REVIEW: JANE GOT A GUN

CAST

Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
Joel Edgerton (The Gift)
Noah Emmerich (Super 8)
Rodrigo Santoro (Westworld)
Boyd Holbrook (Logan)
Ewan McGregor (The Men Who Stare at Goats)

Natalie Portman in Jane Got a Gun (2015)Jane and her husband Bill “Ham” Hammond live in an isolated house with their five-year-old daughter Katie. One day Ham returns home with several serious bullet wounds. As Jane is attending to his injuries, Ham tells her that “the Bishop Boys are coming”. This is a gang of vicious criminals, led by John Bishop, that Ham himself used to ride with. Realizing that she is going to need help in order to defend her home and family from the Bishops, as Ham’s injuries have rendered him helpless, Jane takes her daughter to a place of safety, with a woman friend whom she trusts. She then rides to the home of a neighbor, Dan Frost, and asks him if he will help her to protect her property from the Bishop Boys. Dan, a somewhat surly man who lives in a squalid, dirty house, refuses to help. It is obvious from their brief conversation that there is some past history – and bitterness – between Dan and Jane.Natalie Portman and Joel Edgerton in Jane Got a Gun (2015)Jane rides into town to buy guns and ammunition and hopefully find someone who will help her family. As she is leaving the gun shop, she is waylaid and dragged into an alley by one of the Bishop gang. He threatens her at gunpoint and – despite Jane protesting that she “hasn’t seen Hammond in years” – he demands that she take him back to her house, as he is convinced that Ham is there, having recognized the gun Jane is carrying as one belonging to Hammond. However, at this point Dan Frost suddenly appears and tells the thug to leave Jane alone. While the two men are distracted, Jane draws her gun and kills the outlaw. Leaving the body in the alley, Jane and Dan ride back to her house. Ham is still alive, but very weak. Dan has changed his mind about helping Jane, so they start preparing for the expected attack from the Bishop gang.Natalie Portman and Joel Edgerton in Jane Got a Gun (2015)Meanwhile, Bishop has already set out with his gang to find Ham. His men spread out over the area to extend their search, and one of them chances upon Jane’s house. He recognizes Jane, but Dan kills him before he can raise the alarm. Dan digs a shallow trench in Jane’s front yard, and they fill this with jars containing kerosene, nails and pieces of glass. As they work, we see flashbacks of their previous lives. Jane and Dan were once engaged, but he enlisted in the army to fight in the American Civil War. Captured by the enemy, he was held for years in a prison camp, and when he finally returned home, Jane had left. He travelled from state to state trying to find her, showing her photograph in every town. Eventually, he heard that she had moved west on a wagon train led by John Bishop. Dan talked to Bishop, who told him that during the journey Ham and Jane ran off together. He said he would gladly help Dan to track them down, as he had his own scores to settle with Ham, but Dan refused, saying that he preferred to ride alone. Dan eventually found Jane, but by then she was married to Ham, and they had had a child. Dan realized that he had lost her forever and was left broken-hearted by the discovery.Natalie Portman in Jane Got a Gun (2015)Later, Jane tells Dan her side of the story. After Dan left to enlist, she discovered she was pregnant. When Dan did not return, or write, she assumed he was dead. By the time their child, a little girl called Mary, was two or three years old, life in Jane’s war-torn town had become so wretched that she decided to take Mary and move West on the Bishop wagon train. Too late, she and the other women on the wagon train realized that Bishop’s intention was to start a brothel in another town, and he intended to force the helpless women into prostitution. A further flashback shows that Ham, having taken a fancy to Jane during the wagon train journey, tells Bishop that he would like to marry her. But Bishop tells Ham that Jane is his “property”. Later, Ham finds that Jane and her daughter have gone missing; searching for Mary, he sees a child’s boot in the river, and thinks the child has drowned. He goes to the brothel where Jane has been forced to work, and rescues her. Jane is distraught when Ham tells her that Mary is dead.Natalie Portman in Jane Got a Gun (2015)Back in the present time, the Bishop gang finally arrive at Jane’s house, under cover of darkness. Dan and Jane fire into the booby-trapped ditch, igniting the kerosene “bombs”. Most of the gang are killed, but some – including Bishop himself – escape. Jane and Dan manage to move the dying Ham into a shallow storage space beneath the floor, to protect him from the gunfire, but the strain is too much for him and he dies. Dan and Jane continue to fight it out with the remaining gang members, although both are wounded. Finally, Bishop (the only gang member left alive) manages to corner Dan and is about to kill him, when Jane sneaks up behind Bishop and draws her gun on him. Trying to persuade her not to kill him, Bishop tells Jane that Mary is not dead, as she had thought. Jane shoots him several times, wounding him badly, until in his agony he reveals that Mary lives at the brothel. Jane then kills Bishop. Jane and Dan go to the brothel and find their daughter, Mary, who is working as a servant. Jane takes the bodies of John Bishop and his gang to the sheriff and collects a huge reward. Then she, Dan, Mary and Katie ride off together to start a new life as a family.Natalie Portman in Jane Got a Gun (2015)The story’s simple, but Portman and Edgerton carry the film nicely. They have a believable sense of history between them. It’s not an action-packed film, but it delivers well when it gets to the climax. There are some weaknesses in the details of the film, especially in the flashbacks, which often seem skeletal in their scripting (Joel Edgerton co-wrote the screenplay with two others). Not great, but good.

