Why Blend In When You Can Stand Out?

Gore Verbinski

Johnny Depp
Isla Fisher
Abigail Breslin
Ned Beatty
Alfred Molina
Bill Nighy

Every once in a while, a film will be released that is so bold, unique and overwhelmingly charming that it takes a considerable amount of time for me to form any real opinion other than, “I really, really enjoyed this movie.” Having said that, audiences will be immediately split between those that appreciate the generous pacing and disjointed storytelling – much in the same vain as Wes Anderson’s work – and those who simply won’t get it. Under the direction of Gore Verbinski, ILM’s first foray into animated feature films is simply stunning.. but you should know, first and foremost, this is in no way a children’s film.

The film subtly opens on a terrarium-dwelling chameleon [Depp] who, without any form of companionship and a rather overactive imagination, performs rehearsed melodramas with the various items around him – namely a tree, a dead bug, a clockwork fish and a decapitated doll. Following a freak road accident, his home is jettison and obliterated in the middle of the highway; it is here that the chameleon first meets a sage-like armadillo [Molina], who points him in the direction of the nearest town and informs him of the fabled spirit of the west. The chameleon quickly learns of the harsh unforgiving reality of life in the desert, as he is pursued by a hawk, forced to sleep in the wild and suffers vivid nightmares. Fortunately, his isolation is brief, following a chance meeting with Beans [Fisher] – a resident of the frontier town, Dirt. Finally reaching Dirt, the chameleon strolls into a saloon and utilises his anonymity to portray the role of a vicious gunslinger, named Rango, entertaining the townsfolk with tales of heroism and bravery. With each social challenge, Rango somehow manages to successfully blag his way through, even when challenged by a tough gila lizard (voiced by Ray Winstone) and ridding the town of a menacing hawk. With his new-found fame, Rango is taken to see the Mayor [Beatty], who offers him the position of sheriff. Having accepted the post, the populace look to their new lawman to uncover the mystery of the deadly water-shortage that’s crippling the town. As Rango gets closer to the truth, the most feared legend of the west, Rattlesnake Jake [Nighy] is summoned to challenge the sheriff’s claims.

As stated earlier, this is certainly not a children’s film – despite the presence of various talking animals; owing to the fact it is so beautifully layered, this movie’s target audience is quite obviously Western fans (specifically spaghetti and revisionist). Crafted with a distinct knowledge of the genre whilst perfectly paying homage to recognisably stand-out moments, character types and scenarios, Rango is a love-letter to the films of Sergio Leone. The narrative flow is one of such a leisurely pace that it really takes some time before the backbone of the plot really presents itself. This is, however, not a detrimental statement, but one of sheer admiration as so few films are able to captivate an audience without saying or doing much of anything and equally few deviate from the standard given that if you don’t ensnare the audience within the first ten minutes, you never will.

The three key selling points for this release are the memorable characters, the sublime visuals and the perfectly fitting score. First off, each and every citizen of Dirt is a carefully thought-out and designed individual with their own unique quirks and personality. Exceptionally voiced by the cast, either as an ensemble or individually, each character is deeply rich and an absolute delight to watch. Secondly we have ILM’s visual efforts; known for their CGI shots and effects, ILM have never ventured into fully-fledged animated releases and I genuinely cannot understand why. The rendering was gorgeous, the cinematography was jaw-dropping and the animation quality was easily comparable to Pixar’s best efforts. Finally, Hans Zimmer’s score is exquisitely suited, drawing heavily from Ennio Morricone’s distinct style.

Naturally, there are several negative aspects – to be honest, these points in no way impeded on my enjoyment of this release but they still contribute to the final score. As much as I applaud the singular story-telling style, it may be perceived as far too surreal for some to enjoy, verging on moments akin to Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. On top of that, there’s the fact that by drawing upon the atypical western tale, some are going to give out that the plot is simply derivative and predictable. It’s also arguably dark for a ‘family film’ (despite my firm belief that just because a film is animated doesn’t automatically mean it is aimed at children), featuring death, hanging, perilous scenarios and very mild swearing. Personally, I felt this a nice step, similar to the films I grew up with in the 80s and 90s that pushed the constraints of the PG rating. The biggest bullet in the foot for this film was the way it was marketed, heavily selling the family film angle whilst simultaneously screaming JOHNNY DEPP’S IN THIS MOVIE as often as possible. Had they opted for a Coen Brothers, Wes Anderson style, maybe people would know what to expect and not berate the film for the more uncommon creative elements.

