Sam’s Movie Recommendation of the Week #1

Way of the Gun inspired painting by Sam Kench
Way of the Gun inspired painting by Sam Kench
Way of the Gun inspired painting by Sam Kench

The Way of the Gun is a criminally underrated action thriller that is one of my all time favorite movies.

I’m not sure what it is that kept this movie from achieving the following that it deserves, but hopefully I can do my part and get a couple new people to check it out.

REASONS TO WATCH “WAY OF THE GUN

-Written and Directed by Christopher McQuarrie who wrote “The Usual Suspects”.

-Changing tones: The movie changes tones drastically part way through the film, but it manages to not be jarring. The film opens fast with clever dialogue and a lot of comedy as well as having faster editing. Before long the film abandons this style and slows down. The film gets darker and more intense as well as cutting down on the dialogue.

-Fantastic action scenes: The shootouts in “The Way of the Gun” are absolutely top notch. The final shootout has to be in the top 10 shootouts of all time. It is delectable. There actually aren’t that many action scenes, but when they show up they are intensely memorable. The actors all went through military weapons training and every single bullet in the movie is accounted for. The character reload their weapons constantly, which is actually very uncommon to see in films. This movie also makes excellent use of practical effects such as squibs. Every bullet fired in this movie is sure to tear a hole through something. The action scenes in this movie are unlike any other. They are ridiculously realistic and even idiosyncratic. One of the most memorable scenes is perhaps the most unconventional car chase of all time, and it’s pure awesome.

Benicio Del Toro is the epitome of cool: Benicio Del Toro is a great actor, and in this movie he just exudes cool. His character was written with a lot of dialogue but Del Toro thought it would work better if his character was quieter, and he was right. He doesn’t say a whole lot, and he is able to tell so much with just his face. Plus he always has this awesome crooked lean, real wild west style.

– The movie knows how to start and end: the opening scene just might be one of the coolest, where Sarah Silverman finally gets her comeuppance.

And the ending scene is without a doubt one of the best endings. I won’t show it because I don’t want to spoil the ending, but I just love how it concludes. It has such a strong final image and the fact that the filmmakers were ballsy enough to end without a happy climax is something to admire.

– Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid inspiration: The aforementioned movie is terrific and in “The Way of the Gun” the two main characters are known only by the code names Parker and Longbaugh, which were the real names of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The final shootouts were also filmed in the same location for both movies.

The Way of the Gun is unknown to many, but it’s a great movie. I highly recommend it.

The Soon to be Deceased (Original Western Short Film)

the soon to be deceased

I recently released my western short film on youtube titled “The Soon to be Deceased” I wrote, directed, edited, and acted in the short. The other actors in the short are Shaun Hathaway, Andrew Fortier, and Emmett Morrill.

Here’s a little written behind the scenes.

The Soon to be Deceased was filmed in one day and we actually shot this and then went to a different location and filmed “Max Payne: A Reason to Live” in the same day. Emmet who played Pete in The Soon to be Deceased went on to play Max Payne and Andrew and myself played henchmen in Max Payne. Shaun didn’t come with us, but we were joined by Logan Frye and Eli Redcloud at the Gordon Nash library where the other short was shot.

western title card

The guns in the video have a variety of different backgrounds. None of the guns are real. The double barrel shotgun is a knockoff Nerf gun. The brand is called Airblast, and is actually better because they look more realistic. I hand painted the gun myself and gave it a rusty look on the barrels by using metallic gold paint and then stripping it off with electrical tape. The shotgun shells in the gun were however real. The shotgun shells were real, but were empty, and instead filled with little magnet balls to give them a little extra weight.

There are 3 other shotguns in the video, but there were only 2 other prop guns. two of the shotguns you saw in the video are actually the same prop being used by both actors, and cut together to make it look like two separate guns. This shotgun cost 5 dollars and was meant to fire little suction cup darts, and after I painted it, it was ready for filming.

The remaining shotgun was a malfunctioning Airsoft gun with the stock removed and the orange tip painted black.

