Jonah Hex

tn_jonahhexI can dig a good western, and alot of critics have been saying that JONAH HEX is even better than TRUE GRIT, so I thought I should check it out.

Okay, that’s not entirely true. Also it’s not at all true. Armond White doesn’t count as somebody seriously for real liking JONAH HEX. But I’m a positive individual so I was trying to put a good spin on it. Believe it or not though I don’t have to delve into too much negativity for this review. JONAH HEX is not as bad as I was expecting, or as people have said. It definitely doesn’t work, but I don’t consider it a total abomination. It is beautiful in God’s eyes, it’s only on this earthly plane that it gets bullied because of its deformed face.

mp_jonahhexJosh Brolin plays Jonah Hex, a bounty hunter who was a soldier in the Confederate army. I’m not sure how they handled it in the original DC comics book it was based on, but here they have an African-American blacksmith who vouches for him, pointing out that Hex never believed in slavery. In fact he decided what he was fighting for was wrong and conscientiously objected to a direct order to burn down a hospital full of yankees. We learn the details of the backstory over the course of the movie, but the important thing to know is that Hex had to kill his buddy Jeb Turnbull (apparently Jeffrey Dean Morgan from WATCHMEN, although I didn’t realize it) so it was a double betrayal of his crazy commanding officer Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich). Turnbull took it so personally he tracked down Hex, tied him to a cross, made him watch his family burn to death and then branded his face. Hex later burned the brand into unrecognizability (laser surgery was not yet available) and now he rides around with half his face deformed.

Years later the government finds out that Turnbull and some of his confederate soldiers have stolen a super weapon and plan to attack crowds during the Centennial celebration. They think only Hex has the skills and personal vendetta to take out Turnbull, so they hire him to save the country.

It sounds kinda stupid ’cause it is kinda stupid, but I feel like I get what they’re going for and I don’t think they entirely fail. It’s a western, but it’s a comic book western, so everything is amped up. Yeah, he’s a guy riding a horse, but he has a monster face and two giant gatling guns under his saddle bags. When he rides out of town the entire thing goes up into a fireball. Same thing with trains, they get robbed by bandits like in a regular western, but then they blow up like it’s a Schwarzenegger movie. Instead of a human prostitute girlfriend, Hex has Megan Fox, looking good except for the creepy alien waist her corset gives her, like a comic drawn with unrealistic proportions. When Hex tracks down a confederate colonel (Luke Duke himself, Tom Wopat) at a gladiatorial combat joint one of the fighters in the pit is a fuckin Snake Man. And at one point Hex rides across the plains with a giant swarm of crows following him. Not like they’re gonna help him or anything, they must just like hanging out with him, or think he’s onto something, or just want to help him look cool. You can’t do that in TRUE GRIT, but you can in JONAH HEX, so you might as well.

To really say “this is not your father’s western, or a movie your father would watch, even on cable” they got some band called Mammoth Mastodon to do the score along with Marco Beltrami. The rockin guitars and drums sometimes make it play as yet another shitty modern action movie that doesn’t know what the fuck it’s doing, and sometimes gives it a unique feel. I like that they even did a guitar version of the WB logo music at the beginning.

The script is credited to Nevildine/Taylor of CRANK and GAMER infamy, but luckily they left before filming. Instead it’s directed by some dude named Jimmy Hayward who formerly only worked on computer animated family films. He was probly in over his head and couldn’t control the thing, but doesn’t seem entirely inept (except, surprisingly, in the shitty animated prologue). It’s not too spastic with the style and is generally well shot.

Where it goes wrong is mainly with the general plot of what the bad guys are trying to do and how the good guy stops it. It doesn’t really stick to what works in a straight western because it spends too much of its less-than-80-minutes on a slim post-Civil War version of a DIE HARD plot. Turnbull is your typical Malkovich weirdo character (he barely attempts an accent) and his big plan is just to shoot cannonballs into towns followed by little crystal ball things that cause big explosions. (It’s a weapon called “The Nation Killer” that was developed in a secret government program run by Eli Whitney.) But all Hex can really do is chase after him, punch some guys, chop some guys, shoot some guys, and all of this in the dark because the celebration is at night time. Not a very exciting climax.

But I have to admit I kind of like Brolin as this character of Jonah Hex. He gets to mutter and mumble and not worry about ever charming anybody. Every enemy he comes across has to make some comment about his face, and he has a whole catalog of snappy comebacks, but eventually gets tired of it and announces that he’s run out.

Hex never smiles (I’m not sure he physically can) so when he says funny shit it seems like he doesn’t know he’s funny, and that makes it better. After gunning down a corrupt sheriff and his entire posse he looks around at the witnesses and decides to pin the sheriff’s star on a DELIVERANCE-looking fat guy. He pats him and says “Congratulations.” I hope things turned out okay in that town. That could’ve been a spinoff.

Remember when I reviewed THE PHANTOM a while back I enjoyed how for some reason The Phantom has a horse and wolf that follow him around and know how to rescue him and shit? Jonah Hex could have a setup like that if he wanted to, because he frees a dog from a dogfight and the thing shows up at his side later, and in an entirely different part of the country if I’m not mistaken. (That could be another spinoff, the adventures of the dog walking many miles to find Jonah Hex.) You think the dog’s gonna help him somehow but instead Hex just looks at him and mutters, “You. Yeah… I don’t know what to say to you.”

The other thing I like about Jonah Hex is his inability to completely despise his old war buddies, even though they’re terrorists now. He knows they’re on the wrong side and has no problem killing them, but afterwards likes to pay his respects by saying things like “Thanks men” or “Sorry Jim.” I mean, who is he to judge, he was fighting for the South at one point too. He knows he’s as dumb as they are. I guess the awareness makes him smarter. But I like that he’s forgiving, even of these pricks.

One thing I haven’t mentioned: Hex has magic powers. He’s a corpse whisperer. Because of his past brush with death he has this weird thing where if he touches a dead body it comes back to life. He can’t resurrect the dead, because they’ll turn into ashes after a minute, but he can use it to get information. Lucky thing the Geneva conventions didn’t exist yet because I don’t think you could justify his post-death enhanced interrogation of a prisoner that already got interrogated to death.

I guess the supernatural element wasn’t in the comic strip books and it isn’t really needed in a western, but it’s okay because it leads to the one genuinely great scene in the movie. Hex realizes that to get the information he needs he has to dig up the grave of the best friend/villain’s son who he killed in the war and question the guy. I seriously liked this scene because not only was it a weird way to explain some of the backstory and the idea that Hex and Turnbull have both been turned into vengeful monsters by the same incident, but Brolin and Morgan turn it into a great character moment. They’re two friends who are pissed at each other but can’t hide the remains of their friendship. They talk it out and then sort of enjoy their short time together before the dead guy says, “Ah, hell. I’m startin to burn. I best be getting back underground.”

That scene alone puts JONAH HEX above some of the other universally panned movies it’s been lumped in with. It doesn’t have that total-mess feel of expensive, befuddling ideas loudly banging against each other, like WILD WILD WEST or LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN. To me it feels a little closer to a SOLOMON KANE “I want to like this, some of it’s cool, but it’s not quite setting my world on fire for some reason” type feel.

I suspect some of the problem is that it was designed as a small movie, but I guess they moved it from August to June and did some reshoots to try to make it seem more like a big summer movie. I’m not sure which parts that would be but the movie would definitely benefit from a smaller, more personal scope. Not every hero has to be saving the whole country or world every time out. Ask The Punisher.

Whether it was the postproduction shenanigans or a screwup from the beginning, there’s definitely some narrative sloppiness that’s hard to get past. The opening origin story seems fine at first but gets more convoluted when it turns into barely moving drawings. Why do we have to be told that Turnbull is dead in one scene only to find out he’s not dead in the next scene? And there’s an early flash forward to a scene in the middle that turns out to be a showdown between Hex and Turnbull that only takes place in Hex’s mind as he’s dying and then is intercut later as a flashback when they actually do have a showdown. It becomes needlessly confusing and I suspect it was the original August ending that they didn’t want to waste so they incorporated it into the reshot June ending.

Also in the cast are Michael Fassbender (good as a bowler-hat wearing henchman character), Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon, Aidan Quinn as Ulysses S. Grant, and Wes Bentley in a role that I bet was supposed to be bigger at some point. Also the usually comedic actor Will Arnett plays a completely straight underling role, which is kind of distracting, like when Chris Elliot was in MANHUNTER.

In defense of my good name (just Vern, no last name) I want to reiterate that I am not saying JONAH HEX is a good movie. I just don’t think it deserves to be shit on as much as it was. With low expectations I was at least able to get some good moments out of it. Is that so wrong?