Ultimately, people are either going to moan because it’s too weird for them or they’re going to praise Rango for being a unique, challenging and wholly memorable breath of fresh air in the incredibly stagnant market of animated releases – largely depends on what kind of cinemagoer you are. In my opinion, this is not only a complex, detailed and impressive visual achievement but also an extraordinarily enjoyable experience.

Release Date:
4th March 2011

The Scene To Look Out For:
I could happily call on large flowing action scenes or surrealism similar to the limbo-esque elements of the third Pirate Of The Caribbean film but two little cameo elements stuck in my mind the most. The first is the Spirit Of The West, who cemented the notion that Clint Eastwood has replaced John Wayne as the iconic cowboy. Secondly, a much more subtle reference: shortly after finding himself in the middle of the road, Rango is blown back-and-forth between cars and finally finds himself on the windscreen of an individual who is the spitting image of Hunter S. Thompson who, voiced by Depp, mumbles, “Another one!” Utterly brilliant reference.

Notable Characters:
Populated with a vast array of unique individuals it’s very difficult to single out any one character. Naturally, Johnny Depp does a phenomenal performance with the jittery, somewhat unstable Rango but Isla Fisher does an incredible job in her rather straightforward role, Ned Beatty channels John Huston in Chinatown beautifully and Timothy Olyphant does a decent job as the Spirit Of The West cameo, which was stupidly amusing. If forced, I would have to choose Bill Nighy’s menacing portrayal of Rattlesnake Jake. Not only for the voice but each of the various components that make up the character: the movements, the Lee Van Cleef style hat, the gattling gun for a rattle, all contribute to a thoroughly memorable villain.

Highlighted Quote:
“One bullet, huh? I tip my hat to you, one legend, to another”

In A Few Words:
“If you’re in the mood for a Leone-fuelled acid trip, there is no finer alternative than this unique animated film”

Total Score:


Cinema City Film Quiz #42

[27 February 2011]

Winning Team:
If You’re Thinking Of Goin’ To The Film Quiz Alone.. Don’t

Genre – Cautionary harrowing public information film from the 70’s

Runners Up:
False Gravel
Genre – Builders new wave of new wave
You’ve Got Dead On You
Genre – Zombie Comedy Sequel
Never Let Me Grow
Genre – A horticultural nightmare of home grown clones and an obsessive and lonely gardner
Puckman Legacy
Genre – Period piece (in the early 90’s) where Puckman reclaims his true identity and throne
Let The Right One Win
Genre – Rom-Zom-Vam-Com
Dogs Can’t Look Up
Genre – A Pixar movie directed by Edgar Wright

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. John Wayne’s frequent use of “That’ll be the day” throughout one film inspired Buddy Holly to write which song? [bonus point for naming the Wayne film in which this quote is said]
THAT’LL BE THE DAY [The Searchers]
2. What colour was Herbie, in The Love Bug?
3. “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” was a quote from which film? [bonus point for naming the actor who said it]
4. What is the name of Han Solo’s co-pilot, in the original Star Wars trilogy?
5. Caddyshack focuses on which sport?
6. In The Addams Family, Gomez Addams has a love for model: Cars? Planes? Trains?
7. What was the subtitle of the South Park movie?
8. Who played Danny Ocean in the 1960 original and 2001 remake of Ocean’s 11? (one point per correct answer)
9. The Max Max trilogy was filmed in which country?
10. What was the title of the most recent Disney animated release?
11. What is the name of the adapted ballet being performed in Black Swan?
12. What was the last film directed by Steven Spielberg?