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REVIEW: THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (2016)

CAST

Denzel Washington (The Equalizer)
Chris Pratt (Guaridans of The Galaxy)
Ethan Hawke (The Purge)
Vincent D’Onofrio (Daredevil)
Lee Byung-hun (G.I. Joe)
Manuel García Rulfo (Cake)
Martin Sensmeier (Wind River)
Peter Sarsgaard (Orphan)
Haley Bennett (The Girl On The Train)
Luke Grimes (American Sniper)
Matt Bomer (Magic Mike)
Jonathan Joss (Almost Heroes)
Cam Gigandet (Twilight)
Sean Bridgers (Sweet Home Alabama)
Billy Slaughter (12 Rounds)

Denzel Washington and Gianni Biasetti Jr. in The Magnificent Seven (2016)In 1879, robber baron and gold-mining tycoon Bartholomew Bogue assumes control of the American frontier town of Rose Creek, and subjects its residents to forced labor in his mines. After a town church assembly denounces him, Bogue has the church torched and kills a group of rebellious locals led by Matthew Cullen. Matthew’s widow, Emma Cullen, and her friend Teddy Q. ride in search of bounty hunters to help liberate the town. They recruit Sam Chisolm, an African-American U.S. Marshal, who expresses interest after hearing of Bogue’s involvement.Ethan Hawke, Denzel Washington, Vincent D'Onofrio, Byung-Hun Lee, Chris Pratt, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, and Martin Sensmeier in The Magnificent Seven (2016)With the help of Emma and Teddy, Chisolm recruits gambler and outlaw Joshua Faraday, Mexican fugitive Vasquez, former Confederate marksman Goodnight “Goody” Robicheaux, Robicheaux’s Korean traveling partner Billy Rocks, and legendary game hunter Jack Horne. The group encounters a Comanche warrior named Red Harvest, whom Chisolm persuades to join the posse.Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt in The Magnificent Seven (2016)The Seven enter Rose Creek and eliminate 22 Blackstone private military contractors on Bogue’s payroll. Chisolm sends the corrupt sheriff Mr. Harp away to inform Bogue that they now control his holdings in Rose Creek. Chisolm surmises that Bogue will return with an army in seven days; the Seven (plus Emma) liberate forced laborers from a Bogue Mining digsite, and spend the next week fortifying the town and training the locals in combat. Meanwhile, Bogue receives the news of Rose Creek’s liberation, murders Harp for his failure, and orders his Comanche enforcer Denali and his right-hand-man McCann to assemble an army. Robicheaux, haunted by his experiences in the Civil War and fearing his own death if he kills again, leaves the town the night before Bogue’s arrival; Emma volunteers to take his place.Chris Pratt in The Magnificent Seven (2016)The next morning, Bogue and his army attack Rose Creek, which has been surrounded with traps and explosive networks. As the battle goes on, Faraday is shot and wounded by McCann, who is killed by Vasquez, the defensive line collapses, and Robicheaux returns to help. Bogue and his remaining men fire a Gatling gun from a hill leading into the town, killing many Rose Creek residents and Bogue’s own mercenaries. Realizing they are outgunned, the Seven evacuate the townspeople and mount their last stand. Horne protects a wounded Teddy Q. from gunfire, but is killed by Denali, who is later killed by Red Harvest.Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt in The Magnificent Seven (2016)Robicheaux and Billy are killed by a second round of gunfire; while Faraday makes a suicidal charge up the hill and destroys the Gatling gun with dynamite, killing most of Bogue’s remaining men. Bogue and his two surviving mercenaries proceed into the town to confront Chisolm. After killing the two men, Chisolm enters a standoff with Bogue, and shoots his hand as he draws, disarming him. A wounded Bogue retreats into the church, where Chisolm reveals that his family was lynched in 1867 by ex-Confederate soldiers, who were hired by Bogue to drive homesteaders out of Kansas. After imploring Bogue to repent, Chisolm tries to garrote him; Bogue retrieves a revolver he stashed in his boot, but Emma shoots him dead from the church doorway.Chris Pratt in The Magnificent Seven (2016)The townspeople return to Rose Creek and thank Chisolm, Vasquez, and Red Harvest for their service as they ride off; while Faraday, Robicheaux, Billy, and Horne are buried near town and honored as heroes. Emma, in voice-over narration, reflects fondly on their noble sacrifice that made them “magnificent”.The Magnificent Seven (2016)The Magnificent Seven is pretty consistently good popcorn entertainment. It’s perhaps a little disappointing that the script credited to “True Detective” creator Nic Pizzolatto and Richard Wenk doesn’t contain more surprises, but I guess there’s only so much one can play with the western formula when doing a Magnificent Seven remake. The Magnificent Seven is not going to be considered a classic like the 1960 film, though it’s likely to be remembered for being one of the few successful westerns put out by Hollywood in the 2010s.

