Archive for the ‘Clint Eastwood’ Category

Meg’s 11 Favorite Westerns

January 6, 2011

After a bit of a discussion about True Grit over on my Facebook page today, a friend asked if I’d make a list of my favorite Western movies so he could see which ones he might’ve missed.  At first, I thought that would be impossible (how could I pick favorites when there are so many great Westerns out there?), yet somehow I managed to do it anyway.

I aimed for a list of ten, but had to bump it up to eleven or else risk omitting something important like Tombstone.  Untenable!

These are in no particular order, mind you.  And if I missed any of your favorites, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

1.  Shane (1953) — Alan Ladd plays a weary gunfighter who tries to settle into a normal, peaceful life with a homestead family, but gets sucked back into the game when a cattleman picks a fight.  Ain’t that always the way? [netflix it]

2.  The Magnificent Seven (1960) — Funny, clever, and featuring an absolutely awesome cast (Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn!). I’ve practically got the entire script memorized and I’d guess I’ve probably watched it an average of once a year since I was about 12; it only gets better with every viewing.  [netflix it]

3.  The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966) — Another childhood favorite (Sergio Leone spaghetti Western!), this movie combines the Old West with the Civil War and features three characters tangled up in a messy treasure hunt.  The Ennio Morricone score from this film alone — the main theme from which is my cell phone ring tone, by the way — is iconic.  And you can’t beat the combination of Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, and Lee Van Cleef.  Oh ho, no you cannot, sir.  Classic.  [netflix it]

4.  The Wild Bunch (1968) — This is Sam Peckinpah’s infamously violent Western starring William Holden and Ernest Borgnine, about an aging outlaw out looking for one last big score who instead ends up on the run from a very unfriendly posse.  It’s as brutal as everyone says, but worth a gander for the interesting look at not just the end of one gunfighter’s career, but the end of the entire “Western” era, as technological advances like cars and pump-action shotguns move in to replace the ol’ horseback-into-the-sunset gunfighter.  (For more Peckinpah Westerns, I also recommend Ride the High Country, by the way.)   [netflix it]

5.  High Plains Drifter (1972) — I actually wanted to go with Two Mules for Sister Sara here, because if I’m going to pick a favorite non-spaghetti Clint Eastwood Western that isn’t Unforgiven, I confess to a real soft-spot for that one, in no small part because Shirley MacLaine is the schizznit in it.  But High Plains Drifter is definitely the better film, so there you go.  It’s about a gunfighter who rides into a mining town and throws the whole place for a loop.  [netflix it]

6. Unforgiven (1992) — Duh.  I mean, honestly.  [netflix it]

7.  Man of the West (1958) — Gotta have at least one Gary Cooper movie on here, so I’m going with this one, which features Coops as downtrodden outlaw Linc Jones, who gets thrown from a train in the first act, losing all his money in the process, and decides it’s time to reform.  I’ve never had the heart to tell him this rarely seems to work out for men of his character.  Cue bank heist.  [netflix it]

8.  Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid (1969) — Closest to a comedy out of all the Westerns on my list, this is a movie even people who hate Westerns probably can’t resist the charms of.  Beautifully made, brilliantly acted (Paul Newman and Robert Redford, not to mention Katherine Ross, who has always reminded me of my mother, and a ridiculously young Donnelly Rhodes), and absolutely laugh-out-loud funny at times, this is another one my father introduced me to as a kid, and thank god for it.  [netflix it]

9. The Man from Laramie (1955) — This one stars Jimmy Stewart as a guy obsessed with finding the killer of his brother, a US Cavalryman murdered by a group of Apaches wielding repeating rifles.  (It’s not the Apaches he’s after, by the way, but instead the dude who sold them the guns.)  There are several Anthony Mann/Jimmy Stewart Westerns out there, and I like them all, but this one’s my favorite.  It’s beautifully filmed — lots of sweeping landscape shots — and has a lot of emotional heft to it as well. [netflix it]

10.  The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) — I’m not a huge John Wayne fan, as I’ve mentioned before, but it’s hard to resist this one, in no small part because it also stars Jimmy Stewart and Lee Marvin.  It’s about a senator recounting the story of the time he saved a town from an evil-doer named Liberty Valance (played by the ever-awesome Marvin).  The only problem is, he’s recounting it to a reporter who doesn’t believe him.  Oh, it’s much more complicated than that.  Rent it and see. [netflix it]