ROUND II: Filming [Edgar Wright Special]
1. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World is based on which comic book series?
2. What is the name of Ed and Shaun’s housemate played by Peter Serafinowicz?
3. What is the name of the Gloucestershire village that Nicholas Angel is sent to, in Hot Fuzz?
4. Scott Pilgrim is set in which country?
5. Who portrays Shaun’s stepfather in Shaun Of The Dead? [bonus point for naming the character]
BILL NYE [Philip]
6. In Hot Fuzz, one of Nicholas Angel’s first assignments is to locate what kind of bird?
7. What is the name of Scott’s band in Scott Pilgrim?
8. Which of the following records was not thrown at the zombies in the garden, in Shaun Of The Dead? Purple Rain? The Batman Soundtrack? Dire Straits?
9. Who cameo’s as Janine, Nicholas Angel’s ex-girlfriend, in Hot Fuzz?
10. How many different types of tea does Ramona offer Scott in Scott Pilgrim?
11. Edward Woodward was asked to play Professor Tom Weaver, in Hot Fuzz, as a nod to a strict policeman he played in which 70’s film?
12. The pub used in Shaun Of The Dead is in fact the same one used in The Long Good Friday as the Lion and Unicorn. True or False? [bonus point for naming the pub in Shaun Of The Dead]
FALSE [The Winchester]

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. How long is Snake Plissken given before the microscopic explosives rupture his arteries in Escape From New York?
2. What was the name of John Lithgow’s character in Footloose?
3. What is the name of the café where Amelie works as a waitress?
4. What was the title of the 1975 sequel to True Grit that starred John Wayne and Katharine Hepburn?
5. What are the titles of Gus Van Sant’s ‘death trilogy’? (one point per correct answer)
6. Including the title character, how many samurai band together in Sanjuro?
7. Who played the roles of Mario and Luigi in 90s disaster, Super Mario Bros? (one point per correct answer)
8. What was the title of Kevin Costner’s first western (and breakout role)?
9. Who directed Three Men And A Baby?
10. What was the name that Fogell chose for his fake ID in Superbad?
11. Metropolis, Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari and The Golem belong to which twenties genre/cinematic movement?
12. What type of McDonalds breakfast meal does the homeless man ask Sonny to buy for him, in Big Daddy? [bonus point for naming the actor who cameo’d as the homeless man]
EGG MCMUFFIN [Steve Buscemi]

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King won all of its eleven academy award nominations, how many of the thirteen nominations did Fellowship Of The Ring win? 0? 2? 4?
2. How many carats is the diamond in Snatch? 24? 64? 84?
3. Due to black/white characters interacting with those in colour, the 1998 release Pleasantville had the most digital effects shots until it was replaced by which movie? The Mummy? Star Wars: Episode I? The Matrix?
4. Fish And Chips; The Crunchy Comedy was the French title of which British 90’s comedy? The Full Monty? East Is East? Brassed Off?
5. Which of the three amigos was shot in the arm during their confrontation with El Guapo in The Three Amigos? Dusty? Lucky? Ned? [bonus point for naming the actor who played the character]
LUCKY [Steve Martin]
6. Which of the following is not one of the heroes in Mystery Men? Red Arrow? The Bowler? Invisible Boy?
7. Which of the following Shakespearean plays has Brannagh not directed? Much Ado About Nothing? As You Like It? Othello?
8. Of the following titles, which won the Best Picture Oscar in 1989? Rain Man? Dangerous Liaisons? Mississippi Burning?
9. Which of the following did not star in Road To Perdition? Alfred Molina? Daniel Craig? Jude Law?
10. Who directed Hellboy and its sequel, The Golden Army? Michel Gondry? Guillermo Del Toro? Zack Snyder?
11. The sound of the scrolling matrix code was recorded by digitising what sound? Liquid poured onto denim? Raindrops falling against a window pane? Small battery-powered fan submerged in water?
12. Many critics marked down Baz Luhrmann’s Australia because Nicole Kidman’s botox injections grossly affected with her performance. True or False?


