Category Archives: Westerns

Jean-François Rauger on ” The Salvation “: the ghosts of John Ford and Sergio Leone”

Courtesy of Google Translate:

Presented in a special session at the latest edition of the Cannes Film Festival, The Salvation is a cinematic anachronism , a fun and frivolous subject , but with no particular need rather amusing.

Emigrated from Denmark for seven years , a farmer ( Mads Mikkelsen ), his wife and son in the West brought . Just arrived , his family is killed by off – the-law . The revenge of the man then drives a series of violent events in a small town under the control of a band of mercenaries in the service of an oil company wanting to get their hands cheaply , on the land of the settlers.

A VISION OF WESTERN ITALIAN CARNAVALESQUE

Unless a resurrection myths ( operation that cinema now out of print) , The Salvation is a catalog of situations fed by both Hollywood and the carnivalesque vision of the Italian western. The ghosts of John Ford and Sergio Leone are either summoned here . We can find such a nice project whose originality lies perhaps in its absolute lack of originality, except perhaps female character played by Eva Green, cynical and dumb princess West .

THE TRAILER

This article brought to things to mind. First, it was cool that the author recognized the Italian western is a carnivalesque genre . . . I have written about this on this blog before. Soon, I will complete a podcast on the topic.

Second, it is great to see another Eurowestern in the classic style being released. Here is the synopsis from IMDB:

In 1870s America, a peaceful American settler kills his family’s murderer which unleashes the fury of a notorious gang leader. His cowardly fellow townspeople then betray him, forcing him to hunt down the outlaws alone.

the salvation

I am looking forward to this film. There have only been a fistful of Danish westerns including the comedies Tough Guys of the Prairie (1970) and Gold for the Tough Guys of the Prairie (1971).

Præriens_skrappe_drenge film - guld til præriens skrappe drenge billed

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Ryan at Lost Laowai on “Shangdown — The Way of the Spur”, a Spaghetti-inspired Eastern

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Ryan at Lost Laowai published a post titled “Shangdown — Interview with Shanghai spaghetti western director Jakob Montrasio” that was interesting:

When Shanghai-based expat Jakob Montrasio first told me he was directing a spaghetti western set in his adopted city, I’m sure I blinked uncomprehendingly. The movie, Shangdown: The Way of the Spur is an east-meets-west kung fu cowboy mashup.

This Bruce with boots (or Clint with a kick) premise for a film seemed strange and intriguing, so I decided to probe a bit further into what the movie was all about. My interview with Jakob is below. But first, how about a more official synopsis (and a trailer):

Guerino, a cowboy from Italy, travels to Shanghai in search of his sister Elisa, who was working as a model in China but mysteriously vanished. In Shanghai, Guerino finds an unlikely ally in Jieikai, a local Chinese, whose girlfriend also mysteriously disappeared while working in the same modeling agency. During their search to uncover the truth, they are dragged into a dark world of criminality, corruption and human smuggling affairs. When things take a bad turn and innocent people start getting killed left and right, Guerino takes the matter into his own hands in order to save his sister before it’s too late… Driven by his thirst for vengeance and his desire for justice, he vows to take down every single link to this chain of smuggling affair following his one and only rule: kick first, ask questions later. . . 

From the interview:

LLW: What was your interest in melding the Spaghetti Western-Kung Fu Action genres? Do you think there are similarities between the two styles?

JM: The Spaghetti Western and the Martial Arts Eastern are, from a plot point of view, actually quite similar. Usually they have a lead actor who ends up fighting someone much bigger than him, out of personal conflict or due to a need for help — or simply for money. There are, of course, differences in the sets, the actual action and some more things. For example, Spaghetti Westerns from Leone have the famous stare-downs, because the actual shooting is quite quick – one shot and the enemy is down; whereas martial arts are exciting through the moves and stunts. We combine those two and mash them up.

The last mashup in this style that I’ve seen was the Sukiyaki Western Django, but there they used guns and shot and shot and shot … I didn’t like that very much. I think using martial arts in a Western that’s shot in the East is much more exciting.

