridges Deputy U.S. Marshall to find and kill the man who murdered her father. Steinfeld is also the actor granted the privilege of saying the name of the film in the film by telling Jeff Bridges that he has ‘true grit’.

After rising to fame through that performance Steinfeld went off the radar for a couple of years. You’ve got to imagine that a big reason for this was to concentrate on her studies; Steinfeld is, after all, just 15 years old at the time of writing. But she was also chosen to be the face of worldwide fashion brand Miu Miu for their 2011 campaign. But now she has returned with a whole host of projects coming up in 2013 and 2014, most notably perhaps landing the role of Juliet Capulet in Carlo Carlei’s retelling of the most famous love story of all time, Romeo and Juliet.

True Grit

Firstly though, Steinfeld is set to star alongside British starlet Keira Knightley and everyone’s favourite Incredible Hulk Mark Ruffalo in Can a Song Save Your Life? which, in all honesty, is something I probably won’t be watching. Another project Hateship, Friendship sees Steinfeld working with some more big Hollywood names in the form of Kristen Wiig and the rejuvenated Guy Pearce. The upcoming project I am most looking forward to that Steinfeld is involved in is Gavin Hood’s science fiction film Ender’s Game, slated for an autumn release in 2013. Although I am yet to be impressed with Hood’s direction (Rendition was an average, slow burning thriller, and the less said about X-Men Origins: Wolverine the better) but with a synopsis that reads “70 years after a horrific alien war, an unusually gifted child is sent to an advanced military school in space to prepare for a future invasion” it has grabbed my attention: it also stars science fiction heavyweight Harrison Ford who still has a huge fan following despite winning my award for most boring person in the world.

Hailee Steinfeld

Also this year Steinfeld appeared in the music video for The Cab’s single Endlessly

Steinfeld continues to work in 2014 with The Keeping Room, being directed by the same man who brought Harry Brown to the big screen back in 2009. She is also rumoured to be in the comedy Why We Broke Up although confirmation is still being awaited for that. And Steinfeld has recently been announced to star alongside Kevin Costner in the thriller Three Days to Kill being directed by McG (This Means War) and produced and written by action God Luc Beeson.

It is clear that despite the couple of years break that Steinfeld has had she has a huge career ahead of her. And even though she missed out on winning the Oscar for True Grit I think an Academy Award is more than certain for this huge talent.

Well you don’t really need to look hard to find the big news of this week and when the announcement came yesterday I think it took everybody by surprise! Not content with already owning Pixar, without a doubt the best animation company in the world, back in 2010 Disney paid $4.2billion to take over Marvel Entertainment. And now on top of all that Disney have forked out around $4billion once again to purchase LucasFilm meaning that Disney now owns Star Wars. News which will no doubt be seen as both positive and negative among fans.

Disney have announced that with the rights going to them they are planning to release a new Star Wars film in 2015, with the next instalments coming every other year. These would effectively be Chapters 7, 8 and 9. With the horrible reception that the Episodes 1, 2 and 3 received you can see why fans would not want any more damage done to their cherished sci-fi western series, yet Disney do seem to get everything right; just look at what they’ve achieved with Marvel! There is no shortage of stories and characters in the Star Wars canon and new stories in such a wide and real world can be easily thought of for those with that ability. With a release date set for 2015 you have to imagine that something is already in the works and a director could soon be announced with only three years to work on the project. It is unknown as of yet if any previously seen characters will return and in what form.

Another piece of information from this deal is the fact that George Lucas will not be directing. This will be well received from fans, no doubt, who perhaps feel that in recent years Lucas has done more harm than good to the series and is using it basically to just milk the name for as much as is humanly possible. With science fiction doing so well right now with all the superhero movies being released and the reinvention of Star Trek Disney obviously feel that they can bring something new to the table with Star Wars and that news can only be good.

