Archive for the ‘Western’ Category

Chino

Friday, September 19th, 2014

tn_chinoor “What I Did With Charles Bronson On My Summer Vacation”

CHINO is the last western by John Sturges. Here’s the director of GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL practically making a spaghetti western – it’s a Dino De Laurentiis production, but filmed in Spain. I guess I don’t really know what kind of noodle that would be. But he reunites with his MAGNIFICENT SEVEN / THE GREAT ESCAPE star Charles Motherfuckin Bronson in his prime.

Bronson plays Chino Valdez, a loner who ran with the Cheyenne Indians in his youth and now lives all by himself on a ranch catching wild horses, training and breeding them. One day this blond kid named Jamie (Dick Van Patten’s youngest son Vincent) rides by looking for work and Chino – first seen in scary silhouette – lets him sleep in his barn. He keeps calling him “boy” and is the opposite of friendly, almost scares him away by chopping meat in front of him, but then shames him into staying so he doesn’t look like a sissy.

Of course they form a sweet friendship as Chino keeps getting a little nicer to him. He talks gruff but offers him things like letting him borrow a horse to ride into town and help him with different tasks. He makes him smile by threatening to cut his ears off. After a couple days he admits he likes having the boy around and hires him, even though he’s Chino, for fuck’s sake, why would he need anyone to help him with anything? Ridiculous. (read the rest of this shit…)

Man and Boy

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

tn_manandboyMAN AND BOY. Ha ha, yeah I know, I noticed that too. The name sounds inappropriate. I bet if it was called THE SEARCH FOR JUBAL or something it would’ve played on cable more and we all would’ve heard of it before. Instead I had to just stumble across it by accident in the western section at the video store. It’s from 1971 and it stars Bill Cosby (The Cosby Mysteries) as Caleb Revers, an ex-Union soldier who, after the Emancipation Proclamation, holds his head high and owns property despite what some of the white folk around might think about it.

I mentioned Jubal ’cause that’s the name of their horse. Being the Cliff Huxtable of the Old West, Cosby is a horse doctor who is going to put some white guy’s injured horse down, but then his son Billy (George Spell, THE NAKED KISS) cries so much he makes a deal with the farmhand or whatever to take the horse if he can get it to walk. It’s like WAR HORSE for a minute, they nurse Jubal back to health and then force him to haul a giant boulder. These people in movies sure do talk a big game about how much they love a horse before they enslave and torture the poor thing. No wonder those big bastards dream of one day fucking all of mankind to death, yelling “Remember Enumclaw!” (see ZOO). (read the rest of this shit…)

The Bronze Buckaroo

Friday, February 7th, 2014

tn_bronzebuckarooIn North America, February is Black History Month. I mean, it’s debatable how real of a thing it is. Every year we note that black history oughta be taught in other months also, and of course you got the “why is it the shortest month?” jokes. The U.K. musta foreseen that, ’cause they have theirs in October. But really 28 days of Black History Month is 21 more than the original “Negro History Week,” which was celebrated in February because of the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. It was intended to encourage teaching about African-American history in schools, which I guess did not go over great when it started in 1926. But 50 years later an expanded month long version was officially recognized by the government. So suck on that, 1926.

I don’t know what goes on in the schools today, but in the world of grownups it seems like the month isn’t that meaningful to most people. It seems more common to see it used for flimsy, borderline offensive corporate promotions than for any kind of legitimate attempt to fulfill the goal of bringing awareness to aspects of American and world culture that don’t tend to get enough recognition. (read the rest of this shit…)

Gallowwalkers

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

tn_gallowwalkersThis has been a source of mystery for a couple years now, the weird sounding horror-western that Wesley Snipes filmed right before he got convicted. In fact the prosecutors tried to accuse him of running when he flew to Namibia to film it. Were they just trying to fuck up his life, or did they really believe he was crazy enough to start over there, become the African DTV Roman Polanski? I mean, that would be kinda cool though.

From the early descriptions it sounded like they were trying to do Cowboy BLADE, the promotional materials were amateurish, the director is an unknown and there was always the possibility that “Andrew Goth” was not his real name but a fake one that he actually thought sounded cool. Also, there was reason to believe Wesley needed money and was not necessarily being picky about which projects to do. And then it didn’t come out for six years. So I never had any faith at all that this would be good.

And yes, it’s a mess. First and worst example is the narration, which could be Snipes sounding really weird, but I’m pretty sure it’s a Steven Seagal OUT OF REACH situation. I just thought it was a third person narrator until the last sentence of the opening chunk, where it sounds like a pretty good Blade imitation. Later he’s saying “I” and it’s clearly supposed to be Snipes’s character Aman talking, but it sure doesn’t sound like his voice. (read the rest of this shit…)

Summer Movie Flashback: Cowboys & Aliens

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

tn_cowboysandaliens

2011

2011

COWBOYS AND/OR ALIENS starts out great. Daniel Craig wakes up with an apparent gunshot wound and a weird metal device locked to his wrist. He doesn’t remember who he is or what the fuck happened. He does remember how to fight, though, so when some guys try to rob him he kicks their asses, steals their clothes TERMINATOR style and heads into town. (And all this without talking.)

