Posts Tagged ‘Cowboys & Aliens’

Jon Favreau says ‘Chef’ has all the cinematic excitement of Iron man

chefBy Richard Crouse – Metro Canada

The director who used elaborate special effects to make Iron Man soar through the night sky and a spaceship land in the Wild West says, “there is nothing more cinematic and exciting than watching food be prepared.”

Jon Favreau, helmer of blockbusters like Iron Man 1 and 2 and Cowboys & Aliens, adds, “Modestly budgeted films like Eat Drink Man Woman or Jiro Dreams of Sushi are as compelling as any big budgeted Hollywood movie.”

In his new film Chef (which he wrote, directed, produced and stars in), Favreau plays Carl Casper, a chef set on a new culinary path after an influential food critic gives his restaurant a savage review.

The nugget of inspiration for the movie came two decades ago when Swingers, another film Favreau wrote and starred in, became a hit.

“The Big Night came out the year Swingers did,” he says, “and I remember seeing that film and feeling like they had really accomplished so much. With Swingers we had certain modest accomplishments. I was satisfied with it, but Big Night felt like a movie and felt like they had captured something larger.

“Maybe that was in the back of my head for the last 20 years. There was an envy that I had of what they were able to accomplish with the music, the culture, the performances, the food and how delightful it was. So I finally got to make my food movie.”

In those 20 years, Favreau has been in the Hollywood trenches as a producer, director, actor and writer and is quick to note the similarities and differences between the story of Chef and his real-life work in the movie business.

“The archetypes of the players on the stage in the food world and the movie world are very similar,” he says.

“The stakes are a bit higher in the food world, which is why it is dramatically appealing. One bad review can shut you down. Right now, the way reviews work in movies is that you’re reading 90 reviews. It’s all on Rotten Tomatoes, a compilation of numbers and you don’t really have that personal relationship with a specific critic as you do in the theatre world or the food world. In the food world you are eye-to-eye with that critic and you are eye-to-eye with the customer and when that food gets sent back to the kitchen you are looking at that plate. It’s a lot different.”

Favreau’s next film is a live-action remake of The Jungle Book, but he says he’ll likely flip-flop between big- and small-budget films in future.

“If I knew I could come up with a small story that I’d be excited about, next year I’d do this again but honestly, it hasn’t been since Swingers that I’ve been able to sit down and write something so fully formed so quickly.

“I somewhat envy the filmmakers who can come up with a small story each year because this was the best experience I’ve ever had.”


cowboys-and-aliens“Cowboys & Aliens,” the latest movie from “Iron Man” director Jon Favreau, is the kind of sci-fi film John Ford might have made, or maybe the kind of story H.G. Wells would have told if he wrote a western. There’s great scenery shots, lots of galloping horses, chiselled jaws, majestic vistas and yes, giant mysterious aliens.

Based on a 2006 graphic novel of the same name “Cowboys & Aliens” is set in the Old West in 1873. Daniel Craig plays a classic western character — Jake Lonergan, a stranger in town — with a twist. Waking up in the desert, he’s a stranger to everyone, including himself — his memory has been wiped clean. Odder still, a mysterious metal bracelet around his wrist. In the nearby town of Absolution, New Mexico he begins to find some clues as to his past courtesy of Colonel Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford), the settlement’s most prominent citizen. Their inevitable showdown is sidelined by what may be a cowboy movie first — an alien invasion. Soon the stranger starts to regain his memory and his wrist jewellery reveals its real purpose.

You should know going in that the ratio of cowboys to aliens is about 10 to 1. If I had to categorize this movie I’d call it a western sci fi rather than a sci fi western. It’s splitting hairs I know, but the onus here is on the horse opera. And Favreau and cast pull it off. Until giant spaceships swoop in, pulling awestruck citizens into their metal bosoms, the movie plays as a credible western.

Even when the alien craft first appears, the reactions of the town folk feel real. They’re obviously stunned, and decide that these creatures must be what demons look like. It’s an old testament via the old west explanation for something they don’t understand and it works well. So does Daniel Craig and an increasingly craggily faced Harrison Ford. Craig brings an interesting edge to the stereotypical stranger role and Ford gives the movie some old school heroics.

“Cowboys and Aliens” gets a little flabby in the middle — unlike its buff leading man — and takes a bit too long to get to the extraterrestrials, but has
enough Wowee moments to fill a ten gallon hat.

Taking the western to outer space In Focus by Richard Crouse METRO CANADA Published: July 27, 2011

Cowboys-and-Aliens-006When we think of westerns, images of cowboy hats, stagecoaches and John Wayne usually come to mind. I say usually because while those may be the most common icons associated with the genre they’re not the only ones.

This weekend, Cowboys & Aliens adds spaceships, extraterrestrials and laser guns to the existing formula. To research the movie’s western half, director Jon Favreau watched classic movies like Stagecoach and Destry Rides Again. Then he spent time with Alien, Predator, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind to find the sci-fi feel he was after.

“If you do it right,” he said of the film, “it honours both, and it becomes interesting and clever and a reinvention of two things that people understand.”

So call it a spacetern or neo-western if you like, but it isn’t the first movie to mix and match sci-fi with horse opera.

Michael Crichton wrote and directed Westworld after a trip to Disneyland. The Pirates of the Caribbean ride inspired him to imagine an amusement park where vacationers pay $1,000 a day to interact with robots programmed to replicate life in different periods of history. When a computer malfunction sends Yul Brynner’s black-hatted cyborg gunslinger (the actor wears the same costume he wore in The Magnificent Seven) on an animatronic rampage through the western theme park the old west becomes a place of high tech terror.

Sci-fi westerns aren’t always set on Earth, however.

The animated feature Bravestarr: The Legend sets the action on the planet of New Texas, located 1,956 light-years from Earth. Bashing together the best bits of Star Wars and traditional oater plots, the movie features cool western space toys like rocket scooters with fairings shaped like horses’ heads and a villain named Tex Hex. When Hex invades New Texas the town must get a new lawman. Enter Galactic Marshall Bravestarr. “We needed a hundred lawmen to tame New Texas,” reads the film’s tagline. “We got one. You know something? He was enough.”

Outland, the 1981 Sean Connery space thriller isn’t exactly a sci-fi western, but it is based on one of the most famous cowboy movies of all time, High Noon. A critic for the Boston Globe wrote, “Outland marks the return of the classic western hero in a space helmet,” and noted that its themes of loyalty and betrayal echoed High Noon.