This entry was posted on Monday, March 14th, 2011 at 12:40 pm and is filed under Comic strips/Super heroes, Reviews, Western. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

189 Responses to “Jonah Hex”

  1. I didn’t watch it, but the original Neveldine/Taylor script was floating around the web a while ago. I can’t tell HOW different it is from the movie, but it’s definitely hard R and Megan Fox’s character wasn’t supposed to look like her. More like a “real” Wild West prostitute with bad teeth and stuff, which is maybe the most intelligent idea Neveldine/Taylor ever had. She also dies when the main henchman of the villain pours acid over her face while having sex with her.

  2. I figured this had to be bad since it was so universally panned, but I am glad to hear that it is not as bad as it has been made out to be. I plan on checking this out at some point for Brolin alone, but maybe I will enjoy it more then I expect.

  3. Leave it up to Neveldine/Taylor to find creative ways to sexually degrade and hurt women.

  4. Thank you, Vern. A vern review of Jonah Hex… : )

    I too have the original script but haven’t read it yet. I’m torn whether to read it and then see the movie or vice versa.

    Loved the original DC comics, which were sort’ve inspired by the weirdest of the classic Italian westerns (DJANGO, THE GREAT SILENCE, ect)and had a truly outrageous, “anything can happen” feel too them–they were often horror comics as much as westerns. And Josh Brolin is well cast as Hex, and the scar looks great. The movie, of course, looks terrible….

  5. Oh, and I should add: it’s about damn time Aidan Quinn played Ulysses S. Grant. It is a damn shame, however, that he played him in this movie….

  6. CC, DJANGO & THE GREAT SILENCE are both great spaghetti westerns. For anyone who has not seen THE GREAT SILENCE you have to check it out. It is an amazing western. There are a number of great things about the film I could mention, but it is best to go into the film knowing as little as possible. I will say that Klaus Kinski plays one of the all time great villains in the film. He is so good in his performance you will hate him so much you will curse his character every time he is on screen.

  7. Rarely do I start a movie and not have the ability to finish. Jonah Hex was one of those rare movies where I had no problem turning it off and forgetting about it forever after about twenty minutes. Honestly I found it to be worse than League of Extraordinary and Wild Wild West.

  8. Add me to the membership to the Jonah Hex Really Isn’t All That Shitty Society. It’s definitely a Frankenstein’s monster of a movie, stitched together from ideas left over from the original comic, Neveldine/Taylor, the rewriters, and the marketing department, but it’s full of weird shit and enjoyable actors. Considering it’s only like 78 minutes long, that’s enough to make it squeak by.

  9. My favorite non-comics Jonah Hex moment was in the Justice League Unlimited cartoon when he meets the League and says very matter-of-factly: “I rekon you folks must be time travelers.” Crazy scar, nonchalant reaction to weird shit, that’s Jonah Hex.
    The movie touched on that weirdness, but never went all the way, and that’s what I wanted out of it.

    dieselboy: I can’t say I liked HEX, but worse that LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY SHITTINESS? That’s a bold statement, because that thing was fucking abominable.

  10. Big fan of the comic, so I was really disappointed to hear this wasn’t so good. By all accounts it’s downfall was them thinking just because it was a comic book, they needed to make it “comic-book movie”-ish with a “save the world” type plot and over the top action, when what makes the comic so great is it’s just a bunch of really well told, dark, western stories (which like CC says are sometimes actually horror ones) about a stone cold badass who’s kind of a prick. That conscientous objector stuff leading to him getting scarred too seems like they were worried about him not being sympathetic…even though he’s not supposed to be, exactly.
    For what it’s worth, I think this animated short where Thomas Jane voices him is a much better representation of what Jonah Hex should be:

  11. Is it worse then X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE?

  12. Charles: No. Not even close.

  13. So it’s not like getting your balls chopped off; it’s more akin to catching the loose skin underneath the scrotum in your zipper, then having a very large, hirsute dude pull on said zipper with all his might while his equally rotund buddy gives you an atomic wedgy.


    Still doesn’t sounds all that much fun, though. I think I’ll pass.

  14. Shit, I thought Vern’s was the world’s first review not mentioning Megan Fox in this movie, but then I used the search function…

  15. C’mon, SirVincealot, take it easy on all that locker room talk, there’s ladies here.

    Some of you are female, right? RIGHT?!

  16. Yeah as bad as Extraordinary was though I finished watching it, I only made it until some of the earlier Megan Fox scenes in Hex before cashing out. I even wanted to like it, I’m on a western kick right now and thought the trailer looked decent enough but it didn’t click with me on any level. I think maybe it was because I didn’t know the character from the comics so glossing over his entire backstory in lazy animation from the get-go lost me immediately. Why didn’t they just do an origin story? Thinking back on it now the events that occur in the opening animation could have easily been stretched out for a feature film and I DARESAY would have made for a better film. HMMMF.

  17. No, it’s not a totally shitty movie. But the fact that movie had technically four different directors working on it – and I’m sure with heavy studio, marketing and everyone else meddling in – it kind of shows. It’s a mish-mash of different elements with very bland results and really no driving force or vision behind it. It’s the definition of a film built by a committee.

    Still, they did manage to salvage a 1h 10 minute (yes, that’s the running time without credits) film that didn’t completely embarrass itself out of the whole mess. But I’m sure everyone involved will conveniently forget it from their resumes.

  18. Thanks, Mouth. It got pretty rough in here. (CJ stands for Christina Jaqueline.)

  19. CJ’s hitting on me. If only this were Baywatch, I’d be aroused.

  20. “which is kind of distracting, like when Chris Elliot was in MANHUNTER.”

    I know! So fucking weird! Or like Paul Reiser in Aliens. Or nearly the entire cast of Southland Tales.

  21. Or Chris Elliot in THE ABYSS, for that matter.

  22. roachboy, I agree:

    Vern’s review/ the talk backs here have mentioned, but not degenerated into pointless banter about, Megan Fox. Truly a website a cut above the rest.


  24. @Stu- I hated the movie but that ten minute short of “Jonah Hex” was a thing of beauty. It was scripted by my University’s writer-in-residence Joe R. Lansdale so it kinda made me pee a little, honestly.

  25. Mouth, I don’t understand. Please elaborate.

  26. “I hated the movie but that ten minute short of “Jonah Hex” was a thing of beauty. It was scripted by my University’s writer-in-residence Joe R. Lansdale so it kinda made me pee a little, honestly.”
    Yeah, I think it’s an improvement on the source actually as in that, the prostitute story is a smaller part of a bigger story, and that part just ends with him capturing her for a bounty.
    Is Hex’s time living with Apaches included in his film backstory? In the comics, it’s them that gave him his deformity and since that’s changed, I was wondering if they bothered to include it. It explains his ability as a tracker and handiness with blades though.

  27. Passed on this because the word of mouth was sooo bad, but If you’re comparing it to Soloman Kane, a film I actually liked quite a bit, I’ll at least give it a shot.

    As far as westerns go I’m pretty pumped that Tarantino is finally getting in the mix. I’m hoping we finally get another western in more of the badass vein. I can’t think of the last really good, badass western. Probably Unforgiven.

  28. From what I understand, the more recent comics completely exorcised all of the magic and horror from the series and essentially made the series into a version of Eastwood’s Man With No Name films. It was a shame that the film had to go in the opposite direction and include unnecessary comic book action.

  29. As I heard it the Vertigo version of the comic had the more overt supernatural stuff, but when they brought it back to DC Comics proper, it made it much more grounded, just a bit weird. Though because it’s actually still set in the past of the DC Universe, they’ve still at times brought more fantastical things into it, like the appearance of El Diablo, a spectral horseman who’s a spirit of vengeance. Hex also appeared in a recent storyline where Bruce Wayne was bouncing round in time, and ended up in the western era as an amnesiac vigilante, and they had came into conflict(Hex shot him in a duel, presuming him dead because he fell in a river with no body showing up). But virtually all his stories have been straight up western tales that don’t really break the bounds of realism too much.

  30. I admit that I saw Wild Wild West in theaters as a 9 year old boy and was reasonably entertained by it, but mostly what I enjoyed was Will Smith hamming it up, the cool steampunk stuff and the brief shots of Bai Ling’s and Salma Hayek’s asses

    I’m sure it hasn’t held up though

  31. also, CJ Holden is a girl? WHAAAAAAAT!?

  32. Damn, now I’ll be too shy to comment on any of CJ’s posts.

  33. Griff, I can’t say that WILD WILD WEST has not held up well because that would imply that it was of some quality to begin with. However, my younger brother and one of my best friends love that movie.

  34. Mastodon. Not Mammoth. And they are the unruly gods of metal. Funny review and all. But you ougt not fuck about with dark powers you don’t understand.

