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News of the World

Tom Hanks stars as Captain Kidd, a Civil War veteran whose job post-war is to travel from town to town, telling stories and reading the news from papers from different parts of the country. On his travels, he encounters Johanna, a young Kiowa Indian girl who was kidnapped from her parents 6 years previously and was essentially raised as a Kiowa girl. Her Kiowa parents had perished, and the Black man who was taking her back to her relatives in the South was ambushed and hung from a tree. Captain Kidd agrees to take her to her family, and the …

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The True History of the Kelly Gang

This very interesting Western out of Australia is an interpretation of the life of Ned Kelly, a real person of Irish descent who lived in Australia in the late 19th century. He was notorious for fighting against the English police and their injustice against the Irish immigrants. I have not seen other versions of this story nor read the book on which it was based. However, the film itself is unusual in its approach. In the film, Ned’s father wore frocks (women’s dresses) while engaging in raids on the English in order to catch them off guard. Ned, his brother, …

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The Mustang

The Mustang tells a story of Roman, an incredibly angry man who has served a very long time in prison, and what happens to him when he participates in a prison program to break wild mustangs. In the beginning, we are told that there are about 100,000 mustangs roaming in the wild, and the Bureau of Land Management periodically rounds them up and sends them to prisons. Ultimately, they are auctioned off.  The story is one that has been told in a number of different ways, but this one works really well. The acting by Matthias Schoenaerts (Roman) and Bruce …

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The Magnificent 7

Remake of an old western that has been updated to include a pretty diverse “7” with Denzel Washington playing Chisolm. Emma from Rose Creek enlists the aide Chisolm to avenge the death of her husband by Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard), a rich miner who essentially “owns” the town. After agreeing to take the job, Chisholm assembles a group of gun slingers to carry out the task. Overall, I thought it was entertaining; it was fun to see Denzel Washington as a gunslinger, and the cinematography and the score are both great. Some parts don’t work terribly well – while the 7 …

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Hell or High Water

Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster) are brothers who reunite after Tanner gets out of prison to rob banks. They only take what is in the drawer and small bills. The robberies have caught the attention of Marcus (Jeff Bridges), a sheriff nearing retirement who wants one last big case, and his partner Alberto (Gil Birmingham) who is half Comanche. This is truly a great contemporary, post-2008 housing bubble collapse western during which banks foreclosed on hundreds of thousands of homes and reverse mortgages were slick schemes by banks to gain ownership of property. The film is really funny …

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