The cast is perfect. The humor is dry. The sets are lush. The writer/director is Taika Waititi, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his 12-minute short film in 2005, Two Cars, One Night; which can be viewed in the "special features" that's included in the DVD of another one of his films - Boy. Waititi also co-wrote and co-starred in last year's hilarious vampire mockumentary What We Do In The Shadows.
This type of film is usually referred to as "art-house cinema." It's warm and humorous and is a great film for the holiday season - when sometimes things can a little heavy.
The Ferrell family is led by the Bren’in. The current one, Lady Ray, is old and near-ready to pass the customary oak (symbol of power) staff on to her eldest son, Big Foster (actor David Morse). Big Foster would be a very poor choice for the next Bren’in – for more reasons than worth the time to list.
Time is the one thing running out for the clan. A powerful energy company wants to make billions mining the coal that lies under the top of the Farrell’s mountain. They will stop at nothing to evict the residents.
What I like most about this new series is the fact that up high on the Ferrell mountaintop, the males still garnish the illusion that they have the most power. Gillian Alexy stars as G'Winveer Farrell, the clan's healer. She is a quiet force that bears close watching.
Ryan Hurst who formally held the popular role of "Opie" on Sons of Anarchy, plays Li'l Foster Farrell, the troubled son of Big Foster. He's the shows' gentle giant. Perfect casting and the producers saved on his costume budget because he appearance mirrors his SOA wardrobe – complete down to the long beard and hair.
Don’t let the title mislead. There is an outsider amongst the insiders on Farrell Mountain. Asa Farrell, played by Joe Anderson, fled his family 10 years ago to see the world. He joined the Army and finally, after seeing the error of his ways, returns home, tail tucked, hat in hand, and is immediately tossed in a cage for 6 months to ponder his past and future plight. The tension builds when he learns that the love of his life, G'Winveer, is betrothed to Li'l Foster.
WGN has picked up the options for a 2nd season so sit back and see if big business or true love rules out.
The Dark Valley is precisely what the title says. This dark Danish film, Das finstere Tal (original title), is shot in Val Senales, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy. It features a rising young star, Sam Riley, as the brooding, deeply conflicted, stranger who arrives totally unwanted to a remote valley at the foot of the Alps. When asked what his business is (before rudely being told to turn his horse around and ride back the way he came) he says that he's a photographer.
The answer is problematic on many levels. The valley is a closed community that is ruled by a land-baron and his many sons. Male strangers are always turned away. Since no one knows what a photograph is, the novelty is the new visitor's free pass. Winter is coming and once it sets in, the mountain pass will become closed by the snow. The stranger, Greider, in need of lodging, is forced upon a mother and her soon-to-wed daughter.
This film's powerful in its lack of color. All the scenes are dark and dreary which helps create the feeling that the valley village is encompassed and even consumed by evil. The plot is a mystery that isn't hard to figure out; however, the film's an ode to the gritty, tight Westerns of the '60's and '70's - a period in films where the hero is a loner, fighting incredible odds, non-supported by the suppressed citizens, but is willing to die for his cause.
This film is a psychological study of man-the-manipulator. It is not for everyone’s taste, but it worth a watch.
There's been a rash of decent Western films in the last couple of years. My being an old cowboy, I'm always hunting for the next The Unforgiven starring Burt Lancaster and Audrey Hepburn (1959) or High Noon starring Gary Cooper (1952) or Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven (1992).
The Salvation stars Mads Mikkelsen and Eva Green (pronouned "grain"). Neither actor has more than a few pages of lines in the entire film; however, both give powerful performances as two independent people - broken completely down by evil doers. I've seen everything that these two actors have appeared in since the beginning of their film careers. What a delightful surprise to find them both in the same film.
Rounding out a strong supporting cast is Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Jonathan Pryce. This is a film about honor, betrayal, and revenge. It was shot entirely in South Africa. It is an adult film with adult subject matter. It's not what we use to call a "Saturday Afternoon Oater."
Looking for a new series to watch where there’s no swearing, no gratuitous, graphic sex, nor buckets upon buckets of blood and yet is witty, sexy, and violent? Try Season 1 of The Musketeers, the BBC updated version of Alexandre Dumas' classic novel The Three Musketeers.
All 3 of the musketeers have classically good looks. They all look great in leather, especially Porthos, who in this filmed version is half French, half African and not portrayed as the plump, drunken ox – which he so often is. Athos has deep dark secrets and is cast as the brains of the bunch and the best brooder. Aramis is pleasant on the eye and deviously charming. D'Artagnan has great hair and thus never wears a hat. Cardinal Richelieu is shown to be his usual villainous self; however, his motivation is based less on greed and personal power than exercising his loyalty and vision for a future France. Liberties are taken in this adaptation. The psychopath, Rochefort, is not even introduced until Season 2.
What draws attention is that all of the female characters are not the typical Hollywood buxom bimbos. The casting is very good. Each actress comes across as the girl-next-door. Even the Queen Anne character is beautifully flawed. But make no mistake, the femme fatal is the Milady D’Winter. This is a great part and many actresses love the chance to play "the baddest dudette on the castle block."
Be warned. The first episode is the weakest of the lot. The introduction of all the main characters is like trying to put a size 10 foot in a pair of size 7 shoes. If you stick with this series, it gets better as all the characters grow.