Spaghetti Western

Do you like insane spaghetti Westerns? Of course you do, your eyeballs work. But I can personally guarantee that you have not seen anything until you seen an insane spaghetti Western…in 3D! During last year’s Fantastic Fest, our ocular cavities were lovingly assaulted by the tidal wave of extra-dimensional madness of 1981′s Comin’ at Ya! The film, which was made at the dawn of, and credited with contributing to, the resurgence of studio-released 3D films, is a nasty, gritty revenge story that works in a number of hilarious gimmicks designed to force-feed imagines from the screen into your consciousness. The film made such an impression that it was picked up for distribution by the young, but formidable, Drafthouse Films. Yes, as in The Alamo Drafthouse. Drafthouse Films has already helped spread the good news of Christopher Morris’ Four Lions and their recent acquisition Bullhead is nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Now they’ve given this little indie absurdity a fancy digital restoration for its Texas theatrical launch.

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While 3D is all the rage now, and thankfully its death knell may be sounding, it can be easy to forget that 3D is not a new Hollywood trick to get butts into seats. There have been 3 distinct periods of prevalent 3D films in cinemas, one in the 50s, one in the 80s, and the one in which we currently find ourselves. And one of the films that helped kick of the 3D revival in the 80s was a spaghetti western called, rather appropriately, Comin’ At Ya 3D. It should be stated upfront that Comin’ At Ya 3D is first and foremost about the 3D gimmick. I won’t go so far as to say it’s not a film, but it’s definitely a case of style over substance and the story always takes a back seat to the in your face 3D effects. That’s not to say that the 3D doesn’t at times enhance the story being told, but it’s clear that the 3D is the big selling point here. No one was expecting Oscars for acting on this one. That said, Comin’ At Ya 3D is a lot of fun. If there’s something that could conceivably be thrown at the screen given the confines of a period Western, you can pretty much bet that it’s going to be thrown at the screen. It definitely takes a kitchen sink approach.

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Culture Warrior

A genre nearly as old as filmmaking itself, the western thrived throughout the years of the studio system but has zigzagged across rough terrain for the past forty or so years. For the last fifteen-ish years, the struggling, commercially unfriendly genre was either manifested in a neoclassical nostalgic form limited in potential mass appeal (Appaloosa, Open Range) or in reimagined approaches that ran the gamut between contrived pap and inspired deconstructions (anything from Wild Wild West to The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford). But last December, True Grit – a bona fide western remake that relied on the opportunities available in the genre’s conventions rather than bells, whistles, or ironic tongues in their respective cheeks – became a smash hit. Did this film reinvigorate a genre that was on life support, as the supposed revitalization of the musical is thought to have done a decade ago, or are westerns surviving by moving along a different route altogether? Three westerns released so far this year – Gore Verbinski’s Rango, Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff, and, as of this weekend, Jon Favreau’s Cowboys & Aliens – suggest mixed directions for the dusty ol’ genre.

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There’s already been a lot of high profile casting news for Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming Western Django Unchained. Jamie Foxx is going to be playing the lead role, an ex-slave who is going after his ex-owner to liberate his wife. Leonardo DiCaprio is going to play said slave-owning creep. Samuel L. Jackson will be his manipulative servant. And Christoph Waltz is set to play a German bounty hunter that shows Django the ropes. That’s a fine enough sounding cast right there, but strap yourself in, there’s more. Deadline Las Cruces is reporting that Tarantino is in negotiations to get Robin Hood to join the cast. That’s right, the one true Robin Hood, the Bryan Adams Robin Hood: Kevin Costner. You might also know him as that guy who drank his own pee in Waterworld. However you remember the guy, you probably can recollect that once upon a time he was a pretty big deal. And history shows that Tarantino loves to take actors who used to be a big deal and give them a chance to shine once again. If Costner signs on the dotted line, he will get a chance to do just that, as the role he is up for is that of Ace Woody, the brutal taskmaster who trains slaves to fight one another in gladiatorial battles. It’s a showy, villainous role that could very well get Costner a lot of attention, much like Waltz’s Jew hunter character did in Inglorious Basterds. As he showed in Mr. Brooks, […]

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A lot of speculation has gone into figuring out who will play the lead role of the slave turned bounty hunter Django in Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming spaghetti western homage Django Unchained. Many people were pretty certain that Tarantino was dealing with Sony because he was trying to get Sony poster boy Will Smith to sign on to star. Then there was some rumbling that The Wire star Stringer Bell Idris Elba would be stepping into the role due to some comments that he twittered on his twitterer. There has been so much talk about who is playing the lead role in this film that speculation about the other characters has become something of an afterthought. Until now, because one man just heated things up in the race to fill out the rest of Tarantino’s cast, and that man’s name is Leonardo DiCaprio. According to Deadline Carbondale, DiCaprio is being courted to play the villainous role of Calvin Candie, and negotiations with him are reportedly going much better than those with the once supposed near-lock Smith. Candie is the owner of an establishment where female slaves are used as prostitutes and males as gladiators to battle to the death. The story of the film deals mostly with the ex-slave Django hooking up with a German Bounty hunter in order to learn to be a badass and then free his wife from the clutches of the evil Candie. With DiCaprio being looked at as a likely candidate to fill the Candie role, […]

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Due to the long-standing love affair between Quentin Tarantino and the Weinsteins, there was never really any question as to whether or not The Weinstein Company would be doing the domestic distributing for the filmmaker’s upcoming spaghetti western homage Django Unchained. Which studio would handle the international distribution was very much in question however, and the subject of a pretty intense bidding war. Popular opinion was that Universal would end up with the duties, as they just teamed up with Tarantino for Inglorious Basterds, and that was his most financially successful film in quite some time. Unfortunately for Universal, those works ended up getting gummed up because of The Fresh Prince.

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Italian actor Franco Nero talked to reporters at the Los Angeles Italia Festival recently and caused a bit of a stir when he mentioned Quentin Tarantino’s name while discussing his next project. Nero described it thus, “The film will be called The Angel, The Bad, and The Wise and is a tribute to Sergio Leone. It’s a movie that contains humor, lots of action, but also a great plot. We have already been signed by a dozen people who will be part of project. Among the filmmakers involved include Quentin Tarantino , Keith Carradine, Treat Williams, fifteen people in all Americans who want to do this movie and so we are trying to produce it outside of Italy.” According to an update from Aint It Cool, the title may be totally wrong, but Tarantino is definitely planning to do a spaghetti Western, and Christoph Waltz will be co-starring in some capacity. Treat it with the grain of rumor salt for now, but it sounds plausible. The earlier quote, taken in context, could mean that Tarantino might have any number of itty-bitty little insignificant roles in the production; but people are already going ahead and speculating that this is going to be the next film he directs anyways.

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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
B
published: 04.14.2014
A-
published: 04.14.2014
C

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