LLW: It’s interesting to me that Leone’s Dollars Trilogy kicked off with a remake of the Japanese filmYojimbo. These films all seem to mix up Asian and European directors, actors and locations; and use principally a North American “Western” concept of cowboys and gunslingers — does this say something about the universality of these themes and how they are accepted and understood across cultures? How do you think that plays out in Shangdown?

JM: I think the typical David versus Goliath concept appeals to the audience, and Akira Kurosawa’s films are pretty much quoted in every western, whether on purpose or not. I wonder where he got his inspiration from. It doesn’t matter where you are, what culture you’re in, if you see someone fighting or tricking out someone bigger than himself, it’s exciting.

My personal favorite Kurosawa film is The Seven Samurai, which was also remade into the Western The Magnificent Seven, and the topic of it is simply honor. The honorable samurai take on a huge enemy knowing that they wont make it, but try anyway, to help the poor village people. It’s fun to see that! Tragic in the end, but fun! John Woo’s Hong Kong films have the very same topic, but he transfered it into the cops of the southern metropolis. In a way, he’s referencing The Seven Samurai at the end ofHard Boiled, when Chow Yun-Fat saves the baby from the exploding hospital.

Also, 2010 and 2011, with stuff like Cowboys & Aliens from Iron Man director Jon Favreau, are years of the cowboy comeback. Even videogames sell cowboys well; look at Red Dead Redemption, pretty much the best game of the year. Cowboys are really “in” again and martial arts will always be.

I don’t think Jakob Montrasio really understands spaghetti westerns very well. He says that they are about”fighting or tricking out someone bigger than [the hero]”. There is usually a bit more going on than that, I think. The heroes not only meet their equals, but they are knocked down and humbled a bit (think of all the beatings of the hero in almost every spaghetti western). But that is okay. Shangdown – Way of the Spur looks like it might be fun, though the images of an American in a black duster and cowboy hat in Shanghai are a little out-of-place. This movie might be worth checking out, though. There has been a resurgence of the Spaghetti-inspired western in straight-to-streaming-video b-movies over the past few years. Some have been decent.

 

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Kevin Phipps at AV Club on Spaghetti Westerns for the unitiated

Spaghetti Westerns · Gateways To Geekery · The A.V. Club

 

Good introduction to the genre by Kevin Phipps. 

Pop culture can be as forbidding as it is inviting, particularly in areas that invite geeky obsession: The more devotion a genre or series or subculture inspires, the easier it is for the uninitiated to feel like they’re on the outside looking in. But geeks aren’t born; they’re made. And sometimes it only takes the right starting point to bring newbies into various intimidatingly vast obsessions. Gateways To Geekery is our regular attempt to help those who want to be enthralled, but aren’t sure where to start. . .

. . .Geek obsession: Spaghetti Westerns

Why it’s daunting: Europe’s fascination with the American West dates back to before the Old West could rightly be called old. German author Karl May began writing about the Native American hero Winnetou and his German blood brother Old Shatterhand in the 1890s, and his stories seeped into the water of European popular fiction and inspired several films from the 1920s through the 1960s. So it wasn’t that odd, really, that Italian director Sergio Leone would decide to shoot a Western in Europe: It had been done before. But the 1964 release of A Fistful Of Dollars, starring minor U.S. television star Clint Eastwood, started a deluge of European Westerns. They quickly came to be known as spaghetti Westerns, thanks to Leone and the number of Italian directors making them, but they were often European co-productions shot in southern Spain with casts drawn from across Europe and the United States. Between 1964 and 1976, hundreds of spaghetti Westerns saw the light of day. As with any vibrant genre, the quality varies greatly from film to film. Furthermore, Leone’s work tends to overshadow his contemporaries’, meaning a lot of good-to-great movies tend to get overlooked by those who stick with the master.

 

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Edd ‘Kookie’ Byrnes at Memphis Film Festival

Edd Byrnes

Toughest, ‘ginchiest’ stars come out to celebrate Westerns at Memphis Film Festival by John Beifus, The Commerical Appeal

Cool information about the career of Edd Byrnes. It would appear he followed Eastwood and Burt Reynolds to Italy to try and break out of popular TV shows and into film. Edd Byrnes starred in a number of notable Spaghetti Westerns, including Any Gun Can Play7 Winchesters for a Massacre, and Red Blood Yellow Gold.

