Wednesday, 28 August 2019


One of those movies I should have been earlier. And hey, a Spike Lee Joint!

Ron Stallworth joins the police, an unusual event at the time as he is a black man and the police were (and still are in lots of places) racist. Then he decides to join the Klan, as you do, and so we follow him and his compatriot Flip Zimmerman as they infiltrate the Klan and try to stop them from committing crimes.

While this movie is good, I am now interested in seeing how the book handles this, as I'm sure there is a lot more nuance that you can convey in a two hour movie. Certainly there isn't a lot of subtlety in this movie, and Spike goes out of his way at the end to make sure you really get the point. Which is still true and ongoingly so.

John David Washington and Adam Driver are good in the main roles, and I'm surprised by how committed the klans actors are. They aren't trying to be sympathetic, but they do come across as real.

A movie I'm glad I caught up with!


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Friday, 16 August 2019

Django: Strikes Again

Let's jump seven years since the last movie, and hit what feels like a comeback movie: Django 2: The Grand Return.

Django is a monk, but when a woman turns up to let him know he has a daughter, and she's been kidnapped, he again takes up his mercenary ways. He gets caught by the bad guy, but gets away and returns to kill his way up the ladder of minor bosses until he faces off against the main guy again.

Being late 80s, this is a far more action movie that previous westerns. I'm thinking they saw Commando and thought "we can do that". As an action movie, it certainly gets on with it, and with particular change to Django...

Apparently, he's known for using a machine gun now? Huh? When did that happen? Certainly that's the gun he uses a lot in this movie, but I can't say I noticed him sporting that in any previous flick I saw.

As the last set of these movies I have on hand, this is a full on action piece to go out on. A rather odd collection of westerns, but I can see how they could just pump these out and I'm sure the audience of the time were well hooked.


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Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Michael Smither 10

I only managed to get to one film this NZIFF, but I had to round out the series of Michael Smither films.

This film had moments from the previous 9, but the bulk is just about Michael and him working on a painting or two. Just getting back to the basics and going back to the heart of what he does. It's simple, but it works.

But hark, now that this is finished up, how to see them all? There is NZIFF On Demand where you can go and rent them all! (Although 10 is not there yet.) I assume this will work for those outside New Zealand as well? No idea. That said, I still hope there's a box set release of similar (with commentaries would be great).

In and of itself, I'm not sure this movie works by itself. It could easily feel rather like it's coming out of nowhere, with no much background, but by this point I doubt you would dip into this series starting here.

That all said... I have only seen the last five, so if you'll excuse me, I have some movies to rent.


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Friday, 9 August 2019

Django: Against Sartana

Sartana is another classic spaghetti western with his own set of movies. So of course people were clamouring for the VS of their day, and they got Django Defies Sartana.

Django is out dealing with another group of banditos, as Sartana rolls into town. Django's brother, Steve, works for the bank and the bank sends him to pay Sartana off so they don't get robbed. However, the bank owner is killed and his sister kidnapped, and Sartana and Steve are given as the ones behind it. Steve is lynched, and Django goes seeking Sartana for revenge. However... it was just a set up, and they join forced to hunt down the real bad guys.

This actually feels like a proper and fully done story. Django is actually called Django, so this was done with him in mind, and I'm sure people were eager to see him come up against the other big name at the time Sartana. (I'm guessing, haven't watched any of those movies.) This does have the classic 'two heroes are opposed, then join forces', but it actually feels believable to the characters and not something stupidly forced. (Yes, I know you are thinking of that other VS movie, this is far superior.)

There is an odd choice of when Sartana shows up to show him in a close up freeze-frame (and do it twice!). However, I do like the choice of showing Steve with a rope in the foreground, freeze-frame, then cut to later. (Although they do show a hanging body later.) The gun fights are... gun fights, and not that interesting. People get their own chances to shoot, although the 'evil' woman doesn't get shot... instead she gets trampled to death by horses!

While only a few years later, 1970, this is one of the better Django movies I've seen of the lot.


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Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Shobbs and Haw

The Rock and Vin won't work together? Then let's make a spinoff movie! (Although I hear they are on good terms again, having a spinoff means you can make more money movies, so good?)

Via an amazing plot convenience, Hobbs and Shaw need to pair up to rescue Shaw's sister and play keep away while trying to get (plot point) dealt with. This involves many actions scenes which involve driving vehicles and ... actually, mostly driving vehicles largely covers it. There is also some fist bashing, but by and large it is vehicles and stunts, which is the point of this series.

Am I saying the story is irrelevant? By and large. People aren't going to these movies to see the latest development in what's happening in these character's lives, they are going for the stunts, with the story being the connecting device. And that works fine. Frankly, not thinking about it too hard is the best way to get around "how did they get there?" or "why didn't that thing happen?" because the answer is always "to get to the next part of the story", and considering you want to see the action the story isn't that important.

Although, to be honest, you saw most of the big action set pieces in the trailer. Often I was like "oh, this is where this thing will happen". Which is kinda of a shame, as if I had known that, I might not have been too interested in seeing it in the theater, so take that under advisement? (If you haven't seen it by the time this posts and this influences matter at all.)

No doubt there will be a full set of these spinoffs as I'm sure this is/was successful, so see you again for the next one!


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Friday, 2 August 2019

Django: Two Thousand Dollars for Coyote

Apparently this isn't even Spaghetti Western but Tortilla or Gazpacho Western... I'm not sure what to make of that, but look forward to Quesadilla Westerns. Either way, this is Two Thousand Dollars for Coyote.

A random gunslinger is shot and holes up in a farmstead with a brother and sister. Some gold is stolen by bandits (the Coyotes), so he gets involved to hunt them down.

Although this is lumped in with Django movies, this isn't actually one. James Philbrook plays Sam Foster, the gunslinger of note. In fact, this movie came out before the Django ones did. But it is so easy to rework this into being a Django movie, because it's not like him being Sam Foster comes up that much (although Sam's son does turn up), and this wouldn't be the first (okay, technically it is) movie to relabel the hero under the title.

As for the movie itself, it doesn't stand out as anything of particular import. The Mexicans aren't portrayed in a particularly racist way (the native Indians on the other hand...), the gun fights are plenty, and there are plenty of hills to roam over.

My main critique is that the Foley work could have done with another pass.


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