Archive for December, 2012

Week Six of the Great Western Watch-a-Thon

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Pharaoh’s Army was good. Real solid. Just don’t let Kris Kristofferson fool you, he’s in it as much as good acting is in a Twilight movie. Which is not much. He’s intriguing and mysterious sure but so are most people at the grocery store you spy in passing as they move in and right back out of you life. Who are they? What’s their name? Would they blow me behind the organinc bananas in the produce section? All relevant questions two of which I asked myself in relation to ‘Tofferson’s brief appearance. Which was eerily aloof but as there were no bananas around I will move on just as the story did.

Yeah I know! A story? I haven’t seen one of those in weeks! Save for the expulsion of El Guapo of course but damn I was in a desert devoid of solid story telling before that for what felt like forever. So parched for a drink of passable dialogue, believable characters or development of the same that I was very near to Waterworld-ing my own emotional urine just to find the strength to take another stab at a random Western.

But that’s what this trip is about: shots in the dark. Random, dangerous and exhilerating. You miss a lot but when you do hit, damn, it feels good. All of this and I stay true to my original intent and to you the reader. A movie a week for who knows how long. Now I should say an average of one a week actually as sometimes once a week just ain’t enough. Sex, drinking, gaming, running and Westerns…never just once a week. So, I’ll review one per week but I may watch more just to keep the stable growing and strong. And everyone I do watch, to completion all (see sex/drinking/gaming/running above), I will at some point shortly thereafter put cyber pen to cyber paper and get my rattling thoughts a bangin’ about the page. Pals, we’re on the trail, and sometimes off it, but we’ll see this through to the end whenever that may be. Till then, back to Pharaoh’s Army.

I don’t even know why it’s called that. And I don’t want to know. But know this: this movie, set against the backdrop of the caucaphonous and all consuming American Civil War is conversely quiet and set on such a scale that you almost feel you’re watching a staged play at your local community theater except that it’s enjoyable and everyone can actually act. Huge performances from everyone and hugely personal. The tagline “A very private Civil War” is pretty much perfect in describing what you ‘ll spend not too long at all taking in over a 90 minute run time. Shit, Disney’s Up was 96 and all it managed to do with its 6 extra minutes was piss me off more than the previous hour and a half had already done. Yeah Up sucked for being emotionally destructive without, despite it’s misleading title, enough uplifiting moments to balance all that shit out so what I’m saying is Kris Kristofferson really isn’t in Pharaoh’s Army but that’s okay becuase it’s still great and there are no dead inside old people or fat Asian kids to ruin it for you!

But guess who is in it? Richard Tyson from Three O’Clock High! Remember him? He played big baddie Buddy Revell who was intent on beating the crap out of Casey Siemaszko who was Charlie in Young Guns which is also a Western! That’s Crazy (Horse)!Also in it is Chris Cooper and he’s just amazing. Just look at him in this tiny picture!

Chris Cooper is the guy. I don’t know the horse’s name. I’ll just call him “Mr. Carrots” and move on. Back to Mr. Cooper who, astride Mr. Carrots or not, was outstanding. As the Union officer in charge of a small scouting party he is equal parts intensity and serenity as his command is strained once he and his come upon a Southern woman and her son’s small isolated abode deep in the Kentucky woods near Meshacks’ Creek. He, along with his foil Patricia Clarkson, is approachable and even vulnerable torn inside by the situation at hand while still managing to remain believable at all times. The whole movie does in fact. What could have easily turned into one Hallmark moment after the next doesn’t and we aren’t fed the easy resolutions that many movies in the presented predicaments might have doled out for the mundane masses to ingest. None of Pharaoh’s Army is really easy to swallow. But that’s what makes it so tasty.

Some reviewer on Amazon.com had this to say: “This film illustrates some of these issues in a very meaningful way.” I would agree and I don’t even know what he’s talking about. Learn to write random reviewer from Amazon! Learn or Kris Kristofferson will not show up very long in one of your favorite movies at some point in the near future! Anywho, I’ll give four in the chamber to Pharaoh’s Army. I still don’t know what that title means but I know that I liked it. And I’ll leave you with this. It’s some foreign movie poster.
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What the Hell man? Kristofferson is still there! And not Mr. Carrots? That’s a damn shame. And that’s what you’ll be left feeling come the end of this flick. It’s easy to mention in passing how rough “brother fighting against brother” must have been but it’s another thing to take in a really damn well done portrayal of one small scene that must have been repeated time and time again across those four horrible years. What a damn shame that amigos would become inimigos, that friends would turn into enemies. It happens all the time. Still not any easier to watch but worth doing so at least in this case.

Come on Mr. Carrots, let’s go have some whiskey.

Week Five of the Great Western Watch-a-Thon

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Oh thank you Kukulkan, tequila, Temptations clothing optional resorts and anything else awesomely Mexican for saving me from another night of Old West wallowing. I’ll admit, I picked a ringer of a flick this week. After Frank and Jesse and The Long Road Home can you blame me? You can? Well watch both of those films and see if you still can! Alright, I’m done yelling…everything except “Ole” that is because as you can see I went 1986 old school with Three Amigos staring the amazing Steve Martin, the honorable Martin Short and the that-guy’s-a-real-asshole Chevy Chase. It’s sad but with the dawning of the interweb there’s just no hiding who you really are and even sadder that all this knowledge cast a shadow upon my viewing of this here tres buds picture show. It didn’t ruin anything but it was always there like the pickle taste on a cheeseburger you asked for with no pickles but came with pickles anyway so you just took them off instead of sending it back because you were hungry yet it still tastes like those god forsaken shitty green dildos called pickles! Yes, that’s it. Chevy made Three Amigos taste weird, but I still ate it and for a lot of really good reasons.

