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piranesi

Hey, Huckleberries: All Things American Western

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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.

Oh for Christ's sake, stick with it. It becomes the fucking best show on TV, in my opinion .
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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.

Oh for Christ's sake, stick with it. It becomes the fucking best show on TV, in my opinion .

 

 

I enjoyed the first season enough but the strenght to it is when Boyd is around.  Stick with it because Seasons 2, 3 and 4 are pretty fucking awesome.

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I'm 4 episodes into season 2 of Deadwood now. I really love this show, but some of these characters can fuck off. I fucking hate Farnum, little runt cocksucker. I also may have said so elsewhere, but Olyphant is awesome. I can't recall another character who is just so fucking pissed off nearly 100% of the time. I really just want the show to be Al, Seth, Saul, Silas and a few others.

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I can't fathom not loving every second of Farnum.  Silas is the best though.  How many shows can bring in a new guy like that into a "crew" that is already so awesome and somehow find room to make him awesome in his own way.

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Titus Welliver (I'm sure I fucked up that spelling) is something awesome. I didn't particularly care for him in Sons of Anarchy because he was doing a really shitty Irish accent, but he's great in just about everything else.

 

Doc is the best, though. The way he talks to Al in some scenes is awesome. You da man, Brad Dourif.

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Welliver is a greatly underutilized actor. He gets a lot of work, but seldom anything interesting. After seeing DEADWOOD, I couldn't believe LOST brought him in and, basically, immediately threw him away.

One of the DVD sets had a bonus feature that was him impersonating David Milch auditioning himself impersonating guys like Pacino, Walken, Duvall, and DeNiro for the role of Al that I thought was hilarious at the time I saw it. I mean, I don't know how many more Walken impressions you need to see in 2014, but I bet his Duvall holds up. ("Beautiful girl. Argentinian. Dark hair, like the pate of a horse.")

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The first western I remember seeing is The Sons Of Katie Elder and it has stuck with me as a favorite for just that reason. I am also partial to The Wild Bunch, The Ballad of Cable Hogue, Major Dundee, Duck You Sucker, Ulzana's Raid and Rio Bravo. Did John Wayne or Sam Peckinpah ever make a bad Western?

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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.

While I agree that the structure of the story sort of leads to a weird last 20-30 minutes, I also agree with Tarantino's perspective that it was necessary.

If the story is "White guy frees Django, then leads him by the hand to rescue his wife, the end"...well, that's not so great. That's, like, 90% of Hollywood's unfortunate attempts to address race in film. Black folks ascendant because of the kindness of good white folks.

To avoid that, I think it was necessary to 1) put Django back in chains and require him to orchestrate his own escape and finish the job of rescuing his wife on his own, and 2) to have him put back in chains because the good white guy ultimately goes into business for himself, placing his own petty concerns ahead of Django and Hildy when the deal was done and they were about to get off scott free.

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Good points.  I wonder if that issue could have been avoided by making the first hour 1/2 less of a love letter to Christopher Walz and letting Foxx be a more commanding presence earlier on.  Or somehow foreshadowing that Walz would be undependable in the clutch. 

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Good points.  I wonder if that issue could have been avoided by making the first hour 1/2 less of a love letter to Christopher Walz and letting Foxx be a more commanding presence earlier on.  Or somehow foreshadowing that Walz would be undependable in the clutch. 

 

I still dont get how Waltz was the supporting actor in the movie. Django Unchained was his movie. Foxx was more supporting than anything else.

 

A recent western I like is Appaloosa. it probably would have been bigger had it come out in another decade.

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Hey, good timing, I've been on a Western kick recently. Currently re-marathoning the first season of Deadwood, and damn that's a fine series. Not many shows are this damn fun at just watching the characters deal with each other, running their little games and all trying to out-con the other guy and never being entirely sure of what's going on in the big picture. It does sometimes tend to waste time with some damn strange and thoroughly unnecessary subplots that never go anywhere, though. And it's a crying shame about that abrupt downer non-ending when the show got cancelled.

Also, just rewatched the first few minutes of The Wild Bunch. Holy shit, this is still such a great film, and SO shockingly cold in its brutality. One thing I totally missed before is how William Holden actually ORDERS the crazy kid to execute the hostages in the bank! And also practically straight-up tells the kid "Stay behind and get yourself killed in order to buy the rest of us some time, will ya sport?" And then the lead bounty hunter is such an apathetic shitheel that he gets several of his own men killed basically because he's just too lazy to make sure the kid is really dead, and doesn't even seem to care about their deaths at all. No wonder this was such a controversial hot-potato of a film, back in the day. Heck, I was practically scarred for life as a young child by once happening to see just the final massacre on TV; especially the bit with the backstabbing prostitute. "(bang!) "...BITCH!" (BOOM)" That one part haunted me ever since then, for years afterwards, even not knowing the movie's name or anything else about it.

