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Friday, September 7, 2018

This week's thoughts on...


Convergence

Solstice Winters is an intrepid photojournalist for “The Spiritualist” a respectable up market tabloid devoted to news of a more ‘metaphysical’ nature that most people still dismiss as hocus-pocus.
The thing is, the stuff that Solstice reports on is usually true. She knows. She’s gifted that way. So gifted, in fact, that even the FBI call on her talents from time to time to assist in their investigations when the need arises. And that need becomes ever more compelling after an accident at the CERN laboratory which opens a rift, allowing a clutch of magical creatures from another dimension to run rampant in our world.

And the kicker? Though she doesn’t realize it, Solstice is one of them!

Yes, life takes a turn of the supernatural kind – and for better or worse – Solstice has to get to the bottom of a mystery that threatens the future of everything she holds dear.
With liberal doses of urban humor, great one-liners, Men in Black and evil doomsday occultists running rampant, lots of nudity . . . and a talking cat – Convergence is a thoroughly enjoyable little tale, detailing how quickly your world can turn upside down when you leats expect it.
I loved it, and look forward to more of this series.



Once Upon a Time in the West

Once Upon a Time in the West is a good old-fashioned Spaghetti Western film co-written and directed by Sergio Leone. Screened in 1968, it stars Henry Fonda as Frank, a cruel killer – Charles Bronson as his nemesis, Harmonica – Claudia Cardinale as a newly widowed homesteader – and Jason Robards as Cheyenne, a bandit. And really, it’s a story that was very nearly never told.
After directing The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Leone decided to retire from Westerns altogether, and desired to produce his film based on The Hoods, which eventually became Once Upon a Time in America. However, Leone accepted an offer from Paramount Pictures to provide access to Henry Fonda and to use a budget to produce another Western film. Inspired, he recruited Bertolucci and Argento to devise the plot of the film in 1966, and, after researching other Western films, produced the classic we see.
Note: Did you know the part of “harmonica man” was originally offered to Clint Eastwood? He turned it down, and that’s how Charles Bronson ended up in the iconic role.
Plot:

To get his hands on prime railroad land in a deserted, out-of-the-way dot on the map – Sweetwater – a crippled railroad baron, (Morton) hires a bunch of killers, led by startlingly blue-eyed aforementioned sadist, (Frank) to scare a widowed property owner – Brett McBain – into giving up his land. Frank takes things further and wipes McBain and his family out in order to reclaim the land.
However, it transpires McBain remarried a month earlier, and when his new wife Jill (Claudia Cardinale), arrives, she inherits everything instead, not realizing the future fortune she is sitting on.
For reasons that aren’t clearly explained, both Cheyenne and the lethally mysterious Harmonica take it upon themselves to look after Jill and thwart Frank's plans to seize the land. As the plot slowly develops, not only do alliances and betrayals come and go, but we’re given the impression that Harmonica guy wants Frank all to himself.
That impression is confirmed in an epic stand-off at the end where it’s revealed in flashback exactly why Harmonica has worked so hard to get Frank alone. And the music?
At times, the harmonica music is a little annoying. But during the shootout, it’s perfect. Veiled hostility. Micro-drama. Tangible suspense. The tension builds until . . . Bam! The blink-of-an-eye climax that answers all your questions.
 Innovative camera angles and attention to detail puts you right in the middle of the action too, and helps you experience the mood of what it must have been like during those brutal frontier days when the wide open expanse of America was being tamed.
Operatic. Masterful. Genius. Once Upon a Time in the West is all this, and worthy of its legend-making title

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