There’s Nothing Like A Little Taste Of Home

Andy DeEmmony

Aqib Khan
Om Puri
Linda Bassett
Emil Marwa

Set four/five years after the events depicted in East Is East, Pakistani immigrant, George Khan [Puri] is having issues with his youngest son, Sajid [Khan]. Continually bullied in school and without any real friends, Sajid rejects his heritage and like most teenagers, lashes out at his family. Unhappy that Sajid knows so little of his father’s country and the life he left, George decides to pack him up and take him to Pakistan. Knowing nothing but Manchester, Sajid is often appalled by the various living conditions and cultural changes he experiences. For his duration in Pakistan, George stays with the family of his first wife – all of whom are shocked to see him but no more welcoming than etiquette dictates. Much like this film’s predecessor, West Is West focuses on trying to find a middle-ground between two very different cultures, whilst still honouring family and tradition. Although this story is pitched as Sajid’s discovery of his heritage, it’s more a tale of an old man coming to terms with the choices he made in his youth. Feeling regret for leaving his homeland – not to mention his failing reputation – George decides to rebuild the family home with his savings. After a month abroad, continually sucking funds from England, George’s second wife Ella [Bassett] arrives to bring her son home. The two story elements running parallel to the main plot thread is that of Sajid’s exploration of his culture, under the whimsical tutelage of Pir Naseem[Nadim Sawalha] and Sajid’s quest to find his brother, Maneer [Marwa], a wife; preferably one who resembles Nana Mouskouri.

I was never really a big fan of East Is East; there were significantly better films that explored the life of the Indian-British community released at the time and although the humour was present, I felt the whole thing was a tad mediocre. West Is West is very much more of the same. Sure, the drama seems heightened and the humour is just as entertaining but the plot is still incredibly formulaic. Having said that, it’s still an acceptable release and one which fans of the original film will probably enjoy; the film also does a fairly decent job of selling itself as a stand-alone production, for those who have not seen East Is East – which was brought out over ten years ago. First and foremost, this is a story of family and as such, the entire film relies very heavily on the lead performances. Thankfully the majority of the cast (Puri and Khan in particular) do an incredibly good job of portraying rather unlikable characters. George thinks of himself as a hero in his hometown and a good man for sending money to his first wife and their daughters but he is exposed to the truth that as he has been little more than a signature at the end of a letter for over thirty years, he has fallen from their hearts. Equally, Khan’s debut performance as the teenage Sajid is an unforgiving one; flippant, disrespectful and crass, his likeability is slim but largely sold through the humorous developments and growing relationship with his newfound friends. As previously stated, the plot’s biggest flaw is the fact that it is very predictable – Sajid dislikes Pakistan, Sajid sees wise old mentor, Sajid prefers Pakistan, George feels he has let down both his wives, George attempts to make peace with his wives, Maneer needs a wife, Maneer is assisted in his wife hunt by the newly adapted Sajid – it’s still an enjoyable watch but without treading any new ground, the whole effort feels like it has little to contribute.

Technically speaking, first-time director Andy DeEmmony has produced a more than sound release. The editing flows nicely (the pace wavers a little in places but pans out neatly), the soundtrack and score are fitting for both seventies Britain and Pakistan and the cinematography and overall direction are thoroughly commendable. As such, DeEmmony deserves a great deal of praise. The fault, I fear, lies with Ayub Khan-Din’s screenplay, which does little more than detail the same culture-clashing, fish out of water, comedic events that we saw in East Is East. Subsequently, news that a third instalment is being considered does little to stir my interest.

Ultimately, it’s a nice little story with a wealth of well-shot scenes, decent performances and an engaging story — at the same time, however, it is still a rather mediocre production that will only truly succeed with a select few.

Release Date:
25th February 2011

The Scene To Look Out For:
Aside from the humorous moments, there was a surprisingly tender exchange between the two Mrs. Khans, portrayed by Linda Bassett and Ila Arun. Neither can speak the other’s language but forced to share a room during a sandstorm, both women open up about their issues surrounding George’s actions. As stated, it’s well handled but even this is a prime example of the script’s clichéd nature. The second the sandstorm kicks up, you sort of know there’s going to be some sort of confrontation or heart-to-heart between the two frustrated wives. It’s really a prime example of the frustration one experiences watching this film, littered with scenes that are both keenly directed and well-acted, despite being horrifically formulaic and predictable.

