Instead of featuring one artist for today’s artist profile, I’m instead featuring a magazine. Women in Crime was a pulp magazine that was published in the 1940s and the 1950s. While the covers, with their emphasis on lingerie and cleavage, were obviously designed to appeal to men, I like that they often feature strong women who know what they want and, whether it means using their looks or a gun, aren’t afraid to go after it. Check a few of them out below:
The image at the top of this post is taken from the film Cut Bank and features Teresa Palmer and Liam Hemsworth. It’s a striking picture, isn’t it? If there’s anything positive that can be said about Cut Bank, it’s that it’s a visually striking film. Some of the film’s images compare favorably with the work of the Coen Brothers in No Country For Old Men and Fargo.
(Perhaps not surprisingly, the film’s director, Matt Shakman, previously directed two episodes of the Fargo tv series.)
Of course, it’s not just the film’s visual style that will remind you of the Coens. The plot is full of Coen DNA as well and that’s a bit of a problem. The thing that sets the Coen Brothers apart from other directors is that only they seem to understand how to best pull off their unique brand of ironic quirkiness. It’s difficult to think of any other director who could have done A Serious Man, Burn After Reading, or any other Coen film. It’s telling that whenever other directors have attempted to film a Coen Brothers script — whether it was Angelina Jolie with Unbroken or Steven Spielberg with Bridge of Spies — the resulting film has almost always been overwhelmingly earnest. (If you try, you can imagine a Coen-directed version of Bridge of Spies, one with Josh Brolin in the Tom Hanks role, Steve Buscemi as Rudolph Abel, and maybe Bruce Campbell as a CIA agent.) The Coen style is one that has inspired many a director but ultimately, it seems to be something that only the Coens themselves are truly capable of pulling off.
(Though Ridley Scott came close with the underrated The Counselor…)
Plotwise, Cut Bank has everything that you would normally expect to find in a Coen Brothers film. For instance, it takes place in Cut Bank, Montana and, much as in Fargo and No Country For Old Men, a good deal of time is devoted to detailing the oddness of life in the middle of nowhere. Also, much as in Fargo and No Country For Old Men, the entire film revolves around an overly complicated crime gone wrong.
Dwayne McLaren (Liam Hemsworth) has spent his entire life in the Montana town of Cut Bank and is looking for a way to get enough money to move out to California with his beauty pageant-obsessed girlfriend, Cassandra (Teresa Palmer). Dwayne learns that the U.S. Postal Service will pay a reward to anyone who provides information about the death of a postal worker. One day, while filming one of Cassandra’s pageant audition videos, Dwayne accidentally films both the shooting of mailman Georgie Wits (Bruce Dern) and the theft of his mail truck.
Wow, what luck!
Sheriff Vogel (John Malkovich) throws up as soon as he hears about the murder. After all, he’s never had to investigate one before. Town weirdo Derby Milton (Michael Stuhlbarg) is upset that the stolen mail truck contained a parcel that he was waiting for. Meanwhile, Big Stan (Billy Bob Thornton), who happens to be both Cassandra’s father and Dwayne’s boss, seems to be suspicious about how Dwayne just happened to be in the field at the same time that Georgie was getting killed…
Dwayne’s efforts to collect his reward are stymied by the fact that postal inspector Joe Barrett (Oliver Platt) doesn’t want to hand over any money until Georgie’s body has been found. Unfortunately, it’s going to be difficult for anyone to find Georgie’s body because Georgie is still alive! That’s right — Georgie’s been working with Dwayne the whole time…
Meanwhile, it turns out that Derby is not someone you want to mess with. In fact, he’s just as efficient a killing machine as Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men. And Derby is determined to retrieve his parcel…
Cut Bank got an extremely limited release in April of this year and it didn’t get much attention. To a certain extent, I can understand why. It’s a film that has its moments but ultimately, it’s never as good as you want it to be. The best thing about the film is that it features a lot of eccentric actors doing their thing. Any film that allows Bruce Dern to interact with Michael Stuhlbarg deserves some credit. Unfortunately, Dwayne and Cassandra are not particularly interesting characters and Hemsworth and Palmer give rather one-dimensional performances. Since you don’t care about them, you don’t really care if Dwayne’s scheme is going to work out. William H. Macy may have been a despicable loser in Fargo but you could still understand what led to him coming up with his phony plan and you felt a strange mix of sympathy and revulsion as everything spiraled out of his control. The same can be said of Josh Brolin in No Country For Old Men. Dwayne, however, just comes across like someone who came up with a needlessly complicated plan for no good reason.
