Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Shaw Brothers marathon: Have Sword Will Travel

Have Sword Will Travel (1969, Chang Cheh)
Have Sword Will Travel. That title has a strange ring to it. It does not sound quite right. ‘Have a sword and you will travel?’ ‘Have a sword and your will shall help you travel?’ It is the kind of title that hopes to be catchy and succinctly express something noteworthy but is unsure how to go about it. There are movies like that as well. Movies that, upon watching them, one knows where the story wants to go, what it wants to do with its characters, but is faulty in how it utilizes the tools at its disposal. By the end, the film is not as good as it really should have been, which is all the more disappointing, since the greater the expectations, the greater the disappointment. I estimate that the readers can guess in which direction this review is headed. Oh, dear.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Definitive Bond Marathon: Dr. No (1962)

Dr. No (1962, Terence Young)
And so the official cannon begins with this outing. A interesting choice in that the film seems divided into two clear halves. The first has our hero perform his duties like any simple detective would. The importance to infuse the film with constant action, a strategy that would play a greater role in future instalments, was not felt as heavily, at least not in the early going of the movie. Bond is essentially talking to a bunch of people, trying to figure out what exactly is going on. This certainly makes for a ‘different’ kind of Bond, even this is actually the first one.

Shootout at High Noon: Open Range

Open Range (2003, Kevin Costner)
After the arid deserts of The Good, the Bad, the Weird and The Proposition, the mountainous mining regions of Pale Rider, the crooked and quaint towns of The Quick and the Dead and The Shootist, we finally get the beautiful plains, where the herders roam as peacefully as they can, going from plain to plain, guiding cattle to wherever they need be. Kevin Costner’s 2003 surprise hit Open Range is the seventh film to be evaluated in our Shootout at High Noon Marathon, but the first in which the protagonists appear to have a real, regular job. The author has no clue what it must truly be like to herd cattle, but the images provided in the opening scenes of Costner’s film, romanticised as they may be, certainly make it out to be a pleasantly quaint way to make a living. Without realizing it, I was in fact eager to witness characters performing actual tasks that may be deemed normal. These people are not gunmen, they are not thieves, they are not sheriffs, there are not escaped criminals. Rather, they are ordinary cattlemen. Of course, they are as ordinary as can be when played by mega stars Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Definitive Bond Marathon: Casino Royale (1967)

** special note to Between the Seats readers:  The Definitive marathon will contain two things that either do not appear in our typical reviews, or that have been forsaken since late last year.
The first: spoilers. We are going to dig pretty deep into most of these films. That is not to say that every single review will feature an abundance of spoilers, but readers should be aware that certain specific pot points may be discussed at any time in the reviews.
The second: grades. We have not issued grades to films since December of 2010. I figured that thorough analysis carried more weight than grades, and while I still do believe such, grades will be issued to each individual film for the sake of continuity. That is how I proceeded last summer at Filmspotting, and so the practice will continue, if solely for the films reviewed within the Definitive Bond Marathon

Marathon fever: The Definitive Bond marathon arrives!

Hello readers!

As most of you know already, Between the Seats is driven primarily by marathons on specific genres, directors and franchises. We already have two marathons cooking some serious heat right now (Shootout at High Noon and Shaw Brothers), but I think we can fit in a third.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Shaw Brothers marathon: The One Armed Swordsman

The One Armed Swordsman (1967, Chang Che)
One knows exactly when it has happened. Any movie aficionado is familiar with that odd feeling which takes over when one has watched a film that manages to overcome its flaws and provide some solid entertainment despite it all. There is no hiding that the film is imperfect. Some of the flaws may be glaring, but what it does well, it does so marvellously. This sentiment fell upon the author while watching this second entry in the Shaw Brothers Marathon, The One Armed Swordsman, from 1967. More than once a sense of exhilaration washed over me like a tidal wave, which thankfully made up for the moments when I could no believe the ridiculousness of what transpired on screen. For this reason, I salute director Chang Che, who pulls off quite the job even though his film is hampered by at times a strange script and really bogus storytelling methods. Enough with the intro, let us get into the juicy details.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Parting Shot: The Shootist

For a better appreciation of the article that follows, a proper reading of Bill's review for The Shootist over at his Movie Emporium is in order.