Notable Characters:
Khan’s debut performance as Sajid is an amusing one, combining teenage frustrations with identity crisis and a slew of foul language, he is sure to be the most memorable point of the feature. Additionally though, Om Puri’s knack for being a scene-stealing genius in almost every work he’s in, is just as present here. So much so, that it’s hard to tell if this whole film is a young boy’s discovery of his heritage or an old man’s attempts to rectify the wrongs in his life.

Highlighted Quote:
“Ah, tradition… I walk the same road to my hut every day. If, one day, a cobra is sitting in the middle of the road, do I carry on and die or find a new path and live?”

In A Few Words:
“Gently agreeable and without glaring flaws, this film makes for a reasonably enjoyable watch. However, its tendency to rely on the exact same premise as East Is East with a different backdrop raises the question, ‘what more does this story have to offer?'”

Total Score:


Cinema City Film Quiz #41

[13 February 2011]

Winning Team:
Gran Totoro

Genre – An animated aging racist wood spirit with a love for his vintage cat-bus

Runners Up:
Dirty Harry Potter
Genre – A sexy courtroom drama; Harry is tried for sexually harrassing Dobby
Play Twister For Me
Genre – Twisty thriller
Gran’s Torino
Genre – Fascinating documentary about Turin from an older woman’s perspective
Every Which Way But Correct
Genre – Spaghetti Eastern
The Roses Trilogy (A Fistful Of Roses / For A Few Roses More / The Good, The Bad & The Prickly)
Genre – A lonely cupid wandering through the western areas of Norwich (specifically Bowthorpe)
Never Let Me Bro
Genre – Controversial drama in which Keira Knightley & Andrew Garfield black-up and diss their ho’s and shit

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. Hamlet, The Merchant Of Venice and The Tempest are all adaptations of works by which author/playwright?
2. What is Pacino’s first name?
AL (1 point) / ALFREDO (2 points)
3. Who directed The Shining, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Full Metal Jacket? [bonus point for naming the title of his final film]
4. Toy Story, The Incredibles and Wall-E were made by which production company?
5. Which actor has quoted the following lines: “If it bleeds, we can kill it”, “I’m a cybernetic organism, living tissue over a metal endoskeleton” and “I’m not a pervert I was just looking for a turbo man doll”?
6. Which actress portrayed Mary Poppins in the film of the same name?
7. What is the name of the 1992 release which cast Whoopi Goldberg as a lounge singer hiding in a convent?
8. What year was Gladiator released? **2000th question asked!**
9. What was the top grossing film of 1982? The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas? Porky’s? ET? [bonus point for closest earnings estimate]
ET (although all three were in the top ten earners) [793 million dollars]
10. What was the name of the drama that afforded Ben Affleck and Matt Damon their screenwriting Oscar?
11. Who starred in the lead role of the 1996 remake of Sgt. Bilko?
12. Which movie had the following poster tagline: “Axel Foley’s Back.. Where He Doesn’t Belong”?

ROUND II: Filming [Clint Eastwood Special]
1. The Bridges Of Madison County is based on which novel?
2. Million Dollar Baby focuses on which sport?
3. Harry Callahan works for which city’s police department in Dirty Harry?
4. Who plays Ned Logan, a retired gunfighter and long-time friend of Eastwood’s character William Munny, in Unforgiven?
5. What is the name of Eastwood’s character in Pale Rider?
6. Which three actors starred alongside Eastwood as the other members of Team Dædalus in Space Cowboys? (one point per correct answer)
7. What is the bounty on Josey’s head in The Outlaw Josey Wales?
8. In what year was Where Eagles Dare released? [bonus point for stating which country it was released in first]
1968 [UK]
9. The following quote is from which instalment of Leone’s dollar trilogy: “I don’t think it’s nice, you laughin’. You see, my mule don’t like people laughin’; gets the crazy idea you’re laughin’ at him”?
10. White Hunter Black Heart is a thinly disguised account of filming which 50s movie?
11. What was the title of the last Eastwood film that Don Siegel directed after a production rights dispute?
12. Gran Torino is technically the last instalment of the Dirty Harry series. True or False?
FALSE (the film was falsely rumoured to be a Dirty Harry tale when it was initially announced)

