Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sunday movie review - Appaloosa

A couple of weeks ago, A and I started going to the movies together on Sunday afternoons. We're both big movie buffs, and this way we get to see things we've been wanting to see on the big screen, rather than waiting for them to come out on video. If I wait for a movie to come out on video, often I end up not seeing it at all. This is because each time I venture into my local Blockbuster's, I'm confronted with too many choices and end up feeling overwhelmed (in a bad way) and totally unable to remember what I was looking for in the first place. I need to do NetFlix, I know, but I haven't gotten around to it.

Which brings me to my point: that I'm now making a conscious effort to see more movies on the big screen, which I find pleasantly overwhelming. In the past month, I've seen and can recommend: Tell No One (Ne le dis à personne), Transsiberian, and Elegy, all of which I've discussed briefly in previous posts. This afternoon, I saw a western, Appaloosa. The movie is based on the book of the same name written by Robert B. Parker. I associate Parker's name with mysteries (the Spenser series) but it turns out that Parker, like Elmore Leonard, writes westerns too, and this is one of them. The movie was directed by Ed Harris, who co-wrote the screenplay (which is not great but is definitely OK) with Robert Knott. The movie stars Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen, Jeremy Irons (*sigh* - I love Viggo and Jeremy) and Renee Zellwegger.

It opens with a confrontation between rancher Jeremy Irons and the sheriff and two deputies who have ridden to his ranch to arrest two of Irons’ men accused of rape and murder. Rather than surrender the two men, Irons casually shoots the sheriff and both deputies. Harris and Mortensen are then seen riding into town, two gunslingers hired by the town elders to restore law and order to Appaloosa. They’re interesting, likeable gunslingers: thoughtful, taciturn, ethical men. Harris reads Emerson, and counts on Mortensen to be his vocabularian. The weak point in this movie is Renee Zellwegger, as the love interest of Harris, who threatens the friendship between Harris and Mortensen. I've liked Zellwegger in other films she's done, but in this film she simpers and pouts and flirts with all of the finesse with which Sarah Palin debates. I didn’t see the attraction, and found her performance and character distracting. I don't know whom I would have cast in her place, except maybe the late Joan Hackett, who was wonderful in Will Penny, a couple of light years ago. Luckily, the other performances are so good that they carry the movie. In spite of Zellwegger's character and performance, I really liked this movie. It’s a thoughtful, introspective western, beautifully done and definitely worth seeing.

1 comment:

Theresa Williams said...

I'm glad you reviewed this movie. I've been wanting to see it with Allen. Unfortunately, it isn't playing within 100 miles of us yet! Toledo is a pretty big city, but it never gets the off-beat movies first. The only thing that gave me pause was the female lead, but I figured I'd deal with it. I like a good western; I always have, and I love Ed Harris. I'm looking forward to it.