Streaming VOD Movie of the 2nd Week of 2020 : MANDY Shudder Amazon Prime

 

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MANDY (2018)– Finally catching this 2018 released film courtesy of SHUDDER. And I have to say… stunning. A lurid and at times lucid nightmarish primary color tinged, cosmic fueled descent into the Maelstrom; a revenge flick that goes to damnation and beyond. Panos Cosmatos has created a singular vision of the places that wait beyond our reason, places horrid , and awe-inspiring, and unrelenting. And all we must offer up… is everything.

A stunning film by Cosmatos, fueled by a great score by (I have just found out) the late and uber talented Johann Johannsson (composer of one of the best scores of recent memory, SICARIO… he will be missed), and powered by transformative performances by all; but particularly by Nicholas Cage, who takes us into the maelstrom with him, into hearts of darkness.

Nicolas Cage has really been taking some rough roles, brutal roles recently. That will take much out of any actor, and he does it again here, but going further than anyone should have to, into places dark and demanding. And it is so great to see the legendary Bill Duke in a film, he just raises the bar of everything he is in, and does so here. Panos Cosmatos (the son of George Cosmatos who directed one of my favorite films, TOMBSTONE, also an iconic film, with revenge, pushing the wrong man too far, at its core conceit)  with only his second film, the first the equally magical realism imbued BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW, has cemented himself for me, as a director to seek out, and to purchase his films when available.

And Kudos to producers Elijah Wood and Daniel Noah for helping champion these criminally underused (and in one case, seemingly blacklisted) visionaries, and working with them to get their films out to a wider audience again. MANDY is very much a gift, from a filmmaker who we have not heard from since 2010. Also very much looking forward to their collaboration with Richard Stanley.

Final thoughts on MANDY… Hypnotic and an experience, that is… compellingly watchable and re-watchable. It is a rabbit hole, and will suck you in. Highly recommended!

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When you have viewed it courtesy of streaming, ‘tried before you buy’ so to speak, and are as impressed as I am, then I suggest buying on Bluray. However I would hold out until they release a steel-book or digi-book with special features to include commentary. The Bluray on the market now lacks any commentary or really notable special features, which I think is a big misstep, to release a bare-bones disc. These days I do not buy a disc, unless it is loaded with special feature to include a commentary track.

In the age of streaming you really need to step up your game with the special features to make the Bluray worth it. Here’s hoping a full fledged disk will be released soon, this film deserves it.

 

TOMBSTONE and John Sturges

I love the film TOMBSTONE. A lot of people will bring up UNFORGIVEN and OPEN RANGE (both phenomenal movies) as the best western made in the last quarter of a century. They’d be wrong. Here in this operatic retelling of the Wyatt Earp legend, a troubled production and warring behind scene forces manages to somehow gel into a film that is far more than the sum of its parts. All hands, particularly Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer turning in career defining performances, in a film that is at once action, drama, romance, and definitive western.

But this film for all its power and all its greatness, owes its beats, to John Sturges and his two great Earp Movies of an earlier age. GUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL and THE HOUR OF THE GUN.

The first, GUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL (starring Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas) being the superior movie. Being all around stronger than its sibling HOUR OF THE GUN.

GUNFIGHT offers better pacing, great direction, stirring score by the legendary Dimitri Tiomkin, and two great actors ripping the screen apart (particularly Kirk Douglas in an endlessly re-watchable performance). HOUR is the joyless, more accurate follow-up, grim and mirthless and overlong. A sprawling, languid tale of vengeance that stars James Garner of ROCKFORD FILES fame. Garner is too one note in this film to be likable, but a compelling storyline nonetheless… familiar to anyone who has watched TOMBSTONE… carries the film through.

TOMBSTONE mixes the two Sturges films and tightens them, strengthens them, to produce a film superior to its inspirations, and exceeding all expectations.

John Sturges… one of the great directors of westerns (from great unknowns such as THE WALKING HILLS to universally acclaimed films such as THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN), understood the morally ambiguous nature of human existence, the morally complex nature, and was one of the first directors working in the black and white field of westerns, to explore the grey, ala Anthony Mann, while still maintaining a sense of the mythic and larger than life, ala John Ford. His films possessed a unique duality, a sensibility that very much informs the best of films made today.

TOMBSTONE being one of those best. And in celebrating TOMBSTONE it is also a celebration of the direction and films of John Sturges.