Sunday, September 25, 2016

WINCHESTER '73 (1950)

Between 1950 and 1955 James Stewart and director Anthony Mann made five westerns together, this first pairing finds Jimmy Stewart and his buddy Millard Mitchell on the trail of Dutch Henry Brown (Stephen McNally)...a sidewindin' bushwackin', hornswagglin' cracker croaker that really pissed off Stewart, but we don't know why.

In the opening scene they catch up with him in Dodge City, but since there's no guns allowed in the city limits, they can't kill each other.  Instead they compete in a shooting contest judged by Wyatt Earp! Grand prize: a highly-coveted "one-in-a-thousand" Winchester Model 1873 rifle. Stewart wins the gun only to have Brown and his men jump him, steal the rifle and skedaddle it out of town. From here on the story splits in two: one, the story of the rifle (and it's quickly changing owners) and the other, Stewart and Mitchell tracking down Brown.

WINCHESTER '73 is a great western and one of the coolest things about it is it's outstanding cast.  Besides the two leads of Stewart and McNally you have Millard Mitchell, Shelley Winters, Will Geer, Rock Hudson, John McIntire, Dan Duryea, Stephen McNally, James Millican, Jay C. Flippen, Charles Drake, John Alexander, Tony Curtis, Abner Biberman, James Best, Steve Brodie and more!  I mean, the whole time you're watching the film you're thinking to yourself "Holy crap!  That's Teddy from ARSENIC AND OLD LACE! Charge!!!" or "Hey, there's Rosco from "The Dukes of Hazzard".  It's a joy seeing so many familiar faces, even if sometimes it's just in the background.

Strong direction, legendary cast, impressive acting (I especially liked Shelley Winters), clever script, quick pace, beautiful scenery and cinematography.  If you're a fan of Jimmy Stewart or just good movies then you can't go wrong with WINCHESTER '73.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

10 CLOVERFIELD LANE (2016)

Meh.

Well, the good news is Mary Elizabeth Winstead didn't get kidnapped by Dr. Heiter from THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE.  The bad news is the guy (John Goodman) she did get kidnapped by is almost as equally insane. Unfortunately for the viewer though, this is a major studio release so naturally it's rated PG-13 and neutered as fuck.

The emasculated fun begins with Mary being run off the road and then waking up shackled in a basement.  I like where this is going!  Soon enough though, the already low amount of suspense drops to nothing when Mary and this other dude simply accept their being held captive by fruitcake Goodman.  You see, according to Goodman, there's been a worldwide disaster and he's "saving their lives" by holding them captive down in his underground bunker.  No television, no internet, no emergency broadcast radio signals, not even a goddamn periscope!  No proof at all (except for one predictable scene with highly convenient timing).  Things proceed in a predictable manner...well, for the entire movie.

Mediocre pace, okay acting, zero mystery, crap ending, zero gore, zero nudity, mild cussing, promising premise that goes nowhere.  I was actually excited when I sat down to watch this film, but as the it dragged on and on and hit every single predictable story point my excitement faded into disappointment.  John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead both deserve better than this.  Worth a watch, I guess, if you're easily impressed, really bored and have zero imagination.

Same universe - Cloverfield

Is this a reference to "Left 4 Dead"?