Posts Tagged ‘Western’

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

MOVIE: Deadwood, Season Three (2006)

June 21, 2007

When I first heard that HBO’s terrific Western series Deadwood had been canceled after season three, I was pretty unhappy about it. I’d just finished watching season two and loving it, and I couldn’t fathom why, why, WHY people would not be flocking to that show like crazy. It was brilliant! It was fast-paced and sexy! It was the best show I’d seen since The Sopranos, and what’s more, it was SMART.

Unfortunately, I think it was that latter adjective that ultimately kind of did it in, and that went double for season three. When I first started watching season three, I could barely get into the story. Not only was it sort of boring (oh, politics — don’t we get enough bickering over elections in the real world these days?), but for the first time in the show’s history, I was having a lot of trouble figuring out what in the hell they were talking about half the time.

Deadwood has always relied on a heavy vocabulary, which made it often feel sort of Shakespearean to me — it was one of the reasons I so adored it. But season three was just obfuscating to the extreme at times. I’m well-read, intelligent, and a lover of language, and even I was struggling to decipher many of the conversations the characters were having.

The season picked up about four episodes in, but to be honest, had I been a more casual watcher instead of a devoted fan, I would’ve thrown in the towel myself before making it that far. Instead of ranting about its undeserved cancellation, I found myself thinking, “Hmm, damn, yeah. . . I can kinda see why people bailed.” Too much focus on the political subplots, not nearly enough focus on the characters themselves, and it was the characters and their relationships with each other that had been keeping me thoroughly sucked in before.

Anyway, if you were a fan of the show, of course you’ll have to see season three (and I’m still hoping Milch is really going to make the two two-hour movies he was thinking about doing to wrap up the storylines). But if you weren’t all that enthusiastic about it for the first two seasons, this season will probably do you in for good. I’m still planning a write-up on Ian McShane, though, because not since Tony Soprano have I found someone so thoroughly obnoxious and awful quite so ridiculously sexy. Mrrrrrowl!

Genre: HBO series, Western
Stars: Ian McShane, Timothy Olyphant, Molly Parker, John Hawkes, Dayton Callie, Robin Weigert