Archive for November 14th, 2008


Movies With (a) Vengeance

While it has been busy here at the Film Guys Online / Chasfilm Productions Office of Cinematic Research proudly brings you




once_upon_a_time_in_the_west“Once Upon a Time in the West” (1968) – Charles Bronson stars as Harmonica, a man with a mysterious past who arrives in Flagstone, AZ. He walks into a situation involving a guy named Cheyenne (Jason Robards) and Jill (Claudia Cardinale), a woman whose family she married into had been murdered by Frank (Henry Fonda), a “gun for hire” via railroad tycoon Morton (Gabriele Ferzetti). To find out what Harmonica is doing there, and why he plays one, ya gotta catch this movie.


get_carter“Get Carter” (1971) – Jack Carter (Michael Caine) is a London mobster who finds out this his brother Frank had died. Carter believes his brother had been murdered and sets out to uncover the truth. As he delves deeper, other mob thugs close in as he finds that his niece was part of an amateur porn film and Frank was killed trying to protect her. Easily one of the most ruthless films ever made, and a great watch.



death_wish“Death Wish” (1974) – Charles Bronson is architect Paul Kersey. When his wife is Joanna (Hope Lange) is murdered and his daughter sexually assaulted by muggers, Paul decides to deliver some vigilante justice. Based on the book by Brian Garfield, the movie spawned 4 sequels and was the inspiration for the movie, “The Brave One” (with Jodie Foster.



crow“The Crow” (1994) – Rockstar Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) and his wife are murdered in Detroit on Devil’s Night. A full year later Eric returns to the land of the living, having superhuman strength and invincibility, exacting revenge on the gang who murdered him and his wife. One of the best films that Brandon Lee did was unfortunately his last; a prop gun misfired, killing him.



braveheart“Braveheart” (1995) – William Wallace was a kid when the English murdered his father and 11 others. He went away and returned, vowing to push the English out of Scotland and earn independence for all Scots. Mel Gibson acted as well as directed this movie, loosely based on the life of the real William Wallace.




desperado“Desperado” (1995) – A sequel to “El Mariachi,” Robert Rodriguez directed the further adventure of a mariachi player with a guitar case full of guns. This time around, Antonio Banderas plays the main character, with Salma Hayek helping him exact revenge on Bucho. “I am looking for a man named Bucho. That’s all. But you had to do it the hard way.”



payback“Payback” (1999) – Based on the book, “The Hunter,” by Donald E. Westlake, Mel Gibson played Porter, a gangster shot and left for dead by his partner Val (Gregg Henry) and ex-wife Lynn (Deborah Unger). After the bullets are pulled out of his back, Porter is off and looking for his half of the money: $70,000. Blocking his path to the money are crooked cops, the Chinese Triads, and the leader of the Outfit (Kris Kristoferson), whom Val works for. This was originally made in 1967 as “Point Blank,” starring Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, Carroll O’Connor, and John Vernon.


memento“Memento” (2000) – What if you were trying to get revenge on the guy who killed your wife and gave you brain damage, but you could only remember what happened for 6-15 minutes at a time before you forgot it? San Fran insurance investigator Leonard Shelby (Guy Pierce) finds himself with that problem in an indie film directed by Christopher Nolan. As the films goes from black and white, past to present, you’ll find yourself putting clues together and feeling a lot like Lenny. Also stars Joe Pantaliano


kill_bill1“Kill Bill Vol 1 & 2” (2003/2004) – Quentin Tarantino and star Uma Thurman concocted this 2-part movie about The Bride (Thurman), a woman left for dead after her wedding “rehearsal.” Waking up in a hospital 4 years later, she tracks down each of her assassins (fellow members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad), working her way to the master Bill (David Carradine). Fellow Vipers are Vivica Fox, Lucy Liu, Daryl Hannah, and Michael Madsen.


bourne_supremacy1“The Bourne Supremacy” (2004) – The sequel to “The Bourne Identity” finds Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) living with his girlfriend Marie (Franka Potente) in Goa, India. When an assassin tries killing Bourne, his girlfriend pays the price and Bourne comes out from hiding. Unfortunately, he’s being framed for crimes he didn’t commit. He now has to clear his name and piece together important fragments of his memory.


