‘The Power of the Dog’ Review: Beautiful and Rugged on the Outside, Layered and Complex on the Inside

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For her third feature film, The Piano, Jane Campion became the first female filmmaker to win the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, for very good reason. With The Power of the Dog being her first feature film in over a decade, it is more than just a triumphant return to the screen for her. Throughout her career, Campion has been known for making films that delve into the psychology that fuels desire, spanning many periods of time – but with The Power of the Dog comes one of her most beautiful and highly sensual efforts to date. It’s a statement that I think can only ever be put lightly, but in The Power of the Dog, you’re seeing the more externalized emotions coming forth in what would be one of her most beautiful films to date.

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The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, the Coen Brothers’ Western Anthology Hits and Misses, but Mostly Hits: Review

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The Coen brothers’s anthology The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a portrait of the many sides of the west, but like any other anthology film there’s always that challenge coming by as to how can all stories ever remain so compelling. You can only get so much charm out of the sort of wit that’s typical of the Coen brothers, but where the film already finds some of its very best footing it also comes right in between some of the weaker portions of the film. That’s not to say I was never entertained by The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, but I had only ever found myself susceptible to dozing off because certain stories didn’t capture my interest as much as another one did. But knowing that the Coen brothers had initially intended this as a miniseries, with every segment representing another facet of the American west, maybe it’s also reflective of what one could also expect from how each story mixes together here. You’ll already know which stories you would want to stick with, just as you would which ones you’ll also find yourself caring less about – but there’s always something entertaining to come out from each story.

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The Sisters Brothers Review: Fun Western That Doesn’t Quite Boast the Most of Its Talent

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I’ve always found it difficult to get into the films of Jacques Audiard which is one among many reasons I was unsure of what to expect from The Sisters Brothers. But this being so different from his past films already had me wondering if this could be an instance where he would click with me, because his films have always remained distinctive for being so unflinching – if also quite emotionally hollow. So how exactly was this sort of style supposed to work not only for a western film in the English language, but also a dark comedy? I think it’d only be fair to say that maybe it opened my eyes to see Audiard’s sensibilities working better as Hollywood productions than they do outside, because The Sisters Brothers only ever made itself out to be an entertaining ride.

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The Dark Tower – Review

Adapting Stephen King to film is a complicated case, knowing that Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining had taken liberties with its source material to the scorn of King himself. With that having been said, it still remains the best of the many adaptations that King’s work has spawned, but perhaps the case with “Stephen King done right” as proven by the Shining miniseries would only have proven itself disastrous, so fan reactions to The Dark Tower could set expectations in place for they didn’t get what they would have wanted as a means of introducing a story they love to newcomers. Coming in with a newcomer’s perspective for I’ve only read the first book in the series and wasn’t a fan, I already feel the anger that such an audience would have felt to see something they loved bastardized the way Nikolaj Arcel did so here.

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Shane – Review

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“The greatest story of the west ever filmed!” is what the marketing insists you, but as to be expected from the hyperbolic labelling George Stevens’s Shane carries enough in order to prove itself an entertaining ride while it lasts. Although I’ve not yet been blown away by any of Stevens’s films, he was always a filmmaker whose work has consistently remained engaging and Shane continues a long streak for him. On some count this is arguably George Stevens’s most famous film and it’s easy to see why, for it shows a beautiful portrait of the American West as occupied by a highly political environment, together with the iconic closing sequence – but I’ve found still carries another particular tendency with Stevens that has always bothered me, but that’s not to say it makes Shane any less of a great western than it is.

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Westworld – Review

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Westworld in itself is an interesting idea – and that’s essentially what the film rides upon. That’s really all I can say for it, because the ride that Michael Crichton’s cult film provides for oneself definitely is a fun one if also one that should have been explored much more than what is already presented on the spot. What I won’t deny though is that it is easy to see why did Westworld manage to acquire a cult following, even if the product had left such an empty feeling running through my head. Being a fan of Michael Crichton’s writing I figured that there was something set for myself to love about Westworld and in part, I got that – and the other half I just got something that almost felt somewhat lacking at the same time. Continue reading →

Near Dark – Review

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In recent years one would recognize Kathryn Bigelow for her more politically-oriented collaborations which have received Academy Awards recognition: those two films being The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. I’ve admittedly put off Near Dark for the longest time because vampire fiction generally never grabbed my interest enough, but eventually I came around to having watched it only to have my expectations blown further away. Near Dark is not only one of the most compelling pieces of contemporary vampire fiction put to the screen, but it works the way many other monster films in the 80’s have done so: all to a truly glorious effect. Continue reading →

The Magnificent Seven (2016) – Review

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Antoine Fuqua remakes another remake with The Magnificent Seven, his latest offering thus far. Being a remake of a remake, there’s always room to turn something into one’s own vision and that’s part of what I was hoping for in this new take on the story inspired from Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, but something about it also feels empty. What happened to the excitement of watching a group of seven fight for good? Sure, there’s fun to be had within certain moments of the film but perhaps they only work because of how the film presents itself out to be as a result of those involved rather than offering much to stand on its own. Quite surprisingly, that is actually not what bothered me most about this re-imagining of the classic tale. Continue reading →

Vampires – Review

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John Carpenter is a rare sort of filmmaker, who is still interesting even during some of his weakest points. Vampires, while a lesser Carpenter as some would say, still provides an enjoyable enough time while it still lasts as it continues to show the consistency of a filmmaker like him even if he is at a much lower point of his career. In Vampires, John Carpenter crafts some sort of a modern B-movie and exploits all of the glory that forms them on the screen. It’s certainly very cheap and dusty, but in turn that’s also a part of where all the fun comes in when watching Vampires. If this is considered to be lower-tier John Carpenter by many, then it only peaks more interest in said area for this can easily go alongside Prince of Darkness and In the Mouth of Madness as some of Carpenter’s most underappreciated films. Continue reading →

My Darling Clementine – Review

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It goes without hesitation that John Ford perfected the western genre for all of American cinema especially when films like The Searchers exist, but going more into the great filmmaker’s body of work, we come down to My Darling Clementine which showcases some of the director’s very best capabilities. With My Darling Clementine, what John Ford presents on the screen are the director’s own abilities with moving forward stories and in turn what he leaves behind is one of the most compelling westerns to have been put to the screen. However, when it comes down to Ford’s manners of looking upon the story of what happened on the O. K. Corral (the finest interpretation of the story to have been put on film), a sort of genre-blending wonder comes into play and it soon becomes all the more remarkable. Continue reading →