Star – Michael Fassbender
Genre – Western
Run Time – 87 minutes
Certificate – 15
Country – U.K/NZ
Awards – 5 Wins & 18 nominations
Amazon – £4.00 DVD £7.14 Blue Ray
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Every now and then a debut feature film by a British director blows you away, the case with John Maclean and Slow West, a die hard western indeed. I had the same feeling when I saw Ben Wheatley’s domestic gangster movie ‘Down Terrance’ and the same again with Gareth Edwards low budget Sci-Fi cult classic ‘Monsters’. It’s such a buzz when you discover these guys. Edwards made ‘Monsters’ in 2010 with no money and off the shelf special effects on his laptop and two paid actors and six years later entrusted with the billion dollar Star Wars film Rogue Wars. Ben Wheatley fell on his face a bit with the pretentious High Rise but still bought us the hilarious Sightseers and the original and sadistic Kill List soon after. You need to checkout their movies. All the more impressive with Maclean is his first feature is an impressive and sprawling mid budget western. His directing style is impressive, confident and quirky and how many debut directors secure Michael Fassbender for their first movie! It’s also the debut feature of the rather impressive and striking 18-year-old Kodi Smit-Mcphee as the love struck boy teenager. We have some real talent coming through here.
• Michael Fassbender as Silas Selleck
• Kodi Smit-McPhee as Jay Cavendish
• Ben Mendelsohn as Payne
• Caren Pistorius as Rose Ross
• Rory McCann as John Ross
• Edwin Wright as Victor the Hawk
• Michael Whalley as The Kid
• Andrew Robertt as Werner
• Madeleine Sami as Marimacho
• Brian Sergent as Peyote Joe
It’s the 1900s in the Highlands of Scotland and fresh faced and innocent 17-year-old Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is besotted with a girl called Rose Ross (Caren Pistorius). They are inseparable but she does not reciprocate his love and sees him as her little brother and told him so. When she hides him under her bed to avoid a confrontation with her family incase they mistrued the situation it mistrudes it further and tension grows between the Ross and Cavendish clan as Jay publicly declares his feelings for Rose and a fight breaks out and a Cavendish is killed. Fearing a long family feud the Rose and her parents flee to the American West to start a new life.
Jay misses Rose and decides to seek passage to find her. But he is a naive and vulnerable kid and soon cornered by some Indian killing mercenaries of the Confederate on the hostile plains. So enter ruthless bounty hunter Silas Selleck (Michael Fassbender), who shoots the bad guys dead. Selleck decides the kid will need protection and charges him $50 to get him where he needs going. Jay agrees and off they go.
Silas is gruff and moody whilst the kid articulate and open minded and so not that much conversation going on as they cross the rugged West. But they have company, fellow bounty hunters headed by Victor the Hawk (Edwin Wright) on the same journey for some reason. On that track they have a shootout in a convenience store, Jay loses his possessions to a con man when he wanders off and then stumbles on the camp of their trackers and gets extremely drunk. But as they near Rose and her father (Rory McCann) living in a homestead on the other side of Ghost whispering Woods it becomes clear to Jay that Silas has an ulterior motive to just being his paid protection and will Rose want to see him?
For $ 1.3m dollar this looks amazing and a cracking cast to go with. Maclean has pulled off something special here on that money and even though mostly shot in NZ you would never know. You have to have some balls to make your first film a sprawling Western on location in New Zealand.
It’s stylish and funny and yet retains the essential elements of the traditional western of cowboys, Indians, horses, the maiden in distress and fatal gunfights. It’s got a feel of its own and if you remember In Bruges with Colin Farrell it has the comic edge the way that suburban western did
Kodi Smit-McPhee is excellent in the lead and plays it with innocence yet knowing intelligence on screen. The boy has real presence. His debut reminds me a lot of Will Pouter’s arrival on screen, another striking young British actor, Will supporting Leo Dicaprio in the Revenant, of course. Michael Fassbender has good chemistry with the kid and doesn’t try to outdo him on screen by showing off and the two josh nicely throughout. I’m not a big fan of Michael Fassbender as he thinks he is the new Daniel Day-Lewis and I always felt he picked films accordingly but here he is great macho fun and very watchable as mainstream XMEN Fassbender.
I know the Western is an old genre and done to death but this more a refresh than rehash. It’s a rare beast of a film that is genuinely engaging from the opening scene and doesn’t let go, packed full of humor, pleasing panoramas and inventive camera work and a distinctive cinematography. It’s not a gory western like The Proposition or Open Range and lots of holding the hand to hearts when shot and falling off horses and so suitable for older kids who see far worse on YouTube. There is nothing sadistic or gritty about it. It just give off that pleasing warm feeling of the viewer witnessing something on screen that’s new and original and offers us great promise for McLean’s movies to come. I had that same feeling the first time I saw Sci-Fi movie Serenity by Josh Whedon.
Imdb.com – 6.9/10.0 (30,623votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 93% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com –72 % critic’s approval
Not that many a sign of a good director.
Of course the director is going to do a layered track for his first movie.
-The Black Heist-
A short film with Michael Fassbinder
-On Strange Land-
The Making of Slow West. The new superstar director looks like h wrote on the Viz magazine.
Talking heads stuff from the director and cast.
-SW in Super8-
It was going to be shot in 35mm film but ended up a digital shoot. It’s just a faster process and much cheaper. Here is the film trailer in Super8, what Westerns were shot in back then.
