Update and Explanation and an Apology


Well, hello there! You still here? It’s good to see you all. I think, that while I’ve got you here, I’ll give you all an update and an explanation and an apology. But first?

Thanks for hanging around until I could get back.

I’ve been very busy you see and I’ve let you all down. So I felt that I should take a minute or two and explain what has been happening. Since I was last on here, I’ve started a couple more reviews and have another on waiting anxiously in the wings for its chance to be posted.

I have been made the Senior Entertainment Editor for the Las Vegas news magazine The Guardian Express and as a result I’m spending a lot of my time doing Express stuff.  It is an exciting time for me right now, especially since I just got the Once Bitten, Twice Shy shooting script (down loaded it yesterday) and the schedule for the shoot in lovely Devon.

Having a quick peek and I am in every setup on the day!

So excited and telling myself to calm down, “You can still act, old Bean, it’s like riding a bike, you never forget.” I figure if I do that often enough I’ll get the 747 sized butterflies in my stomach down to the proper size.

On a serious note, this film has proven to me that good things do come to those who wait and if the shoot goes even half as well as expected, it will have been worth it.

Health-wise, everything is going well, no further “disturbing” episodes as I drift off to sleep. I had a chat with the cardio therapist at my Tuesday rehab session and she explained that the “paranoia” after having life-saving surgery was perfectly normal!

So I’m in the “groove” to update my life as well as you good folks. I do apologise for keeping you guys waiting with no sign of an explanation in sight. But I am still going strong and more enthusiastic than ever.

I’m also in the process of changing my bio info, I’m no longer contributing to What Culture! as I don’t have the time! Between doing reviews for Rogue Cinema (thanks Duane for having me) and writing the entertainment news for The Guardian Express, I have enough time to cook, clean, do my healthy heart walk and cardio rehab, and think…but just barely.

I can honestly say that I am busier than ever and so thankful for the opportunities that “the big guy” or whoever is in charge up there has sent my way.

I also want to thank all you folks who have taken the time to keep following my little blog and I will get back to you all, I promise. It’s just a matter of time! (sorry about the poor pun)

It just goes to show you never know what life is going to send your way. A million years ago, I took a journalism class (artfully titled Journalism 101) and after I’d finished the course I remember thinking, “I’ll never use that again!”


I’m working with a great bunch of folks at the express and I get up each day with a spring in my step and a mind that is buzzing along at top speed.

I haven’t forgotten you guys and gals (and businesses) and I am trying to get some more things posted up here, besides the links to stories I’ve written for the Express that I’m proud of. (I loved the Bridget Jones feature I wrote, but it disappeared off the charts way too fast, so I shared to you guys.)

So that is it, I have given you an update and hopefully given you some  explanation of what is going on; as well as a heartfelt apology for deserting you, and  I’ve tried to let you know how much I appreciate you all.  Thanks for reading and don’t give up, I am in the process of putting more things up here.


Michael Smith

31 May 2013

East Anglia, the United Kingdom   Photo on 27-03-2013 at 09.03

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The Last Stand (2013) The Western Revisited

The Last Stand Movie Poster

Despite the poor reviews that this film has garnered, I could not wait to see it. I wanted to see it in the cinema, but due to low viewing figures, by the time I could see it, it’s run in the theatres had finished.

This film felt like a reworking of two “classic” westerns. High Noon and Rio Bravo. Borrowing from the High Noon script of the bad guys (or guy) who  are coming in on the train (or via the road in a super duper corvette) and I/we need to stop him works well for the continuation of the story. Then it borrows from the Rio Bravo bit of the sheriff trying to get himself sorted out to defeat the baddies and having the help of his deputies, new and old and a bit of help from at least three citizens from the town.

But maybe I am wrong about my allegations of film similarities, but, it certainly felt that those touches were in there, albeit much more modern that the settings of the previous films. There were no horses, jangling spurs or Duke Wayne or even Gary Cooper. Ahnold will never be mistaken for either of these two cinematic western heroes, he doesn’t even wear a stetson, but he does a pretty good job.

Kim Jee-Woon does a brilliant job on his first US feature. He shows that the brilliance that he’s shown in his South Korean films aren’t just something he is capable of in his native country. This man is talented and gifted no matter where he directs.

I’ve guessed that part of the “mixed” reviews this film got was more because Arnold Schwarzenegger was the lead (and maybe Johnny Knoxville had a part to play in the negative viewpoints as well) more than anything else. I think that no matter what film that Arnie had chosen would have gotten him mixed reviews.

Jee-Woon has shown that he can direct films written by  folks than himself and he’s done well with this modern day western.

The film has a good cast, despite the fact that Ahnold is making his “comeback” in the film, it has enough other talent to take that sting in the tail out. I will hold my hand up and admit that I still like the ex “Governator’s” films. I like him less as a person since reading his autobiography (which I talked about in an earlier post) but I do still like him on the big (or in this case, smaller) screen.

But back to the cast.

How can you not like Peter Stormare as the big bad guy’s number one “bad-guy” helper;  Jaimie Alexander as one of the deputies; Forest Whitaker as the head FBI guy; and the legend that is Harry Dean Stanton as the grumpy, and possibly homicidal, farmer in a brilliant cameo. (A cameo that is miles too short)

Harry Dean Stanton

The plot, despite the holes that do occasionally make an appearance, is pretty straightforward. Ex cop from the big bad city of  Los Angeles  has set himself up as the sheriff of a small one horse town near the Mexican/Arizona border. Drug cartel super villain escapes from FBI custody and heads straight for the border. The villain blows any opposition away by using a lot of muscle hired by a lot of drug money.

The villain is making a bee-line for the small town and its tiny police force.

I’m not going to make a lot of observations about the holes, existent or not, or about whether this whole thing is unrealistic or not. If you want realism in your cops and robbers stories watch the nightly news, not a movie. If you cannot take off your disbelief hat at the door, why the hell do you watch movies anyway?

The biggest obstacle you have to get over is why would the citizens of this small, pokey, out in the middle of nowhere town hire a sheriff whose command of the English language keeps him from using the correct syntax when he speaks. Once you get past that one, the rest is easy.

As a debut film for the genius that is Kim Jee-Woon it’s good. He’s proven that he can deliver an entertaining American Hollywood film. One that has humour, pathos, a smidgen of death, shoot-outs, and car chases. The body count isn’t that high (under…say…20?) and only the fact that this was Schwarzenegger’s come-back vehicle kept it from doing better in the cinemas; in my honest opinion.

This is a cracking film. I enjoyed the hell  out of it and I’ve watched it about three times since it came in the post today. My mood is quite up in the area of films at the moment with two western films in my collection of such recent vintage, (In case you’ve forgotten the other western is Django Unchained – see previous post.) it gives me hope that the genre might be making a comeback.

Only I hope it’s better received than Arnold’s comeback.

5 out of 5 stars, cause it’s a Kim Jee-Woon film, man!

Kim Jee-woon
Kim Jee-woon