Veteran writer/producer Bryce Zabel has launched a new movie review website, MovieSmackdown.com, in which newly released films are compared with early ones with similar themes, content or cast. "The way people actually talk about movies is by comparing them to other films they've loved or hated that are similar in some way," Zabel said in a statement. "So we embrace that reality and treat film reviews as a contact sport that has winners and Losers." For Example, The Help is compared with Driving Miss Daisy ; The Hangover with Bridesmaids ; Contagion with (1995's) Outbreak. The concept is carried forth with other features on the site. An interview with Rod Lurie, whose Straw Dogs opens today (Friday), focuses on the differences between his film and the original 1971 movie directed by Sam Peckinpah.
Continue reading: Website Offers Reviews "As A Contact Sport"
One gets The Feeling from reading the reviews of Rod Lurie's Straw Dogs that it will appeal in the main to cinema lovers who embraced the original film by Sam Peckinpah. Certainly the remarks of the critics -- Lurie was once one of them -- suggest that they found the film more interesting than engaging. For Example, A.O. Scott in The New York Times observes, "The new Straw Dogs is at times a faithful copy of the old one, reproducing a great many scenes, shots and passages of dialogue, and tweaking others ever so slightly. ... Mr. Lurie's movie does not quite succeed on its own, though it is pulpy and brutal and at times grotesquely comical. The story does not cohere, and the performances are uneven. But as a piece of film criticism -- as a conversation with, and interpretation of, an earlier film -- it is intriguing." In an odd review, Michael O'Sullivan in the Washington Post zeros in on the audience reaction to the film. He observes that Lurie expects the audience to be smart enough to be "disturbed -- and not titillated" by the violence at the end of the movie. "The question is Are we smart enough?" he asks, noting that after the most savage violence depicted at the end of the film, the "audience responded with whooping and scattered applause... making me wonder whether the flaw's in the new version, or in us." But some critics are not buying any of this lofty evaluation. Kyle Smith in the New York Post also mentions the reaction of the audience at a New York screening, observing that audiences who watched the Peckinpah movie weren't hooting. Straw Dogs, he writes, "is one of those movies that sits in an armchair, smokes a pipe and reflects 'seriously' on 'the question of violence,' but the main reason to see it is for the hilariously nasty uses it devises for a bear trap, nail gun, etc." Peter Howell, in the Toronto Star also remarks on the audience reaction and notes that the reason a '70s audience recoiled at the violence and today's audience cheered may have something to do with the attitudes of the times. Back then, he writes, "movies like Straw Dogs had the power to shock and to provoke us into discussing society's ills. Today, they're simply violent catharsis, encouraging us to do nothing more than to buy a bigger bag of popcorn to chew on as we gape in satisfaction and count the bullets and bodies. And Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune , appears to have no patience for such analysis. To him the film is merely a "bird-brained remake" that is "miscast, barely functional in terms of technique, stupid and unnecessary."
Continue reading: Movie Reviews Straw Dogs
Mexican moviemaker Guillermo Del Toro celebrated his six Oscar nominations by making love to his wife.
The PAN'S LABYRINTH writer/director, who is nominated for Original Screenplay, was trying to play it cool when the nominations were announced, but found himself wide awake at 3am waiting to see if he or his film had been selected.
But Del Toro soon relaxed once the nominations were read out - his proud wife offered him sex.
The director recalls, "I knew they were going to be read at 5.15 (am), so I went to bed, pretending I was normal and relaxed and I woke up with my heart palpitations and I looked at my watch... I didn't have my glasses on and I went, 'Oh my God, it's 5.25!'
"I ran downstairs... I sat on the couch, put on my glasses and it was 3.25. Now, I'm fully awake, panicked, horrified and I started to watch The Wild Bunch - the movie by Sam Peckinpah.
"My wife came down... she sits with me on the couch, we heard the nominations, and that couch had some action that night."
Television and film-maker DAVID E PECKINPAH has died of heart failure in Vancouver, Canada. He was 54. Peckinpah, the nephew of legendary Straw Dogs director Sam Peckinpah, passed away on Sunday (23APR06). He was executive producer on TV shows including SLIDERS, SILK STALKINGS and TURKS. His screenwriting credits included the 1983 Burt Reynolds movie STOKER ACE and the 1995 Chevy Chase comedy Man of the House. Peckinpah is survived by his wife LORI and three children.
Dustin Hoffman plays the hero, David Sumner, and at first he seems to be continuing in the string of nebbishy neurotic roles he took previously in The Graduate and Midnight Cowboy. A mild-mannered American college professor, he's arrived in western England with his wife Amy (a brave and brilliant Susan George) so he can have peace and quiet to work on his "astral mathematics." The small town, full of sad stone houses and often cloaked in fog, is where Amy grew up, and she's almost immediately stalked by a passel of alcoholic locals. The film's first five minutes has some virtuosic foreshadowing in it, giving us shots of David and Amy carrying a large and intimidating "mantrap" (basically a man-sized bear trap); tight shots of thuggish locals like Charlie (Del Henney) getting too close to the pair; a shot of Amy's sweatered chest, noticeably bra-less, which will become an important plot point later. Subtly and quickly, Peckinpah announces his three themes: sex, intimidation, and violence. It's gonna be interesting, but it's not gonna be easy to get through.
Continue reading: Straw Dogs Review
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.
Continue reading: The Wild Bunch Review
A film written by Hollywood legend Steve McQueen is set to go into production 25 years after his death.
McQueen's godson discovered storyboards and notes for YUCATAN, a film about treasure hunters in Mexico, in a vault of the actor's possessions.
The star became fascinated by Mexico's Yucatan peninsula following a trip with film-maker Sam Peckinpah, who directed him in JUNIOR BONNER and THE GETAWAY, and wanted the movie to climax with en epic motorbike chase to rival THE GREAT ESCAPE.
Continue reading: McQueen Screenwriting Ambition Finally Achieved
Classic western The Wild Bunch contains the best shoot-out in movie history, according to a British film magazine poll.
The ultra-violent finale of legendary director Sam Peckinpah's 1969 film - which stars William Holden, Warren Oates and ERNEST BORGNINE - is widely considered to be a landmark sequence in action cinema.
The Wild Bunch sequence beat similarly high-octane scenes from Hong Kong mob movie Hard Boiled, which came second, and third-placed 1995 heist classic HEAT, in the EMPIRE survey.
Continue reading: Wild Bunch Tops Greatest Shoot-Outs Poll
An AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE (AFI) poll asked voters to choose among 400
nominated characters from US cinema history, and decide which should be
considered wicked or virtuous.
Schwarzenegger's T-800 killer robot is nominated twice, once for the
attacking character he played in 1984's original THE TERMINATOR, and again for
1991's TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY, in which the android he portrayed was a
Continue reading: Schwarzenegger To Host Villains Special
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