The deal struck here also concerns the ownership of Industrial Light & Magic, the special effects company will also be traded into Disney’s hands, along with the rights of other LucasFilm productions such as Indiana Jones although Disney have said that Star Wars is the only series they plan to continue at this time. And with Disney having produced Pirates of the Caribbean and National Treasure recently you can see why they don’t want to be seen to be doing too much of the same sort of style by throwing out Indy too.

So that’s the real big news of the week.

But there has been some other big news that may have escaped many people’s notice thanks to all of this Star Wars stuff. Not so long ago, Matthew Vaughn stepped down as director of X-men: Days of Future Past and speculation was rife as to who would replace him. Thankfully, his replacement has been found in the form of Bryan Singer(!), the man behind the camera of X-men and X2 which will no doubt please fans! This can only spur rumours on of cast members returning from the original trilogy but anyhow, it is great to see Singer back with the X-men.

Can Shia LaBeouf really act? How much does Gary Oldman need to be in a film to make a lasting impression? How tough can a man in a cardigan really be? These are all questions that Lawless poses and answers in it’s running time. Lawless is a post-western gangster flick based on the novel The Wettest County in the World: during the prohibition era the Bondurant brothers run a liquor bootlegging operation but new crooked Special Deputy Charles Rakes is after a share of the profits. The backbone of the story is the coming of age journey of the youngest brother, Jack Bondurant.

Jack Bondurant is played by Shia LaBeouf and this performance soon put to bed any doubts I had about his ability to be taken serious as an actor, I think that Lawless will be the film that builds the bases for LaBeouf’s future audition tapes because he is surprisingly good! However, he isn’t good enough to steal the show, despite being the main character. Guy Pearce was the stand out performer among an all star cast as the villain Charles Rakes; Pearce is incredibly good that as the film goes on you just can’t help but actually be filled with genuine hate towards his character. Gary Oldman manages to make sure his part of the film, although small, is unforgettable; Oldman pretty much picks up a check for shooting a car to pieces and hitting someone in the face with a shovel. Job done. Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska do their jobs well to stand up well in a very testosterone driven film and the latter is definitely going to steal some hearts with this performance.

Tom Hardy who is having a terrific career puts in a performance just as good as any he has done before. He doesn’t have a lot to say as his character, the leader of the Bondurant boys Forrest Bondurant, isn’t much of a talker but as everyone soon finds out, if you anger him you will know about it. It is Tom Hardy that really proves that even though a man is wearing a cardigan he can still kick your ass ten times over before you even have time to raise a fist in defence. The real quality of Hardy’s performance comes in his timing and delivery which is perfect all the way through the film. There is a running joke (sort of a myth or a legend rather than laugh out loud puns) that the Bondurant boys are invincible, immortal or indestructible and after a few scenes with Forrest Bondurant you certainly believe this to be true.

I have read that the script has been accused of being lazily written in places but I found Lawless to be very well written; it was slow paced that led up to a big ending in the final act with enough action in between to keep everyone happy. Guy Pearce and Shia LaBeouf have a great fight scene which is one of the best and most genuine I have seen for a while. The relationships between the Bondurant brothers and their dynamic is really what makes Lawless interesting and the character development throughout is wonderful.

The final act comes down to what most gangster films end with. A gun fight. A lot of the time I am not a big fan of a shoot out because I don’t really find them that exciting, I would much rather see people going toe to toe in hand to hand combat but I found that the amount of care you had invested in the central characters did enough to make the shoot out a riveting watch as you jump around in your seat hoping and praying that none of your favourite characters are going to die and you can do nothing but wish and wish and wish that Pearce’s villain finally gets his comeuppance.

Lawless isn’t for everyone, but it was certainly for me.

My Rating: 8/10.

Let’s start with some great news for fans of Pixar. For a while it has been thought that there would be a sequel coming up to Finding Nemo, which is probably my favourite Pixar movie there has been so far. No plot details have been released yet but surely it can’t just be Nemo getting lost again and needing to be found? They could go the ‘Taken 2‘ route and have Marlin needing to be found instead this time but that would just be ridiculous too. Pixar don’t usually screw up so fingers crossed but the news this week about the sequel is that Ellen DeGeneres is back for the sequel. DeGeneres played Dory who is often thought of as the most popular character of the first film so this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.

