15 – 89mins – 2016
Dimension Films originally set this survivalist shark thriller for a summer 2016 straight-to-DVD release under the title In the Deep. A mere week before it was set to hit retailers’ shelves, Entertainment Studios snapped up the rights, cancelled the home release, reverted the title back to the original preference and announced a big screen bow for June 2017.
… Keep Scuttling!
15 – 83mins – 2016
In the sub-genre of shark movies, Steven Spielberg set the bar impossibly high in 1978. So high that each successive Jaws sequel was weaker and more ludicrous than the last – and I would know having recently started a franchise re-watch with last year’s blu-ray release (see my reviews of Jaws 2 and Jaws 3-D. The Revenge coming soon). Sure, in the decades since many have tried to match the terrifying highs of the paragon; Deep Blue Sea was dispensable fun, Open Water had naturalistic flair, Sharknado threw out the rulebook, but every time a new pretender to the throne steps up to the shore, your mind instantly compares it to Jaws.
… Keep Scuttling!
15 – 99mins – 1964
With a permanent squint framing his steely blue eyes and topping off an effortless composure, Clint Eastwood’s nameless Americano vigilante with morals is one unflappable, ice cool icon – even soundtracked his own trill musical calling card (courtesy of the legendary Ennio Morricone) as he solemnly rides into town!
I will openly confess that Westerns aren’t my bag – I just don’t associate with them in the same way I do other genres. For this reason I have often actively avoided them, making this the first time I have ever watched Sergio Leone’s classic spaghetti Western and Man with No Name trilogy kickstarter. 80s PictureHouse co-host Thom Downie kindly lent me his copy after my (surprise) enjoyment of Tarantino’s recent gunslinger The Hateful Eight.
Saddled only with the naïve expectation that I would be watching a John Wayne-style adventure Channel 4 would typically show on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I was understandably flabbergasted at A Fistful of Dollars’ relentless savage tone and unashamed portrayal of bloody violence – definitely earning its ‘15’ certificate.
Clint’s rugged and distinctive poncho-clad stranger stumbles into a power struggle between vicious outlaws who rule the impoverished townspeople (including Wolfgang Lukschy’s sheriff) of the Mexican village of San Miguel with an iron fist. Many an innocent is brutally beaten, battered – and in one particularly horrifying display – shot in cold blood even after surrendering!
Leone’s trope-setting operatic direction is epic in its grandiose shots of the mainly sand-covered desert locations, but at heart Fistful is an uncomplicated portrait of good vs. bad (and ugly!). Its singular narrative focus is pitched perfectly to enrapture, stun and rile up the audience in much the same way it does our unstoppable (super) hero.
“Aim for the heart or you’ll never stop me.”
Eastwood – even in his first leading role – is a magnetic presence and clearly the standout star, almost Terminator-esque in his steadfast resilience to pain as he advances menacingly towards his unenviable targets. While I can’t claim I will actively hunt it out, I would definitely not avoid an opportunity to watch A Few Dollars More (1965), if only to see more Clint bad-assery.