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piranesi

Hey, Huckleberries: All Things American Western

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I guess Fowler's right.  We need to clean out the tv thread and do this right.

 

So let's build us a little thread here, fellas.  And let's watch it grow.  And then, in two years time, let's watch it burn to the ground, and let's build it again.  And then watch it burn again...and so on...until we figure out how to make wood flame-retardant and stop lighting our way with pieces of burning cloth soaked in oil.

 

And remember: When things look bad and it looks like you're not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad-dog mean. 'Cause if you lose your head and you give up then you neither live nor win. That's just the way it is.

 

 

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I'm from a wee town in Norn Irn but I was pretty much raised on Westerns, my grandad loved them, my dad loves them and they both passed that love down to me. Hell, Clint Eastwood is my all time favourite actor and I'd say at least four Westerns are in my top 10 favourite films.

 

I recall being about 11ish and my dad letting me stay up late on a school night to watch The Good, the Bad and the Ugly for the first time and just remember being fucking blown away by it and thinking it was the darndest thing I'd ever saw. The scope and vastness of it, THAT Morricone score, the friggin' 3-way duel at the end with the rapid cuts between their eyes and their guns, Clint being Clint and there being two kinds of people in this world, those with loaded guns and those who dig. 

 

20 odd years later and I still watch it at least once a year. 

 

Between that, High Plains Drifter, Outlaw Josey Wales and Unforgiven and my dad watching all of them when they were on TV no matter how many times he'd saw them, I was always going to be an Eastwood fan. 

 

But, it's funny, even with that, Once Upon a Time in the West is probably my favourite film and it doesn't have Clint (although I remember hearing Leone wanted Clint, Wallach and Van Cleef to play the dudes Bronson offs at the beginning which would have been great) but it does have Bronson, Robards and, most of all, Henry fuckin' Fonda and they're all fucking awesome.

 

Love this story Fonda tells about Leone casting him:

 

 

Yeah, this is my kinda thread.

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How do we feel about Young Guns? I haven't seen it since I was a kid. I loved it then as it fit everything I wanted in a standard action/western but looking back as an adult, Emilio Estevez as Billy the Kid sounds ridiculous. I'm not sure I want to re-watch it as it will probably kill my fond memories for it. It does have some interesting side characters, though.

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Maybe I'm biased because he's sort of my hometown hero, but John Ford is my favorite western director.  He directed in the silent, black and white and color eras; not to mention played a part in making John Wayne who he was.

 

I was blown away when I read Akira Kurosawa's autobiography and found out he and Ford were good friends and corresponded frequently.

 

Now I just want to watch a bunch of westerns all day; goodbye productivity!

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How do we feel about Young Guns? I haven't seen it since I was a kid. I loved it then as it fit everything I wanted in a standard action/western but looking back as an adult, Emilio Estevez as Billy the Kid sounds ridiculous. I'm not sure I want to re-watch it as it will probably kill my fond memories for it. It does have some interesting side characters, though.

I always preferred the sequel cause Christian Slater > Charlie Sheen & less Keifer being a little bitch. Plus they actually had a Pat Garrett have more than a cameo.

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I heartily recommend john cawleti's Six Gun Mystique for a readable discussion about the western genre from an academic pov.

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I've never been a huge John Wayne fan, but, man alive are The Shootist and The Searchers fucking awesome movies.

 

(I also have an unexplained amount of love for McClintock!)

 

Obviously, the Man with No Name movies are spectacular, but (and it was touched on in the tv thread) Once Upon a Time in the West might actually be the best of Leone's films.

 

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is on the most brilliant and spellbinding movies I have ever seen, but it is also rather divisive.

 

Unforgiven is...  Well, fuck, dude, it's UNFORGIVEN.  What more do I need to tell you?

 

High Plains Drifter is a movie that will stick with you, roughly forever.

 

And, of course, while it's certainly not the best Western ever made, movies just don't come much cooler than motherfucking Tombstone.

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How do we feel about Young Guns? I haven't seen it since I was a kid. I loved it then as it fit everything I wanted in a standard action/western but looking back as an adult, Emilio Estevez as Billy the Kid sounds ridiculous. I'm not sure I want to re-watch it as it will probably kill my fond memories for it. It does have some interesting side characters, though.

 

Estevez is absolutely fucking brilliant playing Billy The Kid as a charismaticly manipulative psychopath. The way he uses Tunstall's death as an excuse to sate his bloodlust, the way he obfuscates stupidity or geniality in order to catch people off-guard, the constant lectures on friendship to the "pals" as he gets them killed one by one through two movies, it really is a fantastically nuanced performance.

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How do we feel about Young Guns? I haven't seen it since I was a kid. I loved it then as it fit everything I wanted in a standard action/western but looking back as an adult, Emilio Estevez as Billy the Kid sounds ridiculous. I'm not sure I want to re-watch it as it will probably kill my fond memories for it. It does have some interesting side characters, though.