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. Who was first choice to play Richard Kimble in The Fugitive before dropping out?
2. Who directed the remake of Night Of The Living Dead?
3. What does Martin [John Cusack] use to kill the hitman Felix LaPoubelle at his high school reunion in Grosse Point Blank?
4. Who is Star Trek IV dedicated to?
5. What year was Hammer Film Productions (notable for their gothic horror films from 50s-70s) founded?
6. How many films feature in the View Askewniverse canon? [bonus points for each title named]
SIX [Clerks / Mallrats / Chasing Amy / Dogma / Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back / Clerks II]
7. What’s the name of the gang of kids in Angels With Dirty Faces?
8. Who directed Dune? [bonus point for naming the year it was released]
9. What is the name of Happy Gilmore’s rival played by Christopher McDonald?
10. What was the title of the last official Carry On film to be made (in 1992)?
11. What is the name of the sequel to An American Tail?
AN AMERICAN TAIL: FIEVEL GOES WEST [bonus point for correctly spelling Fievel]
12. Which two actors played the roles of Frank Towns and Lew Moran in The Flight Of The Phoenix (specifically the 1965 original)? [one point per correct answer]

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. Which of the following was not directed by Alfred Hitchcock? Arsenic And Old Lace? Notorious? An Elastic Affair?
2. Listen With Your Heart, Savages and The Virginia Company are titles of songs from which Disney film? Mulan? The Fox And The Hound? Pocahontas?
POCAHONTAS [bonus point for correctly spelling the title]
3. In what year is Minority Report set? 2050? 2054? 2057?
4. What type of ship blew up the first Death Star in Star Wars? X-Wing? Y-Wing? A-Wing?
5. What was the name of the femme fatale in Out Of The Past? Kathie Moffat? Phyllis Dietrichson? Christina Bailey? [bonus point for naming the actress who portrayed her]
6. To advertise their upcoming release, Robocop, Orion paid to use which film’s theme music? The Terminator? Aliens? Logan’s Run?
7. What is the name of Charles Bronson’s character in Once Upon A Time In The West? Cheyenne? Stony? Harmonica?
8. Which of the following directed the most Bond films? Terence Young? John Glen? Guy Hamilton? [bonus point for naming how many]
JOHN GLEN [5] (Terence Young 3 / Guy Hamilton 4)
9. What does Chopper do to get transferred from H Division, in the film of the same name? Assaults a guard? Burns his own bed? Has his ears removed?
10. Which of the following did not star in 1962’s How The West Was Won? Richard Burton? John Wayne? Henry Fonda?
11. How many daggers was Robert Thorne instructed to use to fully kill Damien in The Omen? Seven? Nine? Eleven?
12. In The Prestige, Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale’s character’s initials spell out the start of a common word used by magicians. True or False?
TRUE (Alfred Borden / Robert Angier – ABRA)


Punishment Comes One Way Or Another

Ethan Coen
Joel Coen

Jeff Bridges
Hailee Steinfeld
Matt Damon
Josh Brolin

As this version is much more loyal to the book than the 1969 original, it’s best to view it as an adaptation of a novel, rather than a remake. Subsequently, I will try my best to avoid any comparisons between both films.

Set in the 1880’s, True Grit opens on a very peculiar, blurred shot. As the image focuses, the narrator explains that a drunken villain (and recent employee), Tom Chaney [Brolin], gunned down her father, stole a horse and high-tailed it out of town. After settling her late father’s affairs, young Mattie Ross [Steinfeld] enquires if the town has any resident Marshals. Learning of a cantankerous, trigger-happy lawman named ‘Rooster’ Cogburn [Bridges], she visits him and attempts to pay for his services; at first glance, he refuses the headstrong fourteen year old. As Mattie’s business in town draws to a close, she is visited by a Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf [Damon], who is hunting Tom Chaney for an outstanding warrant and reward in Texas. After a certain amount of misdirection and bartering, Mattie persuades Cogburn to accept her terms of employment and accompany both him and LaBeouf into the Indian territories. Along the way the trio encounter various individuals before finally (and somewhat accidentally) catching up with Chaney.

