Tuesday, May 31, 2011

review: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (2011, Morgan Spurlock)

Right now I am drinking a nice, hot, delicious Second Cup green tea. I am wearing some swanky Old Navy jeans. My shirt is the Arsenal home jersy for the ’06-’07 season, made by none other than the biggest, most recognizable sportswear manufacturer on the planet today: Nike. These brands, as well as countless others, are seemingly unavoidable in our everyday lives, especially for those of us living in medium to large sized cities, where the companies who produce said products know full well that the market is ripe for the picking and therefore push their marketing techniques to the fullest degree. One of the most prominent marketing strategies in recent times has been product placement, by which companies have their brands associated with other products, most often movies and television shows which are viewed by millions upon millions of people. Most of the time the companies that try to push their products in the show or motion picture will try to make the appearance of their brand feel as natural as possible. As part of the story, if you will. Documentarian Morgan Spurlock, as well as a lot of other people, think this is bunk, that companies have far too close a relationship with people and artists these days, to the point that said companies even flex their marketing muscles in the school system. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Shootout at High Noon: Pale Rider

Pale Rider (1985, Clint Eastwood)

It would never be a true western film marathon without inclusion of a Clint Eastwood endeavour, no would it? One of, if not the most, iconic figures of the genre since its beginnings, regardless of decade (he has starred in westerns over the course of four different decades!). Clint Eastwood, who will be referred to as ‘Clint’ for the remainder of the review because he is has earned that level of coolness, is an interesting figure when it comes to this particular genre because he has both starred in and directed such movies. If there is any man who understands what it takes to make a western from beginning to end, it must be Clint.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

New feature: Festival coverage!

Hello readers!

It's no secret that several bloggers out there offer extensive film festival coverage for their readers. There are, after all, hundreds upon hundreds of film festivals the world, some of which go almost unnoticed by people who consider themselves serious film fans. The truth is that it is impossible to be on top of all film festivals, hence the wonderful and important work from bloggers. Seriously, nice work guys.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Parting shot: The Good, the Bad, the Weird

As per usual, go read Bill's review in order to have a better appreciation of the article below.

So you just had to bring Tarantino into this, didn’t you? Still feeling the sting of the previous week’s rebuttal when I loosely pointed out your disdain for the writer-director’s work? Yeah, I can see how that might have hurt. I’m not apologizing though.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

review: Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974, Sam Peckinpah)

Sam Peckinpah is a director whose body of work went mostly unappreciated during his prime. He was a man intent on making film in his own idiosyncratic ways, with personal touches sprinkled throughout all of his films. Some may be wondering what is so special about a director making a film in the manner he or she sees fit, but the reality of Peckinpah’s career when looked back on by film historians (which Between the Seats absolutely does not pretend to be, just in case people get any funny ideas) is that his artistic inclinations frequently clashed with those of the large American studios. The times have changed drastically since the 1960s and early 1970s, and what seemed shockingly violent back then comes across as tame to many younger viewers today. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, which has been referred to as one of Peckinpah’s most personal films, was, like many of the director’s other projects, rejected by movie goers and critics alike upon its initial release. Time has been somewhat kind to it however and a recent viewing of it on DVD prompted the author to share some thoughts in a review.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Shootout at High Noon: The Good, the Bad, the Weird

Joheunnom Nabbeunnom Isanghannom/The Good, the Bad, the Weird (2008, Kim Jee-woon)

This is the second film in a row in our Shootout at High Noon marathon that allocates more energy to action and style than anything else. What is curious about this entry is the director behind the project, South Korean wonder Kim Jee-woon. Not that there should be any doubts with regards to his talents or accomplishments for I think anyone who has seen some of his work knows perfectly well what the man can accomplish. The Good, the Bad, the Weird is on another scale altogether though with a variation of action stunts that he had not exactly tackled up until then, or since. Kim’s popularity as a director, both at home and abroad was due mostly to his proficiency in smaller genre filmmaking, with the horror classic A Tale of Two Sisters and the mob film A Bittersweet Life. With the film under review today, Kim stretches his creative wings as far as he can in bringing a tremendous sense of thrills and scale to the old west.

Friday, May 13, 2011

review: RoboCop

RoboCop (1987, Paul Verhoeven)

It is always a welcome sign when a film from a past decade lives up to its name and stays relevant during present day. The 1980s, perhaps more than most other previous decades, is infamous for a number of movies and franchises that seem stuck in its own era. ‘80s culture’ , it would seem, does not translate well to the early 21st century. There are some shining beacons however, films that have withstood the test of time either because of the timelessness of their characters or because certain themes are still relevant today. Paul Verheoven, not one to shy away from controversy, had a devil of a time getting his quintessential 1980s action film RoboCop accepted by the MPAA due to the graphically violent content. While the grisly nature of the action is thrilling, RoboCop is much more than that and remains as entertaining and provocative a movie as it must have been those 24 years ago.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Poll results and other news

Hello readers,

Well, not many people voiced an opinion in the poll question that went up a couple of weeks ago, but for those who showed interest, I shall respect their opinion and desire.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Far East Specials: Ichi the Killer

Ichi the Killer (2001, Takashi Miike)

‘Shock value.’ What is it worth? When is a movie using audacious, provocative, visceral visuals to better suite its story and study its characters and when is a movie failing miserably to do anything, other than making people faint, turn off the tele or barf? This divide is separated by the thinnest of lines, with a single false move on behalf of the director or writers plunging the picture into ugly depths it could never crawl out of. Takashi Miike is one such director who has earned himself a reputation with a filmmography that is plentiful when it comes to stories of near incomparable violence. If a curious movie watcher wishes to discover the greatest heights of visual splendour and elliptical storetelling, they go watch a Kieslowksi. If they desire to witness the boldest beauty and grittiness of the wild, wild west, they go watch a Leone. If they are willing to submit themselves to outlandish, sado-masochistic horrors and thrills, someone should point them towards Miike. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Shootout at High Noon: The Quick and the Dead

The Quick and the Dead (1995, Sam Raimi)

Finally, with this third film in the marathon, we get a motion picture that truly gets to the heart of what Bill and I are ‘gunning’ for: standoffs. We have seen plenty of gun fights (The Wild Bunch) and lots of gruesome deaths and injuries (The Proposition), but good old fashioned standoffs were consistently absent. Here is a film absolutely littered with them. Standoffs are one of the staples of the western genre and oftentimes make up some of the best scenes in movies. The tension involved in those moments can be palpable if the emotions are played right. The stares, the twitching of the fingers, the onlookers silently hoping one the other of the participants will be left standing, the frequency with which a fully developed character story arc culminates in said shootout (not just the shooter’s life at stake but those of many others in certain cases). They are the stuff of legend.