Showing posts with label High Plains Drifter (movie review). Show all posts
Showing posts with label High Plains Drifter (movie review). Show all posts

Friday, May 29, 2015

"Far From the Madding Crowd" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Far From The Madding Crowd," the DVD "Selma" and the documentary "Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck."  The Book of the Week is "O's Little Book of Happiness."  I also bring you up to date on "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with the Clint Eastwood western "High Plains Drifter" ]

A mostly faithful adaptation of Thomas Hardy's 19th century novel.

Bathsheba Everdeen (Carey Mulligan) is a headstrong, independent woman living in Dorset in Victorian England trying to live her own life in a culture dominated by men, and she is one popular girl (recognize that last name? Methinks Suzanne Collins named her Katniss after her). 

Three different men want to marry Bathsheba.  Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts), a shepherd who lost his farm due to an inexperienced young border collie who ran his sheep off a cliff (the dog did not meet a good end either); William Boldwood  (Michael Sheen), a middle-aged farmer and Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge), a dashing but dissolute soldier whose love, Fanny Robbin (Juno Temple), left him at the altar because she went to the wrong church.  So who does Bathsheba choose?  Why, the dissolute soldier, of course, which I don't get because Gabriel is way more handsome.

When the film begins, Bathsheba is living on a farm in Dorset with her aunt. She is a carefree young woman who doesn't bother to ride sidesaddle. Gabriel Oak is her neighbor.  One day he comes by and rather dispassionately asks for her hand in marriage.  At this point, Bathsheda doesn't want to marry anyone.  She turns him down. Then Gabriel loses his farm because of the aforementioned dog debacle, and Bathsheba and he lose touch until one day, Gabriel sees a barn on fire and stops to help.  Turns out it's Bathsheba's barn. Bathsheba had inherited her uncle's farm and is now the mistress of a large estate. She hires Gabriel, who is still carrying a torch for her.  Meanwhile, Bathsheba's neighbor, Mr. Boldwood, also asks her to marry him and she also puts him off.  Then she meets Frank Troy, the soldier who was left at the altar. So much for her not wanting to get married.  Sex appeal has that effect on people.  They marry but then wouldn't you know.  Fanny turns up again.

I don't get the whole remake thing.  This same story was told in a perfectly wonderful big budget film starring Julie Christie, Peter Finch, Alan Bates and Terence Stamp and released in 1967.  A costume drama doesn't really age unless it needs CGI so why remake it?  I remember the original one as being quite a bit more dramatic and engaging than this one and that one was almost three hours long.  At a little less than two hours, I found this latest version a bit boring.  Is it me? 

Carey Mulligan is a lovely actress who does a good job as Bathsheba.  Juno Temple only has a small part as Fanny, and I keep wondering when she will break out.  She is a wonderful actress but so far has been limited to starring roles in indy films ("Magic Magic," "The Brass Teapot") no one saw or small parts like this in bigger films.  I am waiting for her to have her big break as she is a remarkable actress.  Sheen is also really good here and has played everyone from David Frost to Dr. William Masters in the TV show "Masters of Sex."  The other actors are fine as well but they couldn't overcome the slow pace.

Directed by Thomas Vinterberg, the film is gorgeous in its English landscapes thanks to a woman cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen but feels disjointed. If you didn't know the story, it can get confusing and the film lacks the depth that would make you care about these characters.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like period costume dramas, you might like this but I found it rather "madding" slow and not very compelling. The 1967 version was better.

You Might Have Missed
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)

Selma (2014)

Martin Luther King's 1965 fight to secure equal voting rights for black Americans that culminated in the epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

The film begins in 1964 with Martin Luther King accepting his Nobel Peace Prize followed by the death of four little girls at the 16th Street Baptist Church.  King implores President Lyndon Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) for Federal legislation that will allow black Americans to vote without having to jump through the many hoops laid in their paths by those who mean to keep them from it. Johnson declines saying he has more important issues to deal with.  So King gathers his forces to make a big statement to the world by marching in protest from Selma to Montgomery despite the dangers he and his supporters will face.

David Oyelowo stars as Martin Luther King in a well-deserved Academy Award nominated performance.  However, this film is not a biopic in the classic sense.  Though the film shows King, the man, with all of his personal blemishes, this is more about a moment in time in Martin Luther King's civil rights fight, an incredibly important moment in time:  his campaign to get voting rights for black Americans. 

