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Entries in westerns (38)

Wednesday
Jun212017

Q&A: "Strong Female Characters" and Future AFI Honors

Okay last round of reader questions before we have to ask for a new batch. These are culled from the last "Ask Nathaniel" column as well as the open thread. Let's talk Wonder Woman and Oscar, "Strong Roles for Women," and more.

MARIE: Who are the next 3 women that should win the AFI Life Achievement Award?

NATHANIEL: A timely question since Diane Keaton just won hers. But I had to look back at who has previously been nominated to come up with an answer. Living female winners number only five: Diane Keaton (2017), Jane Fonda (2014), Shirley Maclaine (2012), Meryl Streep (2004), and Barbra Streisand (2000) with the other twelve winners in this new century being men (both actors and directors have won). It's actually a tough question because they have to be alive and *really* famous to get this honor and also elderly (though Streep was young for this honor taking it when she was 54ish I think). They also have to be American (for the most part) so I looked only at people who are almost 60 or older and this is what I came up with...

 

I would probably choose from among these five next:

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Monday
May152017

Powers Boothe (1948-2017)

Powers Boothe with his daughter Parisse (both acted in DEADWOOD) at a 2006 Emmy partyThe Emmy winning character actor Powers Boothe, best known for screen villains on TV (Deadwood, Nashville) and in movies (Sin City, Tombstone) died yesterday morning in his sleep from natural causes. After Shakespearean work on stage after college, his screen career began with "bad Shakespeare" as part of the Richard III play within the Oscar nominated comedy The Goodbye Girl (1977) in which he mostly lays like a corpse on a table while Dreyfus overacts the hunchback around him. The on camera career stretched for nearly another 40 years ending with the recurring baddie role as one of HYDRA's top leaders  "Gideon Malick" on  the third season of Marvel's AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. (2015/2016).  

The native Texan was 68 years old and is survived by his wife of 48 years (they married in college before his acting career began) and their two children. After the jump a quick survey of key roles... 

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Sunday
Mar052017

Review: Hugh Jackman's Last Stand as Wolverine in "Logan"

This review was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad

Logan, the latest and last (for now) solo Wolverine movie, was not kidding around when it opted for Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” as its trailer music. It’s not just the severity of the title, but the elegiac lyrics, and the dying man as guiding spirit / inspiration. Some trailers lie but this one spoke world-weary truth. This is exactly the kind of movie James Mangold, who also directed the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, delivers.

Wolverine’s mutation were never those iconic claws, which were a science experiment to weaponize him, but his ability to instantly heal which also slows down his aging process. The movie franchise got very silly about this, placing him in the civil war context in X-Men Origins as if the once feral Canadian hero was an immortal vampire rather than a mutant. 

But Logan is anything but silly about aging...

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Monday
Nov282016

The Furniture: Porches and Nostalgia in Hell or High Water

"The Furniture" is our weekly series on Production Design. Here's Daniel Walber...

The Old West has been dead since well before the dawn of cinema, and so the best Westerns are parables of a way of life in decline. Yet despite the history, there are plenty for whom the mythology of the cowboy and the outlaw isn’t extinct. That’s why the Western has lived on, well after the death of even the oldest Americans who could remember those days. It’s also what drives films like Hell or High Water, which use symbols to chronicle the last days of the Old West’s cultural descendants.

It takes place in a nearly empty West Texas, now being picked over by banks. Taylor Sheridan’s script is insistent in its reminders of this context. “No wonder my kids won’t do this shit for a living,” says an anonymous cattle rancher fleeing an encroaching fire. “The days of robbing banks and trying to live to spend the money - long gone,” says an anonymous old man in a burger joint.

This is why the surface tension between the criminal brothers (Ben Foster and Chris Pine) and the aging Texas Ranger (Jeff Bridges) is a red herring...

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Thursday
Sep222016

Review: "The Magnificent Seven"

by Chris Feil

Drawing on the original iterations of Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai and the 1960 American remake by John Sturges, Antoine Fuqua's The Magnificent Seven arrives as another attempt to reanimate the American western.

Denzel Washington leads this bursting cast as Chisolm, corralling a ragtag mini-militia to help protect a small town from a violent and overbearing tycoon (Peter Sarsgaard). There are familiar faces (Ethan Hawke, Chris Pratt, Vincent D'Onofrio) and emerging talents (Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, and Martin Sensmeier) rounding out the Magnificent bunch with more shared attention to each player than you might be anticipating...

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Wednesday
Aug242016

Review: Hell or High Water

by Eric Blume

With their new film, director David Mackenzie (Young Adam, Starred Up) and screenwriter Taylor Sheridan (Sicario) make one thing abundantly clear: they really, really hate banks.  Hell or High Water is a sort of southwest answer to The Big Short, a tale of rural Texas poor on a Robin Hood mission. 

Sheridan’s script was the winner of the 2012 Black List prize for best unproduced screenplay, a fact which feels surprising during the cliché friendly first half hour.  Brothers Toby and Tanner Howard are characters we’ve seen many times before, with a sibling dynamic that’s not new either.  Tanner (Ben Foster) is the wild bro released from prison, complete with a violent streak and true-blue redneck energy.  Toby (Chris Pine) is the tender brother, a taciturn and emotionally bruised man trying to make things right.  Together, they start robbing small Texas banks to secure money to save the family farm.  As Counterpoint we have two Texas rangers on their case:  Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges), for whom this is the last big one before retirement(!), and partner Alberto (Gil Birmingham), the sage Native American sidekick. 

For about the first thirty minutes, you sit in fear that this is all the film will be, a simple chase to the inevitable populated with stock characters. The only hope it has is to somehow deepen.  Fortunately, it does...

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