Film: The Dukes of Hazzard (2005)

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.

From the Redneck Country Club in Houston

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Film: Smokey and the Bandit

This is the libertarian song of my people.

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”

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Film: Deadwood: The Movie

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.

Pic courtesy of HBO

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Movies: Black 47

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.”

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Television: Ozark season 2

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.

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Friday Night Lights Friday: 30 for 30: What Carter Lost

“It was football season, but this wasn’t just a football story.  In Texas, it never is.”

Buzz Bissinger’s book left a sour taste in the mouths of Odessa Permian fans, who felt they were unfairly portrayed.  They felt vindicated by Peter Berg’s movie.  Peter Berg’s movie left a sour taste in the mouths of Dallas Carter fans, who felt they were unfairly portrayed.  Inaccurately portrayed?  Sure.  Unfairly portrayed?  Nah.

The depiction of Dallas Carter in Peter’s Berg movie wasn’t nearly as negative as the truth of a team that forfeited its state title because the principal changed a player’s grades to keep him eligible and that had several players arrested for multiple armed robberies.  30 for 30: What Carter Lost tells that story.

Dallas Carter was also, according to LaDainian Tomlinson, “the greatest high school team that has ever been assembled.  Ever.”

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