The Black Rod

The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have since 2005, adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

American Outlaws, The Antichrist and a Hot Babe

Woof. Woof.

It's a sure bet that when a movie sits on the shelf for two years after its been shot it's a dog. Think Big White. Think direct-to-video.

Think about 300---the 300 extras in the Winnipeg scenes of the Brad Pitt movie THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD. They thought they had a piece of the big time when they filmed their scenes way, way back in 2005, only to see the release of the movie delayed once, delayed twice, and delayed to some time in the future.

Well, we've got news for you Extras.

Put the champagne on ice.

An apparently re-cut version or versions of the movie are being test screened across the U.S. and the reactions are spectacular. There's more buzz for "Jesse James" than all the skeeters in The Peg put together.

Ain't It Cool News has heard the buzz and is saying "it sounds like people are really flipping for what they're seeing. I've been hearing fantastic buzz about Casey Affleck's work for a while now. Could this be one of 2007's heavy hitters?"

ACTIONMAN posted an early review on Ain't It Cool. Here are some excerpts.

Last night I caught an advanced screening of THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD (from here on referred to as JESSE JAMES for the purposes of fast typing) here at the Grove in Los Angeles.

This film is a masterwork. It's the closest thing to a Terrence Malick movie that Terrence Malick never directed.

I hesitate to call JESSE JAMES a "western"....I mean, it's certainly not a "Western" like the recent OPEN RANGE, THE MISSING, or UNFORGIVEN. It's essentially a psychological study of a murder, and a murderer, and it doesn't play to many of the more cliche Western conventions that we've seen over and over again.

Casey Affleck plays Robert Ford, and is absolutely amazing in the role. The supporting cast is aces across the board, with Sam Rockwell registering best as Ford's brother. This guy is so damn good it's a crime he doesn't get enough attention. Sam Shepard, Mary Louise Parker, and slew of excellent character actors round out the cast. But the movie belongs to Casey Affleck. He's just riveting all throughout.

It's a tone poem of sorts about a gritty, dark period in American history. It feels extremely intimate yet very epic at times, due in large part to the stunning cinematography by Roger Deakins (FARGO, JARHEAD, O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU?)

It's just glorious. Every shot is perfect. No joke. . It's essentially an art film set in the old west.

But here's the deal---I doubt you'll all get to see this version of the movie. I got the sense (maybe from the dozen or so walk-outs, mostly female) that this movie is going to get trimmed and cut and unnecessarily messed with.

There was absolutely nothing I didn't love about this movie, and I could only hope that 10 movies of this caliber would get released every year.

The review was so glowing, in fact, that readers were suspicious.

by Greg7007 Feb 28th, 2007
07:03:00 AM I hope I'm proved wrong and am incorrect, but this review could be a plant, as the film was supposed to come out in September last year, but didn't because Warner Bros were extremely unhappy with the result, took the film off Aussie director Andrew Dominik and have recut it themselves. I've never known people to be thrilled at a studio re-edit of a film, rather than a director's own one.

But Actionman wasn't alone.

Ed Havens of> had this take.

Jesse James is a near-perfect movie,There were a few walkouts at the screening I went to last night, people probably frustrated with the exacting pace of the film (note I didn't say slow or boring, which Jesse James is most certainly not), but this film deserves to be at the top of the list for anyone's consideration.

Joe Carnahan, the director of Narc and Smokin' Aces also saw a sneak preview and blogged about it.

It's so close to being a full-fledged masterpiece, it literally had me sitting there,saying things like 'Where the hell has Casey Affleck been?' He's a LOCK for some sort of major acting nod. Be it Globe, Oscar, something. Nobody comes out of this movie without viewing that guy in whole other light. Mindblowing. I'm not bullshi*ting you guys. He's that good.

And Brad Pitt has never been better in a film. He too, should be lauded for what he accomplishes with that role. The guy projects a menace I've never seen and goes very, VERY deep.We throw words around like 'brilliant' and attach greatness to things that in the end don't really deserve that level of praise...This one DOES.

I'm hoping Warner Brothers understands what this film can be and allows Andrew's cut to see the light of day. At nearly three hours it's something of such sublime, elegaic beauty and vicious intent, that I don't think we'll see a film like it for a long time to come.

One of his readers also saw the sneak:

I went to a test screening of this film in Pasadena a few months ago and completely agree. Affleck is amazing in this film and Pitt keeps getting better with age. Sam Rockwell and Mary-Louise Parker are also great in the film.

Very little dialogue is spoken by Pitt and when the violence is unleashed, it is brutal and real. I think the cut we saw was easily three hours. What was the exact running time on the cut you saw Joe?

A little known fact is that Ron Hansen, the author of the book on which the movie is based, was apparently in Winnipeg as one of those 300 extras. Here's a portion of a story he wrote about the filming of the movie:

Santa Clara Magazine, Fall 2006
Assasination(sic) of Jesse James: Book into the movie (By Ron Hansen)

"Alberta, Canada's woodlands, prairies, the mountains near Banff, and the old-town streets of Winnipeg provide settings that look far more like 1880's Missouri, eastern cities, and Bob Ford's final home in Creede, Colorado than the authentic locations do today. Walking through the sets I marveled at the details, with "Thomas Howard's" house at 1318 Lafayette Street in St. Joseph reconstructed exactly according to the architectural blueprint and furnished with real antiques from the period.
I had a job as an extra one Wednesday afternoon - I played, without flourish, a journalist - and was costumed in some long dead man's actual nineteenth-century frock coat and stiffly-collared shirt and carefully brushed, black bowler hat. The honor that the whole production - cast, crew, and studio - is paying to this fragment of America's history is gratifying to the author, of course, but more importantly it is doing justice to the named and the nameless who lived in the turbulence and violence of the post-Civil War Reconstruction and against all odds settled a disorderly frontier."


The movie The Horsemen starring Dennis Quaid and Zhang Ziyi finished shooting in Winnipeg this month.
The plot roughly relates to the coming of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the harbingers of the Antichrist.
If you were wondering where you go to shoot the end of the world, here's the location list the filmmakers used:

Bell Hotel, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Central Park, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Edmonton Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Kennedy Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Qu'appelle Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Sargent Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

And from the blink-and-you-miss-it file:

They shot scenes for the big-budget movie Whiteout in and around Eriksdale for two weeks (march 5-18) and nobody has posted any pix of star Kate Beckinsale.

If you don't want to wait for the movie to come, you can go online and read the graphic novel it's based on:

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