REVIEW: APPALOOSA

CAST

Ed Harris (Westworld)
Viggo Mortensen (Lord of The Rings)
Renée Zellweger (Jerry Maguire)
Jeremy Irons (Justice League)
Lance Henriksen (Aliens)
Adam Nelson (The Abyss)
Timothy Spall (Harry Potter)
Ariadna Gil (Talk of Angels)
James Gammon (Urban Cowboy)
Tom Bower (Out of The Furnace)
Rex Linn (Young Sheldon)

Ed Harris, Jeremy Irons, and Viggo Mortensen in Appaloosa (2008)In 1882, the small town of Appaloosa, New Mexico, is being terrorized by local rancher Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons), who killed the town’s marshal, Jack Bell, and two deputies when they came to Bragg’s ranch to arrest two men. The town hires lawman and peacekeeper Virgil Cole (Ed Harris) and his deputy Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen) to protect and regain control of the town. The pair agrees on one condition: that the town follow Cole’s law and essentially cede control to him. The lawmen begin by confronting four of Bragg’s men who are causing a disturbance in the saloon. Three men refuse to allow themselves to be arrested, forcing Cole and Hitch to kill them. The fourth man surrenders and leaves the saloon. Bragg has a meeting with Cole and Hitch, initiating a standoff.Viggo Mortensen in Appaloosa (2008)Hitch sees a woman, Allie French (Renée Zellweger), who just came to the town and immediately takes an interest in her. He follows her to the diner where Cole is having a breakfast. They make acquaintance with her and observing Cole and Allie are getting together well, Hitch keeps his silence. Soon, Cole and Allie begin a romantic relationship and buy a house together. However, Allie attempts to seduce Hitch when they are alone but Hitch refuses her advances out of his loyalty to Cole.Ed Harris in Appaloosa (2008)When one of Bragg’s men tells Cole and Hitch that he will testify against Bragg on the triple murder case, they arrest Bragg and keep him locked up until the trial in spite of the attempts of Bragg’s gang to free him. The trial finds him guilty and sentences him to death. Cole, Hitch and several deputies transport Bragg via train to the prison where he was to be hanged but when they stop for refueling over a bridge, hired guns Ring and Mackie Shelton (Lance Henriksen and Adam Nelson), old acquaintances of Cole, appear with Allie at gunpoint, forcing Cole to release Bragg to them.Ed Harris and Jeremy Irons in Appaloosa (2008)Cole and Hitch catch up with the outlaws and see Allie and Ring Shelton frolicking naked together in a stream. When the outlaws are attacked by Chiricahua Apache, Cole and Hitch force the Indians away. Hitch tells Cole that Allie’s promiscuity is the result of her insecurity and she really likes Cole. They then turn Bragg over to the sheriff of Beauville; unbeknownst to Cole, the sheriff is a cousin of the Shelton brothers. Knowing that Cole is determined to bring Bragg to the gallows, the Sheltons and the sheriff free Bragg and engage Cole and Hitch in a gunfight. Cole and Hitch are wounded but manage to kill Ring, Mackie and the sheriff. Bragg escapes on horseback and Cole and Hitch return to Appaloosa with Allie.Renée Zellweger and Ed Harris in Appaloosa (2008)After some time, Bragg is granted a full pardon by President Chester Arthur (whom he previously claimed to have known) and returns to Appaloosa in an attempt to publicly reform himself. He buys the hotel and ingratiates himself with the locals. Privately he brags before Cole and Hitch to infuriate them over their failure to hang him. Cole tells Hitch that he still wants to be with Allie, despite her fickleness. Hitch decides to leave the town to make some money and resigns as deputy. Later he discovers that Allie is having a relationship with Bragg and challenges Bragg to a duel. Cole attempts to stop him, but Hitch remains steadfast and asks Cole to permit the gunfight to occur. Hitch manages to fire first just before Bragg fires but Bragg’s shot misses, and Hitch hits Bragg in the throat, killing him. Hitch leaves town, seeing that Allie and Cole are together; his parting thoughts express his hope that Cole can find happiness with Allie and for him, he gladly walks into uncertainty in hope of finding adventure and fortune.Renée Zellweger, Ed Harris, Jeremy Irons, and Viggo Mortensen in Appaloosa (2008)Appaloosa is a subtle film, both in story and as a technical production. Beal’s score is unobtrusive, while Semler’s photography manages to deliver that old fashioned feel that Harris was after (the low lighting for the interiors is particularly on the money) . Harris’ direction is smooth and unhurried in pace, with the odd inspired bit thrown in for good measure (check out the up-tilt camera work during a train on a bridge sequence). While the production design can’t be faulted. All that and you got the likes of Henriksen and Timothy Spall in the support cast too. A lovely film that is as tight as the friendship at its core.

