Dances with Wolves

riddick 4

Initially I set out to compile a list of specific movies to watch after you’ve seen Riddick, in the same fashion as I’ve done for other new releases. But in an attempt to pick out titles worth recommending, I couldn’t choose. The thing about Riddick is that it’s not too directly derivative of any individual precursors. While the original movie in the franchise, Pitch Black, could mostly be traced back to 3:10 to Yuma given its central setup involving a prisoner transport plot, Riddick is more of a typical Western with tropes found in too many examples to mention. Part of the problem might be that it’s kind of all over the place. In the first act we follow Riddick (Vin Diesel) through a solo outing on a desolate planet. He faces trials of survival against monsters, making the early section more like a Harryhausen movie than a cowboy flick, though I guess that means a nod to Jim O’Connolly’s The Valley of Gwangi is in order, and going back further The Beast of Hollow Mountain, which features effects by Harryhausen mentor Willis O’Brien. Both of these deal with dinosaurs in the Old West. There’s also Tremors 4: The Legend Begins, which is a prequel revealing how the subterranean Graboids (or “dirt dragons”) were around as far back as 1889.

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Culture Warrior

The Help has started a conversation that’s stretched far beyond the 137-minute confines of the film itself. And in its second week in a row atop the late-summer box office, the critical conversation surrounding the film has continued amidst (and, sometimes, against) the sleeper popularity it endures in a fashion similar to the success of the book it was based on. In interest of full disclosure, I have deliberately chosen by this point not to see The Help (perhaps a combination of my reservations against it combined with its daunting running time). However, in following the many editorials published in response to the film’s release, it oddly enough feels appropriate to comment on the conversation that the film has inspired without having seen it, as it’s a conversation that is hardly limited to the film itself. The Help seems to represent a breaking point, the last piece of white liberal guilt that broke the clear-cut racial fantasies of Hollywood cinema’s back, so to speak. The film is bearing the brunt of a decades-long history of similarly minded feel-good studio fare about race relations. While The Help certainly has its full-throated detractors, one interesting component about the overall critical reaction to the film is that it is politically simplistic while also presenting good or perfectly competent filmmaking, carried by a couple of strong female performances at its center (which, when considering what’s lacking in terms of identity and representation in Hollywood, is itself no small miracle).

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John Barry, the prolific and almost peerless film composer, has died of a heart attack. The beauty and complexity of his work cannot be overstated – a fact bolstered by his five Oscar wins (for Out of Africa, The Lion in Winter, Born Free (2 wins), and Dances With Wolves). Of course, Barry will be less known for the statues and more known for his decades of collaboration on the James Bond franchise. He worked on eleven of the first Bond movies starting with Dr. No and ending with The Living Daylights. Barry worked on or has had his music included in 143 films. It’s a massive achievement, and one that leaves the question of which score is the best open to a wild range of interpretation. Do you go with the brassy edge of the Bond music? The sheer hugeness and intensity of the Zulu score? The sophisticated jungle rhythms of the 1976 King Kong remake? The man left behind some impeccable work – film scores that should be studied and emulated for years to come. Not to mentioned enjoyed by movie fans of all stripes. He will absolutely be missed.

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This Week in Blu-ray

In this edition of This Week in Blu-ray, we’re going travelin’. We will take a trip to Mars, where a resourceful astronaut has been stranded and must breath with the aid of yellow rocks. We will head out west, where the story for Avatar was birthed by Kevin Costner. We will head back in time, when things were simple and Facebook didn’t rule our lives. And we will travel to a miscellaneous Spring Break destination, where a bunch of agitated pre-historic Characiformes are waiting to take a bite out of our favorite porn stars’ silicon implants. And Jerry O’Connell’s junk. Of course this will all make sense, as long as you hit ‘read more’ below and check out this week’s Blu-ray slate.

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Viggo Mortensen to Dance with Wolves

Apparently there are plans of a sequel to the 1990 Best Picture Winner, Dances With Wolves, which starred and was directed by Kevin Costner. The sequel will be titled The Holy Road. Yeah, I didn’t know this either until today.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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