11.  Tombstone (1993) — Sure, it’s got some flaws, but the dialogue is infinitely quotable, Val Kilmer’s the best big-screen Doc Holliday ever (don’t bother trying to argue with  me on that point — I’ll never come around to your position), and it’s just plain FUN.  My nickname in college was “Huckleberry” and it stemmed in large part from my open, avid affection for this flick.  I could watch Tombstone every day for the rest of my life and never get tired of it.  How’s that for a recommendation?  [netflix it]

This is probably a boring list to any Western fan, I’m now realizing — these are all really obvious choices.  But I figured I at least had to start with the favorites that are great, right?  There are some admittedly-not-brilliant Westerns that I have a real fondness for, though, including James Garner’s Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971), and Jane Fonda’s Cat Ballou (1965, starring a delightfully crotchety and perpetually drunk  Lee Marvin — have I mentioned that I LOVE LEE MARVIN?  Because I totally love Lee Marvin).

And I also almost put Paul Newman’s Hud on here, but I’m not sure if it qualifies as a Western?  I suppose it does.  Larry McMurtry, after all.  If we’re going to blur the line there slightly (most of these others are gunfighter Westerns, I’m noticing), let’s also add supreme guilty pleasure The Last of the Mohicans, starring Daniel Day Lewis and a lot of untamed spirit and hair.  Mrrowl.

Also, for the record, no fan of the genre should miss season one of HBO’s Deadwood, either.  (You can skip the other seasons, if you want, but not the first one.  If only for the expansion of your knowledge of cuss words.)

Okay, my friends — What did I miss?  Let me have it!

The Trip List — Movie Quote Hall of Fame

February 10, 2010

Regular readers of this blog are probably familiar by now with commenter Trip and “quote wars,” a game he and I and the rest of you wackos often derail comment threads into (so not a stickler here for making sure comments stay on topic — topic schmopic, I say on that).

A few weeks back, a couple of us asked Trip for a list of his favorite movie lines, in part to better prep us for future wars (hey, that was my motive, at least), and at long, long last, the Trip List appears in print!  (Along with a graphic drawn by ME PERSONALLY, featuring a favorite line from the movie Airplane.  And yes, I won’t quit my day job and go into art, no worries, ya jerks.)

Here’s Trip’s intro:

Well, I’m really only brushing the surface here, and I’d probably face-palm at the mention of a few others I *should have* included here, nevertheless here’s a first list of quotes I like, which were more instantly memorable to me, and which I’ve used fairly regularly over the years on friends and co-workers alike…

And my follow-up intro is that if he missed any of your favorites, you know what to do, y’all.  Hit it!  (And oh, I know you will.  I know I will.  I know we all will.  We cool like that.)

Enjoy (and thanks for all the hard work, Trip!)!

THE TRIP LIST v.1.0 (edited to add the occasional self-serving link to a Boyfriend write-up or movie review where relevant, which was clearly not nearly as often as it should’ve been — I haven’t featured Bill Murray yet?  What the what?)