REVIEW: TRUE GRIT (2010)

CAST

Jeff Bridges (Tron)
Hailee Steinfeld (Batley Lethal)
Matt damon (Jason Bourne)
Josh Brolin (Planet Terror)
Barry Pepper (Battlefild Earth)
Dakin Matthews (Child’s Play 3)
Domhnall Gleeson (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)
Elizabeth Marvel (Lincoln)
J.K Simmons (Justice League)

Matt Damon and Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit (2010)Mattie Ross’s father was murdered by Tom Chaney when she was 14 years old. While collecting her father’s body in Fort Smith, Arkansas, Mattie asks the local sheriff about the search for Chaney. He tells her that Chaney has fled with “Lucky” Ned Pepper and his gang into Indian Territory, where the sheriff has no authority, so she inquires about hiring a Deputy U.S. Marshal. The sheriff gives three recommendations, and Mattie chooses Rooster Cogburn. Cogburn initially rebuffs her offer, not believing she has the money to hire him, but she raises the money by aggressively horse-trading with Colonel Stonehill.Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit (2010)Texas Ranger LaBoeuf arrives in town, pursuing Chaney for the murder of a Texas State Senator. LaBoeuf proposes joining Cogburn, but Mattie refuses his offer. She wishes Chaney to be hanged in Arkansas for her father’s murder, not in Texas for killing the senator. Mattie also insists on traveling with Cogburn but he leaves without her, having gone with LaBoeuf to apprehend Chaney and split the reward. After being refused passage on the ferry that conveyed Cogburn and LaBoeuf, Mattie crosses the river on horseback. LaBoeuf expresses his displeasure by birching Mattie with a stick, but Cogburn eventually allows Mattie to accompany them. After a dispute over their respective service with the Confederate Army, Cogburn ends their arrangement and LaBoeuf leaves to pursue Chaney on his own. Cogburn and Mattie meet a trail doctor who directs them to an empty dugout for shelter. They find two outlaws, Quincy and Moon, and interrogate them. Quincy insists they have no information about the Pepper gang, but eventually Moon divulges what he knows; Quincy fatally stabs Moon, and Cogburn shoots Quincy dead. Before dying, Moon says Pepper and his gang will be returning for fresh horses that night.Jeff Bridges in True Grit (2010)LaBoeuf arrives at the dugout and is confronted by the Pepper gang. Cogburn, hiding on the hillside with Mattie, shoots two gang members and accidentally hits LaBoeuf, but Pepper escapes. However, Cogburn and LaBoeuf argue the next day, and the latter departs again. While retrieving water from a stream, Mattie encounters Chaney. She shoots him, but he survives and drags her back to Pepper, who forces Cogburn to leave by threatening to kill her. Pepper leaves Mattie alone with Chaney, ordering him not to harm her or he will not get paid after his remount arrives. Chaney tries to knife Mattie, but LaBoeuf appears