Westerns are a hard one to judge these days. After falling flat on their face in the eighties, we were treated to a handful of odd endeavours such as, The Quick And The Dead and Young Guns but the titles that do well – Unforgiven and 3:10 To Yuma come to mind – are very much revisionist westerns, intent on producing an authentic backing for well-told, compelling stories; the key phrase seemingly being ‘harsh realism.’ No truer is that than with True Grit. By going back to the book, the Coen Brothers have crafted a completely different story to the one audiences are probably familiar with, restoring much of the heart and humour of the tale.

The whole piece is littered with astounding performances; from the leads to the support, to the extras – everyone excels. Not only that, each character seems to compliment one another, eg. Steinfeld’s flawless resolute rants often back-handed with a well-placed mumbled one liner from Bridges. And as with the majority of the Coen Brothers’ films, no matter the genre, each character is required to possess a perfect middle-ground between humour and seriousness. All of which combine to offer a thoroughly believable and endearing spread of truly American individuals. Technically speaking, the film is sublime, combining many similar attributes that imbued Miller’s Crossing with that same depth and period authenticity. Many may underestimate these elements but Roger Deakin’s cinematography work is simply stunning – exquisite camera movements, exceptional lighting and an absolutely glorious washed-out palette. Equally, another frequent Coen contributor, Carter Burwell, has provided a subtle complimentary score, lifting hymnal tones and period-fitting twangs that range from the whimsical to something severely dark and poignant.

The only flaw I could find – and one I’m still not overly sure I agree with – is the lack of layers to this film. On one hand I want to award this film a very solid ten out of ten for an exceptionally well crafted piece of cinema but on the other I feel the need to demote it to a nine out of ten on the basis that it follows the book so loyally that the story is incredibly straight-forward and lacks depth. But in truth, it’s not complication or detail this film lacks but a wealth of cynicism that thrives in contemporary cinema. The plot is a clear journey and the characters each develop their own arc. There are no subplots because there is no need for them. There is simply a beginning, a middle and an end. And for that reason, this will be the third 10/10 I will have awarded in the space of thirty days – a new high for me.

Release Date:
11th February 2011

The Scene To Look Out For:
There are countless standout scenes that have been rattling around in my head since first viewing the film but none more-so than Cogburn’s exchange with The Bear Man [Ed Corbin]. After a spat, Cogburn and Mattie separate from Mr. LaBoeuf, later they came across a Native American who agrees to fire a shot in the air should he think they were being followed. Sure enough, a shot rings out and Cogburn surmises it is LaBoeuf, intent on tailing them to Chaney and then claiming the reward; he explains as much to Mattie and decides to wait for him to catch up, so they might confront him. Time passes and out of the wood strolls two horses, one carrying a man adorned in a bear skin. The interaction itself is incredibly simple and yet surprisingly hilarious, commencing from the point that Cogburn utters with sheer deadpan genius, “You are not LaBoeuf.”

Notable Characters:
It’s a tough call. As previously stated, the entire cast are on top form and each performance is just as impressive as the last but for Bridges to surpass John Wayne’s Oscar winning role with something equally memorable is truly astonishing. Having said that, even this giant of cinema is wholly upstaged by the fifteen year old newcomer, Hailee Steinfeld. Not only does she surpass Kim Darby in the original, she pretty much wipes the floor with the entire cast. I was convinced that the only young talent we had to keep an eye on was Chloe Moretz, I now realise that if these two were to ever find themselves on-screen together, choosing the finer actress would be an incredibly demanding task.