  • “I came here to kick ass and chew bubble gum…and I’m all out of bubble gum.” – George Nada (Roddy Piper), They Live
  • “We are the music makers…and we are the dreamers of dreams.” – Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder), Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
  • “Your father was captain of a starship for twelve minutes. He saved eight hundred lives, including your mother’s. And yours. I dare you to do better.” – Capt. Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood), Star Trek (2009)
  • “All right you primitive screwheads, listen up! You see this? This… is my boomstick!” – Ash (Bruce Campbell), Army of Darkness
  • “Gimme some sugar, baby.” – Ash (Bruce Campbell), Army of Darkness
  • “Bitch…you don’t have a future.” – Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman), Kill Bill Pt. 2
  • “Tell me of your homeworld, Usul.” – Chani (Sean Young), Dune
  • “You need to be kissed, and often, and by someone who knows how!” – Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), Gone with the Wind
  • “No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die!” – Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe), Goldfinger
  • “Until at last, I threw down my enemy and smote his ruin upon the mountainside.” – Gandalf (Ian McKellen), Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  • “Dang! You got shocks, pegs…lucky!” – Napoleon (Jon Heder), Napoleon Dynamite
  • “Usul, we have wormsign the likes of which even God has never seen.” – Stilgar (Everett McGill), Dune
  • “My name is a killing word.” – Paul Atreides (Kyle McLaughlin), Dune
  • “Brandy! Throw more brandy!” – Prince Hapnick (Jack Lemmon), The Great Race
  • “I crap bigger than you.” Curly (Jack Palance), City Slickers
  • “I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.” – Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), Aliens
  • “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.” – Clemenza (Richard Castellano), The Godfather
  • “I like them French fried potaters.” – Karl (Billy Bob Thornton), Sling Blade
  • “Let’s show this prehistoric bitch how we do things downtown!” – Dr. Pete Venkman (Bill Murray), Ghostbusters
  • “Game over, man, game over!” Private Hudson (Bill Paxton), Aliens
  • “Well that’s great, that’s just fuckin’ great, man. Now what the fuck are we supposed to do? We’re in some real pretty shit now man…” Pvt. Hudson (Bill Paxton), Aliens
  • “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here, this is the War Room!” – President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers), Dr. Strangelove
  • “It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses.” – Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd), The Blues Brothers
  • “If you’d have fought one whit below your abilities, I’d have given you a good scar to remind you.”  – Gurney Halleck (Patrick Stewart), Dune
  • “Only I didn’t say ‘Fudge.’ I said THE word, the big one, the queen-mother of dirty words, the ‘F-dash-dash-dash’ word!” – Ralphie narrating as adult (Jean Shepherd), A Christmas Story
  • “Only one thing in the world could’ve dragged me away from the soft glow of electric sex gleaming in the window.” – Ralphie narrating as adult (Jean Shepherd), A Christmas Story
  • “Well, I’m a mushroom-cloud-layin’ motherfucker, motherfucker! Every time my fingers touch brain, I’m Superfly T.N.T., I’m the Guns of the Navarone!” – Jules (Samuel L. Jackson), Pulp Fiction
  • “Well, that’s a huge noggin. That’s a virtual planetoid!” – Stuart Mackenzie (Mike Myers), So I Married an Axe Murderer
  • “I’m not kidding, that boy’s head is like Sputnik; spherical but quite pointy at parts! Now that was offside, wasn’t it? He’ll be crying himself to sleep tonight, on his huge pillow.”  – Stuart Mackenzie (Mike Myers), So I Married an Axe Murderer
  • “The fact that you’ve got ‘replica’ written down the side of your guns…and the fact that I’ve got ‘Desert Eagle .50’ written down the side of mine…should precipitate your balls into shrinking, along with your presence. Now…fuck off!” – Bullet Tooth Tony (Vinnie Jones), Snatch
  • “Well, he should have armed himself if he’s going to decorate his saloon with my friend.” – William Munny (Clint Eastwood), Unforgiven
  • “I’d like to think that the last thing that went through his head, other than that bullet, was to wonder how the hell Andy Dufresne ever got the best of him.” – Red narrating (Morgan Freeman), The Shawshank Redemption
  • “Ha ha! You didn’t count on my loyal army of prostitutes, did you?” – Mitch (Norm MacDonald), Dirty Work
  • “You will learn a system of self-defense that I learned after two seasons of fighting in the octagon.” – Rex (Diedrich Bader), Napoleon Dynamite
  • “I ain’t got time to bleed!” – Blain (Jesse Ventura), Predator
  • “The light that burns twice as bright burns for half as long – and you have burned so very, very brightly, Roy.” – Tyrell (Joe Turkel), Blade Runner
  • “Ray, when someone asks you if you’re a god, you say ‘YES!'” – Winston (Ernie Hudson), Ghostbusters
  • “Why worry? Each one of us is carrying an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back.” – Dr. Pete Venkman (Bill Murray), Ghostbusters
  • “Generally you don’t see that kind of behavior in a major appliance.” – Dr. Pete Venkman (Bill Murray), Ghostbusters
  • “I hate Illinois Nazis.” – Jake Blues (John Belushi), The Blues Brothers
  • “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Oswald was a fag.” – McManus (Stephen Baldwin), The Usual Suspects
  • “I like how you burritoed me in the sofa cushions.” – Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga), Up In the Air
  • “Mikey, why don’t you tell that nice girl you love her? I love you with all-a my heart, if I don’t see-a you again soon, I’m-a gonna die!”  – Clemenza (Richard Castellano), The Godfather
  • “Training is NOTHING. Will is EVERYTHING,” – Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson), Batman Begins

MOVIES: Five in 5-7-5

April 13, 2009

Okay, look, I’m way behind on movie reviews, and the reason I’m way behind on movie reviews is because I keep watching GOOD movies instead of BAD movies, and writing about good movies is kind of boring.  Once in a while, it can be fun.  But more than three in a row is, like, absolute torture.