  35. Clicking CJ Holden’s link takes you to the official blog of DJ Psychofrakulator, who seems to be a dude. The “about this blog” is signed “CJ”, so it seems they’re one and the same.

  36. Ronin- You didn’t like True Grit, 3:10 to Yuma, Appaloosa or season 1 of Justified?

  37. My favorite non-comics Jonah Hex was the episode of the Batman Animated Series in which Hex fought R’as Al Ghul–and that had some great Steampunk-type stuff, and anticipated League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen-The Comic.

  38. Ronin – I should be clear, I don’t think you’ll like it as much as SOLOMON KANE. To me though it reminded me more of that type of movie than the WILD WILD WEST type.

  39. Add Deadwood to that list, dieselboy.


  41. I’m a big DC fan. Well to be frank I’m only really pretty much a DC fan nowadays, just can’t quite get back into marvel anymore. The current volume of Jonah Hex is a reason why. It’s just excellent on every level. If the man with no name had an ongoing series with a new monthly adventure that’d be the one. Pretty much kick ass western stories with a bounty hunter hunting prey from town to town. None of the ridiculousness I’ve read about this movie which is why I didn’t even bother to ever watch it.

  42. Mastodon is shit.

  43. To their credit though a standard Hex movie would seem too much like other westerns. Maybe it would’n’t have made much bank anyway. It’s not exactly the general public’s favorite genre. Unless you give them a Judd Apatow produced western starring Will Smith or something.

    With Hex in the comics at least currently well he’s part Man with no name, part Shane, part Harmonica etc. so I could see why they spiced it up with gattling guns, I talk to dead folks (aforementioned long forgotten vertigo series stuff) and such other nonsense. At the same time True Grit proved that a conventional western could still be lucrative in today’s market as long as it’s actually good so.

  44. Thanks Vern. Most of the other reviews I read on AICN were super negative. You pointed out enough good where it looks like it’s at least worth checking out.

    dieselboy – I really liked true grit. I don’t know if I’d count it as a badass film or not though. Apaloosa I liked, but wasn’t blown away by. I recall liking Viggo’s character a lot though. And I was pretty disappointed in 3:10 to Yuma.

    I looked into it a little more and the only ones I could come up with that might make the cut are Tombstone (not exactly recent), The Proposition (might be too artistic to count), and Quigly Down Under (I actually haven’t seen this).

  45. Gotta beg to differ here a bit Main Man with the “It’s a western, but it’s a comic book western, so everything is amped up”, portion of the review. Forgive me if I’m misconstruing your meaning here, but it kinda comes off as this presumption that the sillier, cheeseball elements of a Comic Book-Movie can automatically be attributed/written off to the Comic half of the equation. Trust the Comic geek here friendo when I tell you that more often than not, Hollywood brings the Velveeta keg to the party. Not to say that there aren’t fantastical elements by the truckload in comics, but side saddle gattling guns(and other James Bond gadgetry), and epic fireball explosions were no part of the source material. Night and Day doesn’t begin to describe the difference between the comic and film versions of “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”. For example the female character (Mena Harker) is basically the team leader in the comic. She goes out and rounds up this crew of down and outers, criminals, and psycos. The legendary Allan Quatermain(beaten down by some cruel turns of fate), has to be dredged out of an opium den. The Invisible Man, is tracked down to a faith-based girl’s boarding school where several believed “Immaculate Conceptions” begin to raise eyebrows. The pregnant girls all tell of being “ravished” by the “Holy Ghost” in the night. Now friendo, in just this small sample, are you seeing the potential for some much more unconventional, complex, witty storytelling. Well that’s exactly what the Comic was. “Kung-Fu Nemo” was Hollywood’s contribution.

  46. RE: Broddie, wouldn’t that be a remake of Blazing Saddles?

    Also, to give you an idea of how much this was reshot and reworked, the original film didn’t have the central McGuffin, “The Nation Killer” at all. It wasn’t even in the film. In my understanding they reshot 70 pages of the movie in total with Francis Lawrence taking the helm.

  47. Yeah WWW was a fetid burst of aboriginal bowel spurt. This was actually OK. Not actually, you know, good. But not appalling. Oh wait – I was repressing Megan Fox. Every scene she was in, I was trying obsessively to see her thumbs.

  48. If COWBOYS AND ALIENS hits big at least Hex will have been ahead of its time considering the inevitable rush of oddball Westerns that will start popping like daisies.

  49. Rogue 4 – okay then, read that as “it’s a western, but it’s amped up, but it’s only a coincidence that it’s a comic book because that has nothing at all to do with the fact that it’s amped up at all so please move along everybody comics are actually very dull and regular.”

    (winky face)

  50. I was just kidding. I have a penis and my boobs are hairy. Just to clear things up. :)

  51. so it seems that it IS a sausage fest here

  52. I think we can all agree on the fact that the western genre died a little in the 80’s when someone decided that movies had to appeal to the 15 to 25 crowd to succeed at the box office. Jonah Hex isn’t a great western, but if you have some knowledge of the Italian westerns from the late 60’s and early 70’s (the Sartana and Sabata movies etc), you realize it’s a lot better than what those not in the knowing are able to understand. Charles; Kinski wasn’t the villain in The Great Silence. If you think about it, everything he did was within the law. It was Trintignant’s character who killed people for money.

  53. Anybody going on a spaghetti western binge, you must check out Giuseppe Colizzi’s movies. He’s my favorite Italian director after Sergio Leone and his western are worlds apart from the rest of genre.

    In particular, I’d recommend BLOOD RIVER (also known under a much better title GOD FORGIVES… I DON’T!) which, like all Colizzi’s films, stars Mr. Terence Hill and Mr. Bud Spencer, but instead of the usual pair of lovable buffoons they are playing a couple of bad motherfuckers in an incredibly mean and badass picture.

    Not to spoil anything, but it starts with A FUCKING TRAIN FUCKING FULL OF DEAD FUCKING BODIES arriving at the station.

    Personally I don’t care much for Corbucci’s output – THE GREAT SILENCE is a decent film, but his directing style is way too crude and unartistic. I consider Corbucci Michael Bay of spaghetti westerns.

  54. Oh, and how many of you gents are actually watching JUSTIFIED?

    I skipped the first season, but the second one kinda caught my attention… I like the way they manage to work a single pure Elmore Leonard ™ moment in every episode: the stuff like a robber trying to buy a ski mask in the middle of Eastern Kentucky or a drug dealer studying to be a magician by the YouTube videos.

  55. @roachboy

    I also wasn’t thrilled with THE GREAT SILENCE. BLOOD RIVER sounds good, so I’ll check it out, thank you for the recommendation.
    I love Justified. Tim Olyphant pwns.

    Can someone tell me who Michael Shannon was in this movie? I have become a big fan of his since I saw this, but when I saw it I didn’t know who he was. Now that I read that he was in it, I don’t remember him at all.

    @CJ I’m glad they didn’t go with the Neveldine/Taylor script, after reading what you said about it.

    I didn’t think this was a bad movie at all. I thought it lacked a genuine feel, and they shouldn’t have done the animated sequence in the beginning, but it was a fun film. Whoever said this was worse than LXG, because nothing is worse than LXG, has offended my delicate sensibilities.

  56. I haven’t listened to Mastodon’s score yet but I enjoyed reading Brent Hinds’s statement before the film came out that “they don’t know what the fuck they’re doing, movie looks like shit to me but as long as they pay me for playing some crazy music, that’s what I’ll do.”

    “comics are actually very dull and regular”

    That’s generally quite true – comics these days really are dull as hell because the writers are all aspiring screenwriters (or actual screenwriters taking a short break from movies/tv), so all they know to do is movies on paper.

  57. I saw Rango yesterday, and it’s the best spaghetti western since the 70’s. I hope Tarantino’s taking notes while watching it.

  58. Roachboy- I watch the hell out of Justified. I loved the first season, while admittedly some of the one-off episodes are just passable the seasons arch of the Givens and Crowders feud was extremely well done. And the season finale was one of the best of any show I’ve ever watched. I was worried season 2 wouldn’t be able to hold up against my expectations but I’ve been pleasantly surprised so far. I’m really enjoying the new characters from the moonshine family.Seeing Faraday from lost(the crippled son, I forget his name NO I DON’T IT’S JEREMY DAVIES) back on TV is great. Last weeks episode was particularly good with Bo tricking those assholes into blowing themselves up and then the Mama charcter taking a hand to her sons hand. Man, that’s some good shit.

    Speaking of Westerns and shit though I’m currently working my way through the entire run of Firefly, Joss Whedons mix of space and westerns and am really digging that. Any of you guys get down with the Firefly?

  59. edit: taking a hammer to her son’s hand, what a doosy of a typo.