Movie Review: W


Another Oliver Stone satire.


Stars Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Banks, James Cromwell, Ellen Burstyn, Richard Dreyfuss, Toby Jones and Thandie Newton. Directed by Oliver Stone.


Filmmaker Oliver Stone (“Platoon,” “JFK,” “Nixon,” “The Doors”) has returned to the land of biopic satire with “W.” Based on the current sitting President (as of this writing), “W” is a character study into what makes George W. Bush tick. Or rather, why he did what he did/ why he does what he does.


“W” follows the story of George W. Bush from his days of hazing at Yale in the Sixties to his first unsuccessful political run to helping his dad’s campaign to running for Governor of Texas in the Nineties. The pace jumps back and forth along W’s timeline from his current administration back to the events the possibly influenced who and what he is now. The film is not so much the destination, but the journey.


Josh Brolin, whose previous played a Texan in “No Country for Old Men,” literally disappears into the title character. Sure, he may look as much like Bush as Bruce Greenwood looked like JFK in “Thirteen Days,” but when you watch his swagger and listen to his Bush accent, it’s reminiscent of the difference between Daniel Day-Lewis and the character of Daniel Plainview; you would never know it was the same person. As Bush, Brolin is the epitome of a man who is the black sheep among his family: smoking, drinking, partying, and quitting any job given to him. Whether he’s right or he’s wrong, he’s dead-set on whatever he does.


Helping (or hurting) him along this journey is his best friend, Karl Rove (Jones). Jones was a great pick for being a “sidekick” character. Dick Cheney (Dreyfuss) stands behind the war, conflicting with Colin Powell and holding a control over it that would make Emperor Palpatine proud. James Cromwell does great as the elder Bush, a man who is never seemingly happy with his son or what his son does (but then again, not many would). Stacy Keach plays a pastor that W confides with and helps out by giving him a televised ministry. The reason of importance: during his governorship, Bush feels he received the call to run for the Presidency.


And the big question the movie tries to ask: why? Why did Bush run for the Presidency? Was he really called by God to do so? Was he destined to do so? Was he trying to get out of the shadow of his father and prove himself? Did he really believe what he was doing was the right thing? The movie doesn’t answer as much as it tries postulating these ideas. Something to chew on yes, but one doesn’t always go out to eat just for the appetizers.


As said previous, this movie is more of a character study than an explanation of a person. Pro-Bush people may believe that Stone is trying to rip “W” apart. Anti-Bush people say that he didn’t go far enough. The truth of the matter is that Oliver Stone never really rips into anybody in any of his movies. He takes how he perceives an individual and skewers it to whatever he’s trying to say, which is a form of satire in some way. I loved “JFK,” but it wasn’t the absolute truth. “The Doors” was pretty good with the exception that a good chunk of it is complete bunk.


But is “W” accurate? According to Internet sources, yes it is. How true the staff meetings were, or the eventual animosity between Colin Powell and Dick Cheney became, I don’t think any of us will really know for a while, if at all. The main events of drinking, partying, failing, and quest for redemption; that’s all true. Having his past buried; that’s true as well. Most of this stuff shouldn’t need to be debated, because the real meat of what Stone could’ve used to cut into Bush was entirely left out. Overall this film was a little more than lite entertainment but nothing more than a kid making fun of the school bully while he’s out of sight.


My only real complaint about the film was Condoleezza Rice. I’ve not seen Rice on TV that much, but Thandie Newton portraying her grated on my nerves. Maybe she really was that way but the clipped speech and accent didn’t work for me.


At best, a rental.


My grade: B