2015-06-27 : A Small Western Binge

After Fury Road and The Homesman I've been on a bit of a Western binge.

The Homesman
I don't love this movie but I expect to watch it over and over. Meg worked for 12 years with women experiencing postpartum depression, and this movie is the only one I've ever seen lay that emotional weight of colonizing the West on the shoulders of women.
(Hilary Swank, Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto, Sonja Richter, Hailee Steinfeld.)

I've heard that the critics felt that the filmmakers didn't know how Westerns worked. I found it as odd and mesmerizing as you'd hope from a Western. It would be a terrible shame, after all, if they were all 3:10 to Yuma.
(January Jones, Amy Madigan.)

3:10 to Yuma
The 2007 one. I don't hate this movie, but in my memory, I'd given it the ending of the short story, so I was disappointed by its real ending. The short story is so good.
(Gretchen Mol, Vinessa Shaw.)

High Plains Drifter
In its way, as odd and mesmerizing as Sweetwater. I was surprised how obvious a High Noon ripoff it was, and how cheesy. It felt unearned in a way that High Noon didn't.
(Verna Bloom, Marianna Hill.)

The Outlaw Josey Wales
A politically awkward movie! Still, I recently read Empire of the Summer Moon and found some things to love. For instance, I found the unlikable Kansas grandma character charming. "Elegant moral double standard," indeed.
(Geraldine Keams, Paula Trueman, Sondra Locke, Joyce Jameson.)

The Proposition
So far, all of my Western binges have ended up with me watching The Proposition again. I kind of hope to avoid it this time, but I can feel it out there waiting for me.
(Emily Watson.)

edit: I forgot one!

Slow West
This is a funny and entertaining flick, a little dreamlike, a little fable-like. It's purportedly set in Colorado, and it gives us a wooded West that I wish we'd see more of, but it has this weird placelessness that some Westerns have.
(Caren Pistorius, Brooke Williams.)

1. On 2015-06-29, Moreno R. said:

I am rediscovering the classics. Movies that I have seen at least half a dozen of times years ago on TV, but never in English with a good resolution. I considered them "classics" but I realize now that I was taking them for granted and they are worth re-watching again. This week, "Stagecoach" and "the man who shoot Liberty Valance".


2. On 2015-06-29, Vincent said:

So, placelessness. Like, The Homesman is very concretely set in its place. So is The Outlaw Josey Wales. So is The Proposition, should I watch it again. Even 3:10 to Yuma is, although its Arizona is pretty Ferris Bueller-esque, a whirlwind tour of Western attractions.

But Sweetwater and High Plains Drifter aren't. They happen in the iconic West, right? Those towns could be anywhere, they're divorced from geography and local place-history. I don't believe in 3:10 to Yuma, but I REALLY don't believe in High Plains Drifter.

Slow West is kind of beautiful in this way. Colorado schmolorado, and in fact it was shot in New Zealand so I kept squinting at the landscapes in the film because they're subtly alien to me and I could never put my finger on why. But by framing and structuring itself as a told story, it never asks me to believe in it, just go along with it, which I'm happy to do.


3. On 2015-06-29, Vincent said:

Oh, also:

3:10 to Yuma: Deryle J. Lujan, James Augare.
The Outlaw Josey Wales: Chief Dan George, Geraldine Keams, Will Sampson.
The Proposition: David Gulpilil, Ned Rose, Tommy Lewis.
Slow West: Aorere Paki, Kalani Queypo.
The Homesman, Sweetwater, High Plains Drifter: None credited.


4. On 2015-06-30, Larry L said:

God The Proposition is bleak. Man's inhumanity to man in full effect. (I liked it.)

Thanks for the reviews.


5. On 2015-07-01, E. Torner said:

If you're looking for placeless westerns with nuanced politics around female characters, I'd highly recommend:

Gold (2013) by Thomas Arslan


6. On 2015-07-03, nerdwerds said:

Why do you say is Outlaw Josey Wales "politically awkward?"
I haven't seen it in 20 years but I plan on re-watching it within the next week or two (along with The Proposition).


7. On 2015-07-03, jackie said:

I don't know what you've got with women in the west, but you should check Strange Empire (tv series). It looks like something you'd like


8. On 2015-07-06, Vincent said:

Nerdwerds: When you watch it, you'll see. It's pro-Confederacy, anti-Union, and while the movie's obviously correct when it points out that the Union was atrocious in many ways - atrocious for Native American rights, lives and sovereignty, for instance - I just can't go along with its claim that the Confederacy was or would have been non-atrocious.

Jackie: Will do. Thanks!

I'm descended from women in the West! They're part of who I am.


9. On 2015-07-08, nerdwerds said:

Fair enough. I only remember the main character being a Confederate in the first act, but I don't remember a pro-Confederacy statement from the film itself. However reading about the film on it's wikipedia entry is incredibly depressing.


10. On 2015-07-08, Vincent said:

I should have said "implicit claim," but yeah.

It's still worth watching, if you want to watch it! It's a good Western even so.


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