The Good The Bad and The Ugly

Eli Wallach Transformation

The excellent Eli Wallach, whose career spanned over sixty years, passed away this week at the age of 98, and I’m consumed with thoughts of transformation. Of course, he lived and worked for so long that life was a transformation in and of itself. The man from The Godfather Part III is the same man who hilariously shuffled about with Cloris Leachman in New York, I Love You. But he was also a man that melted into his roles. It’s an amazing, yet eternally undervalued talent. We gush for the names who always, and will forever look like themselves – the Robert Redfords and George Clooneys — but the real magic comes from the character actors whose roles trump image, those who disappear, those who leave little to no taste of the real person behind the performance. Some need full masks and CGI to transform, but others need just a hint of makeup or sometimes (shockingly) nothing at all as they’re enveloped by their characters. Elite actors like Wallach allow us to simply enjoy the character and pretend, briefly, that they’re real.

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The Good The Bad and The Ugly

Three men standing around, sixty-five shots in two-and-a-half minutes, and one of the most thrilling moments in cinema history. Obviously the hours of story that come before the climax of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly have a lot to do with why we care so much what happens to Blondie (and to Angel Eyes and Tuco), but this new video essay from Max Tohine breaks down the technical side of how Sergio Leone and the film’s editors Eugenio Alabiso and Nino Baragli capitalized fully on the groundwork by delivering the exclamation mark moment that the story needed. It’s a testament to visually delivering what characters are thinking, particularly in a game theory-laden standoff. It’s also educational from a filmmaking perspective and damned interesting from the fan side of things.

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FSR is usually steeped in high-mindedness and moral fiber, but there’s no reason not to highlight something as cool as LEGO versions of iconic movies scenes. Consider it a Friday distraction tucked between a review of the latest Todd Solondz movie and (spoiler alert) breaking news about a possible new Jackass movie. Somehow it makes complete sense. Especially because these images are undeniable. The fine folks at BostInno discovered this internet wonder – a series of sharply photographed movies scenes (from Hitchcock to Tarantino) done with LEGO figures. There’s a LEGO movie in the works, there are movie scenes done in LEGO and the snake of culture continues to eat its tail. Check out the images for yourself:

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Over Under - Large

Once upon a time, Hollywood was king of the Western and the idea of anybody over in Europe making a movie about the American Southwest as successful as something like High Noon was laughable. Italian-produced films about the west, or Spaghetti Westerns, were largely low budget knock-offs where fading Hollywood stars went to die after their careers had peaked. But the work of Sergio Leone changed that viewpoint. His “The Man With No Name” trilogy wasn’t just a worldwide financial success upon release, the films have gone on to be seen as some of the greatest Westerns produced anywhere, throughout the history of film. And the final installment of that series, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, has especially become an important part of the fabric of pop culture. More than any other Western I can think of, it’s stood the test of time and achieved a level of awareness that rivals any other classic film in any other genre. Often it’s referred to as not just the definitive Spaghetti Western and Leone’s masterpiece, but as the definitive Western, period. That’s all fine and good, because I think The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is largely a great film; but I think he actually improved two years later when he made Once Upon a Time in the West, my pick for the greatest Western of all time.

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Merch Hunter

Christmas time is here. It’s now totally official – a patch of black ice and a totalled car can attest to that for me – so the concerns of the merch buyers out there have probably shifted away from self-servient purchases to more altruistic ones. Good to remember that buying someone something that you want is often a hidden win, since they might get sick of it and you’ll get to keep it. Just saying. Anyway, while you might be thinking about buying for other people, it’s still important to look after number one, and the three offerings below for this week’s column should hopefully represent enough of a draw to get you reaching for the credit card. Especially number two on the list. P.S. If you happen to have $500k in your sock drawer, or in that loose change bottle you keep in the office, the greatest movie poster collectible of all time is now for sale on eBay.

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Two men. The city against the West. Who emerges victorious and who emerges with only blood and sympathy on his side?

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flickchart

Have a few spare hours during the day? Like, say, 20? Excellent. Get ready to lose your job and your loved ones as you quickly becoming addicted to using Flickchart.

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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