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Les frères Sisters (2018)
New way of telling a story ( or no story)
If the ideal story for a western would be "The Searchers" or "Red River", "The Sisters Brothers" would stand no chance. But in this case where what counts are the characters, their relationship and the unusual, you have to accept this new way of telling a story or shall we say telling no story. In the old westerns you would not see a man thrilled for brushing his teeth or a boss like Mayfield (Rebeca Root). And rare would be great characters like Eli (John C. Reilly), Charlie (Joaquin Phoenix), John Morris (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Hermann (Riz Ahmed) with great performances. Not a masterpiece, but enjoyable.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)
Roy and Gene, Stagecoach, the streets of Laredo a cruel and beautiful West!
Roy-Gene, Destry, Stagecoach, Shakespeare' s When in Disgrace, The Gettysburg address, Streets of Laredo, they are all here in a visual package that is related to those books with many short stories whose title was the first story. And the common theme in all those stories is the cruel way of the West where life was so dispensable. The Coen brothers manage to keep us involved immediately in all of the stories, all masterfully done. The gunfighter, the gold miner, the bank robber, the crippled orator, the lonely woman, the bounty hunter, among others all as alive as a movie character can possibly be. Great Coen, great western(westerns)!
The Ballad of Lefty Brown (2017)
His name was not on the novel...
Lefty Brown reminded me of Gabby Hayes and Walter Brennan, a sidekick who was much more than a mere sidekick, but that was categorized as such. The woman (Kathy Baker) does not think Lefty is capable of administering the ranch when her husband (Peter Fonda) has to leave for Washington.The kid (Diego Josef) who reads all the western novels finds it odd that Lefty's name is not mentioned along with his companions. But in real life people usually are not what others think they are. Refreshingly good unpretentious western.
After watching this series some words about the characters, Whitey Winn (Thomas Brodie- Sangster) and Roy Goode (Jack O' Connell) making us feel what a true western hero is
Mary Agnes (Merritt Wever) a western heroine up to their standards. Frank Griffin (Jeff Daniels), a true bandit very cruel with occasional good actions. Alice Fletcher, courageous, lonely, beautiful woman And all the others characters amazingly good And what scenery! And most of all the true and beautiful words spoken by the preacher.
O Matador (2017)
More savage than anything you might have seen in westerns
I remember when I saw my first Italian western the the shock of seeing the brutality, cruelty and violence that I was not used to in the Americans .Eventually I got used to it and enjoyed the Sergio Leones and no doubt the great Peckinpah was influenced by them. Seeing " O Matador" you realize it is one step further it is definitely more savage than anything you might have seen in westerns. There are references to "Seven Men from Now" and "Once Upon a Time in the West" which shows that they know and appreciate their subject. The story of Cabeleireira, the killer who is doing it for the stones is gripping and involving specially because of the environment, barren, and with poor, primitive towns. The only problem is the film moves too fast, and not too clearly giving you a hard time to follow it. Nevertheless because of its unconventionality I recommend it to those who like the genre.
The Durango Kid (1940)
A different Kid with a white hat, in the first and probably the best
After being kind of disillusioned with the Durango Kid films I saw, back from my childhood in the fifties, it was quite a thrill to see this one, the first, made in 1940. Here in Brazil, the Kid was more known in the comic book stories, but whenever I had a chance I would see a film, and he was my favorite hero. But as time went by I would neither enjoy Smiley Burnette, nor the plots that seemed too recurrent and obvious. But in "The Durango Kid" everything works better. The plot is elementary, but exciting, the Sons of the Pioneers, are better than ever, the songs are good. Charles Starrett has some ironic dialogues with the bad guy, Ballard Kenneth MacDonald) which show what a good actor he was. And the Kid wears a white hat! In my opinion, the best of the Durango Kid's movies.
a silent film with accompanying music
I saw the film Tommy in 1976, being sold on it before because I had the record and loved the music .In the nineties I saw the musical on Broadway and how great it was. A couple of days ago I saw The Who performing in Rock in Rio, fantastic. I took out my DVD of Tommy that was resting for so many years and watched it again.At first impression you might find the film overdone and a bit sarcastic but then you realize this is really a silent film, with accompanying sound and every silent movie had to overstate its meaning, when words could not be used. In life we all play pinball but we cannot expect others to play it the same way we do. And when they sing "We are not gonna take it" they are putting on film one of the most touching cries of rebellion against being fooled. Tommy is a wonderful film!
