Andy Warhol – Lonesome Cowboys (1968)

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An outrageously funny spoof on the Western film, Lonesome Cowboys is a synthesis of Warhol’s sorties into the New York underworld, but much more humorous and with closer adherence to a nonsensical plot. The film was photographed in Arizona, in a ghost town where (somehow) two of Warhol’s superstars are discovered. The incongruous montebanks happen to be Viva, as chic and sarcastic as she was in Bike Boy and resembling a displaced model for Hound and Horn, and Taylor Mead. Mr. Mead is the zany of our time, and when five mysterious cowhands saunter into town, the hilarity commences. The cowboys are an odd assortment, a bit androgynous and city-wise, and they interact with the two in varying attitudes of lust and indifference in set-pieces of inspired film comedy. Often, Lonesome Cowboys reaches the ultimate in surrealist imagery: cowboy-deputy Mead performing the Lupe Velez Twist, his own choreographic distortion; or one of the cowboys performing ballet exercises at the hitching post. Viva’s langorous seduction of the most innocent-looking among the cowboys is actually a satirical comment on sexual artifice. This erotic, sagebrush comedy has its cruel edge, and one feels that Andy Warhol attempts to make some statement about the nature of brotherly love and the impossibility of virtue rewarded in these times of fallen idols. Select just about any Warhol film from the mid-sixties and you’ll find a scandal tucked away. Lonesome Cowboys’s most notable run-in with the law was in Atlanta where it was seized after replacing Gone with the Wind in a mall theater. Continue reading

Sam Peckinpah – Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973)

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It’s 1881 in New Mexico, and the times they are a’changing. Pat Garrett, erstwhile travelling companion of the outlaw Billy the Kid has become a sheriff, tasked by cattle interests with ridding the territory of Billy. After Billy escapes, Pat assembles a posse and chases him through the territory, culminating in a final confrontation at Fort Sumner, but is unaware of the full scope of the cattle interests’ plans for the New West. -imdb Continue reading

Szabolcs Hajdu – Délibáb AKA Mirage (2014)

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Synopsis: “Mirage tells the story of an African football player in a small Hungarian town, who commits a crime and has to flee. He finds refuge on a farm deep in the Hungarian flatland. Soon he realizes that the farm is a modern slave camp where he is forced to fight for his freedom and ultimately his life.”

Quote:
The Hungarian plains might as well be Sergio Leone’s American West in Szabolcs Hajdu’s Mirage, an atmospheric fable whose setting feels like no place, any time. Isaach De Bankolé, as the loner who shows up here for reasons we never learn and contends with a gang of slave-driving farmers, carries a film that is philosophically related to but more satisfying than Jim Jarmusch’s The Limits of Control. The picture should draw well at fests, but is willfully obscure enough that, sans an auteur whose name is known in the States, it may be a hard sell here. – John Defore, Variety Continue reading

John Ford – The Searchers [+Extras] (1956)

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SYNOPSIS:
Ethan Edwards, returned from the Civil War to the Texas ranch of his brother, hopes to find a home with his family and to be near the woman he obviously but secretly loves. But a Comanche raid destroys these plans, and Ethan sets out, along with his 1/8 Indian nephew Martin, on a years-long journey to find the niece kidnapped by the Indians under Chief Scar. But as the quest goes on, Martin begins to realize that his uncle’s hatred for the Indians is beginning to spill over onto his now-assimilated niece. Martin becomes uncertain whether Ethan plans to rescue Debbie… or kill her. Continue reading

Robert Altman – McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)

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Quote:
“In the opening shots of Robert Altman’s “McCabe & Mrs. Miller,” the camera follows John McCabe (Warren Beatty) making his way on horseback through the green-brown hills of the Pacific Northwest. As the camera pans slowly to the right, it picks up the credits, hanging in the rain-soaked air. They don’t fade in, as most credits do. Like everything else in “McCabe & Mrs. Miller,” they seem to have existed before we took our seats in the theater, before Altman started filming.

“McCabe & Mrs. Miller” is a western that, as shot by Vilmos Zsigmond, looks like old photographs lit from within, as though the subjects had created a sort of afterlife by finding a way to project their essence onto the film. The movie haunts you like a ballad whose tune you remember but whose words hang just beyond reach. And like listening to a ballad, we know the outcome of the events we’re watching was foretold long ago, but we’re helpless to do anything but surrender to the tale. Continue reading