  60. billydeethrilliams

    March 15th, 2011 at 7:26 am

    pegsman- Yeah, Rango was pretty good. Are the rumors of Tarantino’s next project true? I’d rather see him do a straight up noir.

    Vern- If you read this post, I recommend the author Peter Rabe to you. He was an influence on Donald Westlake so I think you’ll enjoy his work.

    Is Jonah Hex worse than… Battlefield Earth? Or, let me think of a recent shitfest… Unknown?

  61. To be fair to Vern here, maybe he’s been reading the comics in his (I assume) complimentary copy of CLiNT, and that’s why he got the impression all comics are amped up. When one such strip in said publication features a super villain who impregnates his enemy’s daughter with her gay brother’s semen, and somehow rigs her womb to collapse if she gets an abortion, and another features an eight year old girl training a teenager how to be a better vigilante, you can understand some bias. I’m sure he gave the Graphic Novel adaptations of the PARKER books the benefit of the doubt though…right?

  62. Dieselboy: I’m planning to give FIREFLY a 2nd try soon, just because I like Nathan Fillion so much. I watched the pilot a few years ago and was not just bored to hell, but also annoyed by the constant use of the word “shiny”. But yeah, I’ll try again soon.

  63. I’m a big fan of FIREFLY, and Vern liked SERENITY, just hated the more uh, fanatical admirers of it who were at the theatre with him. There’s a LOT of in-jokes about Firefly in Fillion’s show, Castle by the way.

  64. The dialogue can be a dealbreaker for some, but I think if you push through you realize that it’s not that important to the show. It’s come off as gimmicky at first but soon fades into the overall ambiance. What’s more important is the rapport between the characters and the outlaw-approved theme of doing your own thing even if it’s probably gonna kill you.

  65. + 1 for Rango (saw it this weekend, too.)

    +10 for DCAU attempts at Jonah Hex.

    +1000 for Firefly. {g}

  66. It’s nerd shit, but FIREFLY is well filmatized nerd shit with great editing & comic timing.

    I still laugh when I remember the painted up bad dude defying the Captain and then getting kicked & sucked into the jet engine. #1 highlight of the series.

  67. I liked the bad guy in the pilot holding someone hostage and starting to give his demands, only for Mal to just abruptly shoot him in the face as he walks through the door because there’s more pressing shit to do.

  68. As long as we’re nerding out over Whedon and talkbackers are making recommendations and Mr. Majestyk’s identifying outlaw-approved themes, I’ll kindly renew my only ever instance of such untoward behavior and submit for Vern’s consideration a fine 41 minute film that deals with, as Seagal might summarize, what it takes to change the essence of a man into a superhero badass or a supervillain badass.

    It’s also a very funny movie, with very smooth, sonorous, ahem, dialogue. Despite its title, it has no audience-involvement style captions and it is not “horrible.” You nerds know what I’m talking about.

  69. But they are singing constantly pretty lame songs, just for the sake of singing, without adding anything to the story.

  70. Whedon was also one of the screenwriters for the original TOY STORY movie, so he’s amongst a group of people who made Vern “cry at a fucking cartoon”.

  71. Mouth-I’m only on the 4th episode now but that was by far the highlight of the series for me so far. Dude’s all like “keep your money. I will hunt you across the universe till I bathe in your blood” or something like that, Captain just shrugs and kicks him into the engine and that’s that. No one even mentions it. I stupidly watched the movie a few years ago before having seen any of the series so I unfortunately know what’s going to happen to the pilot chracter, and it makes me sad.

  72. roachboy, I have not seen enough of Corbucci’s work to make comment about his style as a director, but how is he like Bay? I will admit that the directing in TGS is uneven at times, and almost seems like it is directed by different people (which it could be I do not know much about the history of the film), but I can’t see how he could be compared to Bay. Also, TGS is way to subversive of a film for Bay to have made. As pegsman pointed out it could be argued that Kinski is not the villain despite his deplorable behavior. That is only an example of the subversive nature of the film. I would go into greater detail but I would hate to in anyway spoil it for those that have not seen the film.

  73. Also, if we are talking quality modern westerns I would like to add two Australian ones to the conversation THE PROPOSITION & RED HILL, and it is not great but I liked APALOOSA.

  74. Man, I still love APALOOSA just for that moment where Ed Harris correctly takes his buddy Viggo’s word over Renee Zelweger’s. In any other movie the woman character would successfully drive a wedge between the two, but Ed Harris is too smart for that.

    CJ – what the hell are you a fan of Nathan Fillion from if you haven’t watched Firefly? I thought he was only in that, the badly titled internet video that Mouth mentioned, and the dream castings of nerds. That guy’s turned into the Bruce Campbell of the 2000s, now that I think about it.

    I still think my description made sense, even if the comic strips are not like the movie for Jonah Hex. It’s like the Punisher movies are the Marvel Comics version of Charles Bronson movies this is a DC Comics version of a western.

  75. I also did not particularly care for THE GREAT SILENCE. It has a great opening, an AMAZING ending, and a loooooooong slog in between. I guess I didn’t figure a movie called THE GREAT SILENCE would have so many scenes of people sitting around talking.

    In general, I think a good rule of thumb concerning spaghetti westerns is this: scenes set outside = atmospheric and exciting; scenes set inside = stilted and boring.

    Of course, Tarantino will probably prove my theory wrong when the best scenes in his western are the ones of people just sitting around the local saloon, shooting the shit about obscure dime novelists and folk troubadours of the 1870s.

  76. Vern, I know what you mean. It is the little character moments that make APALOOSA work, and I don’t think a film with a cast including Viggo, Harris, and Henriksen can be bad.

  77. About Nathan Fillion: Around 10 years ago he was in a sitcom named TWO GUYS, A GIRL AND A PIZZA PLACE, alongside the then unknown Ryan Reynolds. It was not just one of the better Sitcoms of that time (especially the Halloween episodes where fucking insane!), he also fit perfectly into it, despite being a late cast addition (He was a guest star, who became a recurring character and then finally was officially added to the main cast).
    And then there is of course SLITHER! And his current hit TV show CASTLE hits enough of the old familiar notes right to entertain me every week.

  78. Vern, Fillion stars in a show called CASTLE, about a crime writer who uses his connections to tag along on cases with a female detective he’s basing a new character on. It’s pretty good for a twist on MURDER SHE WROTE, and they even did a real life tie-in to the series by actually publishing the book Castle writes off his experiences.

  79. I noticed a while ago, that I don’t use enough commas, whenever I write in English.

  80. Let’s not forget that Fillion also got the only laugh in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN.

  81. Majestyk, as I said before TGS is very uneven, but Kinski’s performance and the ending alone elevate the film for me. Also, I challenge anyone to come up with an example of a more subversive spaghetti western. It may not be the best film in the genre, but there is no other like it. The ending alone puts it in a class unto it’s self. Love it or hate it can we at least agree wit is worth checking out?

  82. That ending is absolutely worth seeing. I will not dispute that in the slightest.

  83. Good call CJ, SLITHER is a really fun and underrated picture. (SPOILER) Fillion vs deer zombie = awesome in my book.

    However, I tend to find Fillion just OK. He is never really bad, but at the same time I have never seen him deliver a performance that he really enhanced the material. It seems like most of his roles could be done by someone else just as well if not better.

  84. roachboy, already suggested BLOOD RIVER, but are there any other obscure or lesser known spaghetti westerns anyone would recommend.

  85. You should check out the SLITHER DVD. Especially the “I’m Bill Pardy” feature.
    Also I agree that Fillion isn’t awesome, but he is sympathetic and always knows how to deliver his lines right, doesn’t matter if it’s comedy or drama. I’m sure he has at least one big Oscar worthy performance in him, but so far it wasn’t necessary.

  86. I rented TGS many moons ago, and I feel like I should recommend it b/c I remember liking it but all I specifically remember is a cool shot of a lone traveler in the snow, poor sound dubbing, and that amazing ending.

  87. Mr. M- I don’t want to sit through Saving Private to see who he played so maybe you can elaborate on that a little for me.

  88. CJ, I have the HD-DVD (don’t laugh), so I will check it out.

  89. FIREFLY was pretty good, but with that – and with most Whedon’s writings in general – I feel like I’m watching less of a fictional drama, and more of his personal fetishes and issues on display.

    It gets a bit weird and uncomfortable at times.

  90. diesel: He’s the other Private Ryan, the one Tom Hanks tells his brothers were killed in the war and he’s like “But they’re only six and nine!” The look of befuddlement, grief, and tentative relief on his face is priceless. In a nutshell, it’s what he’s good at: finding the right tone for tricky material that mixes humor with something darker, be it horror, mystery, action, or drama.

