The Wild Bunch

Sam Peckinpah

Perhaps the single most illustrative fact about Sam Peckinpah is that he was developing a script while fighting against the heart disease that eventually killed him at the too-young age of 59. After alcoholism, cocaine abuse and a tempestuous personal life (involving divorce, infidelity and drunkenly shooting guns at the mirrors in his house), Peckinpah refused to stop working despite his terrible health. He was an artist up until the end, and one steeped in unnervingly realistic violence and gripping dramatic conflict. It was a strong signature that earned him parody by Monty Python, consistent controversy and (strangely) only one Oscar nomination. From the outside, the hard-living and the storied battles with colleagues make it feel like Peckinpah was a man who belonged in the wild west of his stories. A guy born a century too late. But from The Wild Bunch to Straw Dogs to Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, this human dust storm left behind some truly amazing movies. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a man who couldn’t direct sober.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It comes and goes as it pleases, dispensing movie news and interesting links for your reading, viewing and listening pleasure. Be honored that it has chosen you to be in its presence. Word. We begin tonight with a bit of a caption contest — because it’s been a boring end to a boring week and this is my column so I’ll do what I want. The above photo is one of a new batch from The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, a behind the scenes pic of Bella (Kristen Stewart, who seems very scantily clad in all photos, if you’re into that sort of thing), Edward (Robert Pattinson, sans sparkle) and director Bill Condon. Dear reader, what do you suppose Mr. Condon is saying to the happy couple?

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When asked to think of a decades-old action film that could easily be improved with a remake most folks would immediately consider Die Hard. That Bruce Willis fiasco could only be improved by modern day CGI, the addition of a young sidekick, and a lead actor with a full head of hair, but there’s one other 80′s “classic” that would benefit even more. And thanks to the genius executives at Warner Bros. we just might get to see the Lethal Weapon reboot we so clearly deserve.

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Culture Warrior

It’s become common wisdom to say that the best remakes are those made of non-canonical, non-classic films; that is, it’s typically better to give a second go to a film that – while possibly venerated, is hardly deemed a work of perfection that can’t be improved upon – than to redo a classic. Such a rule isn’t set in stone, of course, but it can be argued through example via some of the most celebrated of remakes (like The Thing or, in a more modest and more recent example of improvement-on-imperfection, The Crazies), and are often a result of a genuine inspiration from the source material rather than a simple means of capitalizing from its name. With the Coen brothers’ quite popular and much celebrated remake of True Grit, however, the distinction of what kind of a remake it is isn’t exactly so clear, as what kind of movie the original is proves to be something of an enigma in of itself.

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