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Now in our eighth calendar year!
PCR #391 (Vol. 8, No. 38) This edition is for the week of September 17--23, 2007.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"3:10 to Yuma"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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The Tampa Film Review for September  by Nolan Canova and Chris Woods
"3:10 to Yuma"  by Mike Smith
Rant by Chuck Palahniuk  by Lisa Ciurro
Reviewing a Reviewer: The Story Behind Bob Ross  by Paul Guzzo
Loose In Las Vegas: Ray Steckler Update  by ED Tucker
Movie Premiere: Secrets of a Medicine Man Documentary  by Andy Lalino
Ocean's 14 .... Barry Bonds .... Sid Won't be There .... No Shadow Puppets This Year .... She Was So Drunk (How Drunk Was She?) .... Bond. James Bond .... Whatever Happened To -- ? Chapter 28: George Dzundza  by Mike Smith
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Starring: Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Ben Foster and Peter Fonda
Directed by: James Mangold
Rated: R
Running Time: 1 hour 57 mins

A NOTE TO THE READERS: Normally, a film is screened for critics a few days before opening so they can compose their reviews before the film hits the local multiplex. My plan this week was to review the new Tommy Lee Jones drama "In the Valley of Elah," which has gotten rave review in limited release. On the day of the critics screening the film company moved the location of the screening but neglected to tell the critics. Nothing worse then an angry mob of movie geeks with nothing to watch.

Also, I would like to use this space to make mention of the passing of an actor that you may have never heard of but most certainly heard. Percy Rodrigues, who was THE voice on movie coming attractions from the early 70s through the mid 80s, passed away last week at the age of 83 from kidney failure. I can honestly say that Mr. Rodrigues was truly THE voice of my youth. Sadly that voice has been silenced.

It's late at night and the cattle are restless. Suddenly, the barn on Dan Evans' property bursts into flames. Hurrying to save his horses, Evans (Bale) doesn't notice his cattle running away from the blaze. Morning finds he and his sons William (Logan Lerman and Benjamin Petry) attempting to round up the herd. The stumble across a stage coach robbery in progress. The robbers have used Evans' cattle to stop the stage. Almost apologeticly, the gang's leader, Ben Wade (Crowe) allows Dan and the boys to go about their business. The bad guys draw the local marshall and his posse' out of town, then proceed to celebrate. However, Ben overstays his welcome and is captured. The Pinkerton Agency hire five men, including Dan, to transport Ben to the town of Contention, where he will be put on the 3:10 stage to Yuma Prison. Sounds pretty easy, doesn't it?

Based on a short story by Elmore Leonard as well as the 1957 Glenn Ford/Van Heflin film of the same name, "3:10 to Yuma" is a fine return to an almost lost genre', the western. The characters here, like those in Leonard's story, are finely layered and true to life. Evans is a man trying to eek out a living. Having lost part of his leg during the Civil War, Evans limps his way through life accepting each defeat dealt to him. A once proud man, he longs for the day his wife and children will once again look at him with admiration. As played by Bale, Evans' intensity is allowed to slowly burn through his quiet facade, until the man he once was returns. Wade is just the opposite. Smiling and polite, Wade has never lost his confidence and his manner conveys this. Ever the talker, he has a charm that takes in all he comes in contact with. Both actors are at the top of their game here as are the rest of the cast. As Evans' older son, Lerman (who bears a strong resemblence to the young Christian Slater) is anxious to do what he doesn't think his father can, as if challenging him to regain his manhood. Foster plays Charlie Prince, Wade's right hand man who appears to have more then a little crush on the boss. Fonda is a grizzled Pinkerton agent while Alan Tudyk has fun as the town veterinarian drafted into service to escort Wade. And, for those looking for a small "Mystery, Alaska" reunion, Kevin "Tree" Durand does his best to antagonize Wade on the way to prison.

The scenery is beautiful and the period detail perfect. Director Mangold ("Copland") showed an eye for capturing the past with the Johnny Cash bio "Walk the Line," and here he ensures that everything from the local stores to the town hitching posts feel genuine. But it is Crowe and Bale who you pay your money to see and the two stars do not disappoint. On a scale of zero to four stars I give "3:10 to Yuma" ***1/2.

This week's movie review of "3:10 to Yuma" is ©2007 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2007, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.