For several years, I’ve been making a joke about God’s will for my life. Having felt the call to become a film critic in 2008, I have often been frustrated by the lack of paid opportunities there have been for me. As a way of coping with this, I adopted a very caustic attitude and would frequently say, “God called me into film criticism just in time for it start dying.”
Some stories are as old as storytelling itself. One of them is this: a damsel, pure and fair, has been captured by a dragon. It then falls to a group of upright knights, none of whom are fully sure they’re a match for the beast, to enter its lair and retrieve her.
If you substitute the knights for old west citizens and the dragon for a tribe of cannabilistic savages, you’ve summarized Bone Tomahawk, the directorial debut of S. Craig Zahler starring Kurt Russell. I cannot recall a movie like it in recent memory, yet it feels almost mythologically traditional. It manages to somehow be epic in its scope and simultaneously two-sentence-tiny in its premise. It is relentlessly brutal in its violence, yet restrained in how rarely that violence presents itself. It has a constant tone of dread while somehow managing to maintain an ember of hope glowing at its center.
As has become a yearly custom, I like to ring in the New Year by looking back on the films released a decade earlier. I don’t do this solely to make myself “feel old”, but rather to allow a moment of reflection. How has Hollywood changed in the last ten years? Which artists have come to prominence and respectability? Which ones have fallen away?
And, of course, an even more personal question. How has my own life changed since I first saw these movies? Has my outlook on film evolved in the last ten years? Has it devolved?
That’s why I enjoy doing this yearly post; it forces me to look back and reflect.
That said, the following movies are now ten years old:
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III
THE DA VINCI CODE
THANK YOU FOR SMOKING
V FOR VENDETTA
THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS
STRANGER THAN FICTION
THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS
LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA
NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM
CHILDREN OF MEN
NOTES ON A SCANDAL
While viewing Tarantino’s eagerly awaited 8th feature film, The Hateful Eight, two conflicting opinions were passionately arguing within my brain. The first was telling me, “This film is absolutely beautiful; a real cinematic treat!” Indeed, as one might expect from Tarantino, The Hateful Eight is a gorgeously crisp film. Shot on celluloid, and set within a blizzard-ridden Wyoming, the film presents the typical mountain range landscapes associated with classics of the Western genre, yet the film is able to subvert these geographical tropes somewhat by flattening and smoothing out the frame of the film with deep glistening snow. To effect, this flattening of the landscape highlights the individual features of the characters within the film, allowing them as personalities to stand out from the scope of their environment. As a cinematic technique, this creates wonderfully dramatic images of faces, figures, costumes and human expressions. The film is able to maintain this grand scope of beauty throughout, making great use of its grainy-yet-classic filmic style.
In this episode, Tyler and Reed discuss Michael Dougherty’s Krampus and Clive Donner’s A Christmas Carol.
00:00:44- Intro, Reed’s website
00:53:17- A Christmas Carol (1984)
01:32:08- Episode wrap-up