It had me.
It had me with the trailer.
At once elegiac and lyrical, this feature film debut by director Michael Matthews, writer Sean Drummond, and cinematographer Shaun Lee, is a revelation. Haunting and hauntingly beautiful, it transposes the myth of the western onto the looming shadow of Apartheid era South Africa, with staggering effectiveness. To tell a tale of childhood promises and adult realities, amidst a lawless land.
With a great cast of actors (Vuyo Dabula as protagonist Tau is particularly brilliant, but so is Hamilton Dhlamini as the almost preternatural Sepoko), some unknown and some familiar faces, and awe inspiring visuals and landscapes, this movie is both a surprise and a joy and is a GREAT Western, up their with the best of recent westerns.
UNFORGIVEN, TOMBSTONE, OPEN RANGE, BLACKTHORN, THE MISSING, HOMESMAN, BURROWERS, BONE TOMAHAWK all heavy hitting, top notch westerns by master directors, and yet somehow first time director Michael Matthews makes those masterful films, all of which I LOVE, feel almost rote in comparison. Don’t get me wrong, FIVE FINGERS OF MARSEILLES is not better than TOMBSTONE, but its breadth gives it a unique quality.
This film is both a western and not a western, and its ability to transcend genre and exploit it, makes for a very fresh and freeing viewing experience. I loved it. And can not wait for a Blueray edition of this film.
Watch it free courtesy of Amazon prime, and if as impressed as i am… buy the Bluray. Grade: A-.
Ali Abbasi and Boots Riley.
These are names you should remember.
They are Writer/Directors to seek out.
You know for the most part when we go to one of these Blockbuster films in the theater, whether AVENGERS ENDGAME or the latest MISSION IMPOSSIBLE or JAMES BOND , we know what we are going to get. If not the particulars, we know the formula, the genre, the broad beats of hero and villain and threat to resolve.
With films like SORRY TO BOTHER YOU and BORDER if you go in blind, without trailer, or forewarning, or spoilers, as I did, and as I suggest you do, you are in for what film used to be, in the early days of film. You are in for something strange, and beautiful, and horrible, and more than a little bit unsettling; you are in for something rare, something new under the sun.
You are in for a ride, that is unfathomable and twisting, and both harrowing and transformative.
These are arguably not films that do well in the theatrical setting, for the simple fact they do not cater to expectations, they live in the unfamiliar places. And can arguably leave us… thoughtful and conflicted about what we see.
And audiences these days like to leave the theater, with easy assumptions reinforced, rather than challenged.
SORRY TO BOTHER YOU and BORDER are both films that do not play to the usual. They are living room films, they are home theaters films, they are personal films, and they are films that will stay with you long after you see them.
Both films feature amazing performances. Lakeith Stanfield of SORRY TO BOTHER YOU, and coming off a show stealing performance in ATLANTA is quickly becoming one of the best young Actors working. And Eva Melander, an actress unknown to me, is nothing short of award material in BORDER.
Both are must own films on DVD/Blu-Ray. In the age of streaming, these are the type of films you do not trust to the ephemeral nature of streaming. You can try before you buy by viewing both movies courtesy of HULU. and once you do, you’ll want to add these films to your collection.
I consider them both, cinematic gems, that will only grow with subsequent viewings.
Get your copies here:
The 1982 CONAN movie may be remembered, when remembered at all,slightly glibly, by a generation grown used to better, faster, stronger. Everything is of a time about the 1982 CONAN THE BARBARIAN, the effects mostly, the acting by Schwarzenegger is good but not great, bordering on cringy but the director keeps it on track.
However what stands the test of time of this first foray into the world of CONAN… is the fantastic direction and even more fantastic script by John Milius. Every director in Hollywood was clamoring for this script, but Millius coming off of great successes chose to direct it. And I think that’s for the best, because he kept his fantastic script alive. Dialogue that other directors may have cut for being too much, too sexist, too anti-christian, too everything, Millius kept, and he made sing.
That he was able to get one of the better and more verbose performances out of a very young and still green Arnold Schwarzenegger is a testament to Millius as man, writer and director.
Other things that stand the test of time is the great casting of James Earl Jones, who delivers one of his best performances as the feared Thulsa Doom. A villain that in the original Robert E. Howard Novels never rose above a Black Peril character, Millius script and Jones’ acting are able to imbue with true pathos, and humanity, and even sympathy.
And finally add to it the stunning score created by Basil Poledouris, and you have a movie that will stand the test of time. If you only own one Basil Poledouris score, this is the one you own.
Now onto today’s movie quote.
From a movie replete with quotable lines, narrowing it down to just one can be a good problem to have.
But for whatever reason, one quote has stayed with me the last couple of days. It is the following… enjoy.
“No one, not even you, will remember if we were good men or bad. Why we fought, or why we died. All that matters is that two stood against many. That’s what’s important!”
I think that quote, in a band-wagon jumping, lynch-mob mentality America, is important to hold onto. This idea of standing against the mob.
I think it is a quote, to remember.
Thanks for checking out this blog, and if you want to support it, use the link below to buy today’s item of the day:
Basil Poledouris’ CONAN THE BARBARIAN Soundtrack on CD or LP. (I typically prefer the CD, but you get what grabs you)
DEAD SQUAD: TEMPLE OF THE UNDEAD
25 minutes in and the jury is out on this one. I find it intriguing despite the annoying nature of most of the characters. The annoying, brain dead westerner character is one I can definitely do without. The film so far has not been great, a bit too campy and annoying, but I find myself interested in where the film is going. Interested in the shape of the doom they are getting closer to. And the Antagonist equally wears out his welcome.
However the practical effects and makeup are impressive, and how badass one of the characters is around the 40 minute mark keeps me watching when I was ready to write this one off.
I do not like Zombie/Ghoul films as a rule, but this one is different enough (especially the head monster) and truly deranged and yes campy enough, that you just have to be impressed by the absurd weirdness of it.
It becomes far more intriguing than I was initially thinking. Definitely not for everyone but for fans of Peter Jackson’s early horror films like BAD TASTE and DEAD ALIVE, despite my early doubts, Dominik Hauser’s DEAD SQUAD (his debut film) by the end, becomes an absolutely tremendous and fitting homage and evolution of those campy horror classics.
Try it yourself courtesy of Amazon Prime streaming. It is unfortunate movies like this are not getting a DVD/Blu-ray release with Director’s commentary. That’s how B films like this traditionally have endured. Preserved by collectors and fans. In the ephemeral world of streaming,controlled by cold dollars and cents, films like this can disappear without a whisper.