Two I just saw recently for the first time, and wasn't terribly impressed by: Hondo and Hang 'em High.

Hondo seems in the early stages like it's going somewhere new and interesting, with John Wayne playing a half-indian character who is pretty sympathetic to the plight of the natives. It gives Wayne some of his best laconic dialogue too; when he's clearly exhausted and famished from walking through the desert, he responds to an offer of food with a tight-lipped "...I could eat." The hard-to-read Vittorio (straight from the black hills of Italy, I guess) is a kinda fascinating anti-villain in his own way. And the plot throws us a real curveball with the killing of the father, Wayne's look of horror and disgust as he hurls away his rifle is one of the big lug's best acting moments later. So what the FUCK happened at the end?! First the film just drops the whole dead-father subplot with a big shrug, totally letting Wayne's character off the hook with no consequences. The antagonist receives an insanely anticlimactic offscreen death in a battle we never even see; he's never mentioned again, it's just "and oh yeah btw, that one guy died... NEXT!" The story completely abandons all pretense of nuance with the indians, just flattening them into the same old war-painted whooping villains from every crappy western ever. And then for an ending, we get this chaotic mess of a big gunfight which ended so suddenly and pointlessly that it was like those old Looney Tunes where the characters suddenly stop fighting and clock out of their jobs when the whistle blows at the end of the day. The movie's over like twenty seconds later, with Wayne not even glancing at his supposed lady-love or his newly adopted son. (Speaking of which, how the hell did Geraldine Chaplin score an Oscar nomination for her wooden, expressionless portrayal of this boring-as-hell heroine? Maureen O'Hara or Beverly Garland coulda knocked this soggy bitch out with one punch; hell, probably even Grace Kelly could've done it in three shots or less.) It felt like studio meddling, as if the test screenings didn't go well and they arbitrarily stapled a new ending onto the film.

Hang 'em High perplexed me. I didn't understand what message this movie was trying to get across. It felt like it was trying to be a violent spaghetti-ish riff on morality tales like The Ox-Bow Incident, but the moral gets so muddled that I have no idea what the film's basic argument is supposed to be. So, this judge knowingly executes people that are probably innocent, admits he's totally wrong to do it but still does it anyway, because...? His explanation basically boiled down to "Because FUCK YOU, don't talk about fight club, Macguffin!" I know he's based on real-life hanging judges like Isaac Parker, but the way the story was told it just didn't make any damn sense. Especially since he keeps warning Eastwood's marshall character NOT to ever kill people himself, KEEPS threatening to take his badge away whenever Eastwood inevitably shoots more guys, but then never does anything but just say "never do that again!" over and over. Like he's the ineffectual lieutenant who constantly warns Harry Callahan not to be so dirty, but then never actually does anything about it. Bruce Dern and Dennis Hopper's glorified cameos as murdering psychopaths were a lot of fun, but SO short; I wish the whole movie had been about those guys, rather than the boring villains we're stuck with. And hey, what's the deal with Clint Eastwood having to take some kind of Passion Play-like beating that almost kills him, always around the end of the second act in damn near every one of his Westerns, anyway?

 

Good points.  I wonder if that issue could have been avoided by making the first hour 1/2 less of a love letter to Christopher Walz and letting Foxx be a more commanding presence earlier on.  Or somehow foreshadowing that Walz would be undependable in the clutch.

I think part of the point of Django's character arc was how much of a cringing nobody he was at first. The movie's underlying story is of this man finding himself, discovering his own strength. I never really thought about EVA's point how he needed to do his own damn rescuing at the end rather than have King do the job for him. And it is SLIGHTLY foreshadowed that King has his own weaknesses, being so damn trigger-happy and also having problems with remaining in character as he sees the very worst of Calvin's monstrosities.

But it's absolutely true that that last act feels redundant as all hell, we've SEEN all this shit already, the buildup to the final shootout is practically a rerun of previous material. (Kinda like the whole "last ride" sequence in Tombstone after they've already settled up with the main villains, come to think of it.) And I wish they would have found SOMETHING for Hilde to do other than just standing around and look bewildered, this is the only QT feature film besides Reservoir Dogs which absolutely lacks any interesting female characters. Still, Django Unchained is a movie that's grown on me with rewatchings. I thought it was a bit lacking when I first saw it, but over time I've come to appreciate the talky segments a lot more (which is something that frequently happens as Tarantino movies age).