and knocks Chaney out. They watch from a distance as Cogburn fights the remaining members of Pepper’s gang, killing two and wounding Ned before his horse is shot and falls, trapping his leg, whereupon LaBoeuf snipes Pepper. Chaney regains consciousness and knocks out LaBoeuf, but Mattie seizes LaBoeuf’s rifle and shoots Chaney in the chest. The recoil knocks her into a deep pit, where she is bitten by a rattlesnake. Cogburn cuts into her hand to suck out as much of the venom as he can, then rides day and night to reach a doctor, carrying her on foot after her horse collapses from exhaustion.Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit (2010)Mattie’s left forearm is amputated due to gangrene from the snakebite. Cogburn stays until she is out of danger, but leaves before she regains consciousness. She never sees Cogburn or LaBoeuf again, despite writing a letter inviting Cogburn to collect the money she owed him. Twenty-five years later, she receives a note from Cogburn inviting her to a travelling Wild West show where he now performs. She arrives, only to learn that he died three days earlier. She has his body moved to her family cemetery. Standing over Cogburn’s grave, she reflects on her decision to move his remains, and about never having married, as well as the possibility of seeing LaBoeuf again.Josh Brolin and Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit (2010)The movie actually surprised all the hype I had, what an incredible film. The atmosphere, clothing, and the buildings reminded me of the old classic Hollywood westerns they used to make. I had a feeling of nostalgia watching the movie through the end. I felt transported to another time period of the old western. Hailee Steinfeld was amazing in the movie, I truly believe that this is her breakout performance. Matt Damon and Josh Brolin were as usual amazing. But the true star of the film has to be Jeff Bridges, in all respects. His performance showed much more experience, strength and power, the performance was pretty much unforgettable. Jeff Bridges handily reinvents the iconic role of Rooster Cogburn in the Coen brothers’ back-to-the-book-remake. I congratulate the Coen for bringing back the western genre, that Hollywood has ignored so much the last decade or so.

REVIEW: THE LONE RANGER (2013)

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CAST

Johnny Depp (Pirates of The Caribbean)
Armie Hammer (The Social Network)
William Fichtner (Mom)
Tom Wilkinson (Batman Begins)
Ruth Wilson (Anna Karenina)
Helena Bonham Carter (Alice In Wonderland)
James Badge Dale (Iron Man 3)
Barry Pepper (True Grit)
Mason Cook (Legends)
Saginaw Grant (War Party)
Harry Treadaway (Honeymoon)
Lew Temple (Angels In The Outfield)
Leon Rippy (Firestarter)
Stephen Root (Office Space)
James Frain (Gotham)
Damon Herriman (House of Wax)
W. Earl Brown (Bates Motel)
Brad Greenquist (Ali)
Rance Howard (Universal Soldier)

Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger (2013)In 1933, a boy named Will who idolizes the legendary Lone Ranger encounters the elderly Comanche Tonto in a sideshow at a San Francisco fair. Tonto proceeds to recount his experiences with that Old West adventurer. In 1869, lawyer John Reid returns home to Colby, Texas, via the uncompleted Transcontinental Railroad, managed by railroad tycoon Latham Cole. Unknown to Reid, the train is also carrying Tonto and outlaw Butch Cavendish, who is being transported for his hanging after being captured by Dan Reid, John’s Texas Ranger brother. Cavendish’s gang rescues Butch and derails the train. Tonto is subsequently jailed. Dan deputizes John as a Texas Ranger, and with six others they go after the Cavendish gang.Ruth Wilson, Armie Hammer, and Bryant Prince in The Lone Ranger (2013)Cavendish’s men ambush and kill their pursuers. Cavendish slays Dan with his dagger and devours his heart as revenge for his imprisonment. Tonto, who has escaped from jail, comes across the dead men and buries them. However, a white spirit horse awakens John as a “spirit walker”, and Tonto explains John cannot be killed in battle. Tonto also tells him Collins, one of the Rangers, betrayed Dan and is working with Cavendish. As John is thought to be dead, he wears a mask to protect his identity from enemies. Tonto gives John a silver bullet made from the fallen Rangers’ badges and tells him to use it on Cavendish, whom he believes to be a mystical beast called a wendigo.Helena Bonham Carter in The Lone Ranger (2013)At a brothel Collins recently visited, Red Harrington informs the two about Dan and Collins’ fight over a cursed silver rock. Meanwhile, Cavendish’s men, disguised as Comanches, raid frontier settlements. John and Tonto arrive after raiders abduct Dan’s widow and son, Rebecca and Danny. Regretting his earlier actions, Collins attempts to help mother and child escape, but is shot dead by Cole, who rescues them. Claiming the raiders are hostile Comanches, Cole announces the continued construction of the railroad and dispatches US Cavalry Captain Jay Fuller to wipe out the Comanches. A Comanche tribe captures John and Tonto after the pair finds railroad tracks in Native territory. The leader tells John of Tonto’s past: As a boy, Tonto had rescued Cavendish and another man from near-death and later showed them a mountain full of silver ore in exchange for a pocket watch. The men murdered the tribe to keep the location a secret, leaving Tonto with great guilt which led to him believing the two were wendigos.Armie Hammer in The Lone Ranger (2013)Tonto and John escape as the cavalry attack the Comanche. At the silver mine, the duo captures Cavendish. Tonto demands John use the silver bullet to kill Cavendish, but John refuses. Upon returning Cavendish to Cole and Fuller’s custody, Cole is revealed to be Cavendish’s partner and brother. Fuller, fearful of being labeled a war criminal for slaughtering the tribe, sides with Cole. Rebecca is held hostage, and John is returned to the mine to be executed. Tonto rescues him and the two flee. Realizing Cole is too powerful to be taken down lawfully and regretful since his arrogance in ignoring Tonto led to the mass slaughter of the Comanches and the kidnapping of his loved ones, John dons the mask again.Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger (2013)At Promontory Summit, during the railroad’s union ceremony, Cole reveals his true plan: to take control of the railroad company and use the mined silver to gain more power. John and Tonto steal nitroglycerin and use it to destroy a railroad bridge. With Red’s help, Tonto steals the train with the silver, and Cole, Cavendish and Fuller pursue him in a second train on which Rebecca and Dan Jr. are being held captive. On horseback, John pursues both trains. After a furious chase and fights on both trains, Cavendish and Fuller are killed, Rebecca and Dan Jr. are rescued, and Cole drowns, buried beneath the silver ore after the train plunges off the severed bridge and into the river below. The town recognize John as a hero and offers him a law-enforcement position. John declines, and he and Tonto ride off. Back in 1933, Will questions the truth of the story. Tonto gives him a silver bullet and tells him to decide for himself, and then departs.Armie Hammer in The Lone Ranger (2013)Perhaps, one of the main reasons critics dislike the movie is its title. For all intents and purposes, this is really a Tonto movie. It is more his story and told from his point of view. It probably should have properly been called Tonto. But I don’t see that as being a bad thing at all. If you take it for what it is, The Lone Ranger is a reasonably entertaining film, with a very strong performance by Depp. And that was enough for me.

REVIEW: HOME ON THE RANGE

CAST

Roseanne Barr (Roseanne)
Judi Dench (Shakespeare In Love)
Jennifer Tilly (Cult of Chucky)
Cuba Gooding Jr. (Jerry Maguire)
Randy Quaid (Brokeback Mountain)
Steve Buscemi (Fargo)
Richard Riehle (Of Mice and Men)
Lance LeGault (The A-Team)
Dennis Weaver (Duel)
Patrick Warburton (Family Guy)

