October 1, 2008

"Appaloosa"

Here's an excerpt from my review in The American Conservative:
The bald and square-jawed Ed Harris has played American heroes and psycho killers since first drawing notice as astronaut John Glenn in 1983's "The Right Stuff." He's now written and directed "Appaloosa," an amiable Western about masculine camaraderie and honor adapted from the book by Robert B. Parker, the genre novelist who created Spenser, the Boston private eye. "Appaloosa" furnishes Harris and Viggo Mortensen (the King in "The Return of the King") with plenty of wry lines for their portrayals of itinerant lawmen in the New Mexico of the 1880s.

Fish do not feel wet, we are told (although on what authority, I cannot say), and cowboys and Indians movies once felt no more awkward than cops and robbers films do today. Westerns were then less a genre than a natural, default mode.

In the early 1970s, however, urban crime dramas, such as "The French Connection" and "The Godfather" replaced Westerns as the norm. The Western has since become a highly self-conscious genre, one almost immobilized by the weight of its pre-1970 cinema history.

As an actor, however, Harris appears unburdened by all the film school baggage the Western has accumulated. The straightforward "Appaloosa" provides two outstanding roles and sundry old-fashioned pleasures.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Would like to see this. It occurs to me that the superhero movie has replaced the western as the prominent, uniquely American genre movie.

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

I used to like Ed Harris. I want to like Ed Harris. As a kid, I did like Ed Harris in the laid-back WW2 spy thriller "Code Name: Emerald".

However, after seeing this a few years ago, I can never see Harris in a movie without remembering his and his wife's expressons (see 1:39). Truly frightening.

travis said...

However, after seeing this a few years ago, I can never see Harris in a movie without remembering his and his wife's expressons (see 1:39). Truly frightening.

Typical Hollywood elitism. No director, screen or stage, has done a better job of presenting the common man than Elia Kazan.

Ronduck said...

I read Joe Scarborough's book Rome Wasn't Burnt in a Day and read a section that made Jon Glenn look like a superliberal idiot. Discussing the Clinton China scandal that went largely unreported Glenn stated that it was the Republicans problem. Scarborough stated that the republican present disagreed calling it America's problem. Glenn's home state of Ohio has been hemorrhaging jobs to China for how many years now? And I don't think Glenn ever did anything about the job loss other than make a token gesture. This is partly why I do not like celebrities or generals running for office. They can win on just their record as a bureaucrat or test pilot without answering questions about their stands on policy.

This is also a reason why I object to firefighters endorsing a candidate.

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

Typical Hollywood elitism. No director, screen or stage, has done a better job of presenting the common man than Elia Kazan.

Yes, and the number of people who refused to stand up that night revealed the mentality that lives still in Hollywood. There's Spielberg sitting down; politely clapping, but sitting down. If Kazan had outed Nazis Spielberg would've been standing on his chair shouting huzzahs. But communists weren't murdering the chosen people, mostly just the goyim, so Kazan's "outing them" was wrong.

A little word about outing: if you don't want to get outed for holding a particular view, then don't hold that view, or else don't tell anyone, ever. People get outed all the time. Mel Gibson got outed as an anti-Semite, but no one accused the arresting cop of being a snitch.

In my younger days I used to see these trailers and tell myself, "I have to see that movie, right now!"

Then I realized I could wait until it hit the video store. Then I realized I'd somehow manage if I never saw it at all. There are hundreds of good movies I'd like to see. I'll never see all of them. There are also symphonies I'd like to hear and books I'd like to read. Oh, and I could spend the time with my kids too, letting them teach me how to fingerpaint. Life's too short to waste time and money on a movie by a guy like Harris. Even if his is the best movie this year, there are still tens of thousands of other movies, books, musicals, plays (not to mention moments with friends and family) that will far surpass it.