Edd Byrnes, 80, was a slang-spouting, hair-combing hipster known as “Kookie” from 1958-1963 on the ABC private-detective series “77 Sunset Strip.”

A predecessor to “the Fonz,” Kookie became a cultural phenomenon. In 1959, Byrnes and Connie Stevens recorded a hit novelty single, “Kookie, Kookie (Lend Me Your Comb),” and fans emulated the character’s jive jargon. “I’m so far out I’m, like, still orbiting,” said Kookie, whose synonyms for “very good” included “ginchy” and “the maximum utmost.”

“Writers wrote all the jive talk and all the stuff I used to say,” Byrnes said. “It was all news to me; it was foreign to me. When the record with Connie Stevens came about, I said, ‘I’m not a singer,’ and they said, ‘You’re gonna talk-sing, like Rex Harrison.'” . . .

. . . Both Conrad and Byrnes have struggled with alcohol during their careers, but both men say they no longer have “smog on the noggin,” to quote one of Kookie’s lines.

Byrnes arrived in Hollywood on Sept. 30, 1955, the same day James Dean died in a car wreck, but he said the date did not prove to be a bad omen in a busy career that enabled him to work with such directors as William Wellman (“Darby’s Ranger”) and Roger Corman (“The Secret Invasion”), and that brought him a burst of renewed fame in 1978 when he was cast as Vince Fontaine in the musical “Grease.”

“My son always reminds me, ‘You drove out to California, you had $300, you were a high-school dropout.’ For a guy like that, I’ve been blessed.”

 

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Interesting lecture by Martin Mystère on Italian Comics and the Western Genre

tex-willer

AMERICA ON MY MIND: Italian Comics and the Industry of Imagination

Looking down through this lecture, I noticed this very interesting paragraph:

Europeans never got tired of Western comics as has happened in the U.S.; Italy, in particular, produces the world’s best-selling Western strip, Tex (500,000 copies monthly). Here again, the explaination is simple: we tend to want (and to mythicize) what we don’t own, and in Europe there is nothing comparable to the Western epics. Reciprocally, popular American literature swarms with barbarians, knights, dragons and magicians: a genre, Sword and Sorcery, that has never taken root on the Old Continent, where the Middle Ages and epic-chivalric literature have existed (and are considered by many young European readers as boring “school subjects”).

 

There is some more interesting info in this lecture. Enjoy!

 

Locandina_Tex_2

 

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Django Prepare a Coffin (Suite)

Great score by Gianfranco Reverberi

Sampled by Danger Mouse of Gnarls Barkley in their hit Crazy.

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More News On Tarantino’s Next Western Project

Tarantino at Comic-Con: Confirms New Western After All, Jacquline Sahagian at Entertainment Cheat Sheet.

Quentin Tarantino made an appearance at Comic-Con over the weekend to confirm that his beleaguered Western The Hateful Eight is moving forward as planned despite a script leak earlier this year that made the iconoclastic director declare that he would shelve the project.

According to Deadline, after a fan asked about the status of The Hateful Eight, the director said that he’s continuing with the film, though he didn’t give any more details. Before his panel at Comic-Con, Deadline reported that a source had told the publication that Tarantino is in the process of locking everyone in to begin shooting in early 2015. . .

. . . A few months later, Tarantino came back from all that controversy by staging a rock star-level reading of the first draft of the script at Film Independent in Hollywood in April. Actors present for the reading included Samuel L. Jackson, who played Major Marquis Warren; Kurt Russell, who played the bounty hunter John “The Hangman” Ruth; Amber Tamblyn, who played The Hangman’s prisoner, Daisy Domergue; and Bruce Dern, who played Confederate Gen. Smithers. The other actors on hand were James Parks, Walton Goggins, Denis Menochet, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Dana Gourrier, Zoe Bell, and James Remar. The reading lasted three and a half hours and gave viewers the chance to catch a rare glimpse into Tarantino’s creative process as he directed the actors through their parts.

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“Only God Forgives” and the spaghetti western

I really enjoyed Nicholas Winding Refn’s recent Only God Forgives (2013), though I guess I am in the minority. The movie was mezmorizing in the theatre with its rich visuals and incredible score. The movie makes obvious references to the spaghetti westerns of the 1960s and 1970s, so I thought I would poke around on the internet and see what I could find on this.


