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Author Topic: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019  (Read 11921 times)

smirnoff

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #60 on: March 14, 2019, 09:20:04 PM »
A conversation about Unforgiven


smirnoff: There's snow in Unforgiven... briefly.
Sandy: yes, in the high country
smirnoff: Were you going in blind, or did you have some idea of the plot?
Sandy: think I saw two of the scenes before, but it had been a long time. The one with the woman, where she offered a free one and the one with the boy under the tree, talking about how this was his first kill.
smirnoff: Good scenes.
Sandy: but I didn't think of them until I saw them
smirnoff: You've seen a lot of westerns... did you find that this one had it's own feel?
Sandy: i'm guessing it was very new when it came out, new as in nuanced, but then I think back about Gregory Peck's movie. need to remember the title (it was The Gunfighter), where he was a hit man, but not anymore, and how he was still treated as one, there was a lot of psychology in that one. I don't want to pick this one apart! So I'm trying to think of the right words. The beginning, it felt like it took a bunch of scenes/lines to establish the fact that Munny wasn't the same as he used to be, is that a case of not trusting the audience? Or, that Westerns weren't as popular then, so they didn't trust the audience to understand subtle Westerns?
smirnoff: Hmm, you think they were thinking that? That never occured to me.
Sandy: i'm not sure, maybe twenty years has changed the way scrips are written, less explaining?
smirnoff: He does repeat early and often how he is a changed man...
Sandy: yes but, I may be all wrong!
smirnoff: I kind of took it to be him talking to himself... reminding himself.
Sandy: maybe it was his way of trying to tell himself that. yes! i wasn't giving the writers enough credit. i got it all wrong. 
smirnoff: Since he didn't have a sponsor, he had to do it himself.
Sandy: very 12 step jargon
smirnoff: He does eventually drink though eh
Sandy: yes
smirnoff: How did you take his drinking again. Was it his "killing spree" juice? Could he have done what he did without it?
Sandy: he didn't touch the bottle until he knew his friend was killed because of what he did, or!, did he drink sooner?
smirnoff: It was after he found out, yea. And had heard about the sign... and having him on display
Sandy: yes, because his old life had returned
smirnoff: He's just sayin' "f it".
Sandy: yes, and "I failed", or "I failed her"
smirnoff: Presumably he pulls himself back, after doing what needed to be done...
Sandy: help me understand, he pulls himself back from what? or where?
smirnoff: From the drinking and the shooting ways.
Sandy: oh thanks 
smirnoff: After he kills all those guys, the film kind of suggests in the epilogue that he returns to his home life... the life he made with his wife and kids...
Sandy: right
smirnoff: but we don't actually know that he has given up drinking again... or that it was a one time thing...
Sandy: i like to think he did, because he was redeemed because of the boy perhaps
smirnoff: I like what the Scoffield kid says "I'm not like you, Will"... There's something different about Will Munny.
Sandy: is there a point where a man isn't redeemable?
smirnoff: I wonder... I think maybe it's always just a matter or time and/or circumstance?