The revolver is a a plastic replica that I’ve had since I was a little kid. It’s actually one of my favorite prop guns to use because it looks realistic and has a really nice feel so it’s easy to work with. Plus you can do all the cool western spinning.

Both Emmett and Andrew each play two parts in the video, it’s pretty easy to tell if you know the people.

The rain featured in one quick part of the video was real. It spontaneously started to rain out of nowhere, we kept filming and got that shot done, then it stopped. The rain only lasted for a few minutes and then it was sunny again. We didn’t plan on this but it ended up adding a nice little something to the video.

The Soon to be Deceased was filmed at Shaun Hathaway’s house and the barn and horses in the video are his.

On the Tenth Day of Christmas Sam’s movie recommendation for me was…

in bruges

For the tenth day of our 12 Days of Christmas movie recommendations, Sam suggests “In Bruges”.

in brugesTHE STORY

Guilt-stricken after a job gone wrong, hit-man Ray and his partner await orders from their ruthless boss in Bruges, Belgium.

The movie stars Colin Farrell as Ray in his best dramatic performance to date.”In Bruges” may not be bursting with Christmas joy but it does take place during the holiday season in Bruges, Belgium. This supremely dark (I mean pitch black) comedy is funny and original. Originality seems to be hard to find these days.

Martin McDonagh is an award winning playwright who  made the jump to the big screen with “In Bruges”, his first film as Director/Writer. He’s now in the #3 spot on my top #10 Directors list.

McDonagh has only made 2 feature films (“In Bruges”, “Seven Psychopahts”) thus far but I love both of them immensely. I can’t wait for his next film to come out. I dig his sense of humor and like the way he blends it with violence. He reminds me of Quentin Tarantino in the sense that they both have constructed their own style and know how to perfectly pull it off with great dialogue based comedy and stylish violence. CLICK HERE to read my review of “Seven Psycopaths”.

On the Seventh Day of Christmas Sam’s movie recommendation for me was… | Green Carbon 2112

die hard

For the seventh day of our 12 Days of Christmas movie recommendations, Sam’s recommendation is “Die Hard”.

die hardA fantastic action movie the just happens to take place on Christmas. This is the movie that made Bruce Willis a household name. It’s 40 stories of sheer terror and introduced the world to the multi-faceted actor, Alan Rickman as the “bad guy” Hans Gruber.

Bruce Willis stars as New York City Detective John McClane,who comes to Los Angeles to spend the Christmas holiday with his estranged wife (Bonnie Bedelia) and kids.

But as Mclane waits for his wife’s office party to break up, terrorist take over the building. With only a service revolver, his whits and sheer determination, McClane launches his own one-man war.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Yippee-ki-yay, mo-fos!

Max Payne: A Reason to Live – by Sam Kench

max payne title card

This is a short that I wrote, directed, edited, and did the cinematography on inspired by the Max Payne video game series.

The Max Payne games are fantastic and I highly recommend them, I might get around to an actual review of these games eventually but this is my tribute to the series. It’s not a recreation of the game, but more of a side story revolving around the title character.

We shot this a while ago, over the summer actually, but it got stuck in post production for a long time. Once I got After Effects and learned how to do the VFX I was able to get the muzzle flashes, smoke and blood dones. This is the first video I’ve done VFX, so there was a steep learning curve. Now it’s finally finished and public.

Max Payne is played by Emmett Morrill, I provided the voice for the narration, and Elias Redcloud played Walter Santiago. The goons are played by myself, Andrew Fortier, and Logan Frye. I hope you’ll all check it out and enjoy it and maybe leave some feedback.

