Posts Tagged ‘Cam Gigandet’

Reclaiming the West

The Magnificent Seven

magnificent_seven_ver5

Director:  Antoine Fuqua

Cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Haley Bennett, Peter Sarsgaard, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Luke Grimes, Matt Bomer, Martin Sensmeier, Cam Gigandet

Antoine Fuqua gathers his favourite actors into his latest impressive film.

In Fuqua’s bespoke remake of John Sturgeon’s 1960 classic film The Magnificent Seven, as an African American film director he reclaims the Western genre in a bold step towards reimagining American Western mythology which will surely shape how cinema goers view the Western film genre.

Gone are the days of Western films primarily being made up of morally dubious cowboys mostly played by dashing European actors fighting savage Red Indians or each other in high noon stand offs.

Director Fuqua’s superb The Magnificent Seven is as diverse as Westerns come, showing that while perceptions of the American West have largely been Eurocentric, the real history of the American West was far more complex.

The setting is Rose Creek, California in 1879. A small dusty town a three day ride away from the Californian state capital Sacramento, at the height of the Gold Rush.

Rose Creek is being tormented by a malicious industrialist Bartholomew Bogue wonderfully played against type by character actor Peter Sarsgaard (Blue Jasmine), who not only burns down the moral centre of the town, the church, but casually kills some its town folk, much to the horror of the remaining witnesses.

Rose Creek’s town representative, a feisty widow Emma Cullen, played by rising star Haley Bennett enlists the help of sharp shooter Chisolm, expertly played by Oscar winner Denzel Washington (Training Day, Glory).

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Chisolm gathers a motley crew of cowboys and one red Indian, consisting of the heavy drinking Irishman Josh Faraday, comically played by Chris Pratt, sharp shooter Goodnight Robicheaux played by Ethan Hawke (Training Day, Before Sunrise), lonesome tracker Jack Horne played by Vincent D’Onofrio, Billy Rocks played by Korean star Byung-hun Lee, Vasquez, played by rising Mexican star Manual Garcia-Rulfo last seen in Cake opposite Jennifer Aniston and finally Native American actor Martin Sensmeier who plays Comanche Indian Red Harvest.

With the gang in tow and the town folk galvanized for action, audiences should expect the final gun battle of Rose creek to be thrilling. Fortunately this is where The Magnificent Seven delivers as the final act of the film is truly brilliant, with superb sound editing and haunting production design, Fuqua pays homage to the original version and to the genre as a whole while deftly reimagining Westerns as a more diverse and multi-cultural affair.

Not since the Coen brothers reworking of the Oscar nominated True Grit, have I enjoyed a Western as much. The Magnificent Seven does justice to its genre assisted by superb performances by Washington and Sarsgaard as opponents with a vicious score to settle.

Audiences that enjoyed James Mangold’s 3:10 to Yuma and the Coen brothers True Grit, will love Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven as he reclaims the Western genre and hopefully opens the doors for this much loved film genre to be bravely re-explored in the 21st century. This is a genre which desperately needs a Hollywood resurgence.

Now if only a director could tackle a film version of Cormac McCarthy’s brutal tale of the Mexican frontier wars in his gripping Western novel, Blood Meridian, then that would be a film worth seeing.

Divas, Pearls and Persistence

***Burlesque***

The fabulous poster for Burlesque is divided between Cher and Christina Aguilera. So the question remains can two divas like Cher and Christina share the same stage without the pearls flying?

Stars are legendary

In their collaborative film, Burlesque, a perfect dance drama filled with enough vanity, glitter and eye candy all set in the city of Angels, shows that while Christina can sing and boy she can sing, Cher can still hold her own in the acting stakes. After all Cher did win an Oscar for Moonstruck, as did Liza Minelli for Cabaret.

Life is a Cabaret

Christina plays Alice who escapes a dreary Iowa town to fulfil her dream of becoming a dancer and stumbles upon the Burlesque nightclub on Sunset Boulevard, the strip in Hollywood. Cher is the no nonsense club owner Tess who controls the rowdy dancers, who are wanna-be Vegas showgirls and runs a raucous establishment  which seems to be forever beset by the approaching gloom of foreclosure and greedy real estate developers. Burlesque draws very much from Bob Fosse’s Cabaret and supplants Nazi Berlin, with a celebrity-obsessed 21st century Los Angeles, which was once the home of classic Hollywood of the 40s and 50s, a style that the filmBurlesque is aiming to eternalize.

Burlesque’s storyline is nothing new, but who cares? Audiences will be seeing this film for the fantastic costumes, the brilliant singing by Christina and Cher, the racy dancing, Cam Gigandet and of course the two main Diva’s if not sharing the spotlight, but rather making it sparkle deliciously.

Christina, miss poor Iowa girl soon becomes a Diva and eclipses the leading dancer, a sour yet vulnerable performance by Kristen Bell, and gives Cher a run for her money. Which is good. As dollars are what is needed for the Burlesque club to stay open. In the tradition of Cabaret, A Chorus Line, Moulin Rouge, Burlesque is as much about the dancing, the gorgeous costumes including a dress made entirely of pearls, the makeup, Louis Vuitton shoes which sparkle all adding to the best line in the film, said by Sean, played by the irrepressible Stanley Tucci, in a similar bitchy vein to The Devil Wears Prada supporting role, as stage manager when he says to Alice  “Welcome to Wonderland” after she becomes a Burlesque dancer.

If viewers love outlandish dance films, watch Burlesque, writer and director Steve Antin’s timing is impeccable in splicing the raunchy dance numbers with the characters dialogue, particularly an hilarious number performed by Alan Cumming as the Maitre’d Alexis with a Banana, cut with a flirting repartee between Alice and Marcus, played Grey’s Anatomy’s McSteamy, Eric Dane. Burlesque is about idealists fulfilling their dreams and Diva’s remaining persistent in holding onto that glitter-tinged dream right to the spectacular closing number, all set against the Boulevard of Dreams, Sunset Boulevard.

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