This promotional film for "Hostiles" turns out not to be the usual short subject, clocking in at over an hour in duration. It has no credits, not being a documentary but rather a lengthy plug.
And that's the problem. After watching at least a thousand of these creatures of the DVD era, it turns out that their journalistic predecessors, whether dealing with the difficulties of filming Coppola's "Apocalypse Now" or Herzog's "Fitzcarraldo", are the ones worth watching, not these self-aggrandizing empty exercises.
So this interview-laden show suffers from endless and repetitive self-praise, as filmmaker Scott Cooper and his collaborators heap so many superlatives upon one another that it becomes ludicrous. This cast can't be the greatest ever assembled, especially for those of us who are tired of star Christian Bale's overly pretentious approach to his craft that has lately resulted in monotone, oh-so-serious performances that make one long for the naturalism of his youth.
And of course the crew is talented, but Cooper sure hasn't made "Lawrence of Arabia" or "The Searchers". By film's end he had won me over but it was a long, hard slog, especially because of his style I'll christen Glumovision, relentlessly downbeat, morose and self-pitying -just as stultifying as the gloomy Bale who presides over the show. As a fan who has always been attracted to morbid subject matter and treatment, dating back to my horror movie-obsessed earlier years as a film buff (but not the formulaic garbage passed off as Horror in recent decades) I have greatly enjoyed movies like the Tom Courtenay classic by unsung director Caspar Wrede "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich", but Cooper's work never rises to that level.
Instead the film that came to mind in the early reels was one I particularly hated and that was released the year before "Ivan", Ralph Nelson's "Soldier Blue". It has a lot more in common with "Hostiles" than Cooper would like to admit, and an interesting documentary, made at arm's length rather than as mere hour-long advertisement, could be fashioned from a comparison of these two features shot 47 years apart in distinctly different eras of modern "revisionist" filmmaking.
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