Posts Tagged by westernfilms
|November 3, 2011||Posted by Ariadne under Westernfilms||
It’s difficult to choose the most attractive aspect of the animated western-comedy Rango, but it is easy to proclaim it an intelligent piece of entertainment that will amuse adults and children alike.
The beginning of the film is deceivingly colourful and slow paced – here we are introduced to a lonely pet chameleon (voiced by Johnny Depp) that spends his time acting in his terrarium and dreaming of adventures. Soon, a real adventure ensues: he finds himself stranded in Mojave Desert after his terrarium falls off his owner’s car.
At this point the film picks up the pace, and once Rango steps foot into Dirt, a real Western fills the screen. Dirt is an Old West type of town, populated by desert animals. The town is inexplicably at the edge of a complete draught, and soon our unlikely hero takes up a Sheriff’s duty of finding out what’s going on. Of course, it is not simple for a city pet to become a confident hero, and Rango will go not only on a quest for water, but also on a quest to discover his true identity…
Although it is an animated film fit for younger audiences, Rango is far from being populated with cute or cuddly characters. Desert animals in Dirt perfectly evoke hardened characters we often find in classic Western films. In fact, gunslinger Jake (voiced by Bill Nighy) is done so well that smaller children (or anyone with a snake phobia) might get scared in some scenes!
Impeccable animation and stunning visual effects are possibly the most impressive aspect of Rango. Next comes the flawless voice acting, as well as an intelligent plot. Pacing of the story is perhaps slow at the beginning, but later makes up for it with good amount of twists that will hold your attention even if you find them predictable.
An element of the film that was a personal favourite of mine is the music score, paired with the mariachi narrators that break the fourth wall and lead us through the story with their amusing remarks. Also, if you choose to watch the extended version of Rango, you can expect an additional 4-minute scene at the end of the film. This serves as a lovely epilogue to the story.
Western experts might also have fun recognizing references to classic Western films. Several of these are incorporated in Rango – the most obvious one being a brief appearance of The Man With No Name (voiced by Timothy Olyphant).
Rango was written and directed by Gore Verbinski, probably best known for his work on the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films. While Rango follows the same trail of family entertainment, it still carries enough weight and dust of a real Western, making it one of the interesting Western titles in 2011.
|October 7, 2011||Posted by Ariadne under Western Literature, Westernfilms||
What did Wyatt Earp tell John Ford about the real gunfight at the O.K. Corral? What problems did Joan Crawford cause on the set of Johnny Guitar? Why did Steve McQueen fake a car accident prior to filming The Magnificent Seven?
Answers to these questions can be found in Stagecoach to Tombstone, a book full of interesting details about 27 great Westerns. Howard Hughes, the author of the book, based his choice of films on the lists collected from various Western experts, ensuring the book will cover relevant films in the genre.
Before I got my hands on this book, I expected a simple guidebook – a quick and an easy read. However, it was clear at the first glance that Stagecoach to Tombstone is a result of an extensive research – the pages are tightly filled with text, with an occasional photograph on every few pages. To my great delight, the chapters turned out to be written in a way that easily grabs attention, amuses and perhaps even educates. While not quick, this turned out to be a rather easy read after all!
Hughes is very informative and writes about a lot of things, mixing plot overviews with trivia facts and a comprehensive background of the film in question. I must say, his writing would sometimes make me feel as if I transported back in time when the film was made. Also, while writing about Western films based on historical events, such as Butch Cassidy and Sundance the Kid, he makes comparisons between the facts and fiction.
Stagecoach to Tombstone is a versatile delicacy: all the Western enthusiasts who want to take a deeper look behind their favorite films will enjoy it; then again, this is also a great starting point for those who would like to learn something about Western films. Just one thing though – if you never saw (some of) these films before, beware of the plot spoilers. Another warning: this book is heavy with facts, so if you’re looking for a guide with a lot of photos and less text, you might end up disappointed.