It's good to see Tim Roth again (who has been toiling in TV lately) and he does a great job as George Wallace; Carmen Ejogo uncannily channels Coretta Scott King and my beloved Oprah plays Annie Lee Cooper, in a small but moving role of an older black woman who just wants to vote.

(As an aside and as a big "Housewives" fan, I can't help but mention that it boggles my mind that one of the Atlanta Housewives, Porsha Williams, who is the granddaughter of Hosea Williams, a key player in the history of this story, in one famous "Atlanta Housewives" episode, thought the Underground Railroad was actually under the ground.  I'm just sayin.')

John Legend and Common won Oscars for their collaboration on the original song "Glory," which features prominently and movingly at the end of the film.

This is an important film written by Paul Webb. Directed by Ava DuVernay, it is incredibly ironic that this film was nominated for an Academy Award but the African American woman director who brought it to life was not.  Think about that.

Rosy the Reviewer important, moving film that needs to be seen to remind us all of the inequalities that existed only 50 years ago and the work that still needs to be done today.

Kurt Cobain:  Montage of Heck (2015)

An authorized documentary on the life of musician Kurt Cobain.
"I'd rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I am not." 
Those words seem to define the angst Kurt Cobain seemed to be dealing with as he matured and became famous and which led to his suicide at 27.
Cobain grew up in Aberdeen, Washington in a seemingly normal middle class family in the "Leave it to Beaver" era.  He was the first grandchild in the family and was doted on but was diagnosed as hyperactive.  His mother and father married young and his father was emotionally abusive.  Kurt was nine when his parents divorced and his mother turned him over to his Dad because she couldn't handle him.  Likewise, his father couldn't handle him either so Kurt was shuttled around among family members.  No one wanted him because he was such a handful.  His early drawings and diary entries show a disturbed and angry young man.
He discovered pot at an early age and seemed to have a death wish, but when Kurt discovered punk rock music, he realized that was what he wanted to do. However, when Nirvana became really big, he couldn't cope with the fame.
Written and directed by Brett Morgen and co-produced by Cobain's daughter, Frances Bean, this documentary's strength lies in the home movies and recollections about Kurt's childhood and adolescence through interviews with his mother, his first girlfriend and Nirvana bandmates. It is less compelling when animation is used, though it is eerie to hear Cobain's voiceovers.  Diary entries, drawings and performance footage round out the film.
Rosy the Reviewer in-depth look at the life of a rock legend.  A must for Nirvana fans.

***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***

262 To Go!

High Plains Drifter (1973)

Clint Eastwood's second film as director-star resurrecting his spaghetti western mono-syllabic persona in a quasi-western/horror film.
A stranger rides into the town of Lago and is quickly called to stand up to three bad guys who are heading their way.  Think a spaghetti western (though not filmed in Italy) version of "High Noon."

Why it's a Must See:  "With at least as much borrowed from Luis Bunuel as Sergio Leone, this is a funny, brutal, scary movie, daringly weird in its mixture of Western and horror themes, and shot through with acid self-analysis."
---1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

It's also politically incorrect as hell with Clint raping a woman to shut her up.
Rosy the Reviewer says...Not my kind of movie, but it's fun to see Clint before he became known for rants about Obama to an empty chair and yelling at people to "get off my lawn." 


***Book of the Week***

O's Little Book of Happiness by the Editors of O, The Oprah Magazine (2015)

Get inspired with this recap of the best articles to appear in Oprah's "O Magazine," written by some of our best writers.

Check out Jane Smiley's "Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Horse," Neil deGrasse Tyson on how your life matters, "Bad Feminist"  Roxane Gay telling us to "Stop Whining" and Elizabeth Gilbert on how to ask for what you want.

Each piece is just a couple of pages, just perfect for reading one a day and to start your day inspired.

Rosy the Reviewer says...who doesn't need a little inspiration?

Thanks for Reading!

That's it for this week.

See you Tuesday for
"Rosy the Reviewer Does Italy,
Part I:  Rome"
(with travel tips and pithy observations)


If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, 
email it to your friends and
LIKE me on Facebook at

Check your local library for DVDs and books mentioned.


Note:  Next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). 



Find the page for the movie, click on "Explore More" on the right side panel and then scroll down to "External Reviews."  Look for "Rosy the Reviewer" on the list. Or if you are using a mobile device, look for "Critics Reviews." Click on that and you will find me alphabetically under "Rosy the Reviewer."