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Western

Hostiles (2017)

DIRECTOR: Scott Cooper

CAST: Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Wes Studi, Ben Foster, Jesse Plemons, Adam Beach, Rory Cochrane

REVIEW:

Hostiles is a grim, downbeat, but ultimately hopeful morality play ruminating on themes of hatred, redemption, and bridging racial divides.  Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart, Black Mass) directs this elegiac “revisionist Western” with a slow, methodical pace that proves challenging to maintain viewers’ attention.  Those seeking serious drama that moves at its own deliberate pace and aren’t expecting something more conventional or action-oriented may appreciate what Cooper has wrought, but it will not be everyone’s cup of tea. Continue reading

The Proposition (2005)

DIRECTOR: John Hillcoat

CAST: Guy Pearce, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Emily Watson, David Wenham, John Hurt

REVIEW:

With The Proposition, Australian director John Hillcoat and screenwriter/composer Nick Cave have taken the saying “revenge is a dish best served cold” and taken it up—or down, depending on one’s perspective—a notch. The Proposition is considered an unconventional Western, but it doesn’t deal in clear-cut black hats and white hats or simple shoot-em-ups. Brutal, unromanticized, and mercilessly gritty to the point of being disturbing, it’s a grim, haunting odyssey that doesn’t deal in typical crowd-pleasing Western tropes and conventions, at least not straightforwardly.

Continue reading

Maverick (1994)

DIRECTOR: Richard Donner

CAST: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, James Garner, Alfred Molina, James Coburn, Graham Greene

REVIEW:

Maverick represents just about the perfect kind of breezy, enjoyable summer entertainment for those seeking a light diversion, both paying homage to and at times parodying the classic Western, moving smoothly between action, comedy, and a little romance, and featuring engaging performances from charismatic actors.  There might not be anything deep or substantial here, but for those just seeking some fun, Maverick plays with a full deck. Continue reading

Geronimo: An American Legend (1993)

DIRECTOR: Walter Hill

CAST: Jason Patric, Robert Duvall, Gene Hackman, Wes Studi, Matt Damon, Rodney A. Grant, Kevin Tighe

REVIEW:

While its title might be simply Geronimo, a more accurate name for this movie might be The Geronimo Campaign.  Walter Hill, not a stranger to the Western genre, directs this chronicle of the “Geronimo Campaign” in which famed Apache war leader Geronimo, with 34 men, managed to elude 5,000 US cavalry troops between 1885 and 1886 before his surrender in September 1886.  Continue reading

Dances With Wolves (1990)

DIRECTOR: Kevin Costner

CAST: Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Graham Greene, Rodney A. Grant, Tantoo Cardinal, Floyd Red Crow Westerman, Robert Pastorelli, Maury Chaykin, Charles Rocket, Wes Studi

REVIEW:

With Dances With Wolves, not only did actor Kevin Costner make an impressive directorial debut (arguably one of the most accomplished, and the most ambitious and big-scale achievements by a novice director in cinematic history), he also virtually singlehandedly breathed new life into the Western genre.  Once enormously popular, Westerns had been few and far between apart from 1985’s Silverado and Quigley Down Under only a month before Costner’s magnum opus, and both of those installments were far more conventional and stereotypical than what Costner has made here (Dances With Wolves could be considered a “revisionist Western” and isn’t interested in shoot-em-ups or stereotypical Cowboys vs. Indians action).  But Dances With Wolves isn’t just a Western (of sorts) or an attention-catching directorial debut, it’s a great, epic motion picture that transports the viewer immersively into its world and keeps them there for over three hours. Continue reading

Quigley Down Under (1990)

DIRECTOR: Simon Wincer

CAST: Tom Selleck, Laura San Giacomo, Alan Rickman

REVIEW:

Westerns are a hard sell these days, and few and far between apart from 1985’s Silverado.  Director Simon Wincer and screenwriter John Hill offer a somewhat unconventional entry that’s a Western set a bit farther west than usual, namely in Australia. Continue reading

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