Bone Tomahawk (2015)
Excellent actors, screenplay and dialogue
This film differs from a conventional western because of the costumes they wear not quite like the westerns of the fifties, and also the unusual scary, primitive savages. Also you must have a strong stomach to see all the gory scenes. But what makes this film above average is in the excellent choice of actors , dialogue and screenplay, which starts reminding one of "The Searchers" but with completely different characters. Kurt Russel as the sheriff, Patrick Wilson as Arthur, Richard Jenkins as Chicory and specially Matthew Fox as Brooder are excellent, including Lili Simmons as Samantha adding beauty and class to her role.
The Magnificent Seven (2016)
what in the fifties would be an ideal western
If it would not be for Donzel Washigton being so good as a gunfighter that you would think he just came out one of comic book stories of the fifties into our modern times, you would think this is just an OK movie. Or Ethan Hawke in the Robert Vaughn role improving upon it as the hero from the past with the fear of the present. Or Chris Pratt sometimes reminding us of Steve McQueen other times of James Coburn or Charles Bronson
And what about the shootouts, High Noon came to my mind as well Star Wars, the spaghettis and the wonderful films of the fifties. Terrific scenery from New Mexico, music, the details in the fighting scenes makes us go back not exactly to the fifties, but what in the fifties would be an ideal western
Fort Worth (1951)
Leaves a strong mark due to David Brian's performance
What is exceptional in this western, is even not being that good, it leaves a strong mark because David Brian as Blair Lunsford gives a great performance and in spite of a weak screenplay his character comes out charismatic and real. It is surely naive to make the bad guys and the moviegoer accept they will headline the newspaper with the information the train is carrying a huge amount of gold to Dallas. There is a memorable action scene where Scott and Brian fight together against Clevenger's (Ray Teal) gang doing a trick with their guns. Any film that had Technicolor in the fifties was special and here, despite the stock footage from Dodge City, the cinematography is tops. Ray Teal overacts as the bad guy he is a kind of Ernest Borgnine, and overdoing in this case is positive, it blends with the film.
The Ridiculous 6 (2015)
Great fun, great actors, Magnificent Seven satire
It is a long time I did not enjoy a movie like this one. The great actors that keep showing up like Nick Nolte, John Turturo, Steve Buscemi, Harvey Keitel, etc, all very funny in their own way, are what make this comedy special. The stupid jokes are so stupid that they really make you laugh. Adam Sandler looks and talks like Bob Dylan and his character Tommy, has the style of Dylan, so throughout the movie I had a feeling I was seeing a Bob Dylan film! Among the most enjoyable scenes, John Turturo teaching baseball, and the poker game with Mark Twain, General Custer and Wyatt Earp. The film is a satire of "The Magnificent Seven" which was made in 1960, so you wonder how many people of this new generation will realize that. The titles at the end had the style of Sergio Leone, with Morricone soundtrack, so who made this film surely had a love of westerns. I am dying to see it again!
Is he going to react?
This is the type of western where the guy gets very provoked, it even starts bothering you, up to the moment that you are waiting for when he will react. It reminded me of "Destry Rides Again" and "The Violent Men" among others. Of course it lacks the directors those films had, they were superb George Marshall and Rudolph Maté, but Jon Cassar does a good job, specially in the shootouts. The three main actors Kiefer and Donald Sutheland and Demi Moore have a good performance, also the villains, Michael Wincott as Gentleman Dave Turner reminded me of Val Kilmer. Also Jonny Rees as Tom Watson is not dramatic enough considering the difficult situation he is in. Overall it is good to see a western that does not try to innovate or demystify and is certainly a good entertainment.
The Revenant (2015)
What about a new story or a new way of telling it?
Considering the fantastic reviews and prizes this film is getting I have to say it is not my cup of tea. Great cinematography, good actors, impressive fight with a bear, savage scenes...But what about a good story or better said a new way of telling a story? To say the story is conventional is an understatement. It reminds me of Dance with Wolves when I would like to see something like the wronged The Hateful Eight. The film leads you into thinking you are seeing something new because of the unusual beautiful scenery and the savage ways of the characters.It is like a candy in a new wrapping, when you open it is all the same...
The Hateful Eight (2015)
Cool, tough and great dialogue!!
Some films are inspired by real life, others like Tarantino's, by other films. And if Django followed the track of Sergio Leone and the spaghettis here he turns to the tough, violent, budget conscious westerns of the fifties. It reminded me of two John Derek films "Ambush at Tomahawk Gap" for its toughness and "The Last Posse "besides the toughness, the flashbacks. Why were those films so significant for us, western lovers of the fifties? Because we were inundated with cheesy cowboy films of the Roy Rogers-Gene Autry kind, their cheesiness in a minor or major way present in most westerns of those times those two I mentioned not included, of course. And why this reference to "The Magnificent Seven"in the title? Because those seven were cool, man, those were cool! And Tarantino took the spirit of these films, he is cool, tough and great dialogue! Congrats Tarantino, you did it again!