smirnoff: But in the film... The thing with the writer character. At first he's following English Bob, and then Little Bill.... and he keeps bringing up "oh, I heard you killed this many single handed". And the Scoffield Kid brings that up too. But how many people are actually able to do what writers write about. Will Munny seems like the only one who lives up to his reputation in this film.
Sandy: and then some
smirnoff: That shootout is kind of weird at the end isn't it... that part feels different to other westerns.
Sandy: the fact that no one could hit the broad side of a barn, made me think of a James Bond movie 
smirnoff: Right? But it might be more realistic.
Sandy: yes, under pressure, it's hard to prepare a fire arm quickly
smirnoff: John Wayne gives a great speech about that in The Shootist to um.... Red head in Happy Days...
Sandy: Ron Howard.
smirnoff: Ron Howard. Right thanks
Sandy: i'm trying to remember!
smirnoff: He basically says "most men in the heat of the moment will blink, or flinch... I won't".
Sandy: and that's why he is the shootist!
smirnoff: And the ending of that film bears it out... as does the ending of Unforgiven. Just kind of atypical
Sandy: these movies have some similar themes, the boy will never shoot again either
smirnoff: There's a lot of anti-Western things about it when you look closely.
Sandy: that is a good term, the film doesn't glorify the vigilante. the assassin i mean
smirnoff: Will can't ride a horse. The kid can handle the killing. Ned breaks down when it's his turn to shoot... English bob is kind of a fraud.
Sandy: it turns the genre on it's head
smirnoff: The women are the one's putting up the bounty not the law.
Sandy: I just typed in Deconstruction Westerns and this was the first thing it brought up, "Unforgive is a particularly sharp deconstruciton of American westerns..." you hit the nail on the head. it also goes on to say Eastwoods earlier spaghetti westerns also were deconstructions.
smirnoff: Maybe that's why it made such a splash in it's day. That's harder to see now, since anti-genre feels as common as genre.
Sandy: yes! that is why I was struggling with what made it so iconic, i came to it too late, it had already informed future westerns
smirnoff: Yea... that aspect doesn't really age well... because it requires you seeing it in the moment really.
Sandy: it does, i can look at it as a type of headwaters though. older movies tend to be more interesting when they are looked through the lense of beginnings, or resurgence. I'd like to throw in the rest of the paragraph, since it goes with what you wrote. "Munny's character progression also goes in reverse, unraveling into his former state to undo the character development he's acquired. Many standard conventions of westerns are also subverted, including the quickdraw contest, the hooker with the heart of and the triumphant ride into the sunset. The scenes with the dime novel author are dedicated to exposing the falsehoods of the folklore surrounding the "wild west". this is from tvtropes (want to give credit where credit's due  )
smirnoff: Fortunately Unforgiven seems to hold up as just a good story, whatever else it may be doing subverting the genre etc.
Sandy: I agree. It holds up well even not knowing it's place in history
smirnoff: I wonder if their treatment of the racial aspect of the film was also a component of that same sort of philosophy. Like, they don't mention it AT ALL.
Sandy: RIGHT!
smirnoff: I felt like SOMEONE would say SOMETHING about it...
Sandy: I kept wanting to bring that up! but didn't know a good time. now is a good time
smirnoff: When Little Bill was whipping him, I thought, for sure some slur will drop now.
Sandy:I'm not sure if it was a time in film making where it was only pc to show blacks as equal and forget history, we are used to Tarantino and so forth. the pendulum surely does swing widely
smirnoff: Hmm interesting. That could be. I was wondering if it was simply trying to be anti-typical-western in that way too.
Sandy: you could be right! It just felt so anachronistic
smirnoff: The only time anyone refers to race is Ned himself, referring to his wife. Says something like "that's the way they are".
Sandy: yes, and it was about an indian
smirnoff: Yeah.
Sandy: during the movie, I wondered if Morgan Freeman had it in his contract to be shown with proper respect.   i was clutching at straws for the way it was all played
smirnoff: I mean, from where I was it was kind of nice not to have to delve into the unpleasantness of one of the villains dropping slurs... even if that would have been accurate. It was refreshing to escape that. A fantasy western.
Sandy: it is refreshing, it is a fantasy, it shouldn't be
smirnoff: Right yea. It is also not in any way a "magical black man" trope. Unlike say, Morgan Freeman in Prince of Thieves.
Sandy: i was just going to write that! he had no special powers, no defining aspects at all, except for being a good friend, like Deets
smirnoff: I wonder if that lack of mentioning his blackness in any way was an effort to avoid such a trope.
Sandy: i like it, i like the subtle boldness of it, is that a term? it is a bold move to ignore the elephant in the room. it's as if to say, not only do I not see you, I believe you don't exist. that is a bold move, in it's inaction

smirnoff: Overall, how was the Unforgiven experience for you?
Sandy: It wasn't as gruesome/brutal as they seem to be now. something like, buster scruggs, or the Proposition and I appreciate that,
smirnoff: Oof, yea.
Sandy: i feel the trauma too much, i fear. Unforgiven, was very circumspect
smirnoff: It's kind for a western really. "Would you give him some water! We won't shoot"
Sandy: they didn't need to show the slicing of the girls face, or the face of little bill getting blown off, but, we felt it on some level still the same. i respect films that don't need to show the impact, but let it play in our own minds
smirnoff: Indeed. It's enough to know that Will Munny saw it.
Sandy: exactly.
smirnoff: There are times I like violence, and times I don't. Hard to think of other examples though.
Sandy: I know you don't like the pg 13 restrictions, but sometimes a story can be more powerful, if it's not a complete slaughter fest
smirnoff: Mostly because you can feel them contorting the film to meet arbitrary rules.
Sandy: right, it's not an artistic choice
smirnoff: That's it. yea.
Sandy: did you see the ballad of buster scruggs?
smirnoff: Yeah. Quite blunt in that way isn't it.
Sandy: yes, but artistic too. they chose when to be blatant and when not to be, like with the meal ticket, they didn't have to show the death it was more powerful that way
smirnoff: Ah, good example.
Sandy: i also thought it was so cool to see Saul Rubinek (the writer) in Unforgiven.
I ha just seen him in Buster Scruggs. he was in the last episode The Mortal Remains. i thought he made for a good throughline between the sharpshooters.

