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Jan 21 08 10:08 AM
Jan 21 08 10:28 AM
I just feel like my heart is going to burst because it's full of rainbows.
Wade's voice sounds like far-off thunder wrapped in velvet. ~ James Sanford, KALAMAZOO GAZETTE
We are the best-entertained, least-informed people on Earth. ~ Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Jan 21 08 11:14 AM
I am perfectly sure thatI will always bea Russell Crowe fan!
Quote:She expected a crass, brutal thug.
Jan 21 08 11:21 AM
Jan 21 08 11:48 AM
Quote:Top 10 Films of 2007This is my entirely subjective list of the top 10 films of 2007, presented in reverse order with my original reviews (and an honorable mention list at the end). 10. Zodiac 9. Sunshine 8. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead 7. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly 6. No Country for Old Men 5. 3:10 to Yuma - The Western genre makes a triumphant return to the big screen with a searing and suspenseful character study remade from a 1957 classic that starred Van Heflin and Glenn Ford.Dan Evans (Christian Bale) is a disabled Civil War veteran and impoverished rancher in peril of losing his land to the railroad. After Dan and his two sons witness the ambush of a stagecoach by outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) and his gang, Dan helps the lone survivor of the stagecoach crew, bounty hunter Byron McElroy (Peter Fonda), and is instrumental in the capture of Wade. In exchange for some much needed cash, Dan volunteers to help McElroy and railroad representative Grayson Butterfield (Dallas Roberts) transport Wade to Contention City to be put on a train bound for the prison in Yuma, a task that's complicated by the determination of Wade's lieutenant Charlie Prince (Ben Foster) to rescue him from the clutches of the law.Director James Mangold (Cop Land, Walk the Line) subtly distills all the tropes of classic Westerns into a single film that intelligently explores the moral ambiguities of its characters and the West, and there isn't as much as a single extraneous frame in this tautly executed study of men who are as unpredictable as the landscape they inhabit. Mangold successfully invokes the ambience of a classic Western while employing modern pacing and sensibilities to tell the story. The splendid pacing starts out at a slow burn and builds toward a dramatic climax. Screenwriters Michael Brandt & Derek Haas (2 Fast 2 Furious) deftly update and expand upon the 1957 screenplay by Halsted Welles, which was loosely based on Elmore Leonard's short story, offering characters that are as complex and vividly drawn as the story is compelling from start to finish, leading inevitably toward a memorable denouement that arrives like a shot to the gut. As a remake, it never once feels superfluous.Cinematographer Phedon Papamichael (Identity, Walk the Line) uses hard, textured lighting to capture a naturalistic impression of the rugged New Mexico landscape where it was filmed. Production designer Andrew Menzies (art director of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Munich) and costumer designer Arianne Phillips (The Crow, Hedwig and the Angry Inch) strive for and achieve an authenticity that instantly transports the audience into the Old West. The brooding score by Marco Beltrami (Hellboy, Live Free or Die Hard) seals the mood.3:10 to Yuma is an actor's film, and both Bale and Crowe deliver Oscar-worthy performances. Bale always excels at playing damaged men, and he's outstanding here as a man beaten down by life and trying to find a way to redeem himself. He allows much of Dan's inner torment to go unspoken, revealed instead only in his eyes. Crowe is magnificent as he revels in the complexity of a charming, morally ambiguous outlaw. You may love or hate Wade by turns, but you'll always be fascinated by him. Crowe's performance is at once subtle and bravura, vividly etching onto the screen a character who's more than just the sum of his outlaw reputation.The strong performances don't stop there, with Fonda as the grizzled bounty hunter, Foster as Wade's vicious lieutenant (seemingly in love with his boss), Roberts as the railroad man, Logan Lerman as Dan's rebellious teenaged son, Gretchen Mol as Dan's weary wife, Alan Tudyk as the town veterinarian pressed into service as a doctor, Luce Rains as the Marshal, and Kevin Durand as the local landlord's hired muscle.Although the heyday of the Western was decades ago, it's a genre that still has a lot to say when done right. 3:10 to Yuma is not only done right, it's a flawless film that instantly joins Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven as one of the rare modern classics of the Western genre. [5 out of 5 stars]***4. Across the Universe 3. Into the Wild 2. The Wind That Shakes the Barley 1. There Will Be Blood
Jan 21 08 12:02 PM
