Leigh Brackett

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Secret Cinema Presents Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Review

Essential

Secret Cinema's Star Wars event is a mind-blowing experience of a lifetime for any Star Wars fan. Running in London over 100 nights from June 4th to September 27th, it's more than twice as big as last summer's gigantic Back to the Future project. The epic installation lets visitors live events from Episode IV: A New Hope before an interactive screening of Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, the best of the six films to date. And with a cast of 400 performers merging seamlessly into the costumed audience, it's an unforgettable evening.

It begins with an evacuation, as earth-based rebels are called to a secret London location. Before arriving, we are given an identity and wardrobe advice (I was Niles Torwyn, galactic explorer) and told to stay low and keep our faces covered. At Earth Cargo Airlines, we are herded into a loading bay and transported through space to Mos Eisley spaceport on the desert planet Tatooine, where we have several hours to walk around the bustling market town, paying for food and drink with galactic credits while engaging with the people around us. Speaking to strangers or walking into doorways will result in quests and training exercises. And among the crowd, there's a chance to interact with characters like Old Ben Kenobi, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2 and a gang of fast-talking Jawas, but avoid eye contact with the Storm Troopers. There are also special cocktails and music in the busy Cantina Bar before another transport whisks us off to a Rebel Base and the Death Star itself.

Along the way, virtually the entire final act of A New Hope is taking place around us, often in ways that send chills down the spine. It's a thrilling re-creation of a film that transformed our childhood, and there are at least two "wow" moments that are almost overwhelming. This is followed by the next chapter in the story, a bright digital screening of The Empire Strikes Back accompanied by some very cool live action. Originally released in 1980, the film stands up remarkably well with its sarcastic humour, brittle emotions and some very dark drama, leading to a wonderfully maddening cliffhanger ending. Best of all is the way the script remains centred on the characters, twisting and deepening them while allowing Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher to further develop their most iconic roles.

Continue reading: Secret Cinema Presents Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Review

El Dorado Review


Extraordinary
Howard Hawks's penultimate film is a canny reshuffling of his own Rio Bravo as he performs a loose and extended mediation on his favorite themes of loyalty and professionalism.

John Wayne plays Cole Thornton, a gun for hire claiming a job with a land-grabbing cattle baron (Ed Asner). Cole accepts the job until he finds out that his old pal J.P. Harrah (Robert Mitchum, in one of his finest late career performances) is the town sheriff. Cole switches sides but not before being shot by a put-upon rancher's daughter, Joey (Michele Carey), who thinks Cole is still working for Jason. With the bullet lodged near his spine, Cole rejects a risky operation and leaves town looking for work. A year later, Cole returns to town with a young, firebrand partner, Mississippi (James Caan), in tow to find that Jason has hired a legendary gang of gunslingers to force Joey's family off their ranch. Cole also discovers J.P. has deteriorated into a pathetic joke of a drunk after being thrown over by a dame (and Mitchum is not short of harrowing in his efforts to fight back his demons). But Jason's hired guns won't quit, so Cole along with Mississippi and J.P.'s obnoxious deputy Bull (Arthur Hunnicutt) try to head off the gang of hired guns. At the same time, Cole helps J.P. to pull out of his drunken stupor and regain his professionalism.

Continue reading: El Dorado Review

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back Review


Essential
Twenty years will make you forget how good a movie was.

I was excited to see the rerelease of The Empire Strikes Back, but I had forgotten about how masterful the film is realized, and I had especially forgotten what it looked like on the big screen.

Continue reading: Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back Review

The Big Sleep Review


Extraordinary
There's little else I can add to what's been written about this proto-noir, one of the archetypes of the genre and a showstopper for Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart, who spar through a catty romance while dancing through a taut mystery that has dead bodies turning up at every turn. (Bogie is assigned to look after Bacall's kid sister, who's prone to trouble. Martha Vickers, as young Carmen, almost steals the show; pay attention to her underrated performance.) With Howard Hawks and William Faulkner in charge here, there's simply not much to complain about.

The Big Sleep Review


Extraordinary
There's little else I can add about this proto-noir, one of the archetypes of the genre and a showstopper for Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart, who spar through a catty romance while dancing through a taut mystery that has dead bodies turning up at every turn. (Bogie is assigned to look after Bacall's kid sister, who's prone to trouble. Martha Vickers, as young Carmen, almost steals the show; pay attention to her underrated performance.) With Howard Hawks and William Faulkner in charge here, there's simply not much to complain about.

Rio Bravo Review


Very Good
Dean Martin as "Dude the Drunk," eh? Why not -- it works in Rio Bravo a favorite among Western enthusiasts that nonetheless is far too long, spending too long setting up the story before getting to the powerful finale. Wayne is good, but Dean-o steals the show along with Walter Brennan's crusty jailkeeper, who owns every scene he's in. A definitive piece of Americana by way of Howard Hawks, Rio Bravo is what the late 1950s studio system was all about.

The Long Goodbye Review


Good
Robert Altman took a Raymond Chandler/Philip Marlowe novel -- God knows why -- and cast Elliot Gould as a private eye investigating a friend's death in the colorful 1970s, a far cry from the noirs of Bogie's Marlowe. It ends up with mixed results -- Marlowe is drawn as a goofy daydreamer (Altman calls him Rip Van Marlowe) and his story only gets interesting when Sterling Hayden, channeling Hemingway, goes bananas.

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back Review


Essential
Twenty years will make you forget how good a movie was.

I was excited to see the rerelease of The Empire Strikes Back, but I had forgotten about how masterful the film is realized, and I had especially forgotten what it looked like on the big screen.

Continue reading: Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back Review

Hatari! Review


Good
National Geographic gets a 2 1/2-hour plug with this John Wayne picture, a harmless yet extremely pregnant look at a safari team in East Africa.

Wayne plays Sean Mercer, the grizzled veteran behind a group tasked with collecting exotic animals ordered by various zoos. Along the way, he must contend with various minor crises - a female photographer wants to tag along, ostriches get loose, a baby elephant needs to be cared for.

Continue reading: Hatari! Review

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Leigh Brackett Movies

Secret Cinema presents Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Movie Review

Secret Cinema presents Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Movie Review

Secret Cinema's Star Wars event is a mind-blowing experience of a lifetime for any Star...

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