Plot Summary: A small-time rancher agrees to hold a captured outlaw who’s awaiting a train to go to court in Yuma. A battle of wills ensues as the outlaw tries to psych out the rancher.
Director: James Mangold
Writers: Halsted Welles (screenplay), Michael Brandt (screenplay), Derek Haas (screenplay), and Elmore Leonard (short story)
Stars: Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Ben Foster
Serious Jest: (Worth Watching) This is a very solid film, with a compelling plot and solid cast, featuring two of the most notoriously ill-tempered actors in the business. Who will be the bigger jerk? Watch it and find out!
Also, Foster brings the same leashed intensity that inspired Mark Wahlberg to give up some of his own pay in order to recruit Foster for Lone Survivor. Foster is one of my favorite supporting actors.
You can enjoy this movie as a straightforward classic action Western, or you can delve deeper into the psychological underpinnings, which are spread throughout the movie and which culminate in an ending that can either anger you or inspire a subsequent deep discussion with others who have seen the film.
For Western aficionados, this flick is an instant classic and Must See. For the rest of us, you could live with missing this one, but once you start watching it, you’ll be hooked.
Plot Summary: In 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after breaking parole, agrees to care for a factory worker’s daughter. The decision changes their lives for ever.
Director: Tom Hooper
Writers: William Nicholson (screenplay), Alain Boublil (screenplay), Claude-Michel Schönberg (screenplay), Herbert Kretzmer (screenplay), Alain Boublil (stage musical “Les Miserables”), Claude-Michel Schönberg (stage musical “Les Miserables”)
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway
Serious Jest: (Don’t Bother) A compelling story with visually pleasing cinematography and a top-notch acting cast…however, I generally don’t favor musicals, unless they’re able to break into the songs somewhat organically, as Moulin Rouge! did. But this movie sang. just. about. every. word…this dragged the film into the unnecessary territory of 2 1/2 hours. I heard there’s a non-musical version. Gonna try that one after a reasonable “cooling off” period.
Plot Summary: On the hunt for a fabled treasure of gold, a band of warriors, assassins, and a rogue British soldier descend upon a village in feudal China, where a humble blacksmith looks to defend himself and his fellow villagers.
Stars: Russell Crowe, Cung Le, Lucy Liu
Serious Jest: (Must Own) Imagine a legitimate old-school kung-fu flick with various interesting characters, masterfully executed stunts, beautiful landscapes, a knocking hip-hop soundtrack, skillful camera work on high-tech equipment, and proper special effects. The RZA did an amazing job putting this one together. Also, I can’t think of anyone who would have played Liu’s role better than her. I appreciate the homages to the classics, as well. I will be watching this one again, probably more than once.