Director Kon Ichikawa’s (An Actor’s Revenge, The Burmese Harp, Tokyo Olympiad) incredible real-life tale of one man’s epic journey across the Pacific Ocean is based on Kenichi Horie’s best-selling book of the same name. A year previously, at only 23 years old, Horie took his basic sailboat (named ‘The Mermaid’) and set off from Nishinomiya in Japan, arriving in San Francisco, California 94 days later. Man’s battle against nature is amongst the timeless themes of Ichikawa’s beautifully shot, inspiring film. Continue reading Kon Ichikawa – Taiheiyo hitori-botchi aka Alone on the Pacific (1963)
Fifteen-year-old Charley lives with his alcoholic father (Travis Fimmel) in a run-down house on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon. In an effort to help his dad stay afloat, Charley takes a job at a local racetrack where he befriends jaded trainer Del (Steve Buscemi) and burnt-out jockey Bonnie (Chloë Sevigny) while caring for an aging horse named Lean on Pete. But as things break down at home and Del announces Pete will be sold to an uncertain fate, the burden becomes too great for Charley to bear and he heads out into the vast American wilderness with Pete in tow. Continue reading Andrew Haigh – Lean on Pete (2017)
Plot: In Wales, around 1800, Catherine Morgan is widowed young, her husband a war casualty whose unpaid gambling debts threaten both the loss of home and farm and destitution for her and her daughters Elen and Emily. Catherine hopes to save them by selling their cattle at a distant market. She must overcome the hardships of the cattle drive across the craggy Welsh countryside as an obsessively infatuated sheriff, whom she does not love, attempts to thwart the drive; and she must work out her insecurities in her relationship to his half-brother, an experienced drover, who helps her on the drive. Continue reading Strathford Hamilton – The Proposition (1997)
Plot / Synopsis
Based on actual events that served as the inspiration for the 1963 film of the same name, Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins follows a group of noble samurai as they seek to slay a tyrannical, politically connected lord before he seizes control of the entire country. Japan, 1844: as the era of the samurai winds to a close, a sadistic young lord uses his powerful political ties to commit heinous atrocities against the common people. Recognizing the dangers to both his country and its citizens should the lord manage to gain any more power, a concerned government official secretly recruits 13 of the most skilled swordsmen he can find to defeat the evil lord once and for all. But reaching their target won’t be easy, because the elusive lord is constantly flanked by legions of fearless bodyguards. Realizing that the bodyguards would decimate his modest task force in a traditional battle, the assassins’ leader (Koji Yakusho) lays an ingenious trap that will give his men the upper hand, and waits patiently for their prey to take the bait. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi Continue reading Takashi Miike – Jûsan-nin no shikaku aka 13 Assassins [International Version] (2010)
Based on an unfinished novel, The Assassination Bureau, Ltd by Jack London.
Before the start of World War I, would-be journalist Sonya Winter (Diana Rigg) begins to investigate the Assassination Bureau, a mysterious organization that chooses its targets based on moral issues. In recent years, however, the group has become corrupt and unscrupulous, prompting Sonya to request that the organization assassinate its own leader, Ivan Dragomiloff (Oliver Reed). Amused, Ivan accepts Sonia’s request. But is he really the villain Sonya thinks he is? Continue reading Basil Dearden – The Assassination Bureau Limited (1969)
Directed by Roman Polanski, here comes the tale of Captain Thomas Bartholomew Red, one of the most feared pirates on the Spanish main, and his French swashbuckling sidekick, “The Frog” (Cris Campion). Stranded at sea, they are saved by a Spanish galleon. They immediately set their goal to commandeer the ship and steal the aztec golden throne it is carrying back to Spain.
A huge commercial and critical flop at the time of its release, “Pirates”‘s reputation with film critics has not grown other the year. It is still considered a cinematic disgrace on Polanski’s resume, exhibit A along with “Cutthroat Island” anytime a terrible god awful pirate movie needs to be mentioned. This has always puzzled me as this is definitely one of the funnier movies I have ever seen and a personal favorite. Continue reading Roman Polanski – Pirates [+Extras] (1986)
Humphrey Bogart plays Fred C. Dobbs, down-on-his-luck American in Mexico—he cadges the odd peso out of friendly passersby and countrymen, just so he can fill his stomach every now and again. He pals around with Curtin (Tim Holt), and after the two of them get cheated out of their wages by an American unethical even by the standards of this film, they exact their revenge, but their pockets are still empty. At the local flophouse, they overhear talk of an old codger called Howard (Walter Huston), who promises that in fact there is gold in them thar hills. If only they had enough scratch to buy the necessaries, they could be making themselves a fortune. Continue reading John Huston – The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)