Quote:UNDAY, JANUARY 20, 2008Go West, Wuxia Storytellers!Ive been off traveling the byways of the virtual world promoting my novel, Dream of the Dragon Pool - A Daoist Quest. In those travels, Ive met some new friends, readers, who are pitching in to help promote my work. One of them, a longtime Star Wars fan, has taken his enthusiasm for my work to his fellow-fans with the message that wuxia and the Star Wars world are very close my blogs on global storytelling have pointed to those relationships. Another reader has been supporting my work among the fans of the prominent fantasy writer, Terry Brooks. All of this is deeply appreciated! Thanks for your support!Today, Im writing about another movie that I just saw and that deeply impressed me: 3:10 to Yuma, the Russell Crowe/Christian Bale/James Mangold (director) version. Ive borrowed the original 1957 version for comparison purposes, but havent had a chance to see it, yet. While both actors are great, it is the Russell Crowe character and James Mangolds comments that moved me to write todays blog.Ive been writing for awhile that the Western is of a similar genre as wuxia in the nature of the hero and of the story environment. Before I write about Crowes Ben Wade character, Id like to discuss James Mangolds comments on the DVDs featurette, An Epic Explored.Mangold contends that the Western is not a period or historical film. Rather, he sees it as capturing cultural issues and putting them in a fantastic landscape like science fiction. He feels that this objectifies these issues and allows viewers to look at them free from their own loyalties.One of the reasons that he feels the Western is not a period or historical film, is that, he claims, they are not historically accurate, nor do they claim to be. Rather, they have chosen an idealized setting to tell basically, a fantasy story. Since this fantasy world leaves the viewer without any of the familiar and comfortable likenesses/prejudices with which to draw comparisons, the viewer is forced to look at the issues and themes presented from a new perspective.These stories are fantasies created no doubt to entertain, but also, according to Mangold, to explore real issues beyond the simplicity of good vs. bad. Christian Bale adds that the Western is asking if the hero has it in him to step up to the plate to do the right thing when the time comes. That in this relatively primitive world, people had to fend for themselves and depend upon themselves without support from others. That it is this aspect of individual strength that makes this genre still speak to us in the 21st century.Mangold adds that this is the brilliance of the Western in that it sets mankind in a setting where they have nothing but their own strength physical and moral to rely on, to defend themselves and what they love. He says that in such a context, the imagination flies. Without a doubt!When I listened to him, I couldnt help but think of my main characters, Li Bo and Wang Ah Wu, in my novel nothing but their own strength physical and moral to rely on, to defend themselves and what they love. The two genres, wuxia and the Western, translate so easily back and forth as if they were mirror reflections the meeting of East and West.As I continue my reading of John Trubys The Anatomy of Story, I just came across this:The symbol web of the Western begins with the horseman. He is both the hunter and warrior, and he is the ultimate expression of the warrior culture. He also takes on certain features of the English national myth of King Arthur. He is the natural knight, a common man of pure and noble character who lives by a moral code of chivalry and right action (known as the Code of the West)The six-gun represents mechanized force, a sword of justice that is highly magnified in power. (p.245)Truby goes onto the next page giving the movie Shane as the generic example of a Western. In previous blogs, Ive used the same example. This all goes to say, that from my wuxia perspective, we are on the same ground here. Wuxia is, without a doubt, also a fantasy that allows us to see everyday issues in a new light.In Dream of the Dragon Pool, for example, what is one of the basic issues being considered? The role/life of an artist and the challenge of material vs. spiritual fulfillment. Actually, it is not only Li Bo, the main character, who has to make that choice. All the characters face the challenge of defining what is meaningful for them in their lives. And all the characters have to, at some point in the story, in Christian Bales words, step up to the plate to do the right thing when the time comes. As in life, some do and some dont.Looking at the Ben Wade character, as so aptly portrayed by Russell Crowe, he might at first seem to be totally evil. But, as in life, things are not simply black and white, but rather gray. As the story progresses, we find that many of the good guys in the posse taking Wade to meet the 3:10 train are not so good. And, gradually, a different aspect of Mr. Wade begins to emerge, yet at the same time paralleled by his seeming acts of ruthlessness. Im not giving away any spoilers here, but by the end of the movie, perhaps, youll find yourself like I did very conflicted about the Ben Wade character. I like that! Dont give me simple characters people are never simple!After you see 3:10 to Yuma, think about the characters especially Crowes and Bales and see if you could imagine them with swords in their hands traveling through the jianghu. I can!Zaijian!
