Friday, June 17, 2011

Pick O' The Week - June 17

There's nothing quite like a western. They have passed in and out of popularity through the years but when done well they can live in a sort of infamy few other genres can claim. Last year saw the release of many remakes (as Matt noted in his picks last week) but none more well respected than the Coen brothers' take on True Grit. With True Grit out on DVD and Blu Ray as of last week and the much anticipated (but in my mind potentially ridiculous) Cowboys & Aliens due out at the end of July I thought it was about time to take a look at the westerns that have wowed me.

In Theatres: Unfortunately there aren't any westerns in theatres this week but Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was playing in select theatres on Wednesday (across Canada). Paul Newman, Robert Redford and Katherine Ross start in this film about the fastest gun in the west, his sidekick, a heist and the race to outrun the law. I suggest checking it out, you won't be disappointed.

At Home: The breakout hit of 2007, No Country for Old Men won 4 Oscars and was the film which first introduced me to the fabulous Javier Bardem. With quiet and measured performances and some of the most tense scenes in recent memory, this was a home run for the Coen brothers. Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin round out the cast of characters in the modern western tale.

On TV: Joss Whedon's space western Firefly has achieved a cult following and concerns a merry band of ruffians traveling through the newest frontier: space. Doing odd jobs (not all of them legal), they try desperately to stay one step ahead of the law. Starring fan favourites Nathan Fillion (Castle), Morena Baccarin (V), Adam Baldwin (Chuck), Summer Glau (Terminator, Dollhouse), Gina Torres (most notably of Alias) and my favourite Alan Tudyk, the series was short lived but fantastic. At only 13 episodes (it was cancelled pre-maturely by Fox), it's a quick watch.

Retro Re-watch: The original True Grit starring the man many of is think of as synonymous with the western genre Mr. John Wayne. I always find it interesting to observe an original and its re-imagining. Take the comparison between the Coen brothers' original Blood Simple and last year's re-imagining A woman, a gun and an noodle shop as an example: how do the choices made by each filmmaker change the way you react to the story. Does it affect your vision of the outcome? As an alternative (if that's too much grit for you) you can always kick back with the movie that made Wayne a star: 1939's Stagecoach.

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