Red River, High Noon, Shane, The Searchers, Once Upon a Time in the West, Unforgiven and The Man from Laramie – these are only few of the Westerns discussed in the book. In short, Stagecoach to Tombstone is a stagecoach taking you to the excellent ride down the valley of some of the best Western films ever made.
|October 2, 2011||Posted by Ariadne under Westernfilms||
In Westerns, living is a dangerous affair, and this is probably why the films about the Old West rarely have room for meaningful children characters. Taking this in consideration, it is easy to see how The Cowboys (1972) stands out – with its youthful cast, as well as the refreshing plot.
Will Andersen (John Wayne) is a rancher looking for substitutes for his cattle drivers, who abandoned him because of the gold rush. Eventually left without much choice, he reluctantly agrees to hire a group of local schoolboys after they prove to have a good riding ability. Apart from the boys, several shady men led by Asa Watts (Bruce Dern) also show up looking for work, but are rejected. Soon, Andersen, the boys, and the chef Jeb Nightlinger (Roscoe Lee Browne) depart on a long cattle drive…
The story actually only begins here, because the center of the plot is the way boys come to age, from learning to work with cattle to overcoming some far worse difficulties on their trail. Here, John Wayne is not in his typical role of a masterful gunman, but rather a hard working rancher and a father figure to the boys.
Perhaps not one of the most famous Western masterpieces, The Cowboys is nonetheless a truly memorable film. From Stuttering Bob’s (Sean Kelly) speech difficulties, to Cimarron’s (A Martinez) redemption after he first fails to join the group, it is easy to engage in the cowboys’ adventures. Still, this is not a children’s film – the events leading to the boys’ maturation are ultimately as serious and harsh as in any other Western film.
Beautiful scenery packed with the large herd of cattle, a well paced Mark Rydell’s direction and excellent acting performances are further reasons why this film makes an enjoyable watch. It’s also notable that The Cowboys caused a bit of controversy at the time. There were two main reasons for this: one was a John Wayne related plot moment, which you’ll discover upon watching the film; and another was the fact boys were depicted in situations that were hardly suited for children characters.
A unique coming of age tale, The Cowboys is a charming, deeply touching film that stands the test of time and provides a wonderful watch even today.
|September 22, 2011||Posted by Ariadne under Western Literature, Westernfilms||
With Cowboys & Aliens being a summer hit, this seems like a good time to say something about science fiction Westerns – a genre mix that has been around for quite some time now. It’s important to note that science fiction Westerns include science fiction elements in a Western setting; the opposite of this are space Westerns – where Western elements are incorporated into a science fiction setting. For example, Joss Whedon’s Firefly is often considered to be a space Western.
I have to admit that my personal favourites of science fiction Westerns include some of the occasions where a science fiction franchise would take a one-time trip to the Old West. For instance, the fantastic Red Dwarf series had an episode where all of the characters found themselves in a virtual reality Old West, fighting against the Gunmen of the Apocalypse. Another personal favourite includes the Back to the Future III – this film was so enjoyable that I don’t know how to start describing it. The entire concept allowed some nice jokes and nods to the Western genre, such as Marty McFly’s character introducing himself as Clint Eastwood once he travels back to the Old West.
A good example of this subgenre is Wild Wild West, a 1999 film that’s in fact a remake of the Wild Wild West series that ran in the ’60s. The film mixed Western, espionage and science fiction. Westworld, on the other hand, was a 1973 thriller with Yul Brynner as a lifelike robot in a Western-theme amusement park. Written and directed by Michael Crichton, this film was well received by critics. Recently there have even been rumors about a possible Westworld remake.
Among novels, most prominent are Stephen King’s Dark Tower series of books. King himself admitted that the main character of Gunslinger was in part inspired by the Clint Eastwood’s character of “The Man With No Name”, from Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns. Then, among graphic novels we have Rosenberg’s Cowboys & Aliens – the piece which inspired this year’s film of the same name. The title, I believe, is self-explanatory!
In short, this unusual mix of genres might not be for any Western fan, but it can be interesting for those who sometimes want to see the Western genre from a different angle.
|September 22, 2011||Posted by Westernfilms.com under Westernfilms||
It is not so many new Western movies that will be released in 2011, but there is a few.
