Tag Archives: Salma Hayek

Barry Sonnenfield’s Wild Wild West: A Review by Nate Hill

image

I don’t get the hate for Barry Sonnenfield’s Wild Wild West. I just don’t.  It’s like I saw a completely different film than the entire rest of the continent. To my knowledge, there’s me and a couple other friends I know who love and cherish it, and the rest of the world has seemingly cast it out into the cold, inexplicably bashing it no end. Wtf. It’s a rollicking good time, full of a brilliant blend of situational and slapstick humour, lively characters from a great group of performers, incredible production design, and a dash of swash and buckle. It may not have much in common with the 1960’s era tv show its based on, but kudos to it for breaking new ground. Will Smith plays Marshall Jim West, a cocky (there’s literally a small window of freeze frame where you can see his ebony schlock in full glory. And don’t even ask me how I know that), ballsy (ok sorry I’ll stop) secret service cowboy badass who is working a case against some nasty villains who want to use president Ulysses S. Grant for diabolical ends. He’s led to old foe General ‘Bloodbath’ McGrath (Ted Levine in a show stopping, wickedly devious southern psycho role) a confederate lowlife who will hopefully lead him to whoever is kidnapping the nation’s best and brightest scientists for some Bond villain-ish scheme. West is joined by kooky inventor Artemis Gordon (a classy Kevin Kline) and the two embark on a shoot em up quest to thwart the evil plan of Dr. Arliss Loveless (Kenneth Branagh), a dastardly mega villain with plans for America that don’t involve presidents or laws or anything sane. The film is endlessly inventive, wildly funny and parades forth a reel of set pieces, each more amazing than the last until we realize we’re actually watching a fifty foot tall steam punk mechanical spider stomp all over the Utah desert (there’s a priceless story involving that and the film’s odd duck of a producer Jon Peters, which you can watch Kevin Smith regale an audience with over on YouTube). West and Gordon are joined by sultry Rita (Salma Hayek) a Femme Fatale with a hidden agenda who tags along under the guise of damsel in distress. It’s just plain fun and I still don’t get how anyone could dislike it. Witty barbs, raunchy double entendres and sarcastic banter permeate the wonderful script. Nifty gadgets, detailed costumes and clanking machinery speckle the epic production  design. An atmosphere of playful fun oversees all of it from beginning to end. Smith and Kline make a dysfunctional buddy duo for the ages, squabbling right up until the last frame. Branagh hams it up so far over the top as the bad guy that he nearly implodes on himself. Levine is deliciously creepy and crusty. Watch for other gem performances from Bai Ling, M. Emmett Walsh, Debra Christofferson, Sofia Eng, Rodney A. Grant and Musetta Vander. If you’ve seen it and already love it, good for you let’s go have a beer. If you’ve seen it and hate it, you’re a silly bum (to put it mildly). If you haven’t seen it, do so, form your own opinion and fall into one of the above two categories. It’s a classic for me.

Advertisements

PTS Presents Editor’s Suite with DAVID KITTREDGE

Kittredge POWERCAST

unnamedPodcasting Them Softly is extremely excited to present a discussion with special guest David Kittredge, the editor of 54: The Director’s Cut, which can be streamed via Amazon and iTunes and is now available to own on Blu-ray. Back in 1997, Mark Christopher’s disco club odyssey was released in theaters in a compromised state, featuring edits and reshoots not ever planned by the filmmakers, and which changed the general shape and scope of the picture. Now, nearly 20 years later, the creative team was able to go back to the original footage which test screening audiences balked at, and have reformed the movie as the ultimate director’s cut. There are so few films that experience a life like this one, as it’s a movie that got hit hard by critics and ignored by theatrical audiences at the time of its release. But because of our constantly shifting social attitudes and the advent of the DVD cult classic, it’s now time for this vibrant, sexy, and totally entertaining film to see the light of day as fully intended. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and creative director of LA-based Triple Fire Productions, David is also the writer/director of film festival favorite Pornography: A Thriller, and has worked on various short films in multiple capacities. We also riff for a bit on one of our mutually favorite filmmakers, the late, great Tony Scott, which is always an exciting way to spend an evening. We hope you enjoy this fascinating, truly inside-Hollywood discussion about a film that deserves to find a new following!