Tag: Steve McQueen

MOVIE REVIEW | The Magnificent Seven (1960)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “This is a move that takes some of the broadest and most over used character types, puts them through some of the broadest, most over used character arcs, and comes out the other side with seven truly unique men, each with their own fully formed, fully engaging stories.”

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“If you get killed, we take the rifle and avenge you. And we see to it there’s always fresh flowers on your grave.”

It’s rare that movie remakes ever come close to reaching the notoriety of the originals that inspired them.  Way more common are remakes being met with cynical distrust or dismissal.  So it’s even more rare for a remake to become as well known as its original, especially when that original is widely regarded as one of the absolute greatest movies of all time.  That original is Akira Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai, a genuine epic masterpiece that deserves every bit of praise it has ever received.  It’s remake is an exercise in mainstream genre crowd pleasing that may not have the prestige of its inspiration, but makes up for that by being one of the most purely entertaining movies ever, The Magnificent Seven.

After the Mexican bandit Calvera (Eli Wallach) raids a small village for what is obviously just the latest of many attacks, the villagers decide to fight back.  They cross the border into America, looking to buy guns for self defence.  They meet Chris Adams (Yul Brynner), who convinces them to hire gunslingers instead.  A group of gunslingers he will himself assemble, despite the modest amount the villagers can afford to pay.  His recruitment starts with drifter Vin Tanner (Steve McQueen), after the two bond over their inability to cope with the taming of the formerly wild west. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***SUNDAY FLASHBACK*** 12 Years a Slave (2013)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “For all its harsh realism, it never let me forget I was watching a prestige movie.”

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“I will not fall into despair! I will keep myself hardy until freedom is opportune!”

Slavery is bad, you guys.  Did you know that?  If not, you should probably watch 12 Years a Salve.  Because it’s really determined to teach you that.  So determined in fact, it’s willing to forgo all subtly, all nuance and all attempts to surprise you in any way.  Because it really, really, really wants you to know that slavery is bad.

I don’t want anyone to think I’m making light of slavery.  I’m making light of this movie and it’s oh so earnest approach to this Issue (with a capital “I”).  It doesn’t matter how important the subject matter of a movie is, that’s no excuse for bland, predictable, box ticking film making. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Papillon (1973)

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“Put all hope out of your mind. And masturbate as little as possible, it drains the strength.”

Steve McQueen is someone I’ve always thought of more as a movie star than an actor.  That’s not an insult.  I think The Great Escape is one of the best movies ever made, and he’s a big part of what makes it so good. But he’s one of those dudes who seemed to get by more on effortless cool, than he did on serious acting chops.  So after years of thinking the McQueen of movies like The Great Escape and Bullit was the only McQueen there was, I was blown away to see him act his ass off, in Papillon.


It’s the 1930s in France, and a group of prisoners are being told that their crimes were so great, their native country has basically disowned them.  They’ll be shipped off to the colonies to do serious hard time on a hellish island in the West Indies.  Wrongly convicted of killing a pimp, Papillon (McQueeen) is one of those prisoners.  On the ocean journey to his new island home, Papillon meets Dega (Dustin Hoffman), a nebbish nerd, convicted of some sort of white collar crime and forgery.  They come to a mutually beneficial agreement that sees Papillon acting as Dega’s bodyguard, and Dega promising to provide Papillon with money to escape when they reach the island. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***REMAKE WEEK*** The Getaway (1972)

The Getaway (1972)

“That’s a walk-in bank. You don’t have to be Dillinger for this one.”

Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw in front of the camera.  Sam Peckinpah behind it.  That’s a triple threat of names so 70s-tatsic, that I can’t believe I’ve never seen this movie before.  Especially when you add a story about bank robberies, hardened criminals and car chases.  Everything about The Getaway just seems like a perfect storm of B-grade cinema at its best


After a few years of serving hard time, Doc McCoy (McQueen) is initially refused bail, despite being a model prisoner.  Eventually, his wife (McGraw as Carol) strikes a deal with local, influential businessman Jack Benyon (Ben Johnson), who pulls the necessary strings to have Doc released.  Only problem is, the payment for that early release is pulling off a bank robbery for Benyon. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | 12 Years a Slave (2013)

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Slavery is bad, you guys.  Did you know that?  If not, you should probably watch 12 Years a Salve.  Because it’s really determined to teach you that.  So determined in fact, it’s willing to forgo all subtly, all nuance and all attempts to surprise you in any way.  Because it really, really, really wants you to know that slavery is bad.

I don’t want anyone to think I’m making light of slavery.  I’m making light of this movie and it’s oh so earnest approach to this Issue (with a capital “I”).  It doesn’t matter how important the subject matter of a movie is, that’s no excuse for bland, predictable, box ticking film making.

Chiwetel Ejiofor is Solomon Northup, a husband, father and free black man in 1841 New York State.  He’s tricked into a drunken night out and wakes up from his hang over in chains.  He’s been kidnapped and sold into slavery in New Orleans.  Paul Giamatti plays a slave trader, Benedict Cumbabatch plays a nice owner (well, as nice as anyone who thinks they can own people can be), Michael Fassbeneder plays an evil owner, Paul Dano plays a racist prick and Brad Pitt plays a Canadian with a terrible beard.  This is an amazing cast that never really amounts to what you would expect from such a pedigree.

The pacing and economy of 12 Years a Salve is surprisingly brisk. At just on two hours, it gets right to the point, with Northup tricked into slavery within about the first 10 minutes, and there he stays until a brief reprieve in the closing minutes.  And I think that pace is part of the problem.  While losing freedom and being forced into slavery is obviously a terrible fate for any person, it would have been nice to spend a bit more time with Northup living his life as a free man first, to make the impact of having that all taken away hit a little harder.  It’s hard to miss characters, like his family, who you never got to know in the first place.

The hero is the personification of will, determination and a spirit that cannot be broken.  The villains are there to be evil racists and twirl their moustaches.  And Brad Pitt is there to be the token open minded, forward thinking whitey.  Within seconds of each character being introduced, you’ll be able to predict exactly what their part is to play, what they’ll do and when they’ll do it, so this story can stay on the most predictable of rails at all times.

Where 12 Years a Slave is most successful though, is in its brutality.  There are several physical, verbal and emotional attacks of whites against blacks that made me squirm in my chair while I watched, and that’s a good thing.  Seeing these things be said and done, and the racial intolerance that motivates them, should make people feel uncomfortable in 2013.

But for all its harsh realism, it never let me forget I was watching a prestige movie.  At one stage, when a slave woman is being whipped, at first I was surprised by how horrific this act seemed, based on the mists of blood that would spray into the air with each crack of leather.  Then a second later, I was thinking about the amazing dental plan Fassbender’s character must have for his slaves, because the victim’s teeth were so perfectly white and straight.  Somehow, I don’t think that’s what director Steve McQueen wanted me take from the scenes, but that’s what I remember.

12 Years a Slave
Directed By – Steve McQueen
Written By – John Ridley