Here’s a little background information about the making of the video:

  • This video was shot in one day coming hot off the heels of another larger scale project which I hope to be able to release in the future.
  • Max Payne’s costume was a joint effort by Elias Redcloud and the owner of Green Carbon 2112. The jacket belonged to Eli, and the Max Payne tie was custom made for the video by Amy Lyn.
  • The day before filming I sat down with Emmett Morrill who played Max Payne and we played the game. I had him pay close attention to Max’s mannerisms. The way he walked/ran with/without guns, the way he takes cover, and especially the way he jumps. The trademark of the Max Payne games is the slow motion diving and shooting and this is something that I strove to recreate for the video. It was important to me that we were faithful to the dives and that meant getting serious height and flying backwards into the ground. This is hard to do from a stunt person perspective as it is very hard to stop your body from instinctively putting your hands down and catching yourself. We used a crash mat for Emmett to dive onto to make it a little easier on him.
  • Max Payne’s signature emotion is his trademark hyper frown, it’s not quite a Dredd hyper frown but it’s pretty close. Max is a guy who has no joy in his life so we spent a great deal of time working on Emmett’s frown.
  • The video was filmed downstairs at the Gordon Nash Library in New Hampton New Hampshire which is where we held our film club meetings over the summer.

A sequel video is currently in pre-production but it could be a while before that takes off. The rate at which it happens depends largely on locations and actors as well as the editing, but if enough people are really itching to see the sequel I can make that priority.

 

Macabre Month of Halloween Horror 2013 movie review #3 ~ ‘John Carpenter’s Vampires’

John carpenter's Vampires poster
John carpenter's Vampires poster
John carpenter’s Vampires poster

John Carpenter is a master of horror. Sometimes he fails to deliver but he will always be known as one of the greats. He brought us a wide range of classics such as Halloween, Escape From New York, and Assault on Precinct 13.

Vampires stars James Woods, Daniel Baldwin, and none other than Laura Palmer herself: Sheryl Lee. James Woods tries his hardest to be a BAMF and sometimes he doesn’t quite pull off the tough guy act.

james woods
James Woods

The role could have been better cast, Michael Biehn would be my pick for the role. James Woods really does give it his all though, too bad he’s always just bordering on BA when the character deserves better. While James Woods isn’t always believable as a tough guy, the character is still really cool.

Sheryl Lee doesn’t have a lot to do in the movie. She mostly just looks freaked out or possessed, and Daniel Baldwin is interchangeable with a number of other actors, so the cast is not the strong point of the movie.  The strong point is in John carpenter’s impeccable direction. I will say that the guy who plays the young priest is awesome. His transformation is well done and he is about the only actor that I would not recast if given the option.

John Carpenter was actually thinking about quitting directing before making this movie. He said that it “Stopped Being Fun” This movie changed his mind and he decided to keep directing. That’s pretty damn cool.

Vampires has the look, sound, tone, and feel of an 80’s horror film, when it’s actually from 1998. Only 2 films ago for John Carpenter. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It resembles the sorely missed lost style of classic horror films. John Carpenter composed the music for the film and it is perfectly suiting and creates a strong style for the film.

vampire cross

John Carpenter’s Vampires is very similar to From Dusk Till Dawn. Both are vampire films with a Spanish flair and location. Both take inspiration from the vampire lore while twisting it around and tweaking it, and both have wild action scenes, killing vampires with really great gore effects. This is a movie that is proud to be rated R. Blood, swearing, and pretty much anything that can get you rated R. Vampires wears it’s rating like a badge and jumps at the chance to throw a motherf*cker in your face.

Vampires had two sequels the 2nd of which starring Jon Bon Jovi of all people.

Vampires isn’t “Scary” in the slightest, but it doesn’t really try to be. Instead it strives for being a cool action movie. The movie knows what it is and it just exudes cool. In a world flooded with terrible vampire movies like the whole Twilight franchise, it’s nice to know that there are still some cool vampire films worth watching that you might not have seen yet. It’s not a slow movie by any means, its 108 minute run time breeze right by. It’s entertaining without overstaying it’s welcome.

They’re not gothic vampires and they’re not bitchy brooding vampires either, they’re hardcore balls to the wall vampires that will tear you apart without pausing for a moment to think about Kirsten Stewart.