  91. roachboy, thanks for the awesome list. I have only seen about half of them so this gives some good stuff to track down. Looking through it I really want to see IL MERCENARIO starting the legendary Franco Nero and Jack Palance. Also, I have to mention something that caught my eye in reading the description for the film, it says that Palance’s charter is named Curly. Does that mean that IL MERCENARIO is somehow a prequel to the CITY SLICKERS films?!?!? I this the tale of how Curly got his gold? Not only that, but the character of Curly is described as “a sadistic homosexual mercenary”. I didn’t pick up on any of that in CITY SLICKERS, but it has been years since I have watched those films.

  92. Well maybe comparing Corbucci to Bay was a bit harsh but can you understand what the hell happens during the gunfights in his movies? The framing, the editing and the choreography are just so murky and choppy and poorly done…

    Then again, the guy LOVES to have these “poorly lit people talking in-doors” scenes in his westerns so maybe he’s more like a Kevin Smith of the spaghetti genre.

    And about FIREFLY… shit, the pilot is probably the best thing Whedon ever done, the show itself has a great hospital heist episode (the one with Jayne in the airlock) and the movie is fine if you already know all the characters.

    The rest of the show is pretty mediocre with a handful of funny moments, in my opinion.

  93. roachboy, from what I have seen of Corbucci’s work I can see what you are talking about, but I wonder how much of that is a result of budget and resources. I am sure he never had the luxury of multiple takes and/or reshoots, and there are shot’s and sequences in his work that are very will composed and executed.

  94. I can’t look at Nathan Fillion without thinking “The hammer is my penis.”

    Solid gold delivery on that line.

  95. Okay, I can see tough Verdonites freely admitting watching the silly Whedon stuff mostly oriented toward 15-year old schoolgirls… but how many of us will own up to listening to COMMENTARY: THE MUSICAL?

  96. I did. When I pay full retail price for a DVD, I get my money’s worth.

  97. roachboy -I misread you. I thought you wrote; COMMANDO: THE MUSICAL. I would fucking queue for three weeks to see THAT one!

  98. You guys didn’t like Dr. Horrible? I LOVED DR. HORRIBLE! And I’m not even a big fan of Joss Whedon’s work. I just think it works, and it movies, and damnit, I liked the songs. And that ending, it’s the most legitimately heartbreaking ending I have ever seen to a farce. It almost made me cry. Fer’serious.

  99. Personally I don’t find Corbucci’s westerns that murky or badly choreographed, but that could be because I mostly own the restored widescreen versions. Besides, isn’t The Great Silence supposed to be dark and claustrophobic? Every other movie he’s made are pretty sun drenched and bright. Charles; I hope you are aware of the fact that Blood River, or God Forgives…I Don’t as we know it here in Europe is the first in a trilogy with Bud and Terence as Hutch Bessy and Cat Stevens (yes, he’s called that in all three films). If not, you should check out Ace High and Boot Hill. And if you want subversive spaghettis you should take a look at Django Kills (it makes The Great Silence look like a fairy tale). Keoma, Blindman, Django and Today We Kill…Tomorrow We Die are all great (and dark). Or if you find a little dose of communism in your westerns subversive, you could do worse than A Bullet for the General, Duck You Sucker and Run Man Run. By the way, Palance is called Curly in The Mercenary because he wears an awful curly wig. Curly in City Slickers seemed to have a full set of hair. Plugs, maybe?

  100. Shoot, “The Bennet’s Song” alone would be worth the price of the admission!

    And I just want to
    And I just want to
    To let off some steam…

  101. pegsman, thanks for the recommendations. I have seen a few of them. The first time I saw DUCK YOU SUCKER, was when they were touring a new remastered print of the director’s cut at the Paramount theater here in Austin. It was great to watch a Leone film I had never seen for the first time on the big screen in a theater, and to say that you do not see the ending coming is an understatement. While it is unfortunate I can see why the film was cut to death here in the states.

    Also, I was joking about the whole Curly CITY SLICKERS connection. It is hard to write sarcasm.

  102. pegsman, I’m also talking about the remastered widescreen versions.

    Just compare Corbucci’s style with the likes of Damiani (A BULLET FOR THE GENERAL), Petroni (DEATH RISED A HORSE) or, in particlar, Colizzi (BLOOD RIVER, ACE HIGH, BOOT HILL).

    I think all these directors worked under harsh budget and time constraints, but their westerns look almost as good as Leone’s (the only difference being the lack of trademark tight closeups) and something like DJANGO or THE SPECIALIST looks like shabby grindhouse crap.

    I’ll agree with THE MERCENARY – that one was shot pretty good, although kinda badly acted and written… I guess it’s just a question of personal preference: do you want your westerns to look like proper movies or like cheap but fun exploitation genre fare?

  103. Am I the only one who loves DUCK, YOU SUCKER most of all Leone’s output?

  104. God damn! if you are gonna watch one fucked up western; watch DJANGO KILS ( a.ka IF THEYB LIVE SHOOT), nuff siad. Go watch that fucker!

  105. and roachboy; i don´t want my spaghetti westerns to look like good movies. I like them silly as hell, like DEAD FOR A DOLLAR, FISTFUL OF LEAD and THE FIGHTING FISTS OF SHANGHAI JOE. But on the other hand we have truely awesome movies like MANNAJA , IF YOU MEET SARTANA ,PRAY FOR DEATH, and SABATA and …other movies I can´t remember.

  106. roachboy, I love all of Leone’s films, but THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY is my favorite movie of all time. Not that it in anyway influenced me, but I want to say that QT is also on record as THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY being his favorite film of all time as well.

    Shoot McKay, DJANGO KILLS is near the top on my to do list. It is a shame as much as I like DJANGO (and it’s awesome theme song) that I have not made the time to check out more of the numerous DJANGO squeals.

  107. Speaking of DUCK, YOU SUCKER, is it just me or did Rod Steiger’s over the top performance have to in some way influence Pacino’s portrayal of Tony Montana?

  108. If you talk about Rod Steiger´s ” over the top” performance, you´ll have to inckude Eli Wallach´s performance.Which I DON`T think is over the top. Both him and Steiger creates colorful performances and are thus unforgettable..

    Charles… DJANGO KILLS has nothing to do with the original. But Damn! you Will Have To Watch it!
    I don´t want to spoil it.

  109. Charles, I’ve always maintained that Montana and Steiger’s character have the exact same accent but nobody believes me.

    I love THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY to death, but it just doesn’t have the profound emotional impact that DUCK, YOU SUCKER and ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST make on me every time I watch them. Well, maybe the graveyard run… and the bridge scene… and… hell, man, it’s so hard to have a favorite Leone movie.

  110. roachboy, 100% agree with you about Steiger and Pachino’s accents. Ever since I saw DYS I have been saying the same thing.

    Shoot McKay, I don’t think Wallach’s performance is anywhere near as over the top as Steiger’s. Wallach’s is more human, but Steiger’s creates a complete caricature. However, I do enjoy both performances.

    As fans of Leone were you guys aware that his estate is overseeing the assembly and remastering of an extend director’s cut of ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA that is supposed to be more in line with his original vision of the film? I guess Leone shot like almost 8 hours worth of footage for the film, and at one point planned for it to be cut into 2 separate movies.

  111. For a show that is completely overhyped, I thought firefly was pretty damn good. Great chemistry between the cast and Adam Baldwin is great. 2 things that bugged me though :

    1. This is show is so geeky that I’m not surprised at all that it failed. This show just screams “nerd alert” so much it actually becomes distracting. I dont’ know if its the dialogue, the way its shot, etc., but I feel like a “normal” person watching people play dungeons and dragons when I’m watching it.

    2. It seems whenever a character gets mad they slip in a little bit of chinese sounding dialgue to accentuate the frustration. I dont’ know if its some futuristic language that everyone knows and reverts to when they get frustrated? Once again, distracting.

    With that said, good show. And I’m totally onboard the “Nathan Fillion should play Drake in the Uncharted Drakes Fortune Movie” train.

  112. I just started on Sergios stuff recently. I started with Once Upon a Time In the West and was blown away. I had never heard of Claudia Cardinale before that but what a drop dead gorgeous actress, even by todays standards she would be a ten.I had never seen Jason Robards in anything either and thought he was particularly good in his role, stealing most of the scenes from Bronson. So then I checked out For A Fistful of Dollars and what do you know,people weren’t bullshitting it was a legitimate classic! And only my second Clint western after Unforgiven so it was nice to see what that character would have been like in his prime.

  113. dieselboy, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST is great stuff, and Claudia Cardinale is smokin hot. I swear those older Italian films even the more schlocky and exploitative ones feature some of the most beautiful women ever in the history of cinema. It doesn’t hurt that many of them were more natural beauties then many of the surgically assisted actresses that we are accustomed to seeing these days.