In 2013, the script for Cut Bank was included as a part of the Black List, an annual list of the “best” unproduced scripts in Hollywood. What’s odd is that, for all the hype that goes along with being listed, Black List scripts rarely seem to work as actual films. Oh sure, there’s been a few exceptions. American Hustle was on the Black List, for instance. But a typical Black List film usually turns out to be something more along the lines of The Beaver or Broken City. Watching Cut Bank, I could see why the script generated excitement. The story is full of twists and all of the characters are odd enough that I’m sure readers had a lot of fun imagining which beloved character actor could fill each role. Unfortunately — as so often happens with Black List films — the direction does not live up to the writing. Yes, the plot is twisty and there’s a lot of odd moments but the film never escapes the long shadow of the films that influenced it.
So — here it is. The conclusion (that’s no longer a conclusion) to Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns epic that, at least according to DC’s promotional blurbs, “you never saw coming.” Probably because after The Dark Knight Strikes Again! most people really didn’t want to see another installment in this saga coming, but hey — we’ve got one anyway. And now that we do, I’m honestly shocked at how little the finished product differs from the admittedly dim impression I had of it in my head back when it was first announced that they were going back to this well one more time.
Before we get to that, though, I have a few things to say about how we got here — and even where we’re going from here — so let’s take care of all that first, shall we?
The word “legendary” is, of course, a horribly overused one these…
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So last night I tried watching Seth MacFarlane’s A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST. At about the twenty minute mark, I came to the conclusion the film totally sucked, and deleted it from the DVR. I was still in the mood for some Western comedy though, and fortunately I had Mel Brooks’ BLAZING SADDLES in the queue and ready to roll. BLAZING SADDLES never fails to make me laugh out loud no matter how many times I watch it. Nobody does fart jokes like Mel Brooks:
The story revolves around Cleavon Little as Bart, a black man appointed sheriff of Rock Ridge by Governor LePetomane (Google it!). This doesn’t go over well with the God-fearin’ town citizens, since Bart is black, and they’re a bunch of redneck racists. It’s all a scheme by the Gov’s crooked Attorney General Hedy Lamarr…oops, that’s HEDLEY! You see, Hedy (err, Hedley) knows the…
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With November sweeps coming to an end, so does the fall TV season. As much as a mixed bag of shows this season has brought us, here are a few fall/winter finales you might want to check out.
And Since I am posting this on Sunday… Let’s start with today!
Sunday, November 29th
Okay, not technically the fall finale, as there will be one more episode of ‘Once Upon a Time’ this fall. But if you are not keeping up with the drama of Emma and her dark swan, you should be! Also, Hook and Gold might finally have their confrontation!
Here is the promo!
And I know we all are waiting on the mid-season finale of ‘The Walking Dead’ There are rumors of a major death in tonight’s episode. But let’s take our mind off that for a minute and just try and figure out how the peace will be broken!
Holy Frak! Did we all make it thru Sunday night? Are we all okay? We still have several more days to go!
Monday, November 30th
In ‘Gotham’ Bruce is abducted, and to get a little darker (not like this season could) Jim has to find an unlikely alliance. You can probably guess who that is! (or not)
Okay, Okay! I get it! Those shows were dark and we all need a bit of funny now! And the CW can bring that! ‘Crazy Ex Girlfriend’ Has its winter finale tonight, too. I am not going to gush, but paired with ‘Jane The Virgin’ these two shows make a hilarious Monday night! After an amazing Thanksgiving episode, Rebecca moves on to Christmas. I am Team Greg, but you all can have your own opinion…Wait, who is zooming who’s Mom!
