Author Archives: jarettburke

Gramps: Hatfields & McCoys is Good Ole TV

In Hatfields & McCoys we are given an authentic, gritty look at the thirty-year feud between the two legendary families. While Kevin Costner is the stand-out, the rest of the cast’s performances grow on you and, by the middle of the first episode, have you fully immersed into the 1880’s West Virginia/Kentucky border. Since it was written for TV, the usual cliff-hangers tend to give the show an ebb and flow feel—almost like hiking to the top of a mountain but turning back because you ran out of time. Yet, the series’ shortcomings do not detract from the fantastic story, beautiful landscapes, the character development or, in short, the look and feel of Virginia/Kentucky at the end of the 19th Century. Continue reading

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Gramps Declares Goon the New Hockey King

Having missed Goon in theatre, I obviously was in no rush to watch (what I assumed to be) a tw0-hour dick joke that takes place in a hockey rink. Just recalling memories of Seann “Double N” Scott from American Pie and Dude, Where’s My Car? already had me in a semi-depression. Surprisingly, I got much what I expected: a two-hour dick joke on ice. Yet, it’s a very funny, well crafted, and incredibly satisfying dick joke. Michael Dowse, from Fubar fame, utilizes Scott in a way that doesn’t clash with the film’s wonderful writing and strong performances by downplaying his frat-boy persona. Thus, Scott’s restraint allows the film’s production values to shine, bringing Hollywood-esque, big-market visuals and ‘citment to the small-ish screen while showcasing the potential of the hockey sub-genre  to our pals south of the border.  Continue reading

Gramps: Dito Montiel’s Tragedy Finds Mediocrity

Let’s be honest here, Montiel’s New York centered police-drama has two draws: (1) Ray Liotta and (2) Al Pacino. The mere mention of their names in relation to police-drama causes we, the people, to long for a simple glimpse of Liotta’s understated Gary Figgis in Copland and just a little of the magic that Pacino brought to Heat‘s Vincent Hanna. Personally, and I pray others still think like me, each time I hear Liotta linked to a new project I yearn to see Henry Hill strut across the street and beat a man short of death with the butt end of a pistol; similarly, I so want to see Pacino channel Sonny from Dog Day Afternoon, “Attica, Attica!” Although I knew going into Son of No One that my prayers wouldn’t be answered, I guess I’m still a dreamer (or incredibly stubborn), thus I walk away from a very average film still disappointed. In truth, it’s my own fault. Continue reading

Gramps: J. Edgar Fascinates Long After Viewing

First of all I must clear the air: I’m a Clint Eastwood fan. No. I’m sorry. I worship the ground the man walks on. No, no, again, sorry. Hmm? Okay. I’ve seen Changeling twice. I know, I know. Crazy right? Well, with that out of the way, I can get to my main question after having the pleasure of seeing J. Edgar: What up with all the negative criticism Inter-Web? “Eastwood’s portrayal of Hoover is too sentimental.” “The make-up ruins the movie.” “The time shifts are too frequent and cause me to lose interest.” “My seat at the theater was too hard.” Bah-Humbug to the works of ya! Is it a masterpiece alongside Letters From Iwo Jima? No. Is it a great film with a few nagging issues? I believe so. So, without further ado, let’s get into ‘er. Continue reading

Gramps: The Thing Absorbs More Bad Than Good

Despite the critical reception, it’s not all bad when it comes to 2011’s The Thing; yet, it so happens to be one of the most heartbreaking disappointments of the year. Am I a walkin’, talkin’ contradiction? Perhaps. However, it’s for all the technical and narrative elements that The Thing does right that my heart breaks and not for its shortcomings.

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Gramps: Meek’s Cutoff is Bold Filmmaking

For every handful of reviews I’ve skimmed, the word “minimalist” is predominately displayed. Minimalist dialogue, visuals, narrative, etc. I’m afraid that I’ll need a definition for “minimalist” (straight from the Oxford English Dictionary no less) before I assign such a label to Meek’s maximal beauty. The narrative is simple, granted: “Settlers traveling through the Oregon desert in 1845 find themselves stranded in harsh conditions” (IMDB) and, honestly, that’s about the gist of it. Yet, it’s a historical event. There was a Stephen Meek; he lead emigrants through Oregon by way of a trail that would be named after him; and he was not the most well-liked, trusted, or friendly of folk. Disregarding the whole history of Meek’s trail, the film begins in ’45 when emerging settlers already came to suspect Meek’s abilities, or lack thereof. The trail is rough, water is near non-existent, fear of Natives run high, and the piety of the settlers clashes against Meek’s survivalist strategies. Continue reading

Gramps: Straw Dogs Remake Akin to Light Beer, But It’s Still Beer

When I first heard that Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs was getting a makeover, I believe there were spasms of expletive fury (as I now feel of the upcoming The Wild Bunch remake at the hands of… Tony Scott?). Yet, after a weekend of contemplating whether to see the film – and then deciding to – I’m surprised how faithful Rod Lurie’s version is to the original. Overall, the slow-burn to chaotic violence found in the original is ever present in the remake, yet too much violence is used to replace the uncomfortable topic of sexuality. On a side note, it’s also a fascinating study of the modern theater audience as well. Continue reading