Hell or High Water (2016): A Modern Depression Film (Review)

Chris Pratt and Ben Foster in Hell or High Water

In many ways Hell or High Water is a modern-day depression era film. Helmed by Brit director David Mackenzie from a script written by actor/writer Taylor Sheridan, the film follows to down-at-their-luck Texas brothers who are robbing a specific set of banks. 

Chris Pine; Toby Howard, and Ben Foster; Tanner Howard, are the brothers and Jeff Bridges, along with his Texas Ranger partner Gil Birmingham hunt the two men down. It will be the last case of soon to be retired Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and the Howard brothers are only stealing enough cash to set up Toby’s estranged family.

The film is a tad slow and methodical, even a little predicable – especially towards the end of the film – but overall it hits all its marks. There is the odd surprise and Bridges may just steal the film with his reaction in the desert after one brother is taken out.

Hamilton “takes the shot” and in an almost thrown away moment ranges to convincingly portray a number of emotions in a few frames. It shows just why this Oscar winner is a sure bet for any film that requires not just massive acting chops but the cojones to know when to pull a coup. Whatever Bridges was paid for his smaller role was not enough.

Mackenzie manages to emulate, to a great extent, the murky and under-bellied world depicted so well by the Coen Bros. “No Country for Old Men” springs to mind as does the 1984 film “Blood Simple.” Both films are set in rural Texas and both about people trying to rise above their station despite the odds against them.

While the film can be seen as a homage to brotherly love and a cry of outrage against the banks who take advantage of the less well off in society, it also shows the opposite side of the same coin. Bridges’ character is a man “out of time” who works to get one last case solved before he is forced to retire.

Hell or High Water is also about family and how even dysfunctional ones can come together when they need to. Foster’s character, a repeat offender who really does not fit into society as a “useful” member helps out his straight brother. The siblings may not see eye-t0-eye on how to rob banks but they manage to work pretty well together.

Equally fractious is relationship between the two Rangers. They come across as being a bit too prickly but their jibes are good natured underneath those cutting remarks issued by both Hamilton and Parker. These two men have worked together long enough to have that brother’s in arms love that evolves regardless of the job performed.

Pine and Foster play well off one another and this works well for the film.  Bridges and Birmingham also fit together nicely as the lawmen who are chasing the bank robbers down. The whole story, regardless of the “familial” theme in the film, feels a bit “Bonnie and Clyde.”

The robbers take “small pickings” to keep the cops guessing and to make taking them that bit more difficult.  It ends in a sort of stalemate situation that feels very “western” in nature and overall the film is entertaining.

Hell or High Water is a solid 5 star film. It is evocative of a modern western with tinges of the great depression added on. The performances are solid and the director manages to pay homage to other “modern” western/cop films.

Towards the very end of the film, where Tanner is driving up to stage his final stand, the area and the path leading to the hills where the convict brother buys his brother some breathing space, looks much like the beginning of the Donald Segel film Coogan’s Bluff.

This alone shows an awareness of a cross-genre film that also takes place in the desert, although the 1968 film starts in Arizona and ends on New York.  Mackenzie clearly loves these types of films and applies himself accordingly.

Catch this one if you can, if for no other reason that to see Jeff Bridges ply his magic on more than one occasion in the film. The film is rated ‘R’ and has some nudity, a little sex and violence. There is some gore but it is not overly intrusive. There is not an overabundance of viscera.

Check out the trailer below:

The Princess Diaries 3? That Would be a No

Anne Hathaway as Princess Mia
Fans of the first two The Princess Diaries films were excited to hear the news that number 3 was in the works, but before the dust could settle from all those Meg Cabot and Anne Hathaway fans jumping for joy, Disney responded that no sequel would be gracing screens at any time in the near future. Three days ago, the word was that confirmation had been received that the long awaited sequel was in the works and then Heather Matarazzo tweeted about a Teen Vogue article and excitement levels surged.

Heather, who played Lily Moscovitz in Princess Diaries 1 and 2, posted the tweet referencing the news site:

Heather Matarazzo tweet
Not really good news…

Sadly, before anyone could say “shut up” Disney shot down the rumors stating that there were no plans to make a sequel. Sources told Entertainment Weekly that while the topic had arisen in conversation, there really was not a move to make yet another “Diaries” sequel.

Both films, The Princess Diaries and The Princess Diaries 3: Royal Engagement made Disney a lot of money in terms of box office revenue, and home entertainment returns, of over $300 million. The films made a star of Hathaway and the second one had a “pre-Captain Kirk” Chris Pine in it as love interest.

While Heather seems to have taken notice of the very short period of excitement, no one else, apart from Disney, have bothered to mention the news of the sequel.

In all likelihood, the idea of a PD 3 came from the release of Meg Cabot’s latest volume in the series on 2 June 2015. The Princess Diaries: Royal Wedding is the first in the tales of Princess Mia where she is an adult.

The very fact that the character Hathaway played in the first two films is now a grownup, in the book series, and the latest title is so very evocative of The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, makes the film rumor seem like a logical conclusion. Add to this a little bit of fan wishful thinking, Matarazzo’s optimistic tweet and the rest, as they say, is history.