To reset things a bit, I’m now going to review five decent-to-good movies for you using only haiku.  Then we can get back to the crappy movies, which are just a heck of a lot more entertaining to say stuff about.  (Tip: If you want a real plot description, click on the “Netflix me” link and you can find one there.)

The Changeling (2008)
Drama
Angelina Jolie (looking sad and red-lipsticked), Jeffrey Donovan (channeling Gabrielle Anwar’s really bad Irish accent from S1 of Burn Notice), John Malkovich (NOT playing a dick for a change).  Directed by ex-BoTW Clint Eastwood.

Based on a true tale —
I really wish it had been
A half-hour shorter.
[Netflix me]

Milk (2008)
Drama
Sean Penn (is amazing), James Franco (is skinny), Emile Hersch (is wearing the same glasses I had in 1983), Diego Luna (is going to break your heart), Josh Brolin (is really, really talented).

I cannot believe
We are still having these same
Damn rallies (we suck).
[Netflix me]

Doubt (2008)
Drama (based on play)
Phillip Seymour Hoffman (is creepy from scene one), Meryl Streep (is totally overrated in this), Amy Adams (is cute, but isn’t she kinda always?)

Everyone loved it.
I thought the acting was good
But the plot was meh.
[Netflix me]

Tell No One (2008)
Drama, Foreign (French with English subtitles, sorry, Lizzie)
Francois Cluzet (my God, it’s Bob from French Kiss!), Kristen Scott Thomas (speaks French sort of oddly, but is cute about it)

When this one ended
I thanked the screenwright aloud
For his new ending.
[Netflix me (available for Watch Now)]

The Secret Life of Bees (2008)
Drama
Dakota Fanning (tween), Queen Latifah (queen), Paul Bettany (mean)

Sure, it is cheesy.
Who cares, when it stars The Queen?
She is teh awesome.
[Netflix me]

BOOK: Resolution by Robert B. Parker

April 2, 2009

I’m not sure why I picked this book up, considering the fact I wasn’t that impressed with the first book in Parker’s Western series, Appaloosa, nor was I that impressed with the film version that came out last year (starring Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris).

The only way I can explain it is that I’ve been a fan of Robert B. Parker’s since I was a teenager, and, kind of like with the show ER, once I’ve invested over a decade in something — a TV show, an author, a convoluted procedure by which I consume a bag of M&Ms (don’t ask), it’s hard for me to let go.

In any case, as I’m sure you can tell, I wasn’t all that impressed by this second installment in the Hitch and Cole series either. In this one, Hitch has left partner Cole behind in Appaloosa, and been hired to “keep the peace” in the small town of Resolution. There’s a local guy who has been systematically taking control of everything in town, and the local farmers, keen to keep their land, eventually also enlist Hitch’s support in their cause. As those of us familiar with the character no doubt knew was coming, Cole shows up eventually, having finally come to his senses about flaky, flirty wife Allison. So, the team is back together again, uniting to save the town from the bad guy.

Here’s my problem — again, this is a storyline that I’ve encountered 86 gazillion times in the Western genre. I’m a big fan of that genre, so I know all these stories already, and Parker doesn’t seem capable of coming up with any new plotlines for this series. That would be fine, though, if the characters were unique and interesting. Here, they just aren’t. Watch Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven, and then watch Ed Harris again in Appaloosa, and I think you’ll see what I mean. And in written form, Hitch and Cole are no more interesting. They’re just flat, with a few little personality affects that are supposed to authenticate them, but just aren’t quite “on” enough to seem anything but forced.

Anyway, I hate to say it, but dude, I sincerely hope Parker ditches this series soon and returns to the characters we already know and love – characters that have remained dynamic and authentic for years and years. I actually MISS Spenser when I’m in between novels. When I finished Appaloosa or Resolution, I honestly never gave Hitch and Cole another thought. Meh. Done.