Interesting comment
in a short review Nicholas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives by M. Faust at ARTVOICE:

Gosling is also in Refn’s newest film, but don’t be expecting Drive II. Only God Forgives has a title recalling the 1968 spaghetti western Chiedi perdono a Dio… non a me (God Forgives, I Don’t). It concludes with a dedication to Refn’s friend Alejandro Jodorowsky that should have been put at the beginning of the film so that audiences familiar with Jodorowsky’s hallucinogenic oeuvre (El Topo, The Holy Mountain, Santa Sangre) would have some idea what to expect.

Looking more into this, I find this from an interview of Refn’s at We Are Movie Geeks by Melissa Howland:

You’re films kind of have a Spaghetti Western feel to them. A kind of Clint Eastwood, Sergio Leone quality – where your leading man is a “man with no name”… the strong, silent type. I’m curious if those types of movies influence you? Where do you find influence and inspiration?

NICOLAS WINDING REFN: I get influence from everywhere, of course. I’m a child of cinema. I like cinema. I can’t get enough of it. But then again, I could be looking out the window, I could be staring out a plane, I could be going on a bus brining my kids to kindergarten. I could be hearing a piece of music. Music a lot! It’s very inspiring because I don’t do drugs anymore, so music enhances my emotion, which is what you tap into to be creative. You tap into your emotions. So, it’s all over. I try not to be dogmatic about anything. I don’t get up at 9 o’clock every morning and start working unless I have to. If I don’t have to I do it at night.

From Brent Mcknight at Beyond Hollywood:

With films like “Drive,” “Bronson,” and “Valhalla Rising” on his resume, anything Nicolas Winding Refn does immediately leap frogs to the top of my must see list, especially when it involves teaming up with his handsome man muse Ryan Gosling. You can imagine that as soon as I heard about their new collaboration, “Only God Forgives,” described as a Muay Thai spaghetti western, my anticipation meter went through the roof. The trailers, posters, and pictures, all indicate a quiet, tense film, punctuated by sharp bursts of brutal violence.

Ryan Latanzio at Thompson on Hollywood:

Before the film started, Winding Refn told us that while “Drive” was like “doing cocaine all night,” “Only God Forgives” is more of “an old school acid trip.” But this film — nocturnal, deathly quiet and far more sinister — is also a more sleepy psychotropic experience. It’s David Lynch goes to Thailand to direct a spaghetti western on quaaludes

Rebecca Baker, Rushes Magazine:

The latest creation from the Dutch film maker is the red-fluorescent-twin of Drive, Only God Forgives,where Martinez’ noted piece, ‘Wanna Fight’, combines influences from the Spaghetti Western scores by Ennio Morricone to the minimalist pieces by Philip Glass. “Morricone was a strong influence in the ‘Wanna Fight’ piece, as the pipe organ is the acknowledgment of the God element,” he laughs, “while Philip Glass was an influence through his style of repetitive-minimalism with the Synthesiser.”

Glass and Morricone were not the only influences to be added to Martinez’ soundtrack, “Nicolas kept talking about these Italian horror films, so I watched a couple by Dario Argento,” who is best known for the Giallo sub-genre. “I think Brian Eno and some other composers wrote the scores for those films. That’s what I like about O-G-F the score is a mixture of influences and not just one.”

Russ Fisher, Film: Blogging the Reel World:

It’s easy to hope for, or insist on a declaration. For this movie, “I am a spaghetti western.”

Refn: Then you’re like “With my knowledge, I can categorize that.” Then it’s like, you define it, but then where is the fun? Where is the experience beyond that?

Andrew Johnson, In Reel Deep:

This is a bit of a shame because the rest of the film is captivating.It’s not just Thomas and Pansringarm, but also the city of Bangkok itself and Winding Refn’s bizarre, fascinating fixations on hands and hallways and karaoke that give it some great moments. Winding Refn is a near-master at this point of the post-Western. There are no cowboys or Indians or horses, but the Spaghetti Western influence is painfully obvious and well-crafted, whether it’s mysterious, almost nameless characters, visceral scores or exotic, seemingly limitless locales.

This is the best review that I have seen yet on the film:

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