Home on the Range (2004)Maggie is the only cow left on the Dixon Ranch after Alameda Slim (a cattle rustler capable of stealing 500 in a single night) stole all the rest of Mr. Dixon’s cattle. Dixon sells Maggie to Pearl, a kind and elderly woman who runs a small farm called Patch of Heaven. The local Sheriff arrives to tell Pearl that her bank is cracking down on debtors. Pearl has three days to pay the bank $750, or her farm will be sold to the highest bidder. Hearing this, Maggie convinces the other cows on the farm (Grace, a happy-go-lucky character, and Mrs. Caloway, who has had leadership go to her head) to go to town to attempt winning prize money at a fair. While the cows are in town, a bounty hunter named Rico (whom Buck, the Sheriff’s horse, idolizes) drops a criminal off and collects the reward. Stating he needs a replacement horse to go after Alameda Slim while his own horse rests, he takes Buck. When Maggie find out that the reward for capturing Slim is exactly $750, she convinces the other cows to try to capture him to save Patch of Heaven.Home on the Range (2004)That night, they hide among a large herd of steers, when Alameda Slim appears. Before any of them can do anything, Slim begins a yodeling song which sends all the cattle (except Grace, who is tone deaf) into a trance that causes them to dance madly and follow Slim anywhere. Grace is able to bring Maggie and Mrs. Caloway back to their senses just before Slim closes the path behind him with a rock-slide to stop Rico and his men from chasing him. As Rico discusses with his men what his next move will be, Buck starts talking with Maggie, Grace, and Mrs. Caloway as old friends and miming actions. This causes Rico to believe Buck is frightened by cows, so he sends Buck back to the Sheriff. Buck escapes, determined to capture Slim for himself to prove his worth.Home on the Range (2004)Maggie, Grace, and Mrs. Caloway continue their search for Slim, determined to pass Buck and get to Slim first, but they have a fallout when they lose the trail in a downpour. Mrs. Caloway accuses Maggie of wanting to go after Slim only as a personal vendetta, arguing that she and Grace are better off without Maggie. The three spend the night under a large rock, with Maggie deciding to leave the next morning while Grace and Mrs. Caloway decide to return to Patch of Heaven to say their final farewells. The next morning, however, they are awakened by a peg-legged rabbit named Lucky Jack, who has also lost his home, an old mine, to Alameda Slim. Maggie decides to go after Slim with Lucky Jack in tow, but Grace convinces Mrs. Caloway that they help. Lucky Jack leads the three cows to Slim’s hideout in Echo Mine. At the mine, Slim reveals that he has been stealing all cattle from his former patrons. When his former patrons can no longer support their land, Slim buys the land when it is auctioned off, under the guise of the respectable-looking Yancy O’Dell, using the very money he gets from selling the cattle he stole.Home on the Range (2004)After arriving at Slim’s hideout, the cows capture Slim. They run off with Slim’s accomplices and buyer in pursuit on a steam train. Rico arrives. When the chase stops, Rico is revealed to work for Slim. Crushed by this, Buck decides to help the cows and fights Rico while setting the other cattle free. Slim dons his Yancy O’Dell costume and leaves the cows stranded in the middle of the desert with the train, while he goes to attend the auction. However, the cows arrive using the train to the farm and expose Slim. Slim is arrested, and Patch of Heaven is saved by the reward money. A few weeks pass, and at the county fair most of the livestock on Patch of Heaven have won prizes. ‘Lucky’ Jack Rabbit moves in with Jebb the Goat, and two steer and Slim’s charming and gentlemanly steed Junior the Buffalo arrive unexpectedly to live at Patch of Heaven, expanding the farm.Home on the Range (2004)I don’t see just why it is that people don’t like this film. It has good music, good animation, and funny dialogue, but it is fairly sappy. I thought that it was fairly good, even though the plot is just a wee bit weak. Fortunately, the plot is peppered with many humorous events and turns which clear any and all flaws up.

REVIEW: ONE EYED JACKS

CAST

Marlon Brando (Superman)
Karl Malden (A Streetcar Named Desire)
Ben Johnson (Angel and The Badman)
Katy Jurado (Divine)
Pina Pellicer (Sinful)
Slim Pickens (The Last Command)
Elisha Cook Jr.(House on Haunted Hill)