It’s not great, but it’s a decent little flick. It’s a fun vampire film in the vain of From Dusk Till Dawn. Definitely worth checking out.

Currently John Carpenter’s Vampires is available for free on Crackle so check it out if you’rd interested and keep checking back all October long for a new horror review everyday with this years MACABRE MONTH OF HORROR.

 

‘The World’s End’ wraps up the Blood and Ice Cream trilogy perfectly

the worlds end

the worlds end

The World’s End is the final installment in the Cornetto trilogy from Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar Wright.

the worlds end simon pegg

The first two films in the trilogy being “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz”. Both were fantastic movies, so expectations were high for “The World’s End”. All three films in the trilogy star the excellent comedic pairing of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost who have to face off against a group of deadly enemies. In “Shaun of the Dead” the threat was zombies, in “Hot Fuzz” it was crazy cult members, and in “The Worlds End” it’s robot aliens.

the worlds end nick frostSimon Pegg and Nick Frost are best friends so they work great together on screen. They are one of the all time greatest comedic duos among the ranks of Abbot and Costello and Fry and Laurie. “The World’s End” has the two doing a little role reversal.

Nick Frost usually plays the drunk, slob, or unintelligent buffoon, and Simon Pegg usually plays the more professional one. This time it’s the opposite and each man delivers a great performance. Simon Pegg gives one of the strongest performances of his career. The character is well constructed and completes a surprisingly deep character arc for a comedy over the course of the story.

the worlds end martin freemanThe supporting cast is top notch. The supporting cast features a bevy of high level British comedic actors including Martin Freeman of Sherlock and The Hobbit fame. the worlds end paddy considineOther supporting cast members include Paddy ConsidineEddie Marsan and Rosamund Pike. All are very funny. There are some great cameos in the movie from people like Pierce Brosnan and Bill Nighy.

The World’s End pays homage to old sci-fi films from the 50’s and 60’s and manages to both satirize the genre while improving upon the formula.

the worlds end eddie marsenThere are a number of fight sequences in the “The World’s End” which was a little surprising but ultimately worked for the better. They are well choreographed and shot and are very inventive and original which is a big plus. The Cornetto Trilogy is also known as the Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy and The World’s end shows a  severe lack of both blood and ice cream. The lack of ice cream is actually used for comedy while blood is replaced largely by blue ink, from robots. But the World’s End still definitely earns it’s R rating with plenty of profanity used in the traditional English humor sense.

the worlds end rosamund pikeEdgar Wright brings his trademark directing style to the film with his utilization of fast cuts, non-traditional editing, and inventive camera techniques.

The action is entertaining and the comedy hits it’s mark perfectly. “The World’s End” works great as both a stand alone film and as the final installment in the Blood and Ice Cream trilogy. There are many little references and homages to the other films and “The World’s End” stays faithful to the trilogy in both style and humor. “The World’s End” is a fantastic film. One of the best comedies in a long time.

The Raid: Redemption ~ Jumping Off Point Review

the raid redemption movie review

the raid redemption movie reviewMembers of the Newfound Film Making Club review the movie The Raid: Redemption.

SUMMARY: A S.W.A.T. team becomes trapped in a tenement run by a ruthless mobster and his army of killers and thugs.

Director/Writer:  Gareth Evans

Stars:  Iko UwaisAnanda GeorgeRay Sahetapy

WARNING: This video contains profanity

 

Jumping Off Point Review for Django Unchained

django unchained
English: Director Quentin Tarantino at the pre...
English: Director Quentin Tarantino at the premiere of Grindhouse, Austin, Texas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s no secret that we here at Green Carbon 2112 are HUGE fans of Quentin Tarantino. We can only wish, hope and pray that Sam will get to work with him some day. (Sorry, that’s my inner Dr. Seuss poking out.)

Sam did a really in-depth written movie review of Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” when it was out in theaters. Click Here to read the full review.

Not only does Sam write reviews for our site, Furious Cinema, and The Grindhouse Database but he also sits down with different members of The Newfound Film Making Club for live “Jumping Off Point” reviews.