Independent –‘As the title suggests, Maclean is in no hurry. Even at the most climactic moments, he always looks for an offbeat perspective.’
Little White Lies –‘That magical combo: a debut feature that knows exactly where it's going and leaves you wanting more’.
The Guardian –‘It's only slow in the way a rattlesnake or a predatory killer is slow. This terrific film is actually tense, twisty and brilliant’
Scene.com –‘The tone of the film, a darkly absurdist frontier odyssey, recalls both the films of the Coen Brother and the novels of Cormac McCarthy’.
The Mail –‘This quirky, confident Western belies the fact it is the director's first feature, and marks him out as one to watch’.
Rollingstone –‘It may skimp on its characters, but with a mostly successful amalgamation of various tones, Slow West is a beautiful and bold shot in the arm for the genre’.
The telegraph –‘Slow West derives its strength not only from its multi-layered story but also from its spectacular visuals of a geography, which simultaneously seems subliminally awe-inspiring and menacing’.
Uttoxeter isn't a huge place so if you know where Tescos is then you've found the Cinebowl. There isn't a massive amount of parking here, a few spaces immediately outside, some round the back and some undercover (but there is a gymnastics club and play barn next door who also use this), however being next to a Tesco and Focus who both have their own ample car parks - this isn't relly a problem.
The entrance serves both the bowling and the cinema, and they both utilise the same payment desk. It never gets too busy except when popular films such as High School Mudical 3 came out which required use of the online booking facility.
The cinema has all the usual facilities to buy sweets, popcorn and drinks down stairs and then you progress upstairs to gain access to the cinemas. The auditoriums are surprisingly large (for a small town), the seats are tiered so that everybody gets a good view. The seat back rests are high and the arm has a drinks holder too. These are by far the best cinema seats I have ever sat in. The environment is clean and well maintained too.
As the cinema only has 3 screens they don't necessarily get new releases as quickly as the larger 10 screen cinemas - I don't consider this to be a problem.
For bowling pick up your bowling shoes at the main desk and proceed on, there are 8 bowling lanes, and unlike other bowling lanes that have inflatables for running down the childrens lanes here they have rails which they can lift if you ask at the desk, there is also a ball slide for children to use to gain the necessary momentum.
It can be a tad expensive to go the last time I visited with myself and two children it was £25 for 2 games - I would wait for offers. Certainly book if wanting to visit at busy times (Friday night / Saturday) to avoid disappointment.
I have been to a childrens party here and possibly there were too many children and they were too young but it descended into chaos. The party food was very bland. One hot dog and an ice cream. And with 30 children they were bringing 2 plates out at a time.
Lately I am always at the cinema and by accident we found a cinema in Uttoxeter which is about twenty minutes away from where we live. It looked quite nice from the outside and when I got home I took a quick look at its website and saw that it does not play many films but it still played the main ones that are brand new out at the cinema. The other weekend my sister and Mom wanted to go and see Stardust. I had already seen it but decided to take them anyway and thought it would be a good chance to try this new cinema. So off we went and we found this cinema to be very nice indeed and here is why.
Ok so the location of the cinema is as follows:
Town Meadows Way
Now in terms of location the cinema is in a good place. Uttoxeter is only a tiny town but they have some nice shops there and good facilities. The way we drive to the cinema it is easy to find and the main reason for this is that the cinebowl is actually on a shopping park which is very easy to find. There is a massive Tescos, Pets at home and other shops and then a brand new Frankie and Benny's which always smells lovely when we go past so you can even do your shopping at the same time as seeing a film.
In terms of parking it is fine. You are on a massive shopping park so there is plenty of parking and free parking which is good. The cinema does have its own car park which you can use too.
Ok so from outside the cinema looks lovely and because it is brand new the building is modern and impressive. Cinebowl is in great big letters which is good and you can spot it from a long way off. As you walk into the building you can see it is just as well laid out and clean in there. Everywhere is spotless and there are plenty of bins around so I cannot imagine you would see any litter around.
The check in desk is just in front of the entrance so you can't miss it and this is where you buy your tickets. Tickets cost £5.95 for standard and they do honour student discounts. The bowling is about the same for each game and I have to tell you the bowling alleys do look lovely. Unfortunately due to back problems I cannot bowl so I can't really give you much more about that side but the main side anyway is the cinema.
Ok so there is a small shop there where you can buy all of your normal cinema goodies such as popcorn and sweets and drinks. The prices were not actually that bad really at about £2.50 for a good sized box of popcorn and then sweets were £2.20. the staff are friendly and everything just smells and looks so nice because it is a newly built cinema which I really liked.
You have to go upstairs to get to the cinema screens and there are lifts available to. Up here there are lovely comfortable chairs to wait and very nice toilets and massive windows so there is a lot of light up there which is nice.
Then there are only a few cinema screens but when you walk in, the screens are massive. The screens span the entire length of the room and if you were by the front you probably would have to physically move your head from one side to the next to view everything. The surround sound is excellent and the picture is as clear as clear can be.
Now the seats are one of my favourite features because they are tiered so well. No matter how tall the person in front I really don't think you would have any problem seeing the screen. The seats are very comfortable and there are plenty of them.
All in all my first experience at this cinema was a good one and I would return. We do have a normal cinema we go to but I will probably go here at times at is is lovely and the fact it is new is nice because everything is modern and gives you a good cinema experience.
Thanks for reading.