A Pat Garrett of the Brazilian Northeast.
When we see most of the films about Jesse James and specially Sam Peckinpah's "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid" we feel how difficult it is to define who is the "good guy". The outlaws are fighting the sometimes dishonest business interests of the politicians, railroads, banks, etc. Antonio das Mortes is the Pat Garrett of the Brazilian Northeast. His mission is to kill the bandit Coirana. They even have a fight holding a scarf between their teeth reminiscent of the Jesse James' films "Kansas Raiders"(1950) and the future "The Long Riders"(1980). But this "Pat Garrett" will realize he is on the wrong side and fight for his redemption. Glauber Rocha combines vivid colors with absorbing words, sometimes in rhyme, and rapturous folkloric songs. He expresses his views in the western format, as would be done later by Tarantino.
Copper Sky (1957)
"The African Queen" goes West
One of the greatest romances on the screen was "The African Queen". That improbable affair between two persons with different social backgrounds had a fantastic chemistry. This western tells the same story and manages to keep the heat on with the beautiful and sexy Coleen Gray and the taciturn Jeff Morrow. Gray criticized her performance in this film in a book interview (Western Women), stating that without a director controlling her " I acted all over the place". Welcome Coleen, I enjoyed your performance, only wish we had more of it! Probably the director Charles Marquis Warren thought the same and stimulated her "acting all over". With a good screenplay by Eric Borden the story flows easily slowly building the the attraction between the two main characters. Great scene when Coleen bathes in the river. Nice, pleasing western.
The Last Hard Men (1976)
This western keeps you tense from beginning to end!
This western keeps you tense from beginning to end. reminding one of "High Noon". James Coburn is Zach Provo, the cold blooded killer set upon getting his revenge on lawman Sam Burgade (Charlton Heston). Barbara Hershey is Susan, Burgade's daughter and she will be what Provo will use as a prey to get to Burgade. Provo would be a better villain if he did not talk so much at the final scenes, I missed the laconic Britt from "The Magnificent Seven". The rape scene is shocking and adds emotion to the final showdown, which is not deceiving, but also not up to the expectations. Still, this is one of the best directed by Andrew McLaglen. Christopher Mitchum is Hal Brickman, Susan's boyfriend and he brings to mind Jeffrey Hunter in "The Searchers".
River Lady (1948)
She loved that man and was bound to get him in spite of the River Lady!
Yvonne de Carlo did her share of mediocre westerns, but not this time. Here she is prettier than usual, also more subdued. The film takes place in a community of lumbermen who cut enormous trees. They also move them down the river. Also in the river there is the "River Lady" a boat where they gamble, managed by Sequin (Yvonne). Beauvais (Dan Duryea) is her partner in planning mischievous deals. But the great performance comes from Helena Carter (Stephanie), she is unforgettable as the woman who is not corresponded in her love for Dan Corrigan (Rod Cameron). A rare western, ignored in most anthologies efficiently directed by George Sherman in glorious Technicolor.
High Noon (2000)
There are stories that can always be told!
There are stories that can always be told. The original "High Noon" had the advantage of the technology of a time where westerns were almost mass produced. And it is one of the best westerns ever made. But this version is worth seeing, and more versions should be made as time goes by, including a version with an alternate ending where the whole town would fight against Miller and his gang. This story has an universal appeal. History tells us that sometimes populations stand up against injustice and sometimes like in Hadleyville they do not. Susanna Thompson is excellent as Amy, Tom Skerrit does a good job but it is hard to forget Gary Cooper. Good shootout at the end, a bit hard to believe, but then this is a movie we have to allow for some fantasy.
The Rawhide Years (1956)
He got more than he gambled for in that poker game!
It is not easy for a guy with a very young face to be a star in a western. Audie Murphy could do it, but then he was a hero in real life. Tony Curtis also can do it and he comes out well in this entertaining and colorful western directed by Rudolph Mate. The supporting cast is remarkable. Arthur Kennedy as the not so bad guy, Coleen Gray sexy, pretty and remarkably still in style, Peter Van Eyk the refined villain who thinks he rules the world. From the poker game at the beginning to the uncontrollable lynching mob at the end all goes very fast . Very good musical number "Gypsy with the Fire in his Shoes" performed by Coleen Gray composed by Laurindo Almeida and Peggy Lee.
now is the perfect time to see it!