And between them there are definatly some highlights.
The first Western film that was released this year was Rango. This is a computer-animated Western comedy-drama film directed by Gore Verbinski and produced by Graham King.In the film you will see that a chameleon named Rango accidentally ends up in the town of Dirt. This town is desperately in need of a sheriff. And guess who the new sheriff will be?
In Rangov many of the characters have voices of famous actors like Johnny Depp and Isla Fisher. If you like computer animated films this film can be something for you.
It was released March 4, 2011.
In the film a wagon team of three families has hired the mountain man Stephen Meek to guide them over the Cascade Mountains. Meek is claiming to know a short cut and he leads the group on an unmarked path across the high plain desert.
But they become lost in the dry and rocky desert. During the next days, the emigrants must face hunger, thirst and their own lack of faith in each other’s instincts for survival. A Native American crosses their path and gives them hope. The emigrants are now unsure what to do, to trust their guide or the Native American?
This is definatly a film to watch and it has gone positive critics. Meek’s Cutoff was released April 8, 2011.
Cowboys & Aliens is the biggest release in 2011. And starring big famous names like Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde. Cowboys & Aliens is based on the 2006 graphic comic novel of the same name created by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg.
The plot in the film is happening around an outlaw (Daniel Craig), a wealthy cattleman (Harrison Ford), and the mysterious traveler (Olivia Wilde). They have to work together to save a group of local people abducted by aliens.
The film was released July 29, 2011.
He is in Bolivia, but wants to travel the long way home. We follow his adventure on the
long journey. Together with him is Eduardo, a hopeless Spanish engineer.
Blackthorn is played by Sam Shepard.
|September 13, 2011||Posted by Ariadne under Westernfilms||
It was a long time since I’d last watched El Dorado, and the only thing I could recall about this Western was a scene where the very drunk Robert Mitchum sobers up with a little unwanted help from his friends. This memory gap gave me a good excuse to watch it again, and I’m glad I did! The premise of the film is simple, but well executed. In fact, El Dorado’s seeming lack of ambition might be the very reason of its charm.
The story takes place over the span of several months and is mainly set in the titular town of El Dorado, somewhere in the Old Southwest. Here, a chain of events leads a gunslinger Cole Thornton (John Wayne) to help his friend sheriff J.P. Harrah (Robert Mitchum) in a range war. It would be easy for them to protect the local family from Bart Jason (Ed Asner) and his hired gunmen, if there weren’t some complications taking a toll on both J.P. and Cole…
Just like Rio Bravo and Rio Lobo, El Dorado is one of Howard Hawks’ films that spin the theme of a sheriff defending his office from the outlaws. Hawks directs El Dorado as good as it would be expected, and the story flows flawlessly. Long and medium shots dominate the film, often letting us catch a good glimpse of the town, looking dusty in the daylight and deceivingly calm in the evening.
Nelson Riddle wrote the music, the highlight of which goes to the main theme “El Dorado” – I found myself humming it after watching the film.
I was surprised to realize how the film felt more relaxed as it moved toward the end. It is typical for the intensity to grow as the plot thickens, but here I found the process to be reversed. This happens thanks to some dialogues and excellent performances by the actors, who bring their characters to life so well that their interactions steal the spotlight from the storyline itself.
Cole and J.P. start off somewhat reserved, but as the film continues, their friendly bickering grows more and more amusing. J.P.’s deputy Bull (Arthur Hunnicut) goes from muttering stereotype one-liners about Indians to actually being likeable, whereas Mississippi (James Caan) is simply terrific from his first scene in the film! Perhaps with the less competent actor he’d end up being just a comical sidekick, but with James Caan’s performance Mississippi feels as much of a lead character as Cole and J.P. Charlene Holt is beautiful as Maudie, and adds a touch of softness to the mostly male cast.
This Western is not epic, but if you’re looking for some good old entertainment, you will certainly find treasure in El Dorado.