Weekend Roundup: Solomon Kane, Dancing on the Edge miniseries + Casting By doc

Happy Monday everyone!

Hope you had a nice weekend. It was a nice, mellow one for me, just enjoying the last few weeks of the fleeting Minnesota Summer. We had yummy Lebanese food for dinner and took a stroll by Mississippi River just before sunset… it was a warm night with a slight breeze. PERFECT.

My hubby took this on our stroll in St. Paul at dusk
My hubby took this on our stroll in St. Paul at dusk

I did fit in a few movies, one of them I’ve been wanting to see for some time…

SOLOMON KANE

SolomonKanePoster

A ruthless mercenary renounces violence after learning his soul is bound for hell. When a young girl is kidnapped and her family slain by a sorcerer’s murderous cult, he is forced to fight and seek his redemption slaying evil.

I’m not going to review it again as my pal Becky has done a comprehensive review/tribute to the massively underrated sword & sandal film. She had the dvd so I saw it on Friday night at her place, and boy am I glad I finally did. I’ve been a fan of James Purefoy since his fearless performance in HBO’s ROME, and I’m constantly astounded why he’s not more famous than he is now. The man has the looks, talent, charisma, but maybe he lacks the one thing most stars have to have that they have no control over: luck.

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Director Michael J. Bassett and the producers had planned Solomon Kane to be a trilogy. It’s a bummer that it didn’t happen as it was a darn good film, it probably just wasn’t marketed very well. It’s got the swashbuckling action that looks gritty and raw with little CGI, and the supernatural elements of the story work for the adventure fantasy story. I find the story to be emotional engaging as well, especially between Solomon and the Puritan family led by the late character actor Pete Postlethwaite. English actress Rachel Hurd-Wood is quite good in a key role in the story, and it’s also got Max Von Sydow in a brief supporting role.

If you haven’t seen this yet, it’s definitely worth a rent.


DANCING ON THE EDGE miniseries (2013)

DancingOntheEdge2013

A black jazz band becomes entangled in the aristocratic world of 1930s London as they seek fame and fortune.

I’m glad Netflix added this recently. I think I heard about it when Jacqueline Bisset won a Golden Globe for her performance, but I kind of forgot about it. But really, with a cast of Chiwetel Ejiofor AND Matthew Goode, I knew I had to see it.

I’ve only seen two out of the six episodes and I love it so far. The 30s jazz music is fantastic, but I like the glamor of the British aristocracy of that era and the mystery aspect of it that really sucks you in. There’s also the obvious racial issues given the Louis Lester Band is perhaps the first black band to ever perform for the British royal family. John Goodman has a key supporting role as an enigmatic American businessman, I can’t wait to see what he’s all about but he’s quite sinister.

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The set design and 30s costumes are beautiful to look at. It’s definitely an ear & eye candy + a gripping, historically-tinged story. Can’t wait to finish ’em all. If you’re looking for something to watch on Netflix streaming, can’t go wrong with this one.


CastingBy

This documentary focuses on the role of the casting director in movie making and particularly on Marion Dougherty. She began work in the late 1940s sending up and coming young actors to be cast in the then new medium of television. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the contribution on casting directors was recognized in film credits and even today there is no Oscar awarded for that role in filmmaking.

If you know me at all, you’ll know how much I’d love to be a casting manager. So naturally I find this documentary utterly fascinating. I talked about this briefly here, but somehow I just haven’t got around to seeing it. Casting is so crucial and can make & break a film, so people like Marion Dougherty is really an unsung hero in Hollywood.

CastingBy_MarionDougherty

Anyone who loves movies should check out this HBO documentary, as it shows how some of Hollywood legends like James Dean, Al Pacino, Robert Redford, etc. get their start. There are also stories about actors getting second chances after a not-so-memorable first start, most notably from Jon Voight and Jeff Bridges. Some of the people interviewed include directors the likes of Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Peter Bogdanovich. It also proves that Michael Eisner is a jerk, I mean he’d rather have Suzanne Sommers over Meryl Streep??! Mel Gibson was ready to drop out of Hollywood and raise organic vegetables and beef cattle before Dougherty suggested him to Richard Donner for Lethal Weapon. She also told Donner about Danny Glover… “He’s black, so what?” – Y’see, the part wasn’t written for a black actor, so obviously miss Dougherty was far more progressive than most Hollywood folks.

There’s no Academy Award category for casting director, and so in 1991, there was a campaign started by a bunch of actors to get her an honorary Oscar. Well, the fact that women mostly make up the job of casting, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that they’re overlooked in this male-dominated industry.

Thanks to filmmaker Tom Donahue for shining a light on this under-appreciated profession that’s so crucial in the filmmaking process. This documentary is available on Netflix Streaming, so definitely worth checking out!


Well, that’s my viewing recap. So what did YOU watch this weekend, anything good?

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35 thoughts on “Weekend Roundup: Solomon Kane, Dancing on the Edge miniseries + Casting By doc

  1. Well, the only thing I saw this weekend is Trafic by Jacques Tati and a short by Gaspar Noe that I don’t think I want to see again (I wouldn’t recommend this for this with epilepsy). I have seen Casting By…. who in their right fucking mind would choose a talentless, ugly bimbo like Suzanne Somers over someone as awesome as Meryl Streep?

    1. I’m curious about Trafic by Jacques Tati, but I don’t think Noe’s stuff is my cup of tea so will avoid that and his latest one that’s pretty controversial. Ahah yeah, the ‘Casting By’ doc shows what a jerk Michael Eisner is, my jaw was on the floor when I heard he wanted Suzanne over Meryl, wow!

  2. You know I still remember seeing a trailer for Solomon Kane in theater back in late 2009 or so, but somehow it never got a proper release date and suddently it’s on DVD. I might have to check it out.