Lawless is hitting the cinema screens next week and with the cast it boasts (Hardy, LaBeouf, Oldman, Chastain, Pearce) it should surely be a hit. The western is the oldest genre in cinema and is still one of my favourites to this day and I am glad that some big name actors are trying to bring the genre back to the forefront of cinema. Natalie Portman is producing and also starring in a film called Jane Got A Gun where she plays a woman whose husband comes home pumped full of bullets so she reaches out to a former lover to protect her homestead from the criminals who are on the way to finish off her husband. Michael Fassbender is in talks for the role of the former lover! Brilliant news, this could well be another mark of how versatile Fassbender really is.

Tom Hardy, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire are set to team up for a new film with a strong message which takes aim at the horrible world of animal trafficking. DiCaprio and Maguire have long been friends with very strong animal rights opinions and DiCaprio has done plenty of work campaigning for better animal rights. Hardy has recently been fully informed of the actions by friends of his that used to be in the Special Forces but now work as anti-poaching fighters across the world. As of now the trio is only producing the film but with all three having such strong opinions on the subject I wouldn’t be surprised to see one, two or all three of them taking a starring role too.

Space Jam was released way back in 1996 and revolved around Bugs Bunny and his Looney Tunes friends recruiting basketball superstar Michael Jordan to play in a basketball match between the Looney Tunes and a group of aliens who stole the talent of some NBA heavyweights. Modern day Miami Heat star LeBron James has said that he is a huge fan of the film and has expressed interest in teaming up with Bugs, Taz, Daffy Duck and the rest for a sequel. Warner Bros. aren’t actually developing a sequel yet but James’ interest could be the push they need: Warner Bros. always want to make money, the Looney Tunes are guaranteed to pull audiences and sportsmen always want to be actors these days so I would suggest everything is already in place to get it going!

And finally… Tom Hanks has become a viral sensation this week and has earned the respect and adoration of thousands of new fans because of a set of pictures that have appeared on the internet. Tom Hanks is known for being pretty easy going and having a quirky and fun personality and now he has proven it once more as three pictures arrived of him pretending to be drunk and have his glasses stolen by a fan of his. Hanks shows he never gives acting a break and really plays up for the camera! See the pictures below…

 

 

The biggest news of the week broke last night with the announcement from Marvel that they have agreed a deal with Joss Whedon to return to write and direct the sequel to one of the biggest movies of all time, The Avengers. This is a no brainer and fans have been waiting for this announcement for a long time after the success of the biggest blockbuster of the summer. Marvel are also bringing out another team movie (we think separate from the Avengers universe but who knows really?) in Guardians of the Galaxy and a new writer has been snapped up to pen the script. Chris McCoy has never had a film produced yet his scripts have ended up on the Black List in 2007, 2009 and 2011. For those that don’t know the Black List is where the best unmade scripts end up basically so his writing must be pretty good! Apparently all of his scripts have a quirky comedic element to them so his writing for Guardians of the Galaxy is something to look forward to.

Along with Marvel’s Avengers, The Hunger Games was another huge film this summer and casting has taken another step forward on its sequel Catching Fire and it is no wonder being as though the sequel is slated for a November 2013 release. Meta Golding is the newest cast member to join who will be playing Enobaria, a former Hunger Games winner from District 2 who became champion through brutal methods. Meanwhile Patrick St. Esprit will take the role of Romulus Thread, the head peace keeper of District 12. Jennifer Lawrence, as Katniss Everdeen, was the star of The Hunger Games and the producers are desperate to keep her in the role as she has reportedly been offered a huge $10million to return to the role.