  114. What about Francoise Fabian from THE SPECIALIST? Now that’s a gal that can give Claudia a run for her money.

  115. I also love Rosalba Neri in the oh so sleazy ISLAND OF DESPAIR AKA 99 WOMEN.

  116. I think Neri is also in the already mentioned BLOOD RIVER.

  117. “1. This is show is so geeky that I’m not surprised at all that it failed. This show just screams “nerd alert” so much it actually becomes distracting. I dont’ know if its the dialogue, the way its shot, etc., but I feel like a “normal” person watching people play dungeons and dragons when I’m watching it.

    2. It seems whenever a character gets mad they slip in a little bit of chinese sounding dialgue to accentuate the frustration. I dont’ know if its some futuristic language that everyone knows and reverts to when they get frustrated? Once again, distracting.”
    1. What exactly is so Nerdy about it? For the record, I consider Nerdiness to be in the extent someone takes an interest in something, not the something they take an interest in. So for instance, Vern is a Nerd when it comes to Steven Seagal, because he wrote a book about all his movies and various other projects, coined the phrase “Seagalogy” and analyses his work to a degree most others don’t. I certainly can’t see how the science fiction and fantasy genre can be considered intrinsically Nerdy when there’s plenty of instances of science-fiction and fantasy franchises that people can admit to liking without such a stigma. The original Star Wars Trilogy, Blade Runner(which is no more nerdy than the world of Firefly in my opinion), Aliens etc.
    THIS fleshes out this line of thinking much more and uses the traits of Sports Fans as an example:

    2. The idea is that when humanity left earth, it was mostly just America and China that were the remaining superpowers, and the culture of the colonists that resulted was a mix of american frontier and the chinese, hence characters slipping into Mandarin at times and the Serenity itself having chinese lettering as part of it’s logo. Admittedly, it’s not so obvious since none of the main cast is asian and there’s rarely any actual important chinese characters in the show, but it’s possible that if the show had lasted longer, this might have gotten explained more. One idea is that a lot of characters are actually meant to have some chinese ancestry to them, but it’s been diluted over the generations(and Simon and River have the chinese surname Tam, possibly supporting this), or that the chinese population is more dense towards the more civilised worlds, which we barely saw any of. Of course we all know how under represented asians are on tv too, so there’s a more obvious real world explanation for the lack of visibility.

  118. Am I the only fan of Fillion because he was on ONE LIFE TO LIVE? Is that weird?

  119. roachboy; The films of Leone, Sollima and Damiani are all masterpieces, but when I just want to have a good time in the Italian west it doesn’t matter if it looks like a proper movie or not. I want weird looking actors doing amoral things in a strange landscape. I want a lot of shooting with guns hidden within guitars, bibles and hats. And I want a story that’s so simple that it has to be fleshed out with beardy men staring at each other for minutes before the killing starts. Charles; I got the joke, but I guess my own attempt at being funny didn’t work at all. By the way, has anyone noticed that the The Spirit of the West in Rango looks like Clint Eastwood but is voiced by Timothy Olyphant? If this isn’t a clear indication that our man Timothy is the new Clint I don’t know what is…

  120. To me Olyphant looks like a weird amalgamation of Clint, Harrison Ford and a giant anthropomorphic cat. Also, the man’s head is custom-made for the Stetson.

  121. By the way, no one’s mentioned The Good, The Bad and The Weird yet for Westerns? Albeit, it’s an Eastern Western, but I figure it still counts.

  122. Since we’re talking about Westerns, here’s me and Django: http://i40.photobucket.com/albums/e236/Samoan_Bob/nero.jpg

  123. Way cool.

  124. Stu — I came soooo very close to loving THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE WEIRD, but its self-conscious genre touchstones eventually took me just a little bit out of the story, especially at the end (it ends the only possible way it could end, but that’s sort of the problem. And also then to make it even more referential they took the obvious way it should end and then added a silly Hollywood happy ending to it). It’s still so much fun it should be a crime, though — just narrowly missed being a genre classic. Any movie directed by Kim Ji-Woon is now in my must-see list, however.

  125. Totally agreed on TGTBTW & the director. I wouldn’t change anything about it, but for some inexplicable reason it was too, I dunno, perky or meta-cool, so the sum wasn’t as good as its parts and I wish it was shorter.

  126. There’s a mega-late in the game reveal in TGTBTW that really took me out of the finale, but that said, the two hours preceding that are some of the most ridiculously entertaining cinema I’ve seen in a long time. The Weird is rapidly becoming one of my favorite actors of any nationality based on that, THE HOST, THIRST, etc.

  127. I dug TGTGTW, but I think my big disappointment with it was that for all of its superficial references to THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY it was not particularly Leone-esque. Leone was all about the slow, painstakingly crafted build-up; the “action” in his films almost always happens in quick bursts and is over before it really begins. He draws every moment out beyond reason, awesomely so. As the great David Bordwell memorably put it:

    “In each entry of the Dollars trilogy, you can see the rituals of the Western getting more and more stretched out, filled with microscopic gestures and eye-flicks. Eastwood’s lips stick slightly together and must peel apart when he speaks: This becomes a major event.”

    TGTBTW, on the other hand, is all rambunctious, kinetic energy and crazily escalating action sequences. It’s a lot more similar to Spielberg’s INDIANA JONES movies, George Miller’s MAD MAX movies. Which, I know, there’s no shame in being compared to those films. But let’s not kid ourselves; TGTBTW is no ROAD WARRIOR or RAIDERS. It’s fun and goofy, and frequently inventive, but it’s also a little sloppy here and there, and I thought the big chase scene through the desert near the end kinda dragged on and got away from the filmmakers.

    Still a good movie, and a must see for anyone who likes that brand of epic adventure. Just not sure why it nods it’s head to Leone so much when it doesn’t seem like Kim Ji-Woon took much actual inspiration from his films.

  128. Ha, TGTGTW obviously = TGTBTW.

    THE GOOD THE GOOD THE WEIRD would be probably be a little lacking in the conflict department.

  129. “Stu — I came soooo very close to loving THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE WEIRD, but its self-conscious genre touchstones eventually took me just a little bit out of the story, especially at the end (it ends the only possible way it could end, but that’s sort of the problem. And also then to make it even more referential they took the obvious way it should end and then added a silly Hollywood happy ending to it)”
    There’s a bunch of alternate endings included on the DVD. Some are goofier, some are just the same idea shot a little different, some don’t add that Hollywood ending, and some take that bit and add something else onto it, a bit pointlessly as the preceding big does the same job.
    The only bit I don’t think really works was the whole diversion into the brothel that’s really a rebel safehouse, which doesn’t really progress the story any more and just makes the film longer. It’s also odd how they give The Good a couple of sidekicks who disappear almost immediately after they’re introduced. But I think it’s pretty fun overall, and that battle/chase scene with the Japanese army/rebels/gangsters is pretty cool.

  130. Sure The Good, the Bad and the Weird owes a lot to Leone’s masterpiece, but I think it’s actually more similar to Sammo Hung’s Millionaire’s Express in style and tone.

  131. I think you guys kinda missing a point with the THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE WEIRD: the director’s experimenting with the length of action sequences the same way Leone experimented with the length of pre-action exposition.

    Just take the final three-way shootout which may be the single longest classic open duel in cinema history. Instead of waiting each other out, the characters just start shooting and keep pumping each other full of lead ’til it getting ridiculous – but never boring and predictable. I guess you could call it The Korean Standoff.

    Complaining about the overlong action scenes in TGTBTW is akin to criticizing the epic Leone closeups and wide landscape shots.

    Oh, and TGTBTW has nothing in common with MILLIONAIRE’S fuckin’ EXPRESS which promises us an epic train adventure but instead is set in a single damn village.

  132. Motorcycles, trains, kung fu and a big fat “hero”. Oh, I think it has a few things in common.

  133. roachboy,

    I think I get what you’re saying, but I’m not sure I agree. First off, it’s not like TGTBTW is the first movie to have extended action scenes. Going back to my examples before, I don’t think the action scenes are any longer or more elaborate than the major set pieces in the Mad Max or Indiana Jones movies. Granted, they may be a little more absurd/over-the-top (if such a thing is possible).

    As for the Leone comparison… I don’t get it. It sounds like you’re saying that Kim is paying homage to Leone’s style by not doing what Leone did, or doing the opposite of what he did. Are you saying that he’s satirizing Leone’s style, or maybe turning it on it’s head? I guess I could see your point during the final standoff, which directly references the finale of TGTB&TU but then, as you point out, rushes through the buildup and draws out the payoff. If that’s the case then, I gotta say the scene does a great job of illustrating why Kim’s style is inferior to Leone’s. I would much rather a director build up unbearable tension and release in a brief flash of perfection than a director skip the buildup and try to jam payoff down my throat for as long as possible.

