FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Sergio Leone |||
Sergio Leone

Leone’s career is remarkable in its unrelenting attention to both American culture and the American genre film, exploring the mythic America he created with each successive film examining the established characters in greater depth.

Only his second feature (a remake of Kurosawa’s Yojimbo), Leone's landmark "spaghetti western" caused a revolution and features Clint Eastwood in his breakthrough role as "The Man With No Name". This classic brutal drama of feuding families wasn’t the first spaghetti Western, but it was far and away the most successful up to that time.

Plot is of minimal interest, but character is everything to Leone, who places immense meaning in the slightest flick of an eyelid, extensively using the extreme close-up on the eyes to reveal any feeling, as demonstrated by Clint, who squints his way through this slam-bang sequel to A Fistful of Dollars as a wandering gunslinger that must combine forces with his nemesis to track down a wanted killer.

The final chapter in the groundbreaking trilogy follows Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach as they form an uneasy alliance to find a stash of hidden gold. Leone focuses on his central theme as they find themselves facing greed, treachery, and murder, showing that the desire for wealth and power turns men into ruthless creatures who violate land and family and believe that a man’s death is less important than how he faces it.

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All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (EdwardHavens)

By EdwardHavens

May 6th, 2009

Neil Young once asked if it was better to burn out than to fade away? In the case of Jonathan Levine's long-delayed feature debut "All the Boys Love Mandy Lane," the answer is crystal clear: fade away, as quietly as possible.

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (EdwardHavens)

First screened at the Toronto Film Festival in the fall of 2006 and delayed from theatrical release once again as of May 6, 2009, "Mandy Lane" is one of those low-budget horror movies that'll become more infamous, not unlike "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation," for having been an early starring role for some of its leads than for anything within the film itself. Not that I am insinuating Amber Heard will become an Oscar-winning actress like Renée Zellweger or Michael Welch will become a rom-com whore like Matthew McConaughey. Heard is a pretty enough girl, but that's all she has going for her, and Welch, to be completely honest, is a lost memory. Not just two and a half years after seeing the movie, but even the very next day. In fact, everything about "Mandy Lane" was so awful -- the acting, the writing, the direction, the camerawork, the sound mix, the costumes, the music and everything else in between -- I have willingly chosen to avoid anything anyone connected to this movie has completed since then. It's going to take something really special to make me change my mind.

As for the plot, it revolves around a group of high school kids who head out to a secluded ranch to party, only to find themselves being knocked off one by one for something that happened during the movie's preface. And being a modern mystery/thriller, "Mandy Lane" can't just be a straightforward treatise. It must have itself a plot twist somewhere that throws the story in a different direction. But what happens when the writer throws that twist in too early in the story, like before the first half of the film is over? Well, you just know it's a fake-out and the real twist is coming later, and you'd be correct. In a nutshell, it's just a bunch of dumb, horny, drunk and drugged-out privileged kids getting some kind of twisted comeuppance for being they are dumb, horny, drunk, drugged-out and privileged.

That's a basic summary: dumb kids doing dumb things for dumb reasons. You might actually see for yourself someday, when it finally makes its belated DVD premiere somewhere down the road, but don't say I didn't warn you.

My rating: F