Where does the “Jumping Off Point” show get its name? Well, these guys start talking about one movie, then springboard off a character to other roles the actor has played, on to different movies, to who knows what else and back again to their main topic of discussion. Sometimes they know what they’re talking about, other times, they have no clue. But, all in all, it’s a good time had by all. You’ll laugh and might even learn a few things in the process.

The review below is for Tarantino’s “Django Unchained“. Emmett takes issue with the use of the “N” word but has no problem saying M***er F***er repeatedly.

WARNING: Emmett uses profanity. If our viewers haven’t noticed by now, Sam never swears.

RED 2 (2013) Movie Review

helen mirren and mary louise parker in Red @

red2I was a big fan of the first “Red”, but going into the sequel I was a bit skeptical. Some early reviews of the movie were not the most positive, but I went into the film, hoping for, at the very least, a fun ride.

Most of the main cast from the original returns and they are fantastic!

Bruce Willis in Red2Bruce Willis stars as Frank Moses and he has a lot of fun in the role. He mixes his bad *ss action hero side with his comedic side and they mesh perfectly. Frank Moses is a cool character. He’s a real warmhearted killer.

John malkovich in Red2John Malkovich plays Marvin the old crazy dude who was dosed with LSD for years. He makes this character a lot of fun. Marvin is probably my favorite character. John Malkovich goes full Rowan Atkinson and makes more funny faces than Mr. Bean.

Mary-Louise Parker, most famous for her starring role on Weeds, plays Sarah, Frank’s girlfriend. She is one of my favorite actresses and does a great job. Helen Mirren returns as Victoria, and I’m a little disappointed by how she was used in Red 2. I’ll just say that the trailer is a little misleading about her character. The only lead actor I really missed from the first movie was Karl Urban’s CIA agent. Karl Urban is awesome and I was looking forward to seeing his character again, but sadly he was nowhere to be found.

red2 page

anthony hopkins in Red2There are some new additions to the cast that add even more creative and colorful characters to the roster. Anthony Hopkins as the delightfully crazy Professor Bailey. He’s not in the movie as much as I would’ve hoped however.

red2 byungByung-hun Lee who I had just seen the day before, giving an excellent performance in the Korean film “I Saw the Devil“, plays a contract killer in Red 2 who serves as a pretty cool character and adds a few extra fight scenes to Red 2.

The story has some plot holes and isn’t terribly original or interesting, but the characters make the whole ride a lot of fun. Red 2 is full of comedy that works really well and for the most part. it’s a funny movie.

I have a couple of bones to pick with Red 2. First and foremost is the Goddamn shameful product placement. It’s really horrendous how blatant and shoveled in this product placement is. There’s product placement for Pringles, Papa John’s, Moon Pies, and Jimmy Choo’s all unnecessarily crammed into the movie. They do their best to work it into the movie, but it’s still shameful.

The next bone I have is a dislike of bad CG. There is not a whole lot of CG but when there is, it looks really outdated, which is strange coming from a big budget production.

My final bone is regarding the films self contained PG13 rating. I understand that it wants to appeal to the widest audience possible. I can respect that. I can also respect the lack of strong language. That’s not a problem. But what is a problem is the way the film handles violence. The script calls for blood that the film isn’t willing to deliver. There is a scene where a few people get stabbed and one dude get’s his throat cut. You can actually see the blade on the knife retracting as it presses against the actors chest. There’s no blood, the clothes don’t even rip but the worst thing is that when the guy get’s his throat cut, there is absolutely no bodily reaction. This might have worked if the camera kept his throat off screen, but no, it’s the focus of the shot. No cut no blood nothing, yet the character dies of a slit throat. A movie doesn’t need to be bloody to be good, but it needs to be shot differently. It really takes you out of the movie.

Despite these flaws I still found Red 2 to be a really fun movie. The comedy is great and the action can be fun at times. The great cast and interesting characters make this a fun time at the movies. Maybe not as great as the first one, but still a good time.