Posts Tagged ‘Keith Carradine’

The Suicide Widow and her Son

The Power of the Dog

Director: Jane Campion

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jesse Plemons, Keith Carradine, Frances Conroy, Alistair Sewell, George Mason, Thomasin McKenzie, Alice Englert

Film Rating: 9 out of 10

Running Time: 2 hours and 6 minutes

This film is only available to watch on the Netflix streaming service

After a hiatus from filmmaking for over a decade, acclaimed New Zealand film maker and director Jane Campion returns with a tightly wrought Western style family drama The Power of the Dog which recently had its glamourous world premiere at the 2021 Venice International Film Festival.

Set in Montana in 1925, The Power of the Dog is a superbly directed cinematic adaptation of a novel by Thomas Savage about Rose Gordon and her son Peter Gordon played respectfully by Kirsten Dunst (Interview with a Vampire, Marie Antoinette, The Beguiled) who gives an Oscar worthy performance and Kodi Smit-McPhee (Romeo and Juliet, The Road) who deserves an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the 2022 Academy Awards.

Smit-McPhee’s performance is truly phenomenal matched only by the film’s other brilliant performance given by Oscar nominee Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) as the hyper-masculine and brutish Phil Burbank, a charismatic Montana rancher. British star Benedict Cumberbatch also deserves another Oscar nomination for Best Actor for his performance in The Power of the Dog.

When Phil’s younger brother George Burbank, played by Kirsten Dunst’s real life husband Jesse Plemons marries the fragile Rose Gordon, he attempts to introduce Rose and her son Peter into the life of the wealthy Burbank family, Montana ranchers complete with land, arrogance and an absolute disdain for the native Americans.

Rose has to contend with sharing the sprawling mansion in Montana with her vile and threatening brother-in-law Phil Burbank, who feels nothing at gelding cattle barehanded or swimming naked in a local river covered in mud. Phil is ruthless, nasty and filled with pent-up-rage. Cumberbatch’s performance is absolute startling as he plays against type and every scene with him and Kirsten Dunst crackles with tension and that underlying threat of violence.

Into this electrifying atmosphere, quietly appears Rose’s son Peter Gordon who is studying to be a surgeon, a shy and awkward young man with a sinister habit of vivisection and harbouring a covert sexual desire.

Peter Gordon is mocked openly by Phil Burbank and his gang of macho ranchers for being a nancy boy or a faggot. He wears strange shoes and displays no interest in anything physical especially tennis.

When Phil Burbank and Peter Gordon strike up an unlikely bond, Rose cannot cope with her fragile son being bullied by her brutish brother-in-law and takes to the bottle.

Despite the fact that The Power of the Dog should have been shown at cinemas and is only available on Netflix, one cannot help but imagine watching director Jane Campion’s film on a big screen for as a masterful director she paints beautiful and complex cinematic strokes, touching on such issues as sexuality, addiction, power dynamics and more significantly the devious mind of the male psyche.

Every shot of The Power of the Dog is beautifully crafted and the entire narrative which is psychological in nature is expertly acted by Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst and Kodi Smit-McPhee.

The Power of the Dog is not going to appeal to everyone, but that wasn’t director Jane Campion’s intentions. Her Oscar winning film The Piano didn’t either.

If viewers loved The Piano then they will enjoy The Power of the Dog, a masterful tale of sinister family dynamics, of voyeurism and forbidden sexual desire, of lust and carnage with an ending that is both disturbing and brilliant.

The Over the Hill Gang

The Old Man & the Gun

Director: David Lowery

Cast: Robert Redford, Casey Affleck, Sissy Spacek, Danny Glover, Tom Waits, Tika Sumpter, John David Washington, Elisabeth Moss, Keith Carradine

Oscar winners Robert Redford and Casey Affleck unite in a languid and quirky bank robber film entitled The Old Man & the Gun beautifully directed by David Lowery. Possibly Hollywood Legend Robert Redford’s final film who shot to fame with some superb onscreen performances in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Out of Africa and The Sting.

Redford plays compulsive bank robber Forrest Tucker who along with two other crew members Teddy played by Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon, Grand Canyon) and Waller played by Tom Waits (At Play in the Fields of the Lord, The Book of Eli) casually and with an unusual amount of charm rob banks mainly in the American Mid-West and Southern States of Texas, Arkansas and Missouri in the early 1980’s.

What really ignites The Old Man & the Gun is the sophisticated dialogue between Forest and his love interest Jewel wonderfully under played by Oscar winner Sissy Spacek (The Coal Miner’s Daughter) who is fascinated by the handsome and mysterious drifter who is also a thief.

Oscar winner Casey Affleck (Manchester By The Sea) plays Dallas police detective John Hunt who relentlessly chases Forest Tucker and successfully identifies him as the charming old man who is sticking up unsuspecting bank tellers all over these Southern States.

There is a fantastic scene between Affleck and Redford where they meet by chance in the men’s room of a diner in Dallas and the tension between the young ambitious detective and the old ruthless bank robber is charged with energy and sophisticated bravado.

The Old Man & the Gun is slow moving in parts but those that love seeing acting legend Robert Redford on the Big Screen should definitely see this charming and quirky bank robber tale which does not make the crime melodramatic or too simplistic, but purely unbelievable. As this film shows audiences that Bank Robbing is a compulsion for some people that prefer a dangerous life of crime as opposed to earning an honest living.

Supporting Cast for The Old Man & The Gun include Denzel Washington’s son John David Washington as Lt. Kelley and Tika Sumpter as Detective Hunt’s supportive wife Maureen.

Beautifully acted and superbly directed, The Old Man & the Gun gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and is recommended viewing as a classic tale of robbery, romance and rivalry.

Arizona under Aliens

Cowboys & Aliens

Cowboys and Aliens

Director: Jon Favreau

Cast: Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde, Paul Dano, Sam Rockwell, Keith Carradine, Abigail Spencer, Wyatt Russell

Originally published in August 2011

It’s like this. It’s always a one horse town, Absolution. If you love Westerns and Aliens films in the tradition of 3:10 to Yuma and all of Sergio Leone’s films like The Good, Bad and the Ugly, you will love Cowboys and Aliens, it’s a cross-genre mix without subtly and it has the star of the James Bond film franchise’s recent acquisition, Daniel Craig (Casino Royale) looking very out of place in a western. He has Harrison Ford (Star Wars) to assist him as the town sheriff. Harrison Ford, ex Solo is there to help against an awfully bizarre alien invasion in Arizona 1873. Together they battle the onslaught of an Alien invasions in outer far west.

There are lots of explosions, gunfights and alien invasions but it’s never without some form of retribution. Cowboys and Aliens is entertaining but hugely commercial film with loads of action sequences and lots of gunfights with hard-arsed cowboys and nefarious aliens that are clearly there to exploit the vulnerability of humans in an attempt  to control the Planet Earth even back in the 19th century in the outback of Arizona of all places.

See Cowboys and Aliens and don’t expect mental stimulation, but loads of popcorn fun. It’s a sleepy hit for the Northern Hemisphere summer season. Cowboys and Aliens also stars Paul Dano (There will be Blood), Sam Rockwell (Moon, Iron Man 2), Keith Carradine (Mrs Parker and the Vicious Circle) and Abigail Spencer (Oz, The Great and Powerful).

westworld_ver2

This is a cross over Sci Fi Western in the tradition of Yul Brynner’s 1973 film Westworld.

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