Sunday 20 January 2008

Movie Musing Madness...

Now that my personal collection has passed 1300 titles, I figured it was time to catch up with some mini-musings on some of my latest viewings.

3:10 To Yuma - I haven't seen the original, but I thoroughly enjoyed this quality slice of Western gun-slinging. Christian Bale is, as always, a joy to watch. The action is tense and constructed with flair and skill, and while Russell Crowe is dangerously charming it is Ben Foster who really (for me at least) punches above his belt, which suggests he is one to watch. Yuma feels like a classic, quality Western.

Death Sentence - James Wan continues to show he's a talented horror & thriller director. SAW was superb and Dead Silence was a deftly classical horror show. As for Death Sentence, he continues to demonstrate his clout, which at times feels reminiscent of Dario Argento's past work - look out for the parking garage sequence. Kevin Bacon is compellingly real - the opening montage telling more back story in a few minutes than many modern thrillers can muster in 100 of them. There is a real tragedy to the circumstances, mainly played through Bacon himself, and as a result the violence (which is brutally upfront and blaring) is all the more meaningful. It packs the kind of balls you rarely see from Hollywood these days.

Eastern Promises - on one hand it's a shame Cronenberg doesn't plunge into the depths of the 'new flesh' and body horror anymore, but on the other this film, and the previous A History of Violence, show off his maturing talent and taste for characteristically upfront and honest violence. Viggo Mortensen is as engaging and intense as ever, and despite the loose nature of the finale - you most definitely come away having watched something worthwhile, produced from talent and a maturing mastery of the craft.

The Kingdom - while not as political as some other Iraq-based, 9/11-prodding pictures of recent times (thankfully so, perhaps) it still carries a fair package of punch around in its holster. Sure, it's fairly populist in its approach - but it at least considers the characters, the cultural divide and your expectations or even prejudices. You aren't battered over the head with up-to-date political aggression and the grim reality of corporate dealings - we've certainly had our fill - but you do have to wonder, with Gulf War One having barely been covered on film, aren't we rushing a bit too fast to appraise a complex conflict that's far from over?

Oh, and I gave Resident Evil Extinction another chance - but it's even worse than I remembered. Oh my GAR is it poorly scribed. It's crap like Resi 3 that keeps the zombie genre down in the depths all-too-often (save for Land of the Dead, which is a rare glimmer of reason in the genre of late).

And finally, I gave Blazing Saddles a spin - I know, I only just got around to watching it, but damn there's so many movies out there - and it was bloody good fun, it certainly had me chuckling along. It's interesting to watch these 'old' classics that pre-dated/originated so many things that are now either hackneyed or over-done - but even viewing it in hindsight, it's still a gloriously daft ride.

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