Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Dull And The Witless

Those of you who know me, even a little, know that I am a big, big fan of the great American Western. You have probably already seen my review of 3:10 to Yuma. I expect a lot in a Western. If you're going to take the time to make one I think you should do your research into everything. It is unfortunate that over the last two or three decades the art of the Western was all but lost. One time watching The Quick and the Dead showed me that. There was only one instance in the entire movie where it even paid homage to the traditional Western. That was right before Gene Hackman's and Russell Crowe's characters had their shoot out. All of a sudden the entire style of the movie changed: the actors carried the story instead of the stupid, gritty lines; the camera pulled back showing that beautiful long shot that includes both gunmen, the back of one and the front of the other facing him down the street. All at once they took seriously the cinematography and other attributes that have made Westerns so wonderful to watch. Then we went back to a total '90s spin off with random close ups, stupid angles, short shots and pathetic dialog.

Maybe you think I am more finicky than an obsessive compulsive at a crime scene. I do not really know or care. I have come to expect a certain amount of excellence and adherence to tradition from a Western movie. It needs real drama, good lines, good acting, flow, beautiful scenery and, of course, the Western themes. It needs to make one think about building civilization from scratch and bringing law and order to a beautiful yet seemingly Godforsaken territory. The Dull and the Witless, excuse me, The Quick and the Dead does none of this.

Instead, it takes an idea and creates a catastrophe. Here was the idea on the drawing board:

"Let's make another movie like Maverick, that sold well! But let's make it more, um, uh, extreme, yeah! We need a contest, hmm, how about they have to kill each other instead of play cards? So, they have to be really fast on the draw, don't they do that in Westerns a lot? (My comment: no doofus, it is preferable to have one very suspenseful shoot out in a Western.) Yeah, that'd be awesome. And we can have an evil guy in charge of an entire town, like Stalin, or, or something, who was Stalin anyway? But instead of doing the usual roughing people up and taking their money and land like in all the old Westerns let's have him come up with a contest every year so he can pick off the people who might want to shoot him later. (My comment: Those were usually the weakest Westerns anyway -- except for Shane -- but I should note that no one could ever pin the badguy down as the badguy, they just knew he was behind all that crap.) Wow, this is great. We're really coming up with some good sh**. Keep it rolling. What else doe we need? Well, we need Sharon Stone's breasts, or at least one of them. That would make it work as a movie. No one would remember any of the lines or anything if we can get Sharon Stone to flash 'em. What else? I know, let's make it super serious and do cool things with the camera. You know I always liked it how in soap operas they get the camera really, freakin' close to the actor's face. But I think we should turn it at an angle to be more extreme and more cool . . . And slow motion, we have to have slow motion, tons of it! Like, awesome!"

So then they made the movie and it's not very good. Need I say more?

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