Jennifer Lawrence has also signed up for a new film entitled ‘The Ends of the Earth‘, a period drama that is already being seen as a chance for Lawrence to win the Oscar she so narrowly missed out on just a couple of years ago. The story follows 54 year old oil tycoon Ernest Marland who marries his adopted daughter Lydie (Lawrence) after having the adoption anulled. Weird right? Anyway, Lydie helped her husband incorporate social issues of the day into his work and became quite the socialite in the process. The main conflict of the film arises when Ernest’s business comes crashing down.

Christian Bale, fresh from the huge Dark Knight franchise and Chinese war epic Flowers of War has signed on to dip his feet back in the pool of the Old West as he joins Todd Field’s upcoming Western Creed of Violence. Back in 2007 Bale appeared in 3:10 to Yuma and I loved it so I am very excited to see him return to the genre. In 3:10 to Yuma Bale played the War veteran good guy, here he is a small-time assassin named Rawbone, who reluctantly teams with a Bureau of Investigations agent to infiltrate the Mexican criminal underworld during the Mexican Revolution in 1910. Pretty different I think you would agree?

Stars: Kathryn Bigelow (director), Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, Scott Adkins, Mark Strong, Chris Pratt, Harold Perrineau.

Plot: The Navy SEAL Team 6 tracks down wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden.

Two years after becoming the first woman in history to win the Oscar for Best Director ( for The Hurt Locker, which also won Best Film) Kathryn Bigelow teams up again with writer Mark Boal to bring this dramatisation about the monumental day in history when arguably one of the most infamous international criminals and terrorists was killed in what the trailer describes as ‘the greatest manhunt of all time’.

There are a few recognisable faces among the cast but not many names people will be familiar with; the most notable probably being Jessica Chastain (who will be appearing later this year in the highly anticipated western Lawless). Mark Strong seems to be Hollywood’s go to guy for a villain so it will be interesting to see who he plays. I was surprised to see Harold Perrineau among the cast as he is just one of the many men who has to live his life always being known as “that guy from LOST“. However, with The Hurt Locker relatively unknown actors were used and Jeremy Renner is now a wanted name in the movie industry so it will be good to see if there is a break out star from Zero Dark Thirty too.

The story is one that people want to know of course. The world rejoiced when Bin Laden was killed and no sooner had his death been reported had Hollywood began plans to turn it into a film, to direct I think Bigelow is a very good choice. However, I am very sceptical about how true to life the film will be as it is very unlikely that the general public will ever really know what happened and it seems very unlikely that they would show the American government in a bad light.

As for the trailer itself I think it is very promising; it is only a teaser but it has made me very interested. Not a lot of footage is shown but you can tell there will be a thriller element to it and I would expect it to be as good, if not better, than The Hurt Locker which I very much enjoyed!

Lawless [Trailer]

UK Release Date: 7th September 2012.

Stars: John Hillcoat (director), Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska

Plot: Set in the Depression-era Franklin County, Virginia, a bootlegging gang is threatened by authorities who want a cut of their profits.

The Western looks set to make a glamorous return to the cinema screens later on this year when Lawless is released. Directed by John Hillcoat and packed with more than enough big names to overlook the fact that the cast list includes Shia LeBeouf (who will never do anything near as good as Even Stevens in his entire career) Lawless was nominated for the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes film festival, therefore proving it must have some merit.

Brits Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman work together again (both will appear in The Dark Knight Rises) and are joined by Guy Pearce as his career continues to have somewhat of a resurgence over the past year or so. The female representatives in Lawless come in the form of critics favourite Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska who are both talented enough to more than hold their own among the male heavyweights here.

Lawless is based on novel The Wettest Country in the World by Matt Bondurant who wrote the book based on his own grandfather and great-uncles. This movie seems to have everything the critics will adore, but will audiences feel the same way? Unfortunately I doubt that this will hit big mainstream numbers as the success of Westerns have been limited over the past decade or more. However, with the stellar cast and the gangster aspect to the film if it is marketed right it could cause a big surprise at the box office!