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NME Awards

Ben Johnson, Simon Neil, James Johnson of Biffy Clyro - The 2013 NME Awards held at The Troxy - Arrivals - London, United Kingdom - Wednesday 27th February 2013

The Last Picture Show Review


Extraordinary
Peter Bogdanovich's seminal The Last Picture Show is a world where the parental figures are never the real parents and almost everyone in plain view is still in some way a kid, regardless of the number of years they've lived. Set in some dustbin town on the edge of Texas, there's a smattering of heckles about an incapable football player in the film's initial measures that rightly anticipates both the town's maturity level and its gossipy nature. The only true adult's name -- Sam the Lion -- suggests mythical lore, if not majestic royalty.

The town where Sam (Ben Johnson) reigns is one of complete despair. He owns a pool hall where they sell candy and soda pop; he also owns the local movie theater where they play Father of the Bride, Sands of Iwo Jima, and John Ford movies. He looks after Sonny (Timothy Bottoms) and a retarded boy named Billie (Sam Bottoms, Tim's younger brother) who spends all his time uselessly sweeping the streets and watching the picture shows. There is one pretty girl, Jacey (Cybill Shepard), but she dates Sonny's dough-brained buddy Duane (Jeff Bridges). Jacey acts exactly like her mother (Ellen Burstyn) which is a dreadful fate in both cases. There's also Ruth Popper (an excellent Cloris Leachman), the PE teacher's wife who begins a quicksilver affair with Sonny.

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Mighty Joe Young (1949) Review


OK
16 years after King Kong, folks figured that people had forgotten what Kong's claymation effects looked like (hell, there'd been a World War in there!), so they figured they'd trot them out again. The story's about the same, too: A pet gorilla is brought back from Africa (this time with his owner/caretaker (Terry Moore), and exploited in a vaudeville act. In fact, this is the film's best moment, which gives us some drunks who first throw a bottle at Joe's head, then get him wasted. Other than that, the film is largely a retread that you may not find overly compelling.

The Rare Breed Review


Weak
One of the strangest westerns I've ever seen, this story of a rare cow and its treacherous delivery eventually gives way to a character study featuring James Stewart, Maureen O'Hara, and the unforgettable Brian Keith, playing an outrageous Scotsman. It never really goes anywhere -- and it couldn't: Most of the film was shot on a sound stage instead of on location.

Shane Review


Excellent
When a reformed gunslinger looking to mend his evil ways stumbles upon a conflict between peace-loving sodbusters and ornery cattle ranchers in the middle of the old old West, trouble is bound to happen. And trouble is what Shane gets, as our title character (played by Alan Ladd) soon finds out as he returns to some of his rough-and-tumble ways as he tries to defend the homesteaders. Earnest and exciting, even if it's a bit white hat/black hat (Jack Palance even makes an appearance here as an evil gunman who wears, you guessed it, a black hat), Shane is one of the great westerns, a film that inspired many which would follow it.

Rio Grande Review


Grim
It's cowboys and Indians for the umpteenth time in the forgettable John Ford/John Wayne western Rio Grande. This time, Wayne's got a son under his command and the kid's angry mother and Wayne's estranged wife (Maureen O'Hara) shows up trying to bail him out of service before the victorious Union army heads out to clean up Apache country.

This is a really workmanlike film, offering little of interest aside from an early exploration of guerilla tactics (which could actually lead to Wayne's court martial, gasp!) and an enormous moustache that's good for a couple of laughs.

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The Sugarland Express Review


Excellent
Somewhere between unleashing the homicidal tanker of Duel on television audiences and the man-eating shark of Jaws on moviegoers, a young Steven Spielberg found the time to spin a far more human yarn in his debut theatrical feature The Sugarland Express. Employing the same storytelling techniques here as in the more fantastic fables that would follow, he elevates the material above its fairly routine narrative.

Based on a true story, the film follows the efforts of two married convicts, Lou Jean and Clovis Michael Poplin (Goldie Hawn and William Atherton), to retrieve their son from the foster parents who took custody when the Poplins went into the clink. Having already served her time, Lou Jean springs her husband from jail and, a few tragic misjudgments later, soon she's on the run with him and a kidnapped patrolman, Slide (Michael Sacks).

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The Wild Bunch Review


Extraordinary
I am one of the few surviving appreciators of second bests. In hindsight, my second biggest crush in high school ended up being a much better person and is in fact the only person from high school that I keep in close contact with. Your second best is always the sneakier one, the more interesting and mysterious one. You've studied your favorite, your best, with the gumption and know-how of a private detective. You know them inside out. However, the second best is just a little less known, shrouded in an enigma; it's so irresistible that you sometimes forget why the first one is your best or favorite, but then you snap back in. If you're looking to get married soon, more than likely you will cheat or at least make out with your second favorite at some point. This is the way of the world, get used to it. It's all good news for The Wild Bunch, which happens to be both Sam Peckinpah's second best film (Straw Dogs is better) and the second best revivalist western ever made (after Unforgiven).

It's even got William Holden's second best performance (he was better in Network). He plays Pike Bishop, the head of an outlaw gang of ace criminals. We are introduced to the gang when it is nearly 10 men strong, but after a gunfight with Thornton (Robert Ryan), Pike's old partner turned bounty hunter, there are only six. Relentlessly chased, they quickly take an offer to hold up a train and steal 16 crates of rifles from it. They return to the Mexico town, still being trailed by Thornton. The only Mexican in the gang, Angel (Jaime Sánchez), insists on taking one crate so that the general who hired him won't take over his village. When they return to the general, they give him the crates and he gives them the money, but not before taking Angel and torturing him for trying to arm his village. An argument between Pike and his closest comrade, Dutch (Ernest Borgnine), sparks a return to the general's compound and stand off between the five remaining outlaws and the general's army, which consists of roughly 200 men.

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One-Eyed Jacks Review


Grim
Marlon Brando proved he wasn't cut out for westerns with this, one of his few stabs at the genre.One-Eyed Jacks is a long, meandering, and poorly constructed film that has faded even further since its release -- none of which is terribly surprising, as this was Brando's sole attempt at directing a film. The plot concerns a criminal (Brando) who falls in love with a Mexican girl, among other misadventures. Unfortunarely, the slick-haired Brando doesn't come close to looking the part, and the movie's randomness quickly becomes a major turnoff. Note that many current-era DVDs are extremely badly mastered, with atrocious video and audio that comes primarily out of the rear speakers.

The Evening Star Review


Grim
What could be more foul than having your ashes spread over the beach of the horribly polluted Gulf of Mexico? Well, maybe having to sit through The Evening Star, the long-awaited tearjerky sequel to Terms of Endearment.

The Evening Star picks up in 1988, and follows 8 more years of the further adventures of Aurora Greenwood's (Shirley MacLaine) über-dysfunctional extended family. Now, Emma's (Debra Winger in Terms) kids have grown up under Aurora's eye, and the jury's still out on how well she did. Their Aunt Patsy (Miranda Richardson) is now a wealthy divorcee who is constantly one-upping Aurora. The caustic Aurora finds brief happiness in the arms of a younger man (Bill Paxton). Rosie (Marion Ross) is still in Aurora's kitchen, and a whole horde of minor players weave in and out of the action, mainly serving to dredge up the past and to breathe some new life into the Endearment franchise.

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