EDIT: and oh yeah, someone earlier asked if there'd ever been a bad John Wayne western. To which the answer is: yeah, dozens, but nobody's ever heard of them and you never see them available anywhere except in those dollar-bin movie combos where they pack together like fifty different public-domain flicks. He'd made something like eighty different movies before his breakout role in Stagecoach, the vast majority of them being low-budget B-picture Westerns.

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Wow. Hearst in Deadwood is a HUGE piece of shit. In a show that didn't really have an archetype villain (I guess that creepy fucker from season 2 counts), Hearst is filling that void well.

 

Bullock wants to be the trigger man on ending Hearst's life though, so why doesn't Al let Bullock go through with it? I'm 4 episodes into season 3, but I can't tell if Al really is afraid of Hearst or if he has a bigger plan.

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Al seems hard to read at times in season 3.  Sometimes it seems he's less out for himself than he's out for this ideal of autonomy and that he's protecting "the camp" not just to cover his own ass but because protecting that collection of mutts (or at least some of them) is some sort of means for him to work through all the shit he's done and had done to him over the years.

 

I think the standard line about not killing Hearst at the point you are at in the show is that it would lead to a world of shit for everyone.  His shareholders sending an army of Company men to burn the rabble out.  Of course, it remains to be seen if that is or is not going to happen anyway.

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Starting episode 5 of season 3. Jesus, at the end of episode 4 you can really see how broken Al is. His conversation with his whore at the end of the episode was particularly revealing with Al talking about how he was held down and couldn't do anything and then his whore confides in him to say that she doesn't like being held down either. I love moments like that in Deadwood because they're juxtaposed against so much violence and brutality. 

 

Al is also particularly flummoxed in episode 5, not knowing what to do with Hearst.

 

I'm super pissed this show didn't get renewed. How the fuck could that happen?

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And Al just gave the order for Dan to fight. Dan's getting greased up. Oooooooooooooh shiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.

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Dan went full Harley Race on that guy, didn't he?

The whole "why don't they just fuckin' kill Hearst already?" question is a tough one, but the show was incredibly handicapped by the fact that all this stuff is based on history and real people. Hearst actually existed, he was a Senator at one point iirc, and a big bad powerbroker in every way. And he did not die by being shot in Deadwood, so the show can't really go that direction, no matter how much we'd all love to see it.

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I'm super pissed this show didn't get renewed. How the fuck could that happen?

 

It sucks but don't worry.  I was where you are two weeks ago and was worried the ending that is there would just be totally up in the air.  But it's not.  I wrote a little bit about in the the TV thread before we had this nice spacious schoolhouse of our own here to process slowly back and forth from every day.

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I have a habit of going to Wikipedia to look up background info on the various people introduced. Seeing how Hearst was portrayed on the show, I started wondering if the show runners would pull an Inglorious Bastards and make up their own history, otherwise, why back themselves into such a corner?

 

As for Dan, yeah, that was awesome.

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I'm super pissed this show didn't get renewed. How the fuck could that happen?

It reached the point where the cost of production outweighed the ratings, and HBO wanted to be rid of it. Around this same time, David Milch was developing JOHN FROM CINCINNATI for them, and they sold it like Milch wanted to end his old show so he could focus on his new one. Which Milch and everyone else on the show has called bullshit on a million times over by now. Milch always wanted to do at least one more season or a couple of movies to finish the story.

Be glad you got into the show now, because people who were fans 7 years ago had to suffer through constant "They still might make the movies!"/"Oops, no, they're not!" stories. That carried on for years until the sets were finally destroyed a few years ago.

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It's amazing how much of the set was CGI and how little was practical sets.

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So I hung in there for JUSTIFIED and wow.  Ep. 7 was suddenly like a completely different show.  The tone, the performances, the story.  The characters are suddenly more real.  People are yelling at eachother and betraying eachother and there are consequences to actions.  You really could skip from ep. 1 to ep. 7 and not miss anything and have a great compelling show from beginning to end.

 It's almost as if they found out late that Goggins had to film and were like "Shit...everybody write an episode this weekend, we need to write and film five of them this month until Walter gets back!"
 
Also I have a pretty serious crush on Natalie Zea's strut.

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Episode 7, you say?

tumblr_m2cqb4qP6v1r5gf6go1_500.gif

HE'S COMING SOON.

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Man...that Deadwood finale was under-fucking-whelming. Even as a season finale it left a lot to be desired.

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Additional thoughts...the penultimate episode was great. It really made things felt as if the shit was really going to hit the fan. Alma's husband is murdered, Bullock gets called back to Deadwood, etc. And then...an episode based on Trixie fucking up with her attempt on Hearst's life.

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