Tag Archives: tongue in cheek

FILM REVIEW: Bone Tomahawk

There’s a scene in Bone Tomahawk that’s so gruesome that it had me physically recoiling from the screen,  averting my eyes in the process. It’s imagery like this that I’ve struggled to shift from my mind ever since, such is its graphic and brutal nature.
Now either Im getting more squeamish with age, or director S. Craig Zahler has successfully managed to get right inside my head there. I suspect it’s a little of both.
Welcome to Bone Tomahawk folks, a particularly twisted take on the classic ‘Cowboys and Indians’ theme.
When shady and mistrustful drifter, Purvis (David Arquette), rolls into the sleepy back water town of Bright Hope, Sheriff Hunt (the very well cast, Kurt Russell) confronts shoots and wounds the man leaving him in need of urgent medical attention. Doctor Samantha (Lili Simmons) duly obliges.
With night fallen, Samantha elects to remain with her by now incarcerated patient to monitor his post-surgery condition, rather than return to her husband Arthur – himself convalescing following a leg fracture. Deputy Nick (Evan Jonigkeit) will stand guard over proceedings. In time he will wish he hadn’t.
With the arrival of morning comes the unwelcome realisation that doctor, patient and deputy sheriff have all vanished. A distinctive-headed arrow embedded in the sheriff’s office wall is identified as being a tell-tale sign that this abduction is the work of a troglodyte tribe of cannibalistic Indians.
You see, Purvis (and a now deceased – at the hands of the Indians – accomplice), had unwittingly desecrated the Indians’ sacred burial site and with ‘bone tomahawks’ in hand, they are hell-bent on revenge.
It’s time for Sheriff Hunt to rustle up a rescue party, saddle-up and set about imposing some justice.
Joining Hunt on this mission improbable are Arthur (Samantha’s husband), no nonsense, Brooder (Matthew Fox), and Chicory (Richard Jenkins), a stubborn old timer, defying his age, refusing to be left out.
Like many a ‘Western’ before it, Bone Tomahawk is a slow-burning affair. Indeed, a five day trek on horseback unavoidably becomes all the more drawn-out and gruelling when the Sheriff and his three cohorts have their horses stolen from right under their noses, forcing them to complete the remainder of their mission on foot. Not the end of the world you’d think, but  Arthur’s fractured and increasingly infected leg isn’t helping progress.
On having his hand hacked off, the immaculately groomed, and superbly vain, Brooder, decides that he will strap on dynamite and inflict a suicide mission upon the Indians. “I’m far too vain to go on living looking like this” he declares.
Yes, it’s devilishly dark and humorous, tongue-in-cheek, and as all such elements combine with the film’s increasingly brutal narrative, it left this viewer unsure of whether to shriek in horror and hide behind the sofa, or laugh-out-loud.
Perhaps Monty Python’s ‘Black Knight’ is as good a way as any to summarise the predicament, for no matter how many ‘mere flesh wounds’ are inflicted upon our courageous – bordering on idiotic – rescue party, they refuse to be perturbed, pressing onward, unwavering from their end goal.
It may have a classic B movie air about it, be littered with faults and inconsistencies and somehow achieve simultaneously both the humorous and repulsive, but there’s absolutely no doubting that Bone Tomahawk is at once very real, gritty and highly memorable, but  most crucially of all… enormously entertaining.
A splendid piece of cult movie-making nonsense if ever I’ve seen one.

FILM REVIEW (2015): Spectre

I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that Sam Mendes is a big Bond fan.
Of course, the fact that he’s directed the last two Bond outings is the big give away, but it’s how he’s done it which is the most telling thing.
Mendes’ first outing, Skyfall, was arguably the best Bond film for many a long year and although his latest attempt possibly lacks the depth and subtext of its predecessor, as a pure, two hour slice of vintage James Bond, Spectre possibly even tops that.
Although it’s now become increasingly difficult to sum up Bond without coming over all Alan Partridge, Spectre is slick, chic, cheeky, sultry, amusing, dynamic, sexy, global, ridiculous and effortlessly cool.
There are tips of the hat to historical James Bond everywhere in Mendes’ casting. From the Dr No-esque instigator of all of the world’s evils (Christopher Wlatz playing Blofeld), to a vocally-stumped ape of a baddie (Dave Bautista plays Mr. Hinx), to not one, but two Bond love interests in the ever so shapely shape of Monica Bellucci – playing Lucia Sciarra – and Lea Seydoux of the very excellent Blue is the warmest colour fame, portraying Dr. Madeleine Swann.
The plot, bizarrely, comes from beyond the grave. A video message left by M (Judi Dench) prior to her demise in Skyfall, instructs Bond to track down and eliminate an assassin, Marco Sciarra, in Mexico, and to then follow up on this by attending his funeral in Rome. The trail and course of action will apparently become obvious from there…
As ever, Bond jets off around the globe in search of the links and connections that will ultimately lead him to the source of much evil-doing – in this case, a mass conspiracy by way of orchestrated ‘terrorist’ events, to install and control global surveillance of a nature and scale beyond the imagination.
The difference on this occasion is that Bond’s solo mission to track down Sciarra is unauthorised and these antics, combined with an overhaul of MI6 has left both he and M’s replacement, Ralph Fiennes (also M) surplus to requirements. In M’s place enters the slippery new head of security, C (Andrew Scott).
Is C just an eminently unlikable character or is there more to his devious nature? It’s all larger than life and very tongue in cheek. Just the way Bond should be.
From exhilarating helicopter and plane stunts to high octane car chases through the streets of Rome, pitting Aston Martin against Ferrari, the action set pieces certainly come thick and fast as Bond races around the globe from Mexico to England and Rome to Austria, in his bid to out-fox and see and end to the wrong-doings of an assortment of villainous types.
Sam Smith’s voice is excellent and deserving of better material, for what is in all honesty a fairly weak title song – it’s a shame that the relatively recent trend for poor Bond songs has not also been addressed – and Thomas Newman’s soundtrack borders on being over-the-top at times, but given the film’s content, probably just gets away with it, adding greatly to the film’s relentless velocity.
It’s hard to know where to go next for Mendes, if indeed he is at the helm for the next one? Given that he’s made such a good fist of these last two, I sincerely hope that he is.
Great fun, and a reverential approach from Mendes in the continued revival of the long running James Bond story.