Jan 21 08 1:46 PM
Quote:Alice (Dan's wife)
Jan 21 08 2:21 PM
Jan 21 08 7:34 PM
Alias MsMACBud's TypistInconsequentialBut Always True
Jan 21 08 9:03 PM
Crowe Crossing MemberBen Perver
Jan 22 08 4:03 AM
Duchess of Denim
Jan 24 08 1:56 AM
Ben's Bathtub Babe
Jan 24 08 3:00 AM
Crowe Crossing MemberSCRATCHER TO THEMIGHTY WHISKERS
Quote: Wade's voice sounds like far-off thunder wrapped in velvet. ~ James Sanford, KALAMAZOO GAZETTE
Jan 25 08 8:26 PM
Quote:JANUARY 22, 2008...7:06 AMReview: 3:10 to YumaJump to Comments3:10 to Yuma has two of the finest actors in recent memory, Russell Crowe and Christian Bale bring an intellectual sang froid and a brooding intensity to their respective roles, both delivering Oscar worthy performances. Sadly, this movie does not deserve lead performances of such caliber. Apparently, nobody showed up to work aside from Crowe and Bale as they are both hindered by a overbearing, shallow script and equally overbearing and shallow directing courtesy of James Mangold of Kate and Leopold fame.Of course, genius does not come easy and it is unwise to expect it from 2nd rate Hollywood directors like Mangold. Christian Bale and Russell Crowe are clearly geniuses. Bale plays the role of Dan Evans, a struggling rancher with both shocking intensity and genuine warmth. Crowe plays Ben Wade, the notoriously successful criminal that Dan Evans must escort to the 3:10 train to Yuma prison to save his ranch and his family. Crowe is magnificent as he hints at a man who understands humanity perfectly, playing those around him perfectly to get what he wants, while being detached from petty human morals and values. Crowes performance, along with Daniel Day Lewis turn as Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood, combined with Ian McShanes brilliant Al Swearengen in HBOs Deadwood have created a new, thoroughly enthralling archetype, the brutal yet incredibly intelligent capitalistic Western anti hero.Crowe and Bale dig into weightier themes than the rest of this movie has the audacity to tackle. Bale plays a man torn apart by the demands of society/morality and his love for his family/his simple way of life. Crowes Ben Wade is an almost god like figure, forever untouchable by mortals and law enforcement in particular, killing Indians, Pinkertons and as the audience discovers, whoever he damn well pleases with startling ease. He delivers Biblical proverbs and has a pistol called the hand of god, symbols that one should not miss. Crowe forges a tentative bond with Bales Evans, taking pity on a desperate man, recognizing that they are both shaped by pasts theyre trying to escape. It is nearly impossible not to see that this is very good acting.Now that I have heaped much deserved praise on Bale and Crowe, I must now point out what separates this merely good movie from being a great movie. First, the supporting cast is just north of mediocre. I love Alan Tudyk just as much, if not more than the next guy. I adored his charm in both Firefly and Knocked Up. Casting him as a supposedly heartbreakingly earnest Doctor, however, was a terrible decision as Tudyk botches the one scene in the movie where he is required to actually act. Every single time Tudyk opens his mouth and attempts to inhabit a character so clearly wrong for him, one cannot help but wish Philip Seymour Hoffman was given the part.The soundtrack is mediocre and serviceable. It simply lacks the inspiration of the classic soundtracks of the spaghetti western era. 3:10 to Yumas final, fatal flaw is the mise en scene or lack thereof. James Mangold is like the soundtrack, mediocre and serviceable. I could not help but wish Robert Zemeckis was given the reins to 3:10 to Yuma along with the Assassination of Jesse James. In fact, Mangold is probably the only thing stopping 3:10 to Yuma from riding on the bravura acting by Crowe and Bale to greatness.Mangolds cinematography expresses neither the haunting freedom nor the seething brutality of the west. It seems almost as if Crowe and Bale were told they were making a great movie and Mangold showed up to film a forgettable action movie, focused more on guns than characterization. I have nothing against Mangold personally. He helmed Walk the Line well enough and knew how to use Joaquin Phoenixs Oscar winning performance to create the definitive portrait of Johnny Cashs life. Still, as a lover of film, it upsets me that the great movie hidden inside 3:10 to Yuma must be buried by a merely mediocre director, poor supporting actors and an entirely forgettable soundtrack.Onwards to totally unrelated notes. It is okay to package a great movie inside the guise of a typical western but when the guise becomes the movie itself, failure results. Next up is We Own the Night once it hits DVDs because it too, attempts to make a great movie wrapped in genre conventions. Is Christian Bale the next Russell Crowe? It sure seems like it, theyve both managed the near impossible balance of the artistic versus the commercial. I really would recommend this film though, Im sure the average viewer will not mind the lack of auteurism and just enjoy the damn thing.-Vman
Jan 25 08 9:08 PM
Quote:Crowe is magnificent as he hints at a man who understands humanity perfectly, playing those around him perfectly to get what he wants, while being detached from petty human morals and values.
Quote:First, the supporting cast is just north of mediocre.
Jan 25 08 9:40 PM
Jan 26 08 1:08 AM
Jan 26 08 6:58 AM
Quote:there are lots of dubious cinema bloggers on the internet.
Jan 26 08 9:06 AM
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