[WESTERN]

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MOVIE: 3:10 to Yuma (2007)

January 17, 2008

Before I get started on this one, I thought I should mention that I’m a HUGE fan of Westerns, and it’s really really hard to make one I absolutely can’t stand watching.  Some of the first movies I ever saw were Westerns, and I was practically raised on the Clint Eastwood/Sergio Leone spaghetties.  Though my list of “top ten favorite movies of all time” is constantly in flux, it always features the movie Tombstone somewhere in the ranking.  And I’ve probably seen The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly 96,000 times.  Give or take. 

Surprisingly enough, however, I’ve somehow managed to get through life without ever having seen the original 3:10 to Yuma(1957), starring Western staples Glenn Ford and Van Heflin (better known to me as Joe from Shane).  So, I may have liked this remake of Yuma as much as I did simply because I was judging it on its own merits instead of comparing it to the original.  In other words, your mileage may vary.

The new Yuma stars Christian Bale and Russell Crowe, and fans of my site know I’m not really a big fan of Bale’s.  I recognize fully — FULLY, I tell you! — that he’s an extremely talented actor.  However, there’s just something about his mouth and his American accent that really. . . makes me cringe.   I know — KNOW, I tell you! — that I’m the only person in the entire galaxy who feels this way about Christian Bale and, in particular, who feels this way about his American accent (which everybody else seems to think is spot-on, so it must be).  However, I can’t help it. I’m sorry.  I’ve tried really hard to love Christian Bale — for your sake — and it’s simply not happening.

(I’m sure someone will post in comments that this is because I’m either A) stupid or B) jealous of him (that one’s always MY favorite. . .). And to you folks, I’d like to say: by all means, go ahead and attempt to insult me into changing my mind.  See how far it gets ya.)

That said, I actually didn’t mind Bale too much in this.  He does a really good job with his role — obviously, since he’s a BRILLIANT ACTOR (I KNOW, I tell you!) — and I was fine once I figured out I could just not look at his mouth and that would solve a lot of my problems.  And Crowe — well, Crowe is just fantastic.  It was nice to see him in a role like this again, after recently having seen him so woefully miscast in A Good Year.

As you may or may not know, this movie is about a posse.  Bale plays farmer Dan Evans, who is struggling under a pile of debt and about to lose his farm.  One day, he’s riding into town with his sons when he accidentally runs into a stage coach robbery.  At the helm of the gang of banditos is the infamous bad dude Ben Wade (Crowe).  Something about Dan sparks Ben’s interest and respect right away, and instead of killing him like he would anybody else who interrupted one of his hold-ups, Wade just takes his horses and sends him on his way.

Later that day, Dan encounters Wade again when Wade is caught and arrested by the local sheriff.  On hearing they need to put together a posse to take Ben to Contention (such a great name for a town) to catch the 3:10 train to Yuma Territorial Prison, Dan offers to join the group, if the sheriff will kick in $200 so he can save his farm.  The sheriff agrees and the posse begins.

While they work to get Ben across the desert, through Indian territory, and down to Contention, Ben’s gang is following them and plotting ways to rescue their leader (and trust me, I’ve been to Yuma Territorial Prison myself and the place is the very definition of “hell hole” — I fully understand why Ben is less than happy about boarding that train).  The gang is being temporarily lead by Charlie Prince (Ben Foster), one of the most violent sociopaths to grace a Western movie screen, in my experience.  Prince will stop at nothing to get Wade back, and it’s not really because the two are fast friends.  I guess it’s more an issue of thief pride and respect, more than anything else.  Because clearly Prince doesn’t have feelings.  Like, in general.  At all.  And as for Wade — well, he’s a bit more complicated emotionally, but no less willing to stab someone to death with a fork just because they can’t carry a tune.  

All in all, I thought this was a beautifully made film, with great camera work and scenery, and some extremely intense and effective acting on the parts of all involved.  Great storyline, great suspense, great everything.  Definitely recommended to fans of either lead actor, as well as to anybody who loves a good cowboy flick.  Giddyup!

[Netflix me | Buy me]

Genre:  Western
Cast:  Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, Ben Foster, Logan Lerman, Peter Fonda