We got all this so far? We okay? Because the TV week is fixing to get complicated. We got a two night cross-over event to get thru now! Fortunately there is only one promo to get thru.
Tuesday and Wednesday December 1st and 2nd
The Flash and Arrow cross-over event happens. Starting with Savage attacking Kendra and Barry takes her to Star City seeking help From Oliver. In the Back half, Oliver and Barry work together to defeat Savage.
Two night preview!
Just when you thought the week was done. Nope, we still got the best show on TV right now to go! Wednesday also brings us the fall finale of ‘Empire’ Where will Empire land? Is Dynasty on the rise? Is Anika that crazy? Can the family pull together?
Along with those shows, Rosewood, Reign and the ABC comedies all have their fall finales this week.
Wow, we made it to Thursday and all the way thru November sweeps! If we all aren’t brain dead by now, Let’s talk about ‘The Wiz Live!’
Standing six-foot-two, the beautiful former model Tamara Dobson was Warner Brothers’ answer to Pam Grier. The first female action star, Grier was killing it at the box office with hits like COFFY and FOXY BROWN, and Warners’ cast the Amazonian Dobson in the title role of CLEOPATRA JONES (1973). While Dobson made a foxy badass mama in the role, she wasn’t a very good actress. Which is alright in the world of action films, as long as the violence comes fast and hard, and CLEOPATRA JONES delivers in that department.
Our girl Cleo is a special government agent in Turkey helping to wipe out some large poppy fields (“Thirty million worth of shit”, says Cleo). This causes drug smuggling crime boss Mommy to freak out and seek revenge. Mommy is played by Shelley Winters in one of her patented over the top roles, wearing a series of bad wigs and screeching at…
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I didn’t think it was possible, but they did it. This movie is even better than Turkish First Blood. Again, you can stop reading now if you want to and just go watch it. I won’t blame you. The only downside to this movie, if you can call it that, is that I think the tie-in to Mad Max might have been an afterthought. It’s feels more like they had an action packed script for the three leads to star in, then decided to throw in a few Mad Max elements such as the leather outfit and weapon from the Mad Max poster. I could be wrong, but it’s the impression that I get. Let’s dig in!
The movie begins on this shot of Kaan or Kagan (Cüneyt Arkin) climbing up onto the top of a building. He makes his way to a stairwell where bad guys start to flow in. He lights some dynamite and appears to chuck it onto the angry no arms and no legs dummy from Turkish First Blood.
Regardless, it kills some of the bad guys. Kaan beats on one guy, then takes him around by the neck and begins to lead him down the stairs. Cut to title card. Arkin is once again in badass mode for this movie. However, this time around we get to see him do some more acting.
Then we meet every slimy businessman and bikini girl from every Turkish movie of this era. Arkin says hi the Arkin way. By shooting him in the hand.
Jeez! Where’s Buddy with his Healing Hands when you need him?
Turns out Kaan was delivering a small package for this guy. It also turns out what was in it was used by a girl who subsequently died before his eyes. Kaan isn’t happy to say the least. Especially after this guy says “they were destined to die”. Kaan says “and so are you”. He makes the guy eat the whole package of heroin and watches him die.
Now we cut to Kaan dealing some cards onto a bed. Then guys start to come into the room. I think the first part of this scene is only to remind us that Arkin is going to be doing more of that knife throwing to kill guys in this movie. Seriously, he kills a lot of people by simply throwing a knife that flies like a projectile. You’d think he worked in a carnival for many years before taking up whatever his job is in this movie.
After dispatching those bad guys, the main guy comes into the room and has a job for Kaan. He wants Kaan to bring a professor who has, or is, developing a new medicine. Kaan takes the job, then cut to another room where we are introduced to the second member of Kaan’s team.
This is Ali played by Yildirim Gencer. Yildirim Gencer is the one who played Kilink in Kilink In Istanbul, Kilink vs. The Flying Man, and Kilink: Strip And Kill. This is when a strange old man bursts into the room.
