Posts Tagged ‘The Wild Bunch’

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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13 Assassins

Posted 08 May 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead 13 Assassins kicks mountains of ass!

13 Assassins, Japan / UK, 2010

Directed by Takashi Miike

This movie kicks mountains of ass! From the opening scene, which depicts the ancient Japanese ritual suicide method known as harakiri or seppuku, Japanese provocateur Takashi Miike’s latest film is clearly not screwing around. The opening scene is a textbook case of the effectiveness of sound design in film: we are mercifully spared the visual details of the disgraced samurai slicing open his own belly with his sword, instead focusing on a long take of his agonized face with the hideous squelching sounds of the violent act filling the soundtrack, an effect that is arguably even worse than onscreen violence. I remember being surprised to hear that the latest film from Miike (Audition, Gozu) managed to get an R-rating, and the fifteen minutes cut from the original Japanese release for the international version probably accounts for this, but I have little doubt that this scene has been presented exactly as Miike intended. It is a brutal beginning to an extremely violent film, a scene that really lets the audience know what it is in for.

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