    Your thoughts?

  134. Dan, yeah, there are some action/adventure scenes in MAD MAX and RAIDERS that last as long as those in TGTBTW but I think the point of the Korean movie is that every single action sequence is extended to the degree of slight absurdness.

    Leone had done a similar thing with the extended tension buildup scenes from old American westerns. He took those world-famous pre-duel “two men stare at each other with their gun hands twitching” episodes and made them almost absurdly longer, while his action flash points became even more abrupt than in older American westerns.

    So in my opinion the director of TGTBTW cleverly decided not try outdo Leone in the buildup department. Instead he did his own thing with the action scenes themselves: he turned the master’s style on its head as you’d put it, while following the somewhat similar plot.

    The question of superiority of Leone’s style to Kim’s is, I guess, yet again a question of personal taste. I enjoy a good buildup to an action moment but the length of an action scene itself can take the viewer beyond the usual “I want to know who’ll win” mentality and make the sequence an art form, a mini-movie with its own twists and emotional pay-offs.

    I think Tarantino had said that an extended action scene is the hardest thing to pull off in a movie, and TGTBTW didn’t dissapoint me in that department.

    Personally I like old-school kungfu movies better than old-school westerns: not only you (usually) get the nice tense pre-fight verbal exchanges and standoffs, but the fights could last up to 20 minutes.

  135. I think we’re both basically agreeing that the film’s debt to Leone is mainly superficial (it borrows the general outline of the plot and throws in a few references), and at least to my eyes it seems to owe a lot more to Spielberg, Miller, Donner, Lucas, etc… those who have specialized more in sustaining kinetic, madcap energy in their action scenes. And that’s cool, I like that kind of thing, I guess just given the title and the premise, and based on some of the things I had heard, I thought it was going to be more of a riff on Leone than it turned out to be.

    It’s pretty fun for what it is, but I much prefer Kim’s oddball take on J-horror in TALE OF TWO SISTERS than I do his oddball take on 80’s matinee movies. I’m planning to catch I SAW THE DEVIL this weekend and I’m hoping it’s more like the former than the latter.

  136. Dan — actually I think maybe you’ve struck on why the film didn’t quite get me where I wanted to go, even though I enjoyed the crap out of it.

    On one hand, the meta-ness of it, while fun, also takes me out of the experience a little. The film is so fastidious about addressing the rules of Spaghetti Westerns that it’s a few self-referential lines away from being SCREAM for the Spaghetti Western genre. It’s very keen on getting the details “right” and making sure that it neatly addresses every convention and then adds its own spin on it.

    But the problem is that while the structure is very carefully cultivated to replicate Leone et al, the substance of the film doesn’t really play like a Western at all — you could not be more correct that it’s mostly a big-scale adventure film. Problem is, the trappings of Spaghetti Westerns work well in Spaghetti Western Stories. Put those same trappings in a big adventure tale and they lose some of their potency. They’re just not designed to work as well for big action setpieces, because that’s not the way they were born.

    So, TGTBATW actually succeeds for me way more as a big-scale adventure film than a Western. In fact, I think the characterization and direction is pretty fantastic – colorful, imaginative, exciting and comprehensible. It’s just the facade of Leone that gets in the way and sort of ends up fighting with the big scale setpieces. The narrative and iconography feel like they’re going in two different directions, and when it finally ends up being TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE meets ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST(spoiler) it feels a little empty. And it makes sense that it does — that turn of events is sort of unearned by the tone of the preceding narrative.

    Still an obscene amount of fun, though. I think it puts Kim in the top teir of action directors currently working, and demonstrates that whatever he wants to try is gonna be awesome.

  137. Mr. Subtlety,

    That’s a good point. The clash of the spaghetti western iconography with the more blockbuster extravaganza atmosphere and tone causes a little cognitive dissonance. It’s still a really cool movie, but I wondered why Kim bothered with the western stuff when it ultimately doesn’t feel like any spaghetti western I’ve seen.

    I was actually going to write this up on my blog a while back when I saw TGTBTW but I got to lazy. There’s even a part in the movie where the Japanese villains are dressed just like the villains from RAIDERS. I was gonna grab a screencap from both and put them side by side to help make the point that Spielberg was a more dominant influence on the film than Leone, because it didn’t seem to me that many reviewers/commenter had acknowledged it.

  138. Anyone seen Takashi Miike’s Sukiyaki Western Django?

  139. Yes, and it is awesome.

  140. I liked everything about it, except for Tarantino.

  141. Okay, it’s time to vote, people; What’s the best western ever made? As much as I love spaghetti westerns, I don’t think there’ll ever be a better western than The Wild Bunch. Come to think of it, The Wild Bunch is the best movie ever made!

  142. ITHE LIFE AND TIMES OF JUDGE ROY BEAN by John Huston is VERY underrated. And a favourite of mine.

  143. It’s not really the best ever, but I’ll say MY NAME IS NOBODY because it’s awesome and more people should see it. Ditto EL DORADO.

  144. El Dorado I like as much as RIO BRAVO, the dialogue is´nowhere near the quality of Rio´s.But damn it´s funny.

  145. To me, EL DORADO is the superior film. You may be right about the dialogue, but nothing in RIO BRAVO is as funny as the hangover concoction scene in EL DORADO. Plus, and perhaps this is a controversial opinion, but I would take Robert Mitchum and James Caan as my sidekicks over Dean Martin and Rocky Nelson any day.

  146. I guess we can agree that EL DORADO needs more love than it has gotten. Though Dmitri Tiomkins soundtrack for RIO BRAVO is fucking awesome. That whole DeGuello song is unforgettable and also an influence on Morricone when he wrote the score for FISTFUL OF DOLLARS

  147. Any day, Mr. Prestwich? I suspect you’re gonna regret that decision the next time you have to croon your way out of a fight.

  148. Okay, fair enough. Maybe I’d want them as my sidekicks on karaoke night.

  149. Howard Hawks initially wanted Montgomery Clift and Elvis Presley to star with The Duke in Rio Bravo, but Wayne’s homophobia and the colonel’s bad judgement put a stop to that plan.

  150. I can definetly see Montgmery Clift in the Ricky Nelson part, but man, Elvis?? It would turn into one of his crappy b-movies! God bless karma!

  151. It was of course Elvis in the Ricky Nelson part, which I think would have been an improvement. Elvis really wanted to do it too, but his insane manager put a stop to it by demanding that he got top billing.

  152. Speaking of Wayn/Hawks; RED RIVER is a damn fine flick. If you can appreciate old Hollywood studio productions.

  153. Funny thing about Wayne’s homophobia: RED RIVER might be the gayest movie ever made. The pistol-comparing scene alone launched a thousand master’s theses.

    I’m voting for UNFORGIVEN, by the way. Sure, TGTBATU is the iconic choice, and certainly the better movie in terms of pure filmatism, but nothing hits me like that last scene in UNFORGIVEN.

    From memory:

    “I’m comin’ out! Any man I see out there, I’m gonna kill him! Any sumbitch takes a shot at me, I’m not only gonna kill him, I’m gonna kill his wife…all his friends…burn his damn house down!”

  154. Red River DID star Montgomery Clift1 And still Wayne made the movie with him?! But maybe that was before Clift´s homosexuality became known. Would the gay-interpretation still be there if people didn´t know about Clift being gay?

  155. Have you SEEN the pistol-comparing scene?

  156. EL DORADO is the ´60s equivalent of LETHAL WEPAON 4, fucking unappreciated and funny as hell

  157. I don’t mean to offend any RED RIVER fans. It’s a well-made and entertaining movie. It’s just that so much of it comes off as unintentional comedy to me. I’m not sure I really know how to process the Duke any other way.

  158. Duke is A number One!!!

  159. Mr Majestyk – You will have to fill me in on the pistol-comparing scene. it´s a while since I saw it. But if you describe how it plays out I might remember it.

  160. It’s Clift and the other young guy, and they stand there bragging about how big their pistols are and how well they shoot with them while stroking the barrels and smirking knowingly at each other for much, much longer than you would think should be strictly necessary. I may be misremembering this but I’m pretty sure Wayne is looking on jealously the whole time.

  161. Damn! How can I say how good a movie is, when I hardly can remember it…?

  162. Well, I was shown the movie by a friend who first saw it in a film class taught by a professor who was big on pointing out queer themes hidden in old movies. So I watched it with that context in mind. It’s not really an important scene for any other reason.

  163. Hmm…that seems a bit weird. I mean you could probably interpret anything in ANY movie if you are looking for it, even if it isn´t necessarily there. Maybe that´s what art is all about. Except the art of war. You´ll have to ask Wesley Snipes about that when he gets out of jail.

