Sometimes we watch stuff that we want to talk just a little bit about, not a full review worth. These are those films. If any of the films reviewed are available on Netflix Instant Watch (US or Canada) or HuluPlus (US only), we’ll note that by putting a direct link below the capsule.
2011 US. Director: Braden King. Starring: Ben Foster, Lubna Azabal, Peter Coyote.
A longer review is forthcoming, but I felt it prudent to scribble down a few thoughts as I will likely re-watch Here prior to providing more fleshed-out thoughts. At this juncture, however, I am uncertain that I saw a superior film from the 2011 calendar year. Foster and Azabal were jointly and severally fantastic, displaying beautifully believable chemistry whilst maintaining their independent characters and characteristics (and without stumbling into the cliché). The cinematography and editing were reminiscent of a Malick or Herzog film, both in terms of fluidity and beauty, with King and cinematographer Lol Crawley conveying landscapes and scenery through both elemental and humanized means. The lack of discussion to-date (as well as the lack of a proper release) is equal parts maddening and saddening, and I’m very hopeful that Here begins to generate some buzz.
2012 USA. Director: Steven Soderbergh. Starring: Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum, Bill Paxton.
For me, this is exactly what a popcorn action movie should be. It’s not cerebral, it’s not complicated, it’s not flashy, and it doesn’t rewrite any rules of the action thriller genre. But it is solid, well-shot, well-acted, well-directed, as clever as it needs to be, and has some of the best fight scenes I’ve seen ever. The story is pretty much what’s laid out in the trailer – Gina Carano is a private security operative, she’s betrayed by her employers, and then she beats the crap out of them. Carano’s MMA background shows; every hit looks (and sounds) sickeningly real, and the way she moves, the way she fights, even the way she runs are all totally believable. Soderbergh knows just how to support her, too, holding long shots instead of cutting away, as if to say, yeah, she can really do this. But it’s not just a showcase for a fighter – the story is simple, but it works, and Carano is nearly as convincing an actress as she is a fighter (her rawness actually works to her advantage), and the supporting cast is all superb, fitting in perfectly with the ’70s aesthetic Soderbergh pulls out here. I’d trade most any big-budget blockbuster if we could get two mid-budget action films like this in their place.
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