    I’ll definitely give Marion Dougherty’s documentary a watch, I’ve seen her name as the casting director on so many films throughout the years. It’s definitely an underrated job title in Hollywood like film editors.

    1. Oops! I hit the post button before I finish writing. I finally watched THE MACHINE, you lend me the Bluray months ago! Ha ha. I enjoyed the movie quite a bit though, it obviously had that Blade Runner influence and also some of John Carpenter’s earlier work. I think what kept it from being great is that the script needed to flesh out a bit more. It felt to me like the filmmakers needed to make the film fast or else they’d lose their funding or something. The last half hour sort of fell apart. I did like the concept of teaching a machine to become more human, something CHAPPIE totally screwed up on.

      1. Hey, glad you saw The Machine! The influence of Blade Runner is very apparent, but it still has its own style. I LOVE that scene of her dancing when all her organs sort of lit up from the inside, and all the quiet moments between him & Toby’s character. But you’re right, the third act fell apart as it descend into an action extravaganza that seems detached from the overall tone of the film. But yeah I totally think this is eons better than Chappie.

    2. Hi Ted! I’m sure Becky would be happy to lend you her DVD. I’d think it’d look great on Bluray too. It’s really too bad that it didn’t do well as there’s an emotional story and a compelling protagonist, and the set pieces & action looks properly gritty.

      You’d really enjoy that Casting By doc, esp given what your site is about. It’s very eye-opening and fascinating for film lovers.

    3. Hey Ted, I had the DVD in my Netflix “Saved” queue for THREE years! I could hardly believe it when it finally moved up to ready-to-watch. After seeing it from Netflix, it took me only one minute to order my own DVD. Feel free to borrow, just let me know.

  3. PrairieGirl

    Hey Flixy, so glad you finally got to see Soloman Kane (I know I bugged you long enough until you relented ;-), but no apologies here), and hoping some day someone will WAKE UP and finally make and market the trilogy. JP is stunning here and there’s a perfect balance between the story, the characters, and the setting… all work together perfectly.
    Have the first two episodes of Dancing on the Edge and Casting By now in my queue.

    1. Sorry it took me so long! But seeing it w/ you made it so much more enjoyable 😀 Yeah I hope one day they’d complete the trilogy, better hurry before JP gets too old though.

      I think you’d really enjoy Dancing on the Edge and Casting By!

  4. Casting By sounds interesting – I’ll look out for that. I watched Leviathan on Friday afternoon and Wet Hot American Summer on Sunday evening, but didn’t get to the cinema unfortunately.

    1. Hi Stu! I didn’t get to the cinema either, but there are plenty on Netflix, thankfully. You should absolutely see Casting By, it’s a must-see for cinephiles really.

    1. Hi Keith! Yes Mr Postlethwaite is very good here, he has a key role. But James Purefoy is the star and he’s superb. There’s a spirituality element that I think you’d appreciate Keith.

  5. Re: casting directors + Oscars.

    I tend to think the reason this hasn’t been vociferously tackled by the Academy is that largely (not always, mind) the casting is predominantly a business decision rather than a creative one. Naturally, studios want to hire the biggest star they can for the buck they want to spend, so a bunch of names are thrown about by everyone (including the director) and the CD has to go out and find one of those to make the movie. While some directors have the luxury of getting who they want (Spielberg, for example) through sheer legacy status, not every filmmaker can do so – they’re at the mercy of their budget and possibly studio mandate. Which means it’s less “creative” than it is “commercial” an aspect of filmmaking.

    That’s not to say I think this is a good thing, I think it’s just the lay of the land and something unlikely to change anytime soon.

    I guess it comes down to this: how do you judge a decision to cast Ryan Gosling in a movie over, say, Zac Efron? If it’s down to an actor’s asking price, are they not automatically removing creative ability from the decision making process, and turning it into a commercial one?

    1. Hi Rodney, you made an excellent point. I think that’s why there are some directors who are totally opposed to the idea of honoring casting directors. But I think in the case of Marion though, I don’t think it’s egregious at all for some fimmakers in the industry to want to honor her somehow, as she played a key role in making a film great and some of her actor discoveries have gone to becoming acting legends. I do think that is the lay of the land as you said, and Hollywood is an industry that seems to be very resistant to change :\

  6. Never heard of Dancing on the Edge before,but then again im not quite in love with the period piece genre as you are 😛 also the casting doc sounds like it could be interesting.

    As for this weekend i watched Kids. I don’t think it would be your cup of tea,but i found it…interesting. It had a couple of big actors just starting out like Rosario Dawson.

    Also sorry for not commenting in a while. My blog kind started to get away from me as other things started to pile up,so yeah.

    1. Hi Julian! Oh I’ve heard about KIDS, but yeah even though I like Rosario Dawson, it doesn’t sound like my cup of tea.

      I think you might enjoy SOLOMON KANE, it’s got a pretty good story on top of the great visuals.

    1. Goode is sooo gorgeous in this movie! That sex scene in the 2nd episode is kinda ummm, lackluster though, I mean they kept on talking whilst doing it. Sheesh I was like, shut up girl, close your eyes and enjoy!! 😉

  7. Tom

    Wow, I really need to see ‘Casting By.’ And now that you mention it, I’m really quite surprised there is no Casting recognition by the Academy. I mean, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but given how crucial that process is, and like you say, films sometimes wouldn’t be what they are without those people’s diligent work. Thanks for putting that on my radar.

  8. Getting to this one a little late! Still trying to find the time to get to my blog! Solomon Kane, hmmmm, remember that one being pretty bad; not even the mighty James Purefoy could save it…

  9. I completely forgot about Casting By – MUST watch that! Dancing on the Edge also looks interesting, but I think I’ll skip Solomon Kane.

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