TIFF16 REVIEW: The Magnificent Seven [2016]

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“It won’t sweeten, it’ll only sour” I’m at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to the new The Magnificent Seven despite going in thinking it’d be the other way around. Here I was anticipating that I’d be able to watch the film with a completely blank slate because I’ve never seen the 1960 version nor […]

REVIEW: Sweetgrass [2009]

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“How can dogs like me if people don’t?” My first thought when John Ahern, Pat Connolly, and the rest of Lawrence Allested’s ranchers took off for the Montanan Absaroka-Beartooth mountains was: “There has to be a better way.” I know such a statement can be construed as demeaning to a way of life that existed […]

REVIEW: The Hateful Eight [2015]

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“Well I’ll be double-dog damned” It appears Quentin Tarantino has decided to go back to his roots by making his eighth feature film The Hateful Eight in the same vein as his debut Reservoir Dogs—namely keeping sets and actors to the bare minimum for added tension without room for escape. The maneuver couldn’t have come […]

REVIEW: The Revenant [2015]

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“As long as you can still grab a breath … you fight” If we’re to go by the setting of Michael Punke‘s novel The Revenant on which Mark L. Smith based his script—director Alejandro González Iñárritu gets a co-writing credit after coming onboard—the year is 1822 and the Central American frontier is loaded with fur […]

TIFF15 REVIEW: The Ballad of Immortal Joe [2015]

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“If you want my story I will proceed” Written in memory of a family member, Pazit Cahlon‘s Western poem The Ballad of Immortal Joe sounds like a nursery rhyme but plays like a bittersweet romance of cursed love. Directed and animated by Hector Herrera, the short has an eye-catching aesthetic with dark palette and deep […]

REVIEW: The Homesman [2014]

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“God will strike you down” I didn’t necessarily love The Homesman, but it’s hard not to respect it. This is a dark story in the desolate Mid-West with outlaw justice and remorseless murder surrounding the charitably selfless journey of Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank) and the three crazed women she’s taking across the Missouri into […]

REVIEW: Wild Wild West [1999]

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“Never drum on a white lady’s boobies at a big redneck dance” Let’s just say that Mel Gibson and Tom Cruise dodged a bullet by backing out of Wild Wild West during its seven-year gestation. Its script probably wasn’t nearly as off-the-wall goofy at the start considering their clout as actors, but I highly doubt […]

REVIEW: A Million Way to Die in the West [2014]

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“Can you give Louise wrapped candies?” I do believe congratulations are in store for one Mr. Seth MacFarlane. After a successful animated comedy that survived cancellation; two follow-ups that never quite caught on with equal cheer; a bit part in the ill-fated “Flash Forward” as an actor; a ho-hum, neutered stint as Oscar host; and […]

REVIEW: The Lone Ranger [2013]

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“A fairly sinister jar of pickles at the bar” To sum up Disney’s big budget reboot of Fran Striker and George W. Trendle’s radio show turned television hit The Lone Ranger in one word conjures “silly”. It’s silly to read how Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio’s original script involved werewolves—John Reid’s outlaw does use silver […]

REVIEW: Dead Man’s Burden [2013]

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“It ever occurred to you he might of just changed his mind?” A novice when it comes to the western genre, I won’t presume to say Jared Moshe’s directorial debut is a welcome contemporary installment in an otherwise nearly forgotten style. I will, however, label Dead Man’s Burden a well-composed, detail-oriented, slow burn of a […]

REVIEW: Django Unchained [2012]

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“Are the bags on or off?” I’m not sure Quentin Tarantino could ever be mistaken for someone subtle, but even he may have gone too far with his latest, Django Unchained. A revenge flick drenched in blood, America’s tarnished history, and a surprising wealth of humor, what starts as a film I would have been […]