Trailer: Stronger

If Peter Berg’s Patriot’s Day wasn’t your thing, and you are yearning for a less ‘rah-rah-rah’ story about the Boston Marathon bombing, well, I am not entirely sure you will get that with David Gordon Green’s survivor story, Stronger. While it focuses less on ‘finding those responsible’ and more on ‘dealing with the trauma’ of these incidents, it is definitely swinging for the fences in terms of Oscar-bait kind of performances. Nothing wrong with that when you have Jake Gyllenhaal doing the heavy lifting. Gyllenhaal has proven over the past decade that he one of the best American actors working today, whether it be in a weird arthouse thriller like Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy or Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler, or in mainstream Hollywood adult movies such as Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoner, or Jean-Marc Vallée’s Demolition.

Jeff, a 27-year-old, working-class Boston man who was at the marathon to try and win back his ex-girlfriend Erin. While waiting for her at the finish line the blast occurs, and he loses both his legs. After regaining consciousness in the hospital, his battle has just begun as he tackles months of physical and emotional rehabilitation with the unwavering support of Erin and his family.

Weekend of Trash XV

We tried to squeeze one more video weekend into 2014, but ill health and busy schedules prevented it happening. So instead we kicked off 2015 with the 15th (recorded) Weekend of Trash (previous write-ups can be found in the category archive).

So as usual, here are the reviews of everything we watched over a weekend of sleaze, violence and downright nonsense. The reviews are only brief (I’m not about to start writing notes whilst watching movies featuring time travelling dinosaurs) and ratings are largely based on entertainment value rather than quality, so take them with a pinch of salt. I’ve included clips and trailers when possible too.

* Apologies for the crap image above – my phone camera didn’t like the lighting in the room so it came out a funny colour.

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Weekend of Trash X

With the 10th Weekend of Trash (backstory and previous write-ups can be found here – I, II, III & IV, V & VI, VII, VIII & IX) we pulled out all the stops, with a couple of films on the Friday as well as a record-breaking seven whole films on Saturday. We got a nice range of B-movies watched and picked wisely, with the only real dodgy titles being on Friday night.

The reviews are only brief as usual and with so many films being watched and the nature of their quality, my ratings should probably be taken with a pinch of salt. I’ve included clips and trailers when possible too.

Enjoy!





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Weekend of Trash IX

Weekend of Trash is back for the ninth time, the first in 2013 (backstory and previous write-ups can be found here – I, II, III & IV, V & VI, VII & VIII). We had great fun as always and crammed in quite a few obscure VHS titles alongside some more recent and classic B-movies as well as one classier title (which, surprisingly enough, was our biggest disappointment). I came over on Saturday this time so no Friday reviews, but I was there all of Sunday so we still watched a decent amount overall.

As ever, take star ratings with a pinch of salt – they’re largely rated within the context of the weekend and genre. Forgive the brevity of the reviews too – I’m a busy man and most of these are films that don’t require analysis, I’ll let the trailers do the talking…

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Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: Heaven’s Gate (1980)

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Most people who love the movies know the story of Heaven’s Gate. Here it is again in a nutshell. After winning three Oscars for The Deer Hunter (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor), director Michael Cimino went on to write and direct a western epic about the Johnson County Wars. Due to massive cost over runs and film delays the film ended up being 44 million dollars (while that number seems quaint in an age where the lowliest of romantic comedy costs about 40 Million – BEFORE PRINTS & ADVERTISING – it was an unheard of amount of dough to spend on a film in 1980.) At one point, the cut of the film was 5 1/2 hours long, some say this over-indulgence was mainly due to Cimino’s perfectionism and ‘man of the moment’ status.’ Case in point: After 5 days shooting they were apparently 4 days behind schedule. The film was eventually pared down to 3 hours 40 minutes. After the Deer Hunter, critics were expecting the second coming of Christ (which wouldn’t happen until 2004 with Mel Gibson’s fetishistic passion play) and lambasted the film so bad that the studio waited on the film for another 8 months, and chopped it down by another hour. Nobody went to see the film when it was released, and United Artists, the studio, went bankrupt and was bought at a fire-sale price by MGM (there is no small irony in that MGM has been similarly fire-sold several times, for varied reasons, 20 years onward.)

So how is the film? Well, I liked it. A lot. The class struggles in the film between the rich corporation (i.e. state-sanctioned rape of the working class) and the poor immigrant farmers is as relevant today as it was in the 1890s. I loved the contrast between the Harvard graduation celebrations and the frontier life celebrations. The frivolous game of defending bouquets of flowers with concentric rings of faculty holding hands while the students try to grab the flowers for honour is nicely revisited as a bloody game of survival as the residents of Johnson County defend their escaping families and attack the 50 odd armed bounty hunters. The love triangle of Kris Kristofferson’s rich man behaving like a poor man, and Christopher Walken’s poor man behaving like a rich man with Isabelle Hupert’s confident middle-class prostitute is as interesting for the relationship dynamics as for its symmetry: She charges Walken’s character for sex so as to no be ‘cheating’ on Kristofferson’s character.

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