The Magnificent Seven
Cary, NC – Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer) remakes the classic Yul Brynner western from 1960, itself a remake of The Seven Samurai. Denzel Washington (Training Day, The Equalizer, Remember the Titans) leads the pack this time out and the result is a rousing and very enjoyable western thanks in large part to its all-star cast.
Classic Plot Still Fun And Exciting
The plot of The Magnificent Seven is a familiar one, but it works. Not too surprising since it’s been remade a few times now but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Fuqua wisely doesn’t take too many liberties and hues closely to basic plot of seven gunmen coming together to stop some really bad guys from ravaging a poor village.
Washington And Pratt Lead A Great Cast
Instead, the cast does a lot of the heavy lifting. Washington can do this kind of role in his sleep, but thankfully he never does. This is his first western and it’s apparent he’s having a blast. A natural leader, it’s not hard for Washington to stand out among this particular group of characters, and when the time comes to take out some bad guys, he knows just how to deliver.
Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World) also stars here. Pratt is having quite a moment right now. As the star of two of the biggest franchises on the planet, it’s actually a little unexpected for him to take a supporting part in an ensemble. I’m glad he did though because his chemistry with Washington and the rest of the group is great. He has always had great comedic timing, which is on full display here, but he is slowly and surely turning into a bonafide movie star. Can’t wait to see what else he has up his sleeve.
Ethan Hawke (Training Day, Boyhood) and Vincent D’Onofrio (Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Daredevil) help fill out these seven, along with a few unknowns. Hawke has always been a favorite actor of mine, deftly capable of quiet, reserved performances. Here, he’s allowed to have a little more fun, and clearly he’s enjoying his reunion with Fuqua and Washington, his old Training Day crew. And D’Onofrio? Man, this guy is always so interesting to watch. He always makes distinct and odd choices with his characters to help him stand out and I’m hesitant to reveal too much just so you can enjoy it for yourself.
Sarsgaard Has A Blast As Villain
Praise must be given to Peter Sarsgaard as the film’s main villain. Sarsgaard is a truly gifted character actor whose performances in films such as Jarhead and The Salton Sea are truly revelatory. Thankfully, he’s also so good at playing a slimy and evil character that you just love to hate, which is exactly what he’s doing in The Magnificent Seven. You can’t help but love seeing him get his comeuppance at the hands of our heroes. A great villainous performance.
Great Western Worth Seeing
Overall, The Magnificent Seven is an exciting and fun time at the movies. Personally, I always prefer seeing westerns on the big screen and one as fun as this should be enjoyed to the fullest! Worth the trip.
Cary, NC – Most romantic comedies show that, despite their ups and downs, relationships are wonderful things with two loving people coming together. The Lobster, playing this week at the Cary Theater, takes a different approach with absurd laughs and graphic violence.
Tough To Explain
In the simplest terms, The Lobster is a story about a man, played by Colin Farrell (In Bruges, Minority Report), who is trying to find a wife. The broader context is Farrell’s character lives in a world where being single is criminalized and he and other single people are forced to find a partner lest they be turned into an animal. Mercifully, they get to choose the animal and Farrell’s back-up plan is to become a lobster.
The film, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth), is able to weave a surprisingly robust satire out of this premise. The dystopia Farrell and others live in has its own internal logic, with a procedure for finding a suitable partner that mocks dating website formulas and a radicalized cell of single people whose behavior laughs at the mannerisms of people who can’t find dates.
Unusual Jokes and Tone
The Lobster succeeds at being funny but that will depend on your ability to appreciate absurdity. Characters deliver their lines in a strange stilted cadence that helps the odd observations they have fall right at the viewer’s feet. The cast is also rounded out with some comedic actors, such as Olivia Coleman (Peep Show, The Night Manager) and John C. Reilly (Stepbrothers, Talladega Nights), but everyone is able to give a successful performance given the nature of the movie.
But while the bizarre dialogue might be hard for some people to get over, it’s the film’s other moments that offer more of a challenge. Lanthimos is no stranger to shocking violence and The Lobster includes, among other things, attempted suicide, a character breaking their own nose multiple times, an animal being beaten to death (not on screen, thankfully) and two instances of a character being surgically blinded. It’s that last element that made people walk out of my screening.
Despite these flurries, nothing is gratuitous and it all serves both the story and the film’s message about the pressures of dating in the modern world. The Lobster is difficult but it is worth the effort, not only to see the pains Farrell’s character goes through in the beginning to try and find a soulmate but also to see the against-all-odds relationship he and Rachel Weisz’s character (The Mummy, The Constant Gardener) try and protect.
And yes, it’s easier to refer to characters by their actors because almost no one has a name in this movie. Again, it’s not a typical romantic comedy.
Not For Everyone
Looking back, The Lobster will be one of the most unique and fascinating films of 2016. Audiences who prefer fun action or a straightforward comedy may be repulsed or confused by The Lobster but it is a funny, satirical look at romance and for all of its blood and guts has some very beautiful moments.
The Lobster is playing at the Cary Theater this week: Thursday, September 29 at 2 PM and 9:15 PM; Friday, September 30 at 7 PM.