How ironic that you and I have rebuttal articles to write and publish in the aftermath of our respective reviews for Don Siegal's The Shootist. I frequently liken these 'parting shots', as I jocularly refer to them as, to the 'aftermath' of our reviews. They consist of what we have we left to say about our individual thoughts after all the cards are left on the table. In the case of this week's rebuttal post, I it feels more like a post-mortem. Not only have our reviews clearly expressed our positions on this important film, but, as everyone familiar with the movie knows, the greatest icon of the western genre, John Wayne, fires his final bullet in the story as well. In that respect, one could almost say that today were are publishing our 'post mortems.' Eerie.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Shootout at High Noon: The Shootist

The Shootist (1976, Don Siegal)
Some things happen for a reason and others at random. Having not been around in 1979, one can only assume what the reactions were among film buffs and in particular great admirers of the western genre when the one and only John Wayne passed away. I wonder if on that day people considered that a piece of the western genre died along with him, for he was so iconic a figure for a number of decades. It seems eerily ironic that not only was the famous actor’s final performance in Don Siegal’s The Shootist only from a few years prior in 1976, but that in the film he portrayed an aging U.S. Marshall whose days of ambitious heroics are long behind once he learns that he is dying of cancer. It feels wrong to say that all these little puzzle pieces, both real and fictional, feel into place, and so let us merely come to agree that fate has a strange way of pulling the strings. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Shaw Brothers marathon: Come Drink With Me

Come Drink With Me (1966, King Hu)
The Shaw Brothers marathon begins at long last. This 1966 entry was something of a revelation in how it kept on bringing a series of surprises as the narrative evolved. There is always something thrilling and fascinating about a movie that defies ones expectations and gives an audience something other than what was anticipated. Truth be told, there were not any legitimate expectations seeing as how Come Drink With Me was one of the very first Shaw Brothers films the author ever saw. Still, King Hu’s efforts in putting an interesting twist on specific characters and narrative elements did not go unnoticed. Not everything in movies which willingly choose to play things differently can fit together, and while Come Drink With Me does experience some slight turbulence at times, the end result made for a memorable 90 minutes. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Shaw Brothers tomorrow: Promise!

Sorry guys. I really thought that on my day off I'd have more time to finish the review for Come Drink With Me, but duty called and, well....

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Reelists (2009-2011)

Hello again,

This time I bring less joyous news. Unfortunately, The Reelists, a website that featured written work from a great many talented bloggers including myself, will no longer exist. In a matter of days, will go offline. It is a shame because I felt that the site really was coming together nicely over the last year or so. The web site's former chief editor, Corey Atad, has created a wordpress blog where all the articles appear ( For those wanting to specifically read my work , I will be posting those articles here at Between the Seats over the few couple of days. I will also try to keep up with the 30 Day Movie Challenge which they people at the Reelists had begun last week and which I partook in.

Shaw Brothers marathon starts Saturday June 11th!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

review: X-Men: First Class

X-Men: First Class (2011, Mathew Vaughn)

Of all the Marvel comics universes that exist and, more importantly, that have experienced translations to the silver screen, it is that belonging to the X-Men which interests this movie fan most. The thematic undertones of acceptance and rejection of what one truly is, the struggle involved in helping the humans despite the latter group’s hatred of mutants, and of course the wonderful imagination that goes into thinking up all the mutant superpowers that each individual character is blessed with. There is a ton of fun to be had with these films, even though not all of them are equal in quality. After two unmistakable hits, X-Men and X2: X-Men United, these series went on a bit of a creative snag for a short while with X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine (till this day the latter is a guilty pleasure of mine but never would I attempt to argue that it is a well made film). Now, acclaimed British director Mathew Vaughn tries his hand at the franchise with...what exactly is still not entirely clear. Is it a reboot or a prequel? We are talking comic book stories, which seem to do both all the time, so in the end it might not matter much.

Parting Shot: Pale Rider

In order to fully appreciation what follows, please read Bill's Pale Rider review at his Movie Emporium.

Last Sunday afternoon I read your Pale Rider review. Throughout the week I read a second time, and then a third time. Today, in preparation for this rebuttal article, I read it for a fourth and fifth time. What you published last week reminded me of some of the work which appears here at Between the Seats, in that you dug deep into the thematic structure of the movie under review, focussing almost entirely on its ideas and possible meaning, leaving less space than usual for everything else. It was a different read, and I mean that as a compliment. Honest is the best policy, and therefore an admission of perplexity upon my initial reading is in order. Truthfully, I had no idea what you were talking about. The review kept returning again and again to its focal point: Pale Rider’s position as part of a dying genre of film. Nothing of the sort had crossed my mind while experiencing Clint’s picture. I doubt it was even a twinkle in my mind’s eye. Now, before you start raising your expectations, thinking that the above introduction is hinting at some sort of revelation in which I declare how accurate your assessment is after reading it multiple times, get over yourself. That won’t happen. I still disagree with almost everything you wrote, but, not as staunchly as last week. I believe there is some sense in what you spoke of. I’m just not ready to buy it yet.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Capsule reviews: Once Upon in the West, A Bear Named Winnie