3:10 to Yuma (2007)

3:10 to Yuma

Dir. James Mangold, 2007

3:10 to Yuma is yet another haute-western from the back half of 2007, albeit the most traditional of the bunch. The second adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s story of the same name, it begins with poor Arizona rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale), whose horses are stolen by the ruthless Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) in an effort to rob a stagecoach belonging to the then-under construction Southern Pacific Railway. The railway forms a posse with Evans to capture Wade and get him on the titular prison train to Yuma. Meanwhile, Wade’s even more psychotic deputy Charlie Prince (Ben Foster) seeks to set him free– at any cost.

The relationship between Evans and Wade is an interesting one: Wade is a bad guy and he knows it, but he sees an honesty in Evans that makes him stand out from the amoral wasteland of the American west. Even if Wade gets on the train, he won’t be gone long, but he’s still willing to put on a show if only for Evans. But the real standout in the cast is Ben Foster. He’s been all over film and television, and he truly deserves to be better known; he’s our generation’s Joe Pesci.

All in all, while it pales in comparison to all the other movies coming out at this time, 3:10 to Yuma is a decent film with some great performances, and you should definitely see them if you like the people involved. B

Velvet Goldmine (1998)

SPOILER ALERT: As these reviews are of an academic nature, they may contain spoilers. Those that do feature this warning. Future reviews will try to limit spoilers for a public audience, but until then, read at your own risk.

Velvet Goldmine

Dir. Todd Haynes, 1998

Before Todd Haynes acheived mainstream fame with his wonderfully bizarre, allegorical Bob Dylan “biopic” I’m Not There, he made Velvet Goldmine. Originally intended to be a straight-up depiction of David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust period, David Bowie’s refusal to get involved due to the racy bisexual content resulted in a quick rewrite involving Oscar Wilde, magical alien brooches, a 1980s dystopia, and fictionalized versions of Bowie, Iggy Pop, Brian Eno, and others.

Christian Bale plays Arthur Stewart, a journalist and former rocker who goes on assignment to find Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers), a former Glam rock superstar who disappeared completely after faking his own assassination onstage. Through interviews and flashbacks, we discover Slade’s triumphs and scandals, only to reveal that he has secretly reinvented himself as a Reaganite pop idol with a different identity.

Velvet Goldmine pays glorious homage to Citizen Kane as well as glam itself: though the musicians have been given pseudonyms, all of the songs in the film are genuine contributions from Eno, Brian Ferry, and the like. The brilliant music-video excesses of the film are matched only by the deep, dark lows the characters face, and it feels more like a dream– and a nightmare– than any music film I’ve ever seen. A-