6 Apr 2016



'A Western' I asked, looking at Mr T as if he'd taken leave of his senses. 'Since when?'

'Well, a Western, sort of.' he replied.

Hmm, indeed a Western ... sort of.

Beautifully acted, even by the three women (played by Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto and Sonja Richter) rendered speechless in their madness by the hand life had dealt them. From the portrayal of these women's harsh lives to the stark bareness of the prairie they are being transported across to the unfolding relationship (culminating in a scene that took both Mr T and I completely by surprise) between the strong and yet heart-achingly lonely Mary Bee (Hilary Swank) and the ornery Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones) this was quite frankly one of the best films I've seen in a long while. TT

A bleak and chilling tale of how the west was won that isn't all Cowboys and Indians. Set against the story of early settlers moving out into the mid-west and the terrifying hardship they endured in establishing themselves as farmers in challenging conditions; this story sees three young women driven to psychosis as a result. The community gather and decided that they must be returned to a more civilised existence to be cared for or treated. An arduous journey awaits and volunteers are not forthcoming save for Mary Bee Cuddy of independent spirit who 'persuades' feckless drifter George Briggs to support and accompany her on the trip. Hilary Swank and Tommy Lee-Jones are both magnificent in their lead roles through this travail. Bleak story in a bleak land, utterly well worth watching. NJT


There are those films (in my humble opinion anyway) that are simply too silly to be funny and I had feared this offering would fall into this category. 

Thankfully, the right side of being too silly .... just. Mortdecai proved to be watchable enough even if it was far from my favourite Johnny Depp film. TT

Johnny Depp playing the eponymous fool in this romp along international art theft, MI5 angry Russians and even angrier Chinese who all seem to have a reason to despise the smug self-serving art dealer, Mortdecai. Nonetheless faced with financial ruin and the loss of his family estates he is obliged to engage in the search for a missing painting and investigate the death of an art restorer who may or may not have held clues as to its whereabouts. Odd romp in many ways but not without some moments of high slapstick and poking fun at the Bond genre. Mortdecai bumbles his way through though with the insistence of his wife (Gwyneth Paltrow) and his long suffering manservant Jock (Paul Bettany) who steals the film with his stoic acceptance of harm and insult throughout, in service to his master. NJT


Cracking story-telling of a love-triangle enmeshed with Mexican culture and Mayan mythology and symbol that goes beyond the triumvirates mere existence into the Land of The remembered and The Land of the Forgotten. Xibalba and LaMuerte take a bet on which of the two young boys will marry the maiden, the price being the rule of each others territory, beyond death. Treachery and betrayal, tradition and family honour are deeply ingrained into this story of the power of love. CGI animation seems a bit odd at first but carries the story visually and delighted there is a hat tip to Ennio Moriconne amongst the musical background to the film.  Good solid animated fun for a family viewing. NJT

Well, stereotypical wide-eyed, narrow-waisted heroine and archetypal love triangle aside, Disney this isn't.

Odd but engaging animation that draws on Mexican folklore and in particular The Day Of The Dead. One of the most original animated films I've seen for a long time. Great story telling combined with not one but three fantastical words and, best of all, none of the pop culture-inflected humour so common to many animated films but rather an original musical score that intertwines some old favourites (Rod Stewart's 'Do You Think I'm Sexy' and Elvis Presley's 'Can't Help Falling In Love' included) to great effect. Great for the kids but one I'd suggest is even better for us bigger kids. TT 

RUSH ...

Formula 1 based biopic of James Hunt and Nikki Lauda. In the 1970's these two were the giants of racing and this film charts the relationship between the two men in a sport where milliseconds made the difference between life and death and at least two drivers did die each season. The two men of very different character and temperament enter upon and pursue a rivalry in this arena where being so close to death makes you more alive as Hunt tells us. An interesting trip down memory lane musically and I dare say if you're into Formula 1 then it may be an interesting film but not for me really, never having discovered the fascination for cars in any form let alone highly specialised and rather fast ones. NJT

The second film this month that had me asking Mr T 'Why this film?' But unlike The Homesman this failed to impress in any way, shape or form.

Said to do for Formula One what Rocky did for boxing. Perhaps there is more to Rush than I give credit to (to be honest, my nose in my current read, I did only half watch it) but, despite the rapport between Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt and Daniel Brühl as Niki Lauda, I strongly suspect this is probably more for those commonly known as 'petrol heads'. TT

Inspired by Kelly's One-Sentence Movie Reviews, you can read her latest here.


Suko said...

Thank you for these well-written reviews, Tracy! I haven't seen any of these films. I hope you're having a terrific week!

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Oh I'm so going to have to recommend Homesman to my dad. He loves westerns and this one sounds good.

I also totally forgot The Book of Life. I so need to watch it... even if it is a bit stereotypical in the drawings.

Kelly said...

We've not seen any of these, or at least I haven't. I hope my husband hasn't already seen Homesman because it sounds quite good to me. While I haven't read a lot from the genre, I've always enjoyed films.

Mortdecai might be worth looking into. Maybe.

As always, thanks for the link up.

Literary Feline said...

I have hard of the last two you mention. A friend of mine who is of Mexican heritage was very put off by The Book of Life, and so I haven't been too eager to see it.

I'm kind of curious about Rush, the other one I have heard of. I think it's probably more my husband's type of move as he's really into Formula 1.

Horseman sounds really good. I will have to look for that one.

Brian Joseph said...

These look like good films.

In particular the Homeman seems interesting. As you mention it is good to see a film take place in the old West without the usual tropes.

ClaudineGueh@CarryUsOffBooks said...

I haven't seen any of these but I do love a good Western. There's something very romantic about all the mud and horses and injustice!

Gina R said...

Wow. Nice selection! The only one on my radar for a watch was THE BOOK OF LIFE, glad to hear to it turned it well! Can't say I'm interested in the Johnny Depp pic... simply appeared beyond silly and I can't shake that notion... but the "non western" sounds intriguing.

Karen Alderman said...

Rush was meh...I have The Book of Life on my DVR and surprised that you kind of liked Mortdecai. That's on cable this month so maybe I'll give it a shot. It was ravaged by the critics here.

P.S I hope you feel better soon (referencing your asthma post)

Karen @For What It's Worth

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I do really want to see Mortdecai. It looks fun overall. Plus, an actor I love has a bit of a smaller part in the film and I'd love to see him!

Anne Bennett said...

We stopped watching Mortdecai half way through the movie. Too stupid. Hope you are feeling better!

The Bookworm said...

Great film reviews. The Homesman sounds good, and I like Tommy Lee Jones. I'm a Johnny Depp fan but haven't watched Mortdeca. It just doesn't appeal to me for some reason.