This leads to a rather comical little scene where this old man appears to be having a lot of trouble firing this rifle. In fact, eventually they just end up starting to fight. After Ali pins the old man we find out that the old man is really Kaan in disguise.
This is how we learn that two of them are friends, and have a rather unique relationship. This is one of the things that makes this better than Turkish First Blood. This isn’t just one scene, but something that develops over the course of the film.
Now for another call back, we meet the third member of Kaan’s team played by actress Emel Tümer. Emel Tümer played the girl in Turkish First Blood. Except this time she’s going to be kicking butt and blowing people away right along side Arkin. We meet her during this scene where she is having a drinking contest with this guy. Of course she wins, but then the surrounding guys pin her down as if at the very least they are going to feel her up. This is honestly a great scene because of this.
Kaan and Ali enter the room and Arkin gets this smile on his face as if to say, “Hi boys! Hope you enjoyed what little you just got because I’m about to even up the odds and you won’t like what me, my friend, and she has in store for you.” And beat the crap out of them they do.
During this whole fight they are also talking to each other to catch up. We find out that she has at least been in a relationship with Ali at some point and probably Kaan as well. It ends with them taking a little breather and enjoying a drink with each other.
Then we get a sequence that I’m not sure of the plot purpose. However, it does give the film a chance to have her get shot in the butt, which is kind of funny. But more importantly, it introduces us to the coin flipping thing that Kaan does in this movie. He’ll flip a coin to see whether he or Ali will do something, Ali always calls heads, and loses every time. It also gets in something else that will carry throughout the movie. That Kaan and Ali really are fond of her. Next she gets behind the wheel and proceeds to tell Ali she didn’t appreciate being shot in the butt by his friendly fire.
I love the back and forth here between Ali and her, which does end up like it should because she isn’t paying attention to the driving while doing all this talking.
Of course she’s gonna need some help pushing that car. Heads or tails?
Now is when the action largely takes over the movie. I’ll try to hit the high points here.
At this point, they find the professor and his wife. Arkin gets some nice poses in here too.
Then there’s a conversation between Kaan and Ali. I didn’t pick up the in joke till I looked up that Ali was played by the same actor who plays Kilink, but I get it now. Kaan tells Ali: “You’re a celebrity nevertheless. Twice even. At being a crook and at scoring ladies.”
Now comes a humorous action sequence where they have obviously returned to the set of Turkish First Blood. It’s funny because during the majority of this scene they are doing battle with stock footage.
This is where we find out that the guy who hired Kaan has double crossed them. Big surprise there. About as much of a surprise as the fact that they return to the quarry set of Turkish First Blood and I believe the set of Turkish Star Wars where Arkin punched rocks.
Of course more action ensues and Ali once again loses the coin toss and has to carry the professor who was shot during the battle. Next we return to what I assume are the caves from Turkish First Blood. We also get this great shot.
Then we get what is probably the most insane action sequence in any of these Turkish movies I’ve watched so far. After everyone but Kaan goes down the side of a rock face on a rope, Kaan tries to go down. He’s got people at the top and on sides of him. The scene is hilarious as Kaan switches between shooting and many knife throws to deal with the bad guys. There is no way I can do this over the top action sequence justice. Just take my word for it that it’s pretty cool in it’s lunacy.
Once they are safe, we get a nice little scene where Kaan gives Emel Tümer’s character a flower. Ali then asks him where his present is to which Kaan gives him his cigarette. “A cigarette for death”. Then they’re off to battle some more stock footage. We get some more action, then Ali finally finds out that Kaan has been using a coin that is tails on both sides this whole time.
Now all the friendship stuff between Kaan and Ali comes to a head when Ali is left trying to get to the truck Tümer and Arkin are in while bad guys close in behind him.
He honors his friend’s plea and shoots him. After some more action, Arkin and Tümer return to the guy who hired them and do him in for lying to them that it was medicine when it was drugs. It ends with this look on Arkin’s face.
I really enjoyed this one. Aside from the Django one, these were fun for me to watch and write about. I hope you had a good Thanksgiving week.