In the Meg Cabot book, Mia has been a college graduate for five years now and is living in New York, attending plenty of official engagements and long term love Michael has popped the question and Mia says yes. All of which would look pretty good on screen and would provide closure for those fans of the movies.

As Disney have denied that they are even thinking of making a third PD, then it may take a re-booting or re-imagining, of the books into a new series of films to make this a reality. Say goodbye to the “perfect” Princess Mia, Hathaway, and hello to whichever upcoming starlet is available and cheaper to use. Even if Disney had responded in the positive, Hathaway would command a pretty hefty price tag which may be the real reason the studios have reacted so negatively.

In the meantime, fans of Cabot’s books can still visit Mia’s world, just not on screen. It may not have the same impact as seeing Anne Hathaway reprise her role once more, but in the mind’s eye, Anne will always be Mia.

Leonard Nimoy: Saying Goodbye to a Pop Culture Icon

The news that Leonard Nimoy has died at age 83 from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, something he told his many fans about last year, met his legion of fans on the Internet this morning. Now the world must face saying goodbye to a pop culture icon, one that has spanned decades to become one of the most beloved characters in the Star Trek verse. Nimoy brought the part-human Vulcan to life back in the 1960s and his Spock, complete with “satanic” earpieces, caught fire with the show’s audiences rather quickly…

Read the rest of the article at Viral Global News…

Leonard Nimoy LLAP No More

Leonard Nimoy as Spock
Leonard Nimoy, the man who maintained an image as cultural icon across several generations, is gone. The talented individual who signed off on his Twitter feed with LLAP (Live Long and Prosper) will do so no more.The 83 year old actor became a household name in the 1960s when he portrayed Spock, half human, half Vulcan, who was the first officer on the bridge of the USS Enterprise in “Star Trek.”

The character became a hit with audiences, although not with producers who wanted the role written out of the show. The show struggled to find enough fans overall but Spock became so popular that the show’s touted star, Bill Shatner, was a little put out that the Vulcan got more fan mail than he did. There were rumors of quibbling between the two stars when the show was on its short three year run.

Later on, in the 1999 comedy “Galaxy Quest,” Tim Allen and Alan Rickman would play character’s based upon Shatner and Nimoy, respectively, and both did a brilliant job parodying the “rumored” relationship of the two.

Nimoy became so connected to the role in Roddenberry’s space opera that it was shocking to see him without the “elf” (or satanic as the producers called them) ears of his character. The actor was, however, believable in whatever role he played.

Whether he was a villainous “mercenary” gunslinger (1971 “Catlow”) or a shrink (1978 “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” [remake]) he was entertaining and watchable. But it was Spock that Nimoy was best known for and while he would leave the logic bound alien behind in his twilight years, most notably in the 2009 – 2012 television science fiction show “Fringe.”

Leonard was rushed to hospital with severe chest pains last week and this morning the world learned that the multitalented performer had died at home. Nimoy tweeted more than a year before his hospital visit, in January 2014, and told his fans that despite quitting smoking over 30 years ago, that he had COPD and he should have quit sooner. He ended his tweet saying “Grandpa says, quit now!” and finished, as with all his missives on Twitter, with LLAP.

That the actor had a “love/hate” relationship with his character on “Star Trek” in the beginning was a well known fact, back in the day. His two autobiographies related his search to “live” or come to terms with the consequences of being Spock, the first “I Am Not Spock” was followed later with “I Am Spock.”

One thing is certain. Bill Shatner has more than a fair share of those who worked with him in the TV series and the films who do not get on with him. Shatner is a larger than life character off set who makes no apologies for his opinions or for stepping on the toes of others. As he has aged, he has mellowed very little and is still one exciting individual to witness at conventions. Leonard Nimoy, on the other hand seems to have more than his fair share of friends from both small screen and large.

Nimoy, apart from spending a lot of time directing, doing one-man shows and playing Spock in various mediums, had become a sort of elder statesman for Science Fiction and “Star Trek,” as well as an almost mythic pop culture icon. It only takes the sound of the actor’s voice to bring back memories of his performances as the Vulcan so loved on screen.

The perfect example of this was the screening of the 2009 Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg and Zoe Saldana “Star Trek.” Watching the film in England, when Spock (Leonard) starts reciting the “boldly going” speech at the end of the film, I was engulfed in goosebumps and the rest of the usually reserved British audience stood up in the theatre and cheered.

The loss of Leonard Nimoy at 83 is devastating. It almost feels like the spirit of Spock has died and in essence it has. The actor was the one who brought the half-alien character to life. It was his embodiment of the role that made the pointy eared chap so real. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and wife Susan and we will all miss those LLAP tweets from the man himself.

27 February 2015

Justin Lin to Make Star Trek Three Fast & Furious?

Justin Lin to Make Star Trek Three Fast & Furious?

Following the somewhat disturbing news that Paramount want the next installment of Star Trek, number three to be exact, to be more like Guardians of the Galaxy the latest development has Fast & Furious helmsman Justin Lin now sitting in the driver’s seat. There appears to be a story that J.J. Abrams replacement Roberto Orci walked after rumors that the studios got over excited at the relationship of Groot “I am Groot” and Rocket in the Marvel space picture. Apparently they looked at Scotty’s little hairy sidekick, Keenser and want to feature the “cutesy” little alien a lot more, “I am Keenser!”