Category Archives: western

Bone Tomahawk – S. Craig Zahler (2015)

A fairly raw Western in which a group of brutal Indians kidnap people from a small town. A party lead by the sheriff played by Kurt Russell sets out to find the inhabitants.

The largest part of the film is the ride towards the area where the Indians can be found. When the party starts to close in, the Indians (of course) defend their territory.

The film has a good atmosphere and the story unfolds perhaps not surprisingly, but well.

Cowboys & Aliens – Jon Favreau (2011)

Seldom does the title of a film refer so clearly to the genre, or in this case genres. Indeed, this film is a mix between Western and scifi.

There is not too much of a story, but in a Western town with much hostility among its inhabitants, spacecrafts arrive to terrorize the town. A number of townsmen and -women are kidnapped and a party sets out to find them.

A fairly typical Hollywood film unfolds with Daniel Graig and Harrison Ford as stars, the only not-so-Hollywood element is the unlikely mix of genres. This is not presented all that surprisingly though and actually they go together fairly well.

Not a great film, but entertaining.

The Hateful Eight – Quentin Tarantino (2015)

There are quite a few similarities between Tarantino’s last film and his previous one. Both “The Hateful Eight” and “Django Unchained” are about three hours, a reason for me to not put them high on my list and in both cases the story could have been told in a shorter film. Both films are about the origins of American racism. “Django” is about the times of slavery and this time the film plays in a time just after the war between the North (that wanted to get rid off slavery) and the South (that wanted to keep it).

Another similarity is the setting. Both films have limited settings, a plantage in the older film, an inn in the later one. Both films mostly revolve around Tarantino’s highly entertaining and lengthy dialogues, weird humor and of course a bloody shootout at the end.

In “The Hateful Eight” we have two bountyhunters traveling to the same town to collect their bounty. On their way they pick up another person and a snowstorm forces them to take shelter in a remote inn. The friendly folks there prove not to be as friendly as they appear.

Like I said, the film could have been shorter, but “The Hateful Eight” is highly entertaining. Typical for a Tarantino, but I am sure that is the way he intended it.

Slow West * John Maclean (2015)

I read some good things about this film and thought it would be a nice variation on the Western film. Actually it is a fairly straightfoward Western.

The young Scott Jay Cavendish travels accross America to find the woman he loves who left the country with her father. Jay is doing pretty well until he runs into Silas, a crude bounty hunter, or is he not as crude as he seems? The two continue the travel together, meet up with some strange people until they find the house where Rose and her father reside.

Like I said, the film is a fairly straightforward Western. There are some amusing dialogues and Maclean seems to have wanted to put some extra stress on what the American colonisers did with the indigenous people. For the rest there is not much of a story. That is not really needed either. From early on it is clear how things are going to end and yet, the final scene sticks out to the atmoshere of the rest of the film.

“Slow West” is a descent film, but I do not really find it a ‘high flyer’.

Django Unchained * Quentin Tarantino (2012)

It was mostly the three hour length that made me take to long to see this film. Now having seen it, I think it could have been shorter. But “Django Unchained” is an enjoyable feature. The first half hour to an hour is brilliant, with great music, atmosphere and black, violent humour. The last two hours the novelty is off and the film is just good. That is, until the magnificent Samuel L. Jackson joins the film, see poster.

A bounty hunter releases the slave Django in order to hunt more bounty. The two get along well and form a good bounty hunting duo. Django himself has a wish of his own and in executing it, the film rolls into an extraordinarily violent finale.

Tarantino made a real old-fashioned Western with his own typical elements of very bloody violence, black humour and witty dialogues. Within all this, Tarantino also manages to bring attention to the slavery period of (American) history, racism and even brings in the Ku Klux Klan in an amusing scene. Within all the shootouts and “nigger” shouting, the viewer is still forced to consider the history of suppression.

All in all “Django Unchained” is indeed a good film, but not it does not end up very high in my favorite film list.

El Topo * Alejandro Jodorowsky (1970)

Yes, it took me a while to see this third Jodorowsky that my usual DVD rental has. No time for a film, did not feel like it or it was replaced and lost, but I finally did see it. “El Topo” is a Western, but not a straight-forward one. Jodorowsky again uses amateuristic splatter for violence and other elements which seem only to be there to shock. Also again is a spiritual undertone. El Topo (the main character, played by Jodorowsky himself) is a cowboy in black who seeks revenge for his murdered village. He has to find six foes that appear to be spiritual masters that (the evil?) mole (“topo”) fights and tries to overcome. On the other hand, El Topo has (again) Christ-like elements, so perhaps the situation is the other way around (the spiritual masters are heresies). It is not unlikely that the director created this ambiguity on purpose. Like the other two films of Jodorowsky that I saw “El Topo” is interesting in some elements, dated in others, sometimes a little annoying. The films may not be masterpieces in my eyes, but I do suggest you watch them at some point since they are classics in the history of film.

Renegade * Jan Kounen (2004)

Wat a great film! Vincent Cassel is Mike is Mike Blueberry (who gave the name of this film to the European market) a trouble-kid who is sent to an uncle in Western-America. He ends up among the Indians, but later becomes sheriff of a small town. An old enemy comes to his town and he, like everybody else, is looking for the gold in the mountains in the Indian lands. Kounen presents a lot of Indian rituals and drug-influenced visions that remind of the early scenes of “Enter The Void”. The film goes from classic Western to more adventure-like filming, to surrealistic and completely visionary scenes. The result is very impressive and reminds a bit of the also great “White Lightnin’“.