Other than that metal thing it plays as a straight western for a while. Paul Dano is a crazy asshole who terrorizes the town, shooting his guns off and demeaning innocent people because his dad (Harrison Ford) is the cattle baron and he thinks he can get away with anything. But when he picks out Craig, a random bystander, to flip some shit at, he finds himself crashing nose-first against a wall of badass. This stranger doesn’t know who the little shit is and can’t pretend to be scared of him, so he knocks him on his ass. In the scuffle the kid accidentally shoots a deputy, a crime the sheriff can’t overlook despite who his daddy is, so they both get arrested, to be transferred to federal custody the next day.
(read the rest of this shit…)

The Lone Ranger

Monday, July 8th, 2013

tn_lonerangerFuck it. I loved THE LONE RANGER. I’m not gonna downplay it. It doesn’t surprise me it’s not a runaway hit, ’cause it’s a cowboy from a fuckin radio play, for chrissakes. Every several years they sink a bunch of money into a movie based on an old timey adventure hero like The Phantom, The Shadow, The Green Hornet, John Carter, or this guy, and maybe with the exception of Zorro they’ve all failed to make money or capture the public consciousness. But I tend to like these kinds of movies, so thank you, corporations, for losing so much scratch on my behalf, especially this time. Here we have the most artful and original of any of those mentioned. I wouldn’t expect everybody to want to see it, but I honestly can’t comprehend the hatred for it by people who have.

It’s made by Team Pirates of the Caribbean: director Gore Verbinski, star Johnny Depp, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, studio Walt Disney, writers Terry Rossio & Ted Elliot (this time with Justin Haythe, who wrote SNITCH), composer Hans Zimmer. And I personally really like their three Pirates movies, so keep that in mind, but this is much more concise and focused. I’m not gonna say it’s better than PIRATES 2, with all those crazy creatures and shit, but it’s faster moving and better structured. (read the rest of this shit…)

Django Unchained

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

A couple weeks ago the studio “lifted the embargo” as they say, and all the online critics unchained their DJANGO reviews even though non-critics wouldn’t see the thing until Christmas. I think that’s a silly ritual because I wasn’t gonna read that shit! This is the new Quentin Tarantino movie, you go in fresh. I already know I want to see any movie he makes, I don’t gotta read everything about it first. In case you’re different I’ve tried to mark the biggest spoilers in this review, but as usual I recommend seeing the movie first.

DJANGO UNCHAINED is the most straight forward movie Tarantino has ever made. It follows one main character from first scene to last, doesn’t cut away to another story or even jump around in time other than some very traditional flashbacks. There are alot of long conversation scenes, but it’s generally pretty clear what they have to do with the main plot of the freed slave Django (Jamie Foxx, STEALTH) becoming a bounty hunter and trying to rescue his wife (Kerry Washington) from a plantation. And that’s not a misleading description, that’s really the movie, a racially charged western (or “Southern,” Tarantino likes to say) in the tradition of those CHARLEY movies I just reviewed.

So in a way it feels uneventful for a Tarantino movie, the first time he made one that was pretty much what I expected from the commercials. On first viewing it seems low in my rankings of the QT filmography, but that doesn’t say much. Tarantino sure knows how to entertain, and I happen to love this genre of badass black cowboys out for frontier justice against practitioners of the slave trade. For his first straight up genre picture that’s a good genre to pick. I love this movie. (read the rest of this shit…)

Boss

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Don’t worry, this is the last of the pre-DJANGO slavery-themed reviews. I don’t want to ruin Christmas or anything, but I gotta finish the trilogy.

BOSS was originally called BOSS [word white people shouldn't say], but it was easy to change to just BOSS and therefore it’s the only one of the Charley trilogy available on a legitimate DVD. In this one it’s still Fred Williamson as Charley, but he’s just called “Boss.” (Or maybe “Bas” like Bas Rutten?) And D’Urville Martin is still his sidekick but he’s called “Amos” instead of Toby. Maybe it’s an alias. At this point they’ve left behind their town in Mexico and are traveling bounty hunters. But it definitely is meant as a sequel because Williamson says so on a title card added to the DVD where he explains why he approves of the use of the n-word in the title, dialogue and theme song. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Soul of (hahem) Charley

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

The first sequel to THE LEGEND OF (cough cough) CHARLEY is the best of the series in my opinion. It takes place after the Civil War, so Charley is no longer a runaway slave, but he still has to deal with racists, including a former Confederate colonel who still leads his troop of assholes on violent rampages in black settlements.

Charley (still Fred Williamson) and Toby (still D’urville Martin) come across one of these towns right after everyone’s been massacred except for a little boy. By this time Charley is such a legend that the kid can’t believe he’s meeting him, it’s like he gets to hang out with Mohammad Ali. Or Fred Williamson.

(read the rest of this shit…)

The Legend of (word white people shouldn’t say) Charley

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

I’ve been curious about this series of Fred Williamson slavery-era westerns, and with DJANGO UNCHAINED coming at the end of the month it seemed like a good time to finally get to them.

As the old white patriarch of a plantation is on his death bed he wants to free his favorite slave, who took good care of him. She says she’s too old to start a new life and asks him instead to free her son, Charley (Fred Williamson). Charley works as a blacksmith, which makes me think this was probly one of the inspirations for THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS. But unfortunately he never uses his ironworking skills as a free man, not even in the sequels.
(read the rest of this shit…)