Sandy: ...Munny goes on the quest because he is worried about his children coupled with the horrific nature of the crime, but he finally meets the girl, her face is cut up, but her eyes are not cut out, nor her fingers cut off. the crime is not as severe as he was told
but, Munny still carries out the deed. what do you make of that?
smirnoff: Yo, I bet the writers didn't think of that.
Sandy: you don't? i was wondering
smirnoff: That feels like more of a plot hole.
Sandy: interesting. it seemed really important to me
smirnoff: It's a good catch I'd say. But that's just my gut feeling about it. Read more generously, it's an interesting thought
Sandy: she was a very pretty lady. i liked who they chose for that part. she was part innocence and part old before her years.
smirnoff: I would agree. Well cast.
Sandy:  At the end Munny seemed to be on a conveyorbelt of sorts. he said at the end, that he was lucky in killing, in fact he seemed to be much better at it while drunk like he was on automatic pilot so i wonder, if he had already decided to carry out the deed, knowing that she wasn't as badly maimed as he was told, didn't matter in the end. He was already on the moving path
smirnoff: I never thought too much about the severity of the crime weighing into it that much. I mean it does seem to shift his position when the Kid describes it... but I guess I took it to be the last little bit he needed.
Sandy: yes, that is how it seems to be
smirnoff: Hmm.
Sandy: What was your overall feeling about the film?
smirnoff: The best part of the film is Will and Ned, together. So much history between them, and loyalty. I thought the film was strongest when they were on screen. Little Bill, English Bob... that was all a bit of a sideshow to me.
Sandy: yes, I would have liked more scenes of them talking
smirnoff: Little Bill is damned tough to figure.
Sandy: he is the benevolent devil
smirnoff: Like I can't decide if he's just a straight up psycho, or just dumb and mean.
Sandy: he's the worst kind of villian, one who thinks he is righteous
smirnoff: Like he kicks English Bob's butt.... to send a message that there's no "whore's gold" in town. But who is going to get that message? How will word of that travel? I don't get the logic there.
Sandy: i guess the same way word got around that there was whore's gold, but, it would be too slow. those that were on their way, would miss this new message
smirnoff: yea. And what does he care anyways? It's not like he's a stickler for the law. Unless it's his law.
Sandy: yeah, why did he care if the cowboys got hurt. he had been wiling to whip them not too long ago he has a strange book of rules. they are as faulty as his carpenter skills
smirnoff: Yea. And yet in other instances he shows restraint, and a sort of fairness.
Sandy: yes. i think you found the answer, he's straight up psycho!
smirnoff: That's the only way I can explain all his actions and words that makes sense to me.
Sandy: yes, it's the only way.
smirnoff: The shootout was defintely not the highlight, so I guess that is atypical for the genre too.
Sandy: the highlights for me, were quiet ones
smirnoff: Yeah, I would agree with that.
Sandy: Seeing it again, does the film change for you? Do you see things that you didn't in the past?
smirnoff: Not really. It hasn't really grown on me... it's good in a subtly bold way, but that's the plateau it seems to stay at. Not one I'll need to see again for a long long time now.
Sandy: i can understand that statement. like you said, good story. And leave it at that.
smirnoff: It doesn't have any moments that would drive me to rewatch it, I'll put it that way. Something where the cinematography and music make some magic thing happen... it's not that kind of film really.
Sandy: me neither, except for the little scene with the woman. her expressions are very intriguing, the shy offer, the feeling of rejection, the trying to recover and act like she wasn't affected, and so forth. i would watch it again to study her
smirnoff: That's a great scene to construct. To put those to people in that situation together. Very interesting.
Sandy: right, but it can stand alone. I don't need to see the whole film to be moved by that scene

Sandy

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #61 on: March 14, 2019, 10:06:25 PM »

1SO

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #62 on: March 14, 2019, 11:49:56 PM »
The Second Time Around (1961)
★ ★
I was initially apprehensive about this Comedy Western starring Debbie Reynolds. Looked mostly harmless but extremely corny, but it has a few aces up its sleeve. Thelma Ritter plays a hard-working farmer who takes on Reynolds as a female cowhand. She's never a bad casting decision. Andy Griffith plays a right friendly neighbor, and on the opposite end, Timothy Carey is a no good varmint. Always an oddball, Carey is also a great casting choice, oozing menace and danger and single-handedly keeping this from being too sugary. The script puts Reynolds through some silly slapstick at first, but eventually settles into letting her natural charm come through. I was won over by the film right up until the end, when Reynolds throws away all her hard-won independence to settle down with Steve Forrest, who's been a creepy jerk to her for the entire film.