Highlighted Quote:
“It astonishes me that Mr. LaBoeuf has been shot, trampled, and nearly bitten his tongue off and yet not only does he continue to talk but he spills the banks of English”

In A Few Words:
“Wondrous cinematic release with the confidence to tell a simple story, relying solely on distinguished performances”

Total Score:



Top 5 Motion Pictures of the Year

Black Swan
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
Toy Story 3
La Tête En Friche [My Afternoons With Margueritte]

Most Under-Rated Film of the Year

Rare Exports

Worst 5 Motion Pictures of the Year
No Award Issued, Instead The Director Receives A Rude Letter
The Last Airbender
The Other Guys
Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief
Four Lions
Vampires Suck

Most Over-Rated Film of the Year
No Award Issued, Instead The Director Receives A Rude Letter
How To Train Your Dragon

Best Leading Actor

Colin Firth [The King’s Speech]

Best Leading Actress

Natalie Portman [Black Swan]

Best Director
Darren Aronofsky [Black Swan]
Christopher Nolan [Inception]

Best Screenplay

Mark Heyman / Andres Heinz [Black Swan]

Best Musical Score

Hans Zimmer [Inception]

Best Newcomer

Aaron Johnson


Best Motion Picture of the Year
A Single Man
Gake No Ue No Ponyo {Ponyo}
Toy Story 3
Shutter Island
Kick Ass
Up In The Air
The Social Network
Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows: Part I
The Town

Worst Motion Picture of the Year
Sex And The City 2
The Last Airbender
Furry Vengeance
Vampires Suck

Most Under-Rated Motion Picture of 2010
Rare Exports

Most Over-Rated Motion Picture of 2010
Alice In Wonderland

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Colin Firth [A Single Man]
Leonardo DiCaprio [Shutter Island]
George Clooney [The American]

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Jennifer Lawrence [Winters Bone]
Sally Hawkins [Made In Dagenham]
Emma Stone [Easy A]

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Jeremy Renner [The Town]
Andrew Garfield [The Social Network
Joseph Gordon-Levitt [Inception]

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Chloe Moretz [Kick Ass]
Marion Cotillard [Inception]
Blake Lively [The Town]

Best Achievement in Directing
Tom Ford [A Single Man]
Christopher Nolan [Inception]
Martin Scorsese [Shutter Island]

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Christopher Nolan [Inception]
Christopher Morris [Four Lions]
Nicholas Stoller [Get Him To The Greek]

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
Aaron Sorkin [The Social Network]
Tom Ford / David Scearce [A Single Man]
Michael Konyves [Barney’s Version]

Best Achievement in Cinematography
Eduard Grau [A Single Man]
Wally Pfister [Inception]
Jeff Cronenweth [The Social Network]

Best Achievement in Editing
Lee Smith [Inception]
Eddie Hamilton / Jon Harris [Kick Ass]
Joan Sobel [A Single Man]

Best Achievement in Set/Art Direction
Guy Hendrix Dyas / Larry Dias [Inception]
Nigel Churcher [Scott Pilgrim Vs The World]
Kevin Ishioka [Tron: Legacy]

Best Achievement in Costume Design
Arianne Phillips [A Single Man]
Sandy Powell [Shutter Island]
Janty Yates [Robin Hood]

Best Achievement for Original Musical Score
Hans Zimmer [Inception]
Trent Reznor / Atticus Ross [The Social Network]
Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo / Thomas Bangalter [Tron: Legacy]

Best Achievement in Hair & Makeup
Rick Baker [The Wolfman]
Mark Coulier / Paul Spateri [Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows: Part I]
Manlio Rocchetti [Shutter Island]

Best Achievement in Sound
Richard King [Inception]
Julian Slater [Scott Pilgrim Vs The World]
Addison Teague / Gwendolyn Yates Whittle [Tron: Legacy]

Best Achievement in Visual Effects
Alex Burdett [Tron: Legacy]
Janek Sirrs [Iron Man 2]
Tim Burke / John Richardson [Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows: Part I]

Best Animated Feature Film
Gake No Ue No Ponyo {Ponyo}
Toy Story 3
How To Train Your Dragon

Best Foreign Language Film
Rare Exports

Best Feature-Length Documentary
Exit Through The Gift Shop
Inside Job