Fantastic Fest 2011: “Let the Bullets Fly,” reviewed

Fantastic Fest 2011: “Let the Bullets Fly,” reviewed (photo)

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“Let the Bullets Fly” is funny, exciting, and at 132 minutes, a half an hour too long. It’s like that guy you knew in college who told told really great stories but got so wrapped up in his own awesomeness as a storyteller that he never knew when to shut up. “Let the Bullets Fly” is a great little movie inside a weaker bigger movie.

It’s still a lot of fun. Almost every character in the film has more than one identity and there are multiple layers of deception going in every scene. Writer/director Jiang Wen stars as “Pocky” Zhang a legendary bandit in 1920s China pretending to be the Governor in order to rob from the rich and give to the guy pretending to be the Governor. He’s assisted by Tang (Ge You), the actual Governor whose train is hijacked and wrecked by Pocky in the film’s pre-credits sequence. When he’s found in the wreckage, Tang pretends to be the Governor’s assistant so Pocky won’t kill him. They both arrive in Goose Town, where they get into a turf war with local crime boss Master Huang (Chow Yun Fat), who uses body doubles to to confuse his enemies (Chow is clearly having the time of his life playing the two Huangs, one deadly serious the other a goofy bastard). Pocky and Huang both want control of Goose Town. That sparks an epic battle of wills and artillery. Lots and lots of artillery.

Wen does a nice job of balancing comedy, drama, and action, but the comic scenes are the best. Tang’s wife survives the train crash as well, but she doesn’t hide her identity like her husband. That means she has to keep playing the Governor’s wife for Pocky, even sleeping with him in order to keep up appearances. Tang, as you might imagine, is not pleased. Later, after Pocky and Tang have started to bond, the two share a heart-to-heart on a hillside. Pocky opens up and tells Tang about his past, and how he came to be such a notorious thief. Moved by his honesty, Tang begins to share his own history. “Stop talking,” Pocky interrupts. “I don’t care.” The film has some big emotional beats, but it never takes its tongue out of its proverbial cheek.

True to its title, “Let the Bullets Fly” is all about speed. Pocky and Tang banter back and forth like Russell and Grant in “His Girl Friday.” In the shootouts, the gangsters fire their guns so fast you’d swear they were shooting machine guns. Maybe that’s why “Bullets”‘ length feels so overbearing. Individual scenes chug along at a rat-a-tat pace but the movie as a whole runs out of steam around the 90 minute mark. There’s only so many gotcha plot twists a movie needs or an audience can take. Let the bullets fly, then at some point, let the bullets land.

“Let the Bullets Fly” is tentatively scheduled for an early 2012 release from Well Go USA. If you see it at Fantastic Fest, let us know what you think. Leave us a message in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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Draught Pick

Sam Adams “Keeps It Brockmire”

All New Brockmire airs Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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From baseball to beer, Jim Brockmire calls ’em like he sees ’em.


It’s no wonder at all, then, that Sam Adams would reach out to Brockmire to be their shockingly-honest (and inevitably short-term) new spokesperson. Unscripted and unrestrained, he’ll talk straight about Sam—and we’ll take his word. Check out this new testimonial for proof:

See more Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC, presented by Samuel Adams. Good f***** beer.

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