Side Note: There's a lot about this film that closely matches events in Captain Marvel, with Reynolds learning about her inner strength and strapping on guns (with the support of Ritter and the rest of the town) to take on the bad guys with a surprising amount of force. A Classic Hollywood version of the MCU would've been weird.

Antares

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #63 on: March 15, 2019, 04:58:22 PM »
smirnoff: Little Bill is damned tough to figure.
Sandy: he is the benevolent devil
smirnoff: Like I can't decide if he's just a straight up psycho, or just dumb and mean.
Sandy: he's the worst kind of villian, one who thinks he is righteous
smirnoff: Like he kicks English Bob's butt.... to send a message that there's no "whore's gold" in town. But who is going to get that message? How will word of that travel? I don't get the logic there.

I always looked at Little Bill as a Will Munny wannabe, but didn't have the guts. I'm not saying he wants to be the type that kills women and children, but the kind of man feared, and able to take down anyone he sets his eyes on. Think back to the two scenes where Little Bill is laying down the law to English Bob and Will. He doesn't have the fortitude to come at the two of them alone, he has his deputies surround them, so there's nothing either man can do to defend themselves. He has the power of the badge, and his staff behind him. But he doesn't have the courage to face a man down, without those advantages. I've always felt that the Scofield Kid is actually a metaphorical character for Little Bill, as a young man. He wants the respect accorded to a gunfighter, but after killing a man, realizes he doesn't have the grit to sustain it. I've always thought that the Scofield Kid moves on, and becomes a sheriff, in another podunk town, somewhere on the disappearing frontier. Exacting his revenge on men who can't fight back, just like Little Bill.
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smirnoff

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #64 on: March 15, 2019, 05:33:00 PM »
Interesting thoughts. You're take on the future of the Scofield Kid is more grim than anything I had imagined, but I can't eliminate it as a very real possibility. Killing a man really shook him up. He swore of ever picking up another gun. But all of it was said and done in the direct aftermath of the event itself. When he collects himself, who's to say where his head is at.

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #65 on: March 15, 2019, 05:44:47 PM »
Pale Rider

More goofy than I remembered. Early on Eastwood gets in a fight with several men, and everyone is wielding bladeless axe handles taken from the front of a store. Eastwood's character goes full on Kung-fu with it, spinning the hickory handle around, mesmerizing the bad guy before knocking him out. The fight choreography is as wooden as the weapons they're holding. On the same level as an episode of Star Trek. The impacts are undeniably fake looking. The scene was embarrassing.

Then the film starts in with daughter character and these long bible verses and all this religious symbolism. I lost interest and turned it off. It's not the film I remembered. :-\

Antares

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #66 on: March 15, 2019, 06:05:23 PM »
Pale Rider
I lost interest and turned it off. It's not the film I remembered. :-\

Just a pale version of Shane.
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1SO

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #67 on: March 15, 2019, 08:52:01 PM »
1SO removes Pale Rider from his rewatch list.

(You said exactly what I was fearing from memory.)

Sandy

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #68 on: March 28, 2019, 12:59:01 AM »
Westward the Women



"And maybe there's no peace in this world, for us or for anyone else, I don't know. But I do know that, as long as we live, we must remain true to ourselves." -- Spartacus


And true to each other. In the Spartacus-esque scene, when the women unite verbally, I realize that they've been having "I am Spartacus" moments throughout the film, and they continue all the way to the end. The minute they sign up for the trek, they no longer are individual travelers, but are an interdependent group which grows into an indomitable force. It's not without its growing pains, though... but I'm getting ahead of myself.

What a wild week it was, watching Westward the Women. I watched it. The next day I turned on the commentary and watched it again and then the day after that, I went back and watched it again. I've never seen anything quite like this before. Why didn't I know about such a landmark Western, where women are the center of the story and the action?

There are limitations, both in scene structure choices and women stereotyping, but Boy Howdy did this thing capture my attention! I'm just so surprised and impressed with it. I grew up hearing pioneer stories of strong women and here's a film celebrating that strength. What a find.

Thank you, 1SO for the heads up on this one!
« Last Edit: March 28, 2019, 02:49:45 PM by Sandy »

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Re: Once Upon a March in the West - 2019
« Reply #69 on: March 28, 2019, 02:30:38 PM »

 

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