It’s an ode to The Magnificent Seven (itself an ode to Seven Samurai) and even used some of the same sets. A lot was filmed at Old Tucson studios just outside of Detroit. Ah good, you’re paying attention. No, Old Tucson Studios is cleverly hidden just outside of regular Tucson behind a mountain. This is the church you see in the movie a few times.

And here’s Angie and I in front of that same church!
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The area still smelled of Steve Martin’s sweet comedy and pickles for some reason.
Now, this movie is supposed to be set near the end of the silent film era and it ideed feels just like an old Western in good way. A simple story fleshed out by larger than life characters. Some out of their depth, some reveling in the dirt, all entertaining. Now honestly it wasn’t as ROFL as I remembered from the past but it was still chuckle packed and the last 20 minutes or so had me actually laughing out loud. Martin’s El Guapo speech was one such moment. Lucky Day (Martin’s amigo) was my favorite anyway so this wasn’t a hard sell but his few minutes of inspirationally confusing motivation preceeded by a slapstick biplane escape and followed with the climactic shootout and denouement of the film left me well satisfied. Short’s awkward mannerisms were not as hilarious as I had recalled but the wide eyed innocence and honesty of his character Ned Nederlander were something I probably would have missed in my youth. And Chevy, I get it, you can bug you eyes out and look shocked. It was sort of funny the first time but the next twelve not so much. I think Martin and Short were rather subtle in their absurdity, believable. Chevy was like “I’m acting! I’m funny!!!” and I just didn’t think so and I just didn’t care. But you know who I’d forgotten was in this and had like two lines yet I did really care?
Phil Hartman!

Look at him go there along with a svelt Jon Lovitz. Little gems right there. This whole movie was like that. Little nods to other films or little nudges reminding you of the first times you saw these three bumbling buddies stumble into danger and stumble out somehow with a win. It’s an underdog story but not so much about luck as it is about bravery. Maybe we’re not always ready for the challenges at hand but with your six shooter and your trembling balls slapping, repspectively, the inside and outside of your thigh you might just surprise yourself and save the day. Three rounds in chamber this week. One for each amigo. Well, one for Steve, one for Martin and one for that lingering pickle taste.

Haikuesday

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It is not the end
It is just Mayan New Years
So chill the fuck out

Wednes-aiku!

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Yeah I forgot to write a poem yesterday. I could just move on but I know that at least eight to ten people look forward to this each week. So here you go guys, a day late yet still emotionally charged:

I am two in one

Searching always everywhere

The Gemini curse

 

Week Four of the Great Western Watch-a-Thon

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Dammit Randy Travis c’mon! I know some Western you’re in has to be good and utilize your manly baritone and Amish Punisher good looks with some degree of competence. The Long Ride Home does not do this. Not at all. It barely fills the space between the opening credits and the closing credits with anything more than hearty helpings of both “what” and “the fuck?” I don’t even know where to start which is horrible because I desperately want this review to end so let’s do this.

Okay, Mr. Travis plays Jack Fowler or Jack Holt depending on the scene and who he’s talking too or if it’s a flashback or the script editor just screwed up. Which I have to believe they did. A lot. He’s a man wronged or something and never wanted to shoot sanyone but they provoked him I think and then he turned black and white and then it all got really confusing. This is seriously almost a play by play of the first twenty five minutes. But let’s not forget the two sub-plots that are soon to converge with the “main” plot those being some emo gunslinger wanna-be who is obsessed with having a cool name (not kidding) and the Ernest Borgnine Vendetta Ride (also not kidding but kind of awesome). So yes the producer of the film had his wife, the writer, work him in as the lead bad guy who’s about as fear inducing as jock itch. He can’t act either which makes the scenes with his wife, the writer and also lead female of the film extra extra special. Special like finding out you have chlamydia on your wedding day special. The only thing worse than her acting is her writing. Which just feeds her horrible acting. It’s a downward spiral of nightmarish proportions.

Now, one of the only things saving this film is Ernest Borgnine. Not saving it like making it watchable but “saving” as in after any of his non-intentionally comedic scenes you don’t feel like killing yourself as much as you do at any other point during this movie. He’s out to right a wrong which curiously is not the fact this film was ever produced. He and his two sons ride around working their way through rations of jerky and one liners with equal aplomb. He says such memorable things as “sit down boy” and “ahhhhhhhhh”. Have I told you how bad the writing is yet? It’s bad. In fact I know that Mr. Borgnine didn’t die until July of this year but I can make a compelling argument that this movie from 2003 is what actually killed him. On a lighter note Eric Roberts is in it too but if you stared at the poster up top for any length of time then you saw more of him there than you would if you actually watched this movie. There’s also a kid in it. See, here’s Randy telling him about gladiator movies.

I’m going to need bed rest sans inquisitive child if my cowboy marathon here get’s any worse. It can’t right? Each week has gotten worse since I started this so I’m guess I’m actually pretty excited. No where to go but up at this point. One round in the chamber for The Long Ride Home and that one might even be a dud. It was baaaaaaad. I was missing Bill Paxton’s ass ten minutes into this thing. Here’s a visual to wrap up…I started like this:


But ended like this:

I do believe crimes against my eyes and my ears and perhaps my very soul were all perpetrated with the utmost insensitivity by me seeing this. I may need to mount up and dish out some revenge. It’s just too bad Ernest is dead, it can get lonely out there on the trail you know.

 

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