 

Estevez is absolutely fucking brilliant playing Billy The Kid as a charismaticly manipulative psychopath. The way he uses Tunstall's death as an excuse to sate his bloodlust, the way he obfuscates stupidity or geniality in order to catch people off-guard, the constant lectures on friendship to the "pals" as he gets them killed one by one through two movies, it really is a fantastically nuanced performance.

 

 

Now I imagine Dean Ambrose trying to get Rollins and Reigns to watch it all the time:  "Guys, this is totally us....we'll always stick together, you know, even if one of us turns out to be an unstable psychopath and gets us in all kinds of trouble with his temper or something unlikely like that which probably won't ever happen but we should watch anyways just in case...guys...are we watching?  guys?...

 

 

...I'll just start it up, I'm sure they'll be back around..."

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Silverado is also a really good western that I never see get alot of love, which is odd considering the cast consists of Kevin Kline, Scott Motherfucking Glenn, Danny Glover, Kevin Costner, John Cleese, Linda Hunt, Jeff Goldblum, and Brian Dennehey as the villian.

 

Unforgiven is awesome.

 

If you've never watched Valdez is Coming, you should.

 

And a Western Thread would be remiss if it didn't mention Magnificent Seven.   I don't give a shit if it was the most awesome Western Remakes of an Awesome Eastern Movie ever, but it was one of the best western's of all time.  You can't have that much badass in one movie and have it not be awesome.

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SILVERADO was great.  I watched it the other day, the day after TOMBSTONE and during the fire scene when the whole town was scurrying around, and I  marveled at how many more characters they had managed to introduce and flesh-out and make me recognize and care about in the first 45 mins. of that movie compared to TOMBSTONE.  Four or five lead protagonists and three or four villains along with various townsfolk.

 

Whereas in TOMBSTONE you have an apparently important character like McMasters (Michael Rook) who supposedly goes from bad guy to good guy to loyal and important friend, and whose death is apparently supposed to be a huge turning point...who I think had spoken two lines in the movie...one as a bad guy...one as a good guy...

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Well then, you've convinced me. I'll revisit it. I've never seen the sequel though.

Give it a try. I agree with Lacelle that it's more enjoyable than the first.

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I hate to borrow from IMDB reviews, but someone else has put it better than I ever could:

 

The Gunfighter never gets the respect it deserves on account of coming two years before High Noon.

 

Give The Gunfighter a go. I promise you won't be sorry. 

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For a Few Dollars More is criminally underrated. It may not have the scope of TGTBATU but the plot is just as good, the villain even better, and Van Cleef is better than ever.

 

For another epic Lee Van Cleef performance check out a semi-obscure spaghetti western called "Day of Anger". Van Cleef is just king sized in it as the villain. Just an amazing, memorizing performance in an awesome, little seen western.

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Tonight was FISTFUL OF  DOLLARS and DJANGO UNCHAINED.

 

I hadn't seen FoD since I was a teenager maybe.  It was a bit of a letdown as I was hoping all the Leone westerns would be at the same poetic and visual level.  This had its moments but the SL doesn't seem to have been the type of director who reveled in tiny budgets and this showed the strains. 

 

It had the trademark nihilism of tGtBatU, but didn't have any of the dastardly charisma.  Clint was smug, yeah, but not actually terribly likable, in part because we didn't get much of an introduction to him.  He was just there looking to score.  And the situation he got himself in was kind of uninspiring.

 

SL maybe hadn't yet found his visual style and was trying to frame things the way Kurosawa might have.  Lots of quiet static shots and it wore thin after awhile without the story pulling you in to make up for it.  I was surprised at how unconvincing the violence was given the movie's reputation at the time as shockingly brutal.  A lot of gunfight scenes didn't even bother with squibs...just guys falling clutching their intact shirt and falling down.

 

However the shot of that one goon getting Indiana Jonesed buy the giant wine barrel was pretty amazing.

 

DJANGO UNCHAINED was weird.  So much of it was great and I was really into it...but the stakes seemed to get deflated after the first Candyland shootout.  The movie lost too much, but then wanted to keep going.  It lost its true villain (DiCaprio) and its voice (Walz) and we still had another act to go.  We were left with the moral center, the character, Django, who had the traditional vengeance mission.  But something was missing.  We had this huge conflagration at the central setting, the palntation, and instead of blowing the shit out of it...we stopped...and left it for awhile...and then came back...and then blew the shit out of it.  Like a second pass, but with fewer people that we knew.

 

It's like, Foxx was Clint/Bronson, the silent stone-faced character with the unquenchable drive and Walz was his Eli Wallach/Jason Robards...the guy who gave the movie its personality and frees the lead up to be kind of blank and immovable.  There's a reason Leone didn't kill off Tuco or Cheyenne when there was still movie left to get through. 

