Monday, May 14, 2007

Recent movies

The Matador (2005) - I enjoyed watching Pierce Brosnan having fun acting. Though I know he regrets the studio's decision, I'm glad he's done with 007. Roles like this are (apparently) much better suited for him. He's a good comedic actor, and this script was just right for him.

There were a couple moments in the movie where I thought it was going to go somewhere darker, but to the film's credit it keeps the tone light throughout (as light as a movie about an aging assassin can be). I think going on a darker route later in the film would have been cheating.

The Hour of the Gun (1967) - I think I'll try to see all the Wyatt Earp interpretations now, because (as far as I know) there are only 1 or 2 left. I've seen Tombstone, Wyatt Earp, Warlock, My Darling Clementine, and now The Hour of the Gun. I think Gunfight at the OK Corral is the last big one.

Hour of the Gun says in white letters at the very beginning, "This is the real story. This is the way it happened." Well, from what I've read on the subject, it's one of the more accurate interpretations, but it still plays with the timeline and embellishes several events. One alteration in particular seems to be The Standard for Wyatt Earp movies: Virgil and Morgan getting shot on the same night. The assassination attempts were actually several months apart, but The Hour of the Gun, Tombstone, and Wyatt Earp all place them on the same night. It makes sense from a storytelling perspective, but it's funny that HotG would make such a bold claim about accuracy and still fudge a few months. I wonder if HotG set the precedent for this alteration?

I like Jason Robards a lot. He doesn't utilize a Southern dandy accent like Dennis Quaid or Val Kilmer, but he plays a great Doc regardless. James Garner plays Wyatt very straight. Robard's Doc serves as a good foil for him in this regard, often speaking to the emotions and true motivations that Garner's Wyatt never allows out.

HotG might be the first Wyatt Earp film to touch on Wyatt's darker side as well. It doesn't treat him like an outright bully, but it does call into question the righteousness of his crusade to avenge his brothers.

Look for a young John Voight as Curly Bill Brocious.

Adios Sabata (1971) - My first foray into non-Leone spaghetti westerns. I don't know why this one got sent first, since it's not the first Sabata movie. This one features Yule Brynner instead of Lee Van Cleef in the title role.

It's not a great film. But it does have some really cool bits of style and creativity that are hallmarks of the genre.

Gimmicky weapons: check. Sabata has a shortened rifle similar to Josh Randall's in Wanted: Dead or Alive, though this one is clip fed for some ridiculous reason. Honestly, it doesn't make a lick of sense. Allow me to nerd-out on the gun for a moment: Sabata has to use his other hand to push the clip through manually, and it doesn't appear to increase his magazine capacity by more than one or two rounds. What's more, it would make the gun even more inaccurate since he wouldn't be able to steady the gun with his fore hand. Of course, we still see Sabata making amazing shots from hundreds of yards away. This makes Blondie shooting Tuco's rope look like stark neo-realism.

Further weapons gimmicks: the Hungarian (right?) Colonel uses a model ship with working cannons to dispatch a dude he doesn't want to pay. One goofy mute guy who likes to flip around like a monkey is also a dead-eye with the ol' "iron ball on the toe of your shoe."

It features a very creative villain death: the Colonel has had a portrait painted of him, and at the end he is facing off against Sabata in the same room as the portrait. The Colonel ducks behind the portrait just as Sabata whips a knife at him, which stabs into the portrait and then is dragged diagonally down it as the Colonel falls behind it. Pretty cool.

There are some other elements (Sabata's costume, the "Dance of Death," and the fat revolutionary dude's speeches whenever someone dies) that are half cheesy/ half funny.

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