Successfully working in the overlap between or among genres is easier said than done, but the potential reward matches the risk. As otherwise formulaic as they are, the Marvel movies make great hay combining the superhero genre with others. There is no dispositive reason country noir can’t be combined with other genres. But, while there are several notable examples of successfully mixing speculative elements into country noir yarns, even obviously adjacent genres like thriller and mystery have rarely been effectively paired with country noir. If you called me up (as an obvious expert on country noir), and asked if you could pair country noir with the drug novel? Absolutely. With the war novel? Sure. With romance? Um, well… But that is exactly what Nico Walker does with Cherry, adapted for release on Apple TV+. He doesn’t just pair a country noir tale with romance—he pairs it was all three give examples.Continue reading “Film: Cherry”
Any filmmaker seeking to adapt a Cormac McCarthy novel faces the significant problem that a large part of the strength of each is the pure poetry of McCarthy’s prose. In No Country for Old Men the Coen brothers provide cinematography that serves as a suitable stand-in for the poetry of McCarthy’s prose. They back that up with a sharp attention to detail.Continue reading “Film: No Country for Old Men”
I have been on a bit of an Elmore Leonard kick here lately. His work has everything I like about country noir, but in an easily digestible, popcorn style and form. My gateway to Elmore Leonard was the great Justified (which I still need to buy on blu-ray, rewatch, and blog about extensively). I was admittedly thrown off by my first Elmore Leonard novel, Raylan. Raylan suffered from covering ground already covered by the show. But it really suffered from eastern Kentucky not being Leonard’s turf. His work is always better in Florida, I think.Continue reading “Short Review Roundup: Elmore Leonard Edition”
Merry Christmas! El Camino Christmas isn’t actually a Christmas movie. But it does take place on Christmas, and after Christmas Vacation and Elf you are surely Christmas movied out. Pick up this darkly comic country noir instead about an accidental hostage situation in a liquor store on Christmas Eve and Christmas.
I’ll start out by saying I’m not a purist. But if you’re going to take something as ain’t-broke as the Dukes of Hazzard, you daggum well better know what you’re doing when you try to fix it. This movie has a lot of changes. Some work well and some don’t, but the end product isn’t nearly as good as the source material. It is a lot of fun if you don’t think too hard about it. The show really was great, though, and I need to revisit it sooner rather than later.
Every trope in Smokey and the Bandit was done to death in the 70s. It’s easy to forget just how damned good Smokey and the Bandit is. It’s a car chase movie, but it’s not just a car chase movie, which elevates it above its closest competitors, Vanishing Point and the original Gone in 60 Seconds. Of course Vanishing Point wasn’t just a car chase movie either, and for all that Vanishing Point was my dad’s favorite movie, it is Smokey and the Bandit that is a movie about my people.
The premise is simple. Big and Little Enos Burdette bet legendary truck driver the Bandit that he can’t get from Atlanta to Texarkana and back, picking up a load of Coors beer in Texarkana, in 28 hours. That’s 900 miles each way, with 400 illegal cases of beer in the back for the entire return trip. That’s over 60 miles an hour for over 24 hours straight over 1970s highways. The law is broken as soon as the Coors beer crosses the Arkansas state line.
Bandit recruits his old running partner Cledus to drive the truck. He will run blocker in a 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am (a choice that would influence many of my high school classmates). Bandit provides Cledus with the perfect explanation of his motivation:
“How come we doing this?”
“Well, why not?”
“Well, they said it couldn’t be done.”
“Well that’s the reason, son”
Before I get into my review of the Deadwood movie, I have a confession to make: I like how the show ended. In fact, it is perfect. Deadwood is a show about carving a society out of the wilderness but at the same time attempting to stave off civilization. Robert E. Howard was wrong: civilization always wins. The show ends perfectly because it ends when free Deadwood ends. Time marches on, but the thing about the town that made it such a fascinating subject for a show no longer exists.
My thoughts are also colored by my view of season 3 more broadly. Deadwood started with the brilliance and heat of a raging wildfire. By season 3 it only smoldered. Elements outwore their welcome for me. The respective storylines for Calamity Jane, Cy Tolliver, and Steve the Drunk each consisted almost shouting epithets.
So how does the movie measure up? It does finally give Calamity Jane, criminal underused by the show, something to do. People die. A large chunk of the movie is extraordinarily tense storytelling. Its suffers, though, from the usual problems of reunion shows and it undercuts the show ending, all while providing no real closure.
In the year of 1845 a terrible famine descended upon Ireland. Within a few short years, 1 in 4 of our people would be gone forever—fled to England or North America . . . or dead from starvation or fever. Irishmen who had enlisted to fight for the occupying British crown in its foreign wars returned home to find only death and destruction in every corner of the land.
Black 47 is a vigorous, stylized revenge thriller-cum-historical drama. An “Irish Braveheart” isn’t quite a fitting label, for reasons I will get into below. A top-notch neo-western, Black 47 is more an “Irish The Outlaw Josey Wales.”
I was lauding Justified just yesterday (the entire series is now available in a blu-ray set, by the way), but Ozark is gearing up to give it a run for its money as the preeminent country noir television show. Netflix’s yarn about a Cartel money launderer who sets up shop on the Lake of the Ozarks had a damn fine first season. Season two ups the game.