 

If you're going to make your lead as intensely closed off as Django, he needs either a charismatic villain or a charismatic second.  And to take those away and then leave him alone to just kind of shoot goons for an extra half hour felt aimless.  Not to beg for cliches but something was missing...maybe letting Hildi get a moment to stand up and lash out as well.  I think I would have marked the fuck out if she had taken out Samuel Jackson or even that one white sister lady.

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It's time for another installment of: FREAKING AWESOME-LOOKING OLD DUDES IN WESTERNS

 

One of the things that didn't work in DEADWOOD, season 3 was whatever was going on with the theater troupe who showed up.  Whatever that was going to lead to, we never got to see, but it took so long to get going and all season it was just awful.  Sure Jack Langrishe had a few fun scenes with Al, but everything else with the actors was abysmal...except one scene.

It happens at 5:42 of this video.  It is when that one old actor, Chesterton, finally dies.  For most of the season, I couldn't stand his scenes.  Nothing was happening with him other than spluttering and I wasn't even sure he was dying or just being a difficult diva or setting up some swerve.  It was boring and annoying as was all the stuff with all the actors.

But then out of nowhere we get this amazing scene...and it seems like a very "inside baseball" scene for Milch to write this, a scene of an actor dying, out in the middle of nowhere, propped up in a shoolhouse chair looking at what is supposed to become a stage, in Deadwood, Fucking South Dakota....softly mumbling lines from King Lear and then just sort of running out of breathe.  I teared up.  It was really goddamn moving.

 
5:42, gents.

The guy was amazing in that moment, his eyes falling empty and his mind grasping for lines...an actor alone in his last thoughts, looking off into the past, trying to remember...anything...  A man who had been "seen" by thousands on stage over his lifetime, but who would be remembered by none of them and who was, in the end, nobody.  

Booming voice, gigantic presence, someone people looked at from the balcony with a kind of envy, envying the warmth of the stage lights and the intense passion of the dressing room, and the notion of being seen by the eyes of crowds in cities they would never see.  But at the same time, a person whose name they probably didn't remember, and who would be replaced in their minds by the next character in the next show they saw, and who would expire in the corner of a shack in the wilderness, unseen and unheard by anyone but the one person who would miss him and saw him as what he was: "What's the rake?"  "18 to 1, old trouper."  (Funny how you spell "trooper" as "trouper" and it means something unique  and uniquely outdated to actors...being a "trouper")  And the guy knocked that scene out of the park.  It hit hard because the actor was old, and you have to wonder how it feels for a very old, clearly skilled, but not-at-all "famous" actor to play the part of a very old, clearly skilled, but not-at-all "famous" actor dying.  It had to be eerie. Like a rehearsal.

Man, that alarm in my head went off that tell me that I'm watching an awesome old man doing awesome old man stuff and that I needed to know more about him.

It turns out they couldn't have picked a more perfect person for this part than Aubrey Morris.  When he filmed this in 2006, he was 80 years old 80 FUCKING YEARS OLD!!!  Note: That was 2006.  This September, 2014 he will be appearing in an episode of IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA88 FUCKING YEARS OLD!!!!!

Aubrey Morris was the perfect person for that moment of the anonymous expiration of an unfamous actor appreciated only by his lone colleague because he is an amazing actor who has done amazing work for almost 60 years while somehow managing to not become famous.  There is very little about him online.  No website nerd fans.  No interviews.  No tributes.  A very slim wikipedia entry which notes his place of birth and then just the most famous movies he was in.  Goddammit, Aubrey Morris deserves better.  

Before you do anything else today, watch Aubrey Morris at his absolute grandest in this scene from PEARL with Malcolm McDowell:



This little bit was perhaps a nod to Aubrey's most famous role, also opposite MacDowell:


Oh, yeah, yesss?  He's that guy, yesss? 

Like, who watched that scene in DEADWOOD and thought, "Hey, that's that amazing creep from A CLOCKWORK ORANGE?"  Someday I want to live in a world where everyone will think just that.

Clearly the guy is a stage actor and yeah he did a lot of Shakespeare, some at the Winter Garden Theater on Broadway when there was still room at the Winter Garden theater for plays (in other words before MAMMA MIA! and currently ROCKY: THE MUSICAL ed. note: Fuck). 