  164. (don’t make a joke about Wesley exploring queer themes while in jail don’t make a joke about Wesley exploring queer themes while in jail Wesley exploring queer themes while in jail c’mon Majestyk you’re BETTER than this)

  165. Well , I won´t dispute that…..

  166. ..But it is an UNDISPUTED fact that Wesley Snipes is currently serving time in jail ( which one I ahve no idea of)

  167. Wha? When did handguns become gay?

    You guys wouldn’t be saying all this if you saw my .45s. They’re really hard and they shoot straight. My best kills have been when I get right up on a guy, preferably from behind, and poke him in the ribs before I let it fly. It feels so good when that happens.

  168. Mouth-You mean you prefer sneaking up on an unsuspecting guy and then murdering him in cold blood like it´s a teaparty or something………I prefer the old bazooka-in-the-back. Not as gay, but even dumber and more cowardly. Not to mention more expensive.

  169. Oh Mouth. Never stop manning up the joint.

  170. Come on! Hasn´t any of you guys seen THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JUDGE ROY BEAN? Staring Paul Newman as the outlaw that turns a piece of shit outskirt shithole into a flourishing city? Damn, you kids today!

  171. it´s only the second coolest movie Paul Newman ever made.the coolest he ever made was COOL HAND LUKE. Damn! Swallowing 60 hardboiled eggs in an hour takes some balls!

  172. Shoot, the blood’s always still been warm in my experience.

    Best Overall Western Composite: ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, no doubt. As far as best batch of individual scenes put together for a feature length+ production, this wins. The very beginning up until Charles motherfucking Bronson fixes the “too many” horses predicament is among the best filmatism any of us will ever see & hear. The acting, the tone, the sound editing, the stationary camera headshots — this is perfection. This is BADASS CINEMA, arthouse BADASS, everything that makes us happy.

    Best Scene in a Western: I’m no fan of Sam Raimi, but the Gene-Hackman-toys-with-and-then-kills-Keith-David-and-then-monologues-to-his-town scene is unmatched. Unmatched in BADASS CINEMA, maybe unmatched in cinema period. (Colonel Dax’s “I object” speech and Al Pacino’s “out of order” outburst might have something to say about this.) I’ve watched it a thousand fucking times, and it will never get old. This is cinema at its best, and Hackman has never been better. It’s rare that you see “actors acting” and appreciate it rather than scrupulously find a reason why it pisses you off. (Think any actor who’s ever gone full retard or maybe Tom Hanks’s Oscar bait roles or etc..) The scene is so fucking good that I don’t care how lousy the rest of the movie is. Sam Raimi gets a lifetime pass just for this short burst of awesomeness.

    Best Western Ever? I don’t know, I’m not educated or well-versed enough in this huge topic. I boned a hot native American chick in a BW hot tub in Lawton, Oklahoma once. Does that count?

  173. Damn! i take it my Wesley Snipes joke wasn´t well received.I guess I´ll quit my day-job as douchebag standup-comedian and return to mediocre unemployment….

  174. It’s cool brah, folk here aren’t always FANs of clever WS references, so there’s a MO BETTER BLUES sensation when there aren’t always comment MONEY TRAINs when you bust them out, no matter how your MAJOR LEAGUE WS intellect is appreciated by Julie Newmar or Jay-Z/Biggie Smalls (cross-medium BROOKLYN’S FINEST reference!).

    In unrelated news, Tax Day is in 4 weeks.

  175. “Hmm…that seems a bit weird. I mean you could probably interpret anything in ANY movie if you are looking for it, even if it isn´t necessarily there. ”
    Come to think about it, have you ever noticed how PREDATOR is about a bunch of super macho guys with huge guns fighting a monster with a mouth that looks like a nightmare vagina? A monster which doesn’t attack the only woman in the movie, because she isn’t equipped with a big gun, and when she does have one, gets slapped down by a guy with a bigger firearm? A monster that Arnold makes the following observation about: “If it BLEEDS, we can kill it”?
    And we all know the psychosexual themes of the Alien movies, so does that mean that AvP is really PvV?

  176. Actually, Stu…kind of.

    The Predator absolutely plays off of the fear of Vagina Dentata and the feminine mystique. However, though there are certainly phallic elements to the Xenomorph, it too is primarily a feminine monster within the context of the narrative. I would argue that both creatures draw power from their mixed gender presentation with both phallic and yaunic elements which creates psychological and emotional confusion in the viewer.

    Fuck you. I majored in film theory. I’m totally gay for symptomatic meaning.

  177. Sure I’ve seen Judge Bean, Shoot. It’s Newman’s second best western – after Hombre. It’s especially cool to see Ned Beatty and Bill McKinney playing friends the same year they made THAT scene in Deliverance. According to Montgomery Clift John Wayne and Walter Brennan made his life hell during the Red River shoot, and he swore never to work with any of them again. The gun comparing scene is one thing, Majestyk, but the scene where Clift lights Wayne’s cigarette make me wonder if The Duke’s homophobia was a cover for something quite opposite. In a documentary I saw last year his friends told us again and again that he was a womanizer, without any conviction what so ever. If John Wayne turned out to be gay, it would probably do more for gay rights than anything else in history.

  178. That “playing poker for bullets” scene in JUDGE ROY BEAN is the absolute single best thing John Milius ever written. Yes, it’s even better than the Jack Barlowe’s Vietnam return scene from BIG WEDNESDAY.

  179. I second MY NAME IS NOBODY as one of the greatest westerns every made – maybe the second or the third all-time best.

    It’s quite schizophrenic and uneven (that’s what you get when having two directors), but it’s also epic and very very poignant (that’s what you get when Sergio Leone as one of the two).

    The big climatic shootout is simply breathtaking in its scope (and couldn’t it be the lost bridge between the traditional spaghetti westerns and the action/adventure movies to come?) and the last couple of scenes in New Orleans is as beautiful a sunset as a dying genre deserves.

  180. I love how silly that movie is, until it becomes genuinely poignant at the end.

    Also, best gravestone inscription ever: “Nobody was faster.”

  181. It’s “Nobody was faster on the draw,” if I remember correctly. And a great fucking opening, too!

  182. THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JUDGE ROY BEAN: a vastly underrated western. Glad to see the support for it on here.

  183. I’m jumping on the “Jonah Hex” wasn’t so bad bandwagon. Of course I thought it was going to be terrible, but 10 minutes in, when the guy pops out of the standing coffin and Hex shoots him, and he flies back in the coffin and it closes, I was like “shit, I think I might like this movie”

    I actually thought it was fast paced, goofy fun, until it starts reeking of massive reshoots and the whole thing just falls apart in the last 10 minutes or so. It’s like the Career Opportunities of Supernatural Revenge Westerns. And props to Vern for bringing up the Brolin/Morgan scene in the graveyard. It’s touching and poignant and miles above the rest of the film, and I’ll go ahead and say it – Pushing Daisies did the same scene every week but never this well.

    Hex is surprisingly likable, Malkovich has a few funny line deliveries, and it’s fun to see Fassbender ham it up and act like a leprechaun after seeing his dead-serious performance in Xmen First Class. It’s also fun to see Will Arnett try to play it serious. But one question – can ANYONE tell me where Michael Shannon was? He gets a “..and Michael Shannon” credit but nobody I know has spotted him in the film.

  184. I believe he was the announcer at the fight with the Snake Man. He had, like, two lines.

  185. So any thoughts on the rumors of Josh Brolin playing an “older” [redacted] in that upcoming Superman/[redacted] movie?

  186. RRA – I’m glad they’re going for an older Batman, at least to distance it from the Nolan Trilogy (it’s going to be Bruce Wayne and not future John Blake/Robin, right?) I know me and you just got into a tizzy about separating art from personal life, but I’m going to contradict myself and say I don’t fully back Brolin simply because of, uh…the actress who already plays Ma Kent. (Not like Batman would have a scene with Ma Kent, but still). He’s a great actor, sure, but yeah, I don’t know how I feel about him in this role in this movie.

    I’m sure someone’s already made the joke that if Batman’s an older version of John Blake/Robin, then Bruce Willis would be the appropriate person to take the reigns of an older Joseph Gordon Levitt. And of course I would fully back Michael Keaton returning (actually I would totally back Kilmer or Clooney returning as well). But my vote is for the first guy who popped into my head when I think “badass”, “older”, and able to slap around Henry Cavill, and that’s Liam Neeson. They’d never use him obviously but c’mon, he’d be awesome.

  187. What annoys me about the idea of an older Batman isn’t the idea, but that this would be the creative opportunity to do Batgirl right. Instead I fear those guys are gonna do the “Goddamn Batman” and that shit doesn’t really interest me at all, but the Internet will eat that up because it’s quotable.

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