Posts Tagged ‘John Ford’

The Ambivalence of Justice – Dragged Across Concrete & The Highwaymen

Posted 17 Apr 2019 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews

By Ezra Stead

Dragged Across Concrete, Canada / USA, 2018

Written and Directed by S. Craig Zahler

The Highwaymen, USA, 2019

Directed by John Lee Hancock

It’s been a while since I attempted a double review, but these two recent movies have enough in common that I’ve found myself thinking of them both in the same “breath” fairly often since viewing them, and I certainly think there would be a significant overlap in their fans, if they manage to reach enough people to truly gain a fanbase (Dragged Across Concrete only played one week at a couple of theaters in New York City, and The Highwaymen has an – actually more advantageous for gaining viewership – almost exclusively online release on Netflix). They are both of the type of movies commonly (and usually unkindly) referred to as Dad Flicks, provided your dad is okay with some pretty harsh, abrupt violence. They each, in their own ways, evoke an earlier, more classical era of cinema – Dragged the mid-to-late ’70s, Highwaymen perhaps even earlier, to the new cinema of the late ’60s, i.e. the films of Sam Peckinpah from that era (as well, of course, as Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde). They are also two of the best movies I’ve seen so far this year.
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Absolute Corruption – Three Films About Power

Posted 29 Jul 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews

By Ezra Stead

Citizen Kane has been widely cited as the greatest American film ever made. Citizen Kane, USA, 1941

Directed by Orson Welles

Scarface, USA, 1932

Directed by Howard Hawks

Beauty and the Beast, France, 1946

Written and Directed by Jean Cocteau

Never before or since has any director made such an impressive feature film debut as Orson Welles did, at the astonishing age of 25, with Citizen Kane (1941). Despite having no prior experience in filmmaking, Welles was given carte blanche on the film, and he delivered the most original, innovative and provocative film of its time. Even today it is considered one of the greatest films ever made, and it is a standard by which all other films are judged. According to the great critic Andrew Sarris, as quoted in his 1967 book Interviews with Film Directors, “Citizen Kane is still the work which influenced the cinema more profoundly than any American film since Birth of a Nation.” Read More

The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford

Posted 25 Mar 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, USA / Canada, 2007

Written and Directed by Andrew Dominik

Based on the Novel by Ron Hansen

The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford was the best film of 2007. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is probably the single most beautifully shot film of 2007. Every single frame is composed with a painter’s attention to detail, and the result is one of the most classically gorgeous works of cinematic art in recent years.

However, the incredible cinematography by legendary director of photography Roger Deakins (who also shot Barton Fink, The Shawshank Redemption and No Country For Old Men, to name just a few) is just the proverbial icing; the cake is Casey Affleck, in one of the finest screen performances I’ve ever seen. His Robert Ford is nothing short of masterful, a grinning ghoul that would give anyone “the willies,” as Frank James (Sam Shepard) puts it in one early scene, but at the same time a sad and very empathetic character, because he represents the almost shameful desire for fame and glory inside all of us. Affleck’s awkward mannerisms throughout the film are a joy to behold; it is a meticulously crafted performance that continues to haunt me long after viewing the film. Ford’s every motivation in the film is to serve his naive ambition, and there is a feeling throughout of something deeply wrong with the young man; he never shows a genuine connection with anyone outside of his hero-worship of Jesse James (Brad Pitt, in one of his best performances as well). Read More