 

He started screen acting way back in 1958 in a BBC production of Ivanhoe that starred Roger Moore and since then has accumulated 139 IMDB credits.  Along the way he pronounced a death sentence on Patrick Macgoohan in THE PRISONER:

 

Scenefrom_Prisoner_Danceofthe_Dead.jpg

He showed up in THE WICKER MAN as the gross-ass gravedigger:

 

Aubrey_Morris_2_525.jpg

In a Hammer Mummy movie:

 

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He's one of those guys that's hard to pin down.  I mean, this is what he looked like in two different parts from the same month in 1964:

tve12392_19641015_302.jpgtve12392_19641013_85.jpg

But as he got older, and puffier, he settled into doddering professors and doddering scientists and doddering scholars:

In LIFEFORCE:

 

12392_11134.gif

In MY GIRL 2:



In everything though, he plays the same symbolic thing: a relic.  A figment of someone else's past.  A student visiting him.  A patient checking in with him.   A fan discovering an old reclusive writer that no one reads anymore.  He is a stand-in for various images of a past we imagine as bigger and grander and droller and more romantic than the present.  Professors aren't like that anymore, and eccentric scientists aren't like that anymore...and actors aren't like that anymore...

And of course, that's what he is in DEADWOOD.  An actor playing an actor pretending to be what an actor once was.  A thing past its expiration date...one more vestige of a dying way of life.  He is the guy you call when you need to mix that elegiac sadness with dark British realism, dying while making fun of how badly your death is playing to the peanut gallery.

So, just imagine what he's going to be on September 10, 2014 when the 88 FUCKING YEAR OLD Aubrey Morris shows up as "Albert Zimmerman" in season 10, episode 2 of IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA!!!  Set your DVRs!!! And when he shows up, you'll be able to say "Hey, it's that amazing creep from A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and that gross-ass gravedigger from THE WICKER MAN and that awesome endlessly dying guy from DEADWOOD!!!!"

 

Like, as of this moment...it's like the event of the Fall.
 

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The True Grit reboot made by the Coen Brothers is fucking badass.

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Moved from the TV thread since I happened to see this

 

 

The Proposition: That is one of the most fucked-up films I've ever seen and fucked-up films are my stock-in-trade. If she can handle it, go for it, because it is also amazing on every other level. If you went in entirely cold you could probably be convinced it's an adaptation of a Cormac McCarthy novel.

 

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada is probably more accessible and is another incredible film. Tommy and Barry Pepper absolutely kill it. A very touching film.

 

To conclude I will suggest Duck, You Sucker! by Leone which is criminally underrated. Soooooooo gooooooood...

 

I had to take serious pause when Mr. Deltoid showed up in Lifeforce. A real "I SWEAR TO GOD I KNOW THAT GUY AND I WILL FIGURE IT OUT BASED ON A LINE HE SAID ONCE" moment. Actually, that could have been The Wicker Man as I saw it in the theater last year and both around the same time.

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Moved from the TV thread since I happened to see this

 

 

The Proposition: That is one of the most fucked-up films I've ever seen and fucked-up films are my stock-in-trade. If she can handle it, go for it, because it is also amazing on every other level. If you went in entirely cold you could probably be convinced it's an adaptation of a Cormac McCarthy novel.

 

 

It's ironic that Hillcoat's follow up film was an adaptation of a Cormac McCarthy film!

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Here's a question:

 

When does JUSTIFIED stop sucking?  I'm two episodes in and, okay, it doesn't suck...but it's just kind of there.  it's like a a regular show about a quirky cop and his goofy friends.  It's like a USA network show.  I was expecting something way moodier and more brooding and with more ambiance.

 

It's like...I could watch episode three, or I could go watch BURN NOTICE...it feels like it would be about the same level of satisfying.

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I'm watching Tombstone again right now as it's on CMT. So great. As we've discussed, Val Kilmer put in an Oscar worthy performance but all of the side characters are awesome. Stephen Lang, Powers Boothe and Michael Biehn are like the fucking Shield of movie villains. What an awesome stable they made. Extra points for the Kurt Russell/Val Kilmer bitching up Billy Bob scene. Damn right your scared. Go ahead skin it. Skin that smoke wagon and see what happens. Johnny forgive me, I forgot you were there. You can go now. Oh, Thomas Haden Church is such a little weasel too. Man this cast is insane.

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Here's a question:

 

When does JUSTIFIED stop sucking?  I'm two episodes in and, okay, it doesn't suck...but it's just kind of there.  it's like a a regular show about a quirky cop and his goofy friends.  It's like a USA network show.  I was expecting something way moodier and more brooding and with more ambiance.

 

It's like...I could watch episode three, or I could go watch BURN NOTICE...it feels like it would be about the same level of satisfying.

I told you it takes a while for them to figure it out. It doesn't start picking up steam until Walton Goggins comes back full-time from making PREDATORS. It gets really good by the end of the season, and season 2 is an all-time great season of TV.

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Oh, shit. I couldn't remember what the 2nd episode of JUSTIFIED was, so I looked up: It's the one with the escaped prison band!

#WorstofAllTime2ndEpisode

You have to at least stick around for the 4th episode with Alan Ruck as the dentist. That's probably the best example of early first season JUSTIFIED.

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