John Maclean’s sparse Western film strikes a gorgeous balance between the untamed beauty and the cold indifference of the American frontier. The characters are drawn broadly and have archetypal motivations, the sense of humor is dry and dark, and the ultimate tone of the story is tragic. Slow West takes care to unveil its secrets with a practiced pacing, and always knows when to kick up the excitement or introduce some weirdness to keep the spectator’s attention. Though the film clocks in at under 90 minutes, it boasts the full package of powerful performances, spectacular cinematography, and a patient slow-burn story that will leave any film fan enthralled.
David Mackenzie’s Hell or High Water is a wonderful modern Western film with the added flavor of a noir-heist. It is also wildly funny in subtle and smart ways but isn’t above low-brow pot shots, either. The performances from all four leads are superb and myriad character actors flesh out the environment. Finally, the film sports a fantastic plot that unravels at a deliberate pace and has a lot of surprises up its sleeves. It is like a slice of West Texas on screen, from the cattle wranglers to the gun-toting vigilantes. Hell or High Water is a potent piece of cinema, and will likely end up as one of the strongest films of 2016.
Craig Zahler’s Bone Tomahawk was a surprising hidden gem from 2015. Starring Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Richard Jenkins, and Matthew Fox, this Western horror film takes its time to get rolling. In the interim, the film establishes an almost survivalist tone, but is still comfortable with its own brand of humor. With a title derived from the preferred weapon of the insane savage antagonists, Bone Tomahawk offers much more attention to detail than your standard slasher flick, and by placing the action in the Old West, we also get to see Kurt Russell’s mustache in its full glory.
The eighth film from Quentin Tarantino is not his best, but it might be his most political. The Hateful Eight was born from the TV Westerns of the 1960s where a group of outlaws would kidnap the main character in a sort of bottle episode. Well, Tarantino pondered, what if the audience didn’t know who was the “good guy” once we got to the bottle? As the back stories unfolds, various clues indicate that perhaps we shouldn’t be so trusting of what we are being told – by anyone. From there, Tarantino’s brand of pithy dialogue and penchant for violence takes over as percolating racial tensions begin to boil over.
The first official trailer for Quentin Tarantino’s eighth theatrical feature, The Hateful 8, was released yesterday. The film appears to be a mish-mash of Django Unchained and Reservoir Dogs, fusing the Old West bounty hunting of Django with the ensemble cast and bottle-episode feel of Dogs (possibly with some non-linear storytelling thrown in for good measure). We get to see a