Rio (Marlon Brando) (also called “The Kid”), his mentor Dad Longworth (Karl Malden), and a third man called Doc rob a bank of two saddlebags of gold in Sonora, Mexico. The robbery is successful, but Mexican rurales (mounted police) track them and catch them celebrating in a cantina, killing Doc. Dad and Rio manage to escape. After getting cornered on a high ridge, with Rio’s horse dead, Rio figures the rurales will be “swarming all over us inside an hour.” Deciding that one partner might take the remaining pony, ride to a jacalito down the canyon about five miles and return with fresh mounts, they gamble for it, with Rio fixing the deal so his pal Dad can be the one to go.Dad gets to a corral, strapping the swag bag onto a fresh pony, but he gets second thoughts. He casts one eye towards a point on the ridge sure to be taken by the rurales, and with the other he gazes off in the opposite direction out past a low-lying treeline towards the border and safety. One way leads to danger and a poor chance at surviving with half the booty, the other towards a virtual certainty with all of it. After a decidedly short moment of reflection, he leaves his friend to be taken by the rurales. Rio is arrested and transported to prison by way of the jacalito, where he learns firsthand of Dad’s betrayal from the owner.Rio spends five hard years in a Sonora prison, giving him ample time to mull over Dad’s betrayal before escaping with new partner Chico Modesto (Larry Duran) and going hunting for him. When he locates him, Longworth has used his wealth to become the sheriff of Monterey, California. Instead of ambushing Dad, Rio gives him a chance to explain why he left him back in Mexico, pretending he had never been captured to put him off-guard. Longworth’s awkward self-serving story is easily seen through.All along Rio planned not only to kill Dad, but to pull off a bank robbery in Monterey with his new partners Chico and “scum-suckin’ pig” Bob Emory (Ben Johnson) (who used his knowledge of Dad’s whereabouts to force their partnership). Plans are sidetracked when Rio falls in love with Longworth’s beautiful virginal stepdaughter Louisa (Pina Pellicer), taking advantage of a fiesta to spend the night with her on the beach. Dad tries to make Louisa confess to being deflowered, but after intervention by his wife Maria (Katy Jurado) he backs down. He nevertheless traps Rio and administers a vicious beating with a whip in front of the entire town, smashing Rio’s gun hand with the butt of a shotgun in an attempt to end his gun-slinging days.While recovering from his wounds near the ocean, Rio struggles with his conflicting desires to love the girl and to kill her stepfather. He decides to forgo vengeance, fetch Louisa and leave, but Emory, having decided that Rio will never be fast enough to challenge him again, kills Chico and pulls off the bank job without Rio’s knowledge. The heist goes wrong and a young girl is killed. Rio is falsely accused and locked up by Longworth. Knowing that the trial’s outcome is certain, Rio sure to be hanged in two days, Dad has one last private talk with him, again attempting to absolve himself, to which Rio replies, “You may be a one-eyed jack around here, but I’ve seen the other side of your face.” Rio confesses to being imprisoned for the last five years, but Dad calls it a lie. After Louisa visits Rio in jail to confess that she is going to have his baby, he is beaten by sadistic deputy Lon Dedrick (Slim Pickens) out of envy for Louisa’s affection. Maria faces Dad about telling her the truth, stating she knew something was wrong since the moment Rio arrived and that Dad is going to hang him out of pure guilt. Longworth angrily leaves.Louisa attempts to smuggle a Derringer pocket pistol to Rio, but she is discovered by Lon, who leaves the gun on a table. While they are out, Rio with great difficulty is able to get hold of the pistol, but it is without ammunition. Rio bluffs his way out of jail, helping himself to Lon’s revolver after a tense confrontation. As he is making his escape, he is spotted by Dad in the center of town. Under fire and left with no choice, Rio kills Longworth in a final showdown. Rio and Louisa ride out to the dunes and say a sentimental farewell. Rio will now be a hunted man and is already wanted in Mexico, so he tells Louisa that he’s going to Oregon, but to look for him in the spring, when he will return for her.The film took over a year to edit after principal photography ended in 1959. Eventually, the studio took the film away from Brando and recut it to their own tastes. Brando reportedly did not object, becoming fed-up with editing after spending so much time trying to perfect his film. He did complain, after the fact, that the studio cut took away the moral ambiguity he sought for his character. Brando said that all the characters in the film but Dad Longworth, the ostensible heavy, are two faced — “one-eyed jacks,” with one face on top, the public face, and another face that is hidden. Although Rio accuses Dad of being a “one-eyed jack,” to Brando, Dad was the only one who was honest in the film. In Brando’s cut, Dad’s last shot meant for Rio hits his step-daughter Louisa instead, killing her and thus leaving Rio with nothing in the end. The studio used the alternative ending where Rio and Louisa have an emotional parting at the beach, and Rio promises to return to her. In a development that seemingly foreshadows his future personal life, Brando had an affair on-set with Pina Pellicer, who later committed suicide. Their scenes together are quite affecting as they are emotionally true.