Saturday, October 04, 2008

Appaloosa

Judy and I saw this at a Friday matinee, and I was a little surprised by the size of the audience.  The movie hasn't gotten a lot of publicity, and it slipped into the Houston area with no fanfare at all.  People found out about it, though, and there was a good group in attendance.

First of all, I have  to say that it was great just to see a western on the big screen again, and a traditional western at that.  Well, traditional in a lot of ways, and unconventional in others.   When I say traditional, I mean it's not a hyped-up action flick like the recent remake of 3:10 to Yuma.  There's action and violence, but when it comes, it's quickly over and done with.  I found this very effective, but it means that there are stretches of the movie devoted to character development and dialog.  Some might find that a bit slow, and as we left the theater I heard a guy say that was his reaction.

If you're read Robert B. Parker's novel, you know what to expect.  Ed Harris, who plays Virgil Cole, worked on the script, and he pretty much filmed the novel.  It's been a while since I read the book, but the movie follows it point for point as I remember it.  It uses a lot of Parker's dialog, too.

Harris and Viggo Mortensen (who plays Everett Hitch) are a team of professional gunmen, sort of free-lance lawmen you hire when you want your town tamed.  They're hired by the Appaloosa town fathers to take care of Bragg (Jeremy Irons), who's killed the town marshal and his deputies.

Both Harris and Mortensen are excellent.  Just about everything they do is right, including Mortensen's haircut.  It's worth watching the movie just to watch these two at underplaying everything for all they're worth.  Irons gets to be a little gaudier, but he's good, too.

It wouldn't be a Robert B. Parker story if it didn't have a woman for Cole to have a weird relationship with.  Renee Zellweger plays Allie,  who drifts into Appaloosa for no apparent reason other than to be that woman.  She's the unconventional part of the movie, definitely not the virginal school marm or faithful wife and/or lover.  Zellweger does her best, but she wasn't convincing to me.  Where's Lana Turner when we need her?

All in all, I liked this quite a bit.  I have to say again how good it was to see a movie like this in the theater, and I really hope that Harris will take on the sequel, Resolution.  I'd buy a ticket in a heartbeat.

11 comments:

Randy Johnson said...

I re-read the novel recently and, watching the trailer, i noticed the dialogue was word perfect in those clips with the novel.
Your revue confirms my desire to see this one.
And Ed Harris has already admitted a sequel may be coming. From what he said, there's a third novel written and they may use parts of both.

Gran said...

Thanks for the review, Bill. I usually read everything Parker writes, but I missed this book somehow. I'm going to read the book, then see the movie.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

Our local Ebert gave it two stars out of five and said, by way of complaint, that it was just a traditional estern. In my book that's a good thing.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

Here's the missing "w" in "western"---w.

Bill Crider said...

Probably too slow for him and didn't have enough explosions. Or any.

bish8 said...

Saw the mive last night and enjoyed it immensely. Yes it's traditional, but that means it isn't full of non-stop explosions. Nothing blows up for the entire film. VERY COOL!

The casting is excellent. If you like parker, you'll like this film -- Spenser in cowboy boots.

Lee Goldberg said...

I hope to see it on Monday.
I read an interview with Parker who said tha APPALOOSA began as a screenplay that he wrote for Tom Selleck (following the work they did together on MONTE WALSH). Selleck, for some reason, decided not to do the movie so Parker adapted the script into a novel, which may be one reason it translated back into a script so easily.

Anonymous said...

I was a little too busy this weekend to make it to the movie theater, but I'm interested in seeing this. I'm also looking forward to seeing Viggo Mortensen in the movie adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's The Road that's coming out next month.

Ben Boulden said...

I saw this one on Sunday and really enjoyed it. The pace meandered a touch, but it was perfect, and wow I liked Viggo Mortenson's character Hitch.

Of course as I type this I keep seeing Tom Selleck as Hitch and I have to wonder why he passed on it.

Keith said...

Thanks for that review. I love the trailer for this film. It's got a great cast. It's not often that we get a really good western. I definitely would love to see this one.

Ray said...

Couldn't cast Lana Turner - they didn't wear tight sweaters back in the days of the wild west.