Friday, February 01, 2008

Not So Much A Western...

Don't let the word 'Western' scare you away from '3:10 to Yuma,' one of 2007's finest films. Let's call it a brilliant, suspense-thriller psychological drama that happens to be set in Old West. Specifically in Arizona a decade or two after the Civil War.

Christian Bale again shows he's one of our very finest actors, with a character so vivid and gaunt you'd swear it stepped out of an old Civil War photo. He plays hard-luck rancher Dan Evans who, desperate for cash to save the family homestead, agrees to escort dangerous criminal Ben Wade a hundred miles to the train station and justice for a reward. Not an easy task.

It's on Netflix now - what are you waiting for? : - )

The 5 Parameters of Criticism:

1. Four Words That Encapsule: "Decent, Desperate, Will Travel"

2. Haiku (5/7/5):
'One leg, fading hope;
accept a dangerous job;
war of nerves and wits'

3. Oblique Comments: a) the pacing here is breathless, and never short on surprises; b) it's a post-Deadwood, de-idealized West with grit, dirt, and foul language; c) there's subtle commentary on capitalism and greed here, since what's at stake is Pullman's 19th century equivalent of armored cars carrying booty.

4. Insight: Cristian Bale is the soul of this movie. His terse mental duel with Russell Crowe is the film's central tension and contrast - what unites and separates a bleak hero from a charming villain. The other key relationship is between Dan Evans and his teenage son, who lives a few scary, transformative days and learns sad lessons. There's an interesting parallel between this father-son bond and the feelings of Crowe's own 'son' - a sadistic, crypto-homo henchman, unforgetably played by Ben Fisher (who I can't believe is the same actor from Six Feet Under who played Claire Fisher's artsy bisexual boyfriend Russell.)

5. Link: Metacritic reviews summary - a 76 grade by 37 reviews is quite positive - B to B plus. I'd give it an A-, 85-90.

and here's the trailer...

Paul Lynde Snappy Answer of the Day:

Q: Is it normal for Norwegians to talk to trees?
Lynde: As long as that's as far as it goes.

Cartoon du Jour:

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