Seeing this film's title might bring to mind all those unfunny western spoofs which used to show up once in a while. But here they hit the bull's eye. This film is great fun from beginning to end. It starts with a young Freddie (Betty Grable) being taught how to shoot by her grandfather. She becomes a dead shot. Next she is singing in a saloon a nice melody "Every Time I Meet You". Problem is, she is carrying a gun with the intention of getting even with her boyfriend Blackie (Cesar Romero) who is betraying her. She shoots the wrong person and has to flee the town. She becomes a school teacher and has the most terrible pair of pupils, the Basserman Boys. Those boys are just as terrible as they are funny. There is a final shootout where at a certain point there is no reason for fighting. I always thought Preston Sturges was ahead of his times, but if you want to have fun with a great comedy, the time is perfect now.
Escape from Fort Bravo (1953)
tense and exciting, also great romance.
MGM did not make many westerns but we knew when an MGM would come along it would be good and this one surpassed our expectations. How successful it was among the guys in my class in high school in the fifties! Most westerns had tepid love stories, but this had a torrid one with William Holden as the tough Capt. Roper and Eleanor Parker as the troublesome Carla Forester. No need to praise the director John Sturges he has to his credit "The Magnificent Seven", "Bad Day at Black Rock" and "Gunfight at the OK Corral". And what a supporting cast with Polly Bergen, William Campbell (Man Without a Star), John Forsythe
Frank Fenton who wrote the screenplay also did "Garden of Evil", "Ride Vaquero" and "River of no Return". And Robert Surtees the cinematographer has a lot of great films to his name. In spite of all those names, we know sometimes it can go wrong but not here. When they are surrounded by the Mescaleros, it is tense and exciting, memorable scenes. Don't miss this one.
Calamity Jane and Sam Bass (1949)
see it if you feel nostalgic about old westerns
Sometimes you feel a film counts more for its nostalgic values than for its merits. And this western is worth seeing just for that, and also for its great Technicolor. From the days of my youth when I read comics I learned that Sam Bass was quite a mean guy. Here he is a hero , but a doomed hero because no outlaw could get away from Hollywood's moral code. Anyway you root for him as you feel he is getting every time into more trouble specially because of his taste for horse races. I am not a a fan of Yvonne de Carlo, she was the star in two awful westerns "Frontier Gal" and "Salome, where she danced", but here she manages to let Howard Duff as Sam Bass be the main character even though Calamity Jane comes first in the title. Lloyd Bridges is Sam's friend, Joel Collins. George Sherman, besides directing wrote the film's story.
Does not reach enough to make it worth seeing.
There was always a taste for the mystic in comic books, 'Blueberry' is a western derived from a comic book and that is a great starting point. It also tries to reach you on a spiritual level specially by showing hallucinations, reminding us of Stanley Kubrick's '2001'. But Jan Koonen should have followed Kubrick's style in what this film lacks the most: clearness, precision, well explained scenes. Instead you see vague and confusing scenes which makes you have to see the film again to understand it. Nowadays, this is not such a problem, but is it worth it? Vincent Cassel is an ideal Blueberry, Juliette Lewis is pretty, interesting and charming as Maria and Michael Madsen is a hateful Wall Blount. If Sergio Leone innovated by creating a showdown of three people in 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly' ,Koonen tries to shows us a spiritual, psychedelic showdown. It just does not reach us enough to make it worth seeing.
The Plunderers (1948)
It was good for 1948
This film was very successful when released, one of the few by Republic in Trucolor. For the audience in 1948, it was good value for their money. Nice actors like Rod Cameron (Johnny) and Forrest Tucker(Whit), two pretty ladies Ilona Massey(Lin) and Adrian Booth (Julie Ann), a great sidekick Paul Fix (Calico). There are films where barely nothing happens, and films where too much happens, like this one, with shootouts, Indian attacks, the cavalry, galloping horses and a plot that goes in such a fast pace that it might not give you time to think about its implausibilities. The fake marriage of Johnny and Julie Ann makes no sense, also the shooting of the Sheriff by Johnny . The film goes too fast to absorb the sudden change in Whit's character from bad to good. James Edward Grant (story), Gerard Geraghty and Gerald Adams (screenplay) had many good films to their credit and they did a good job for the public of 1948, it just looks awkward in 2015! Ilona Massey is an interesting and charming presence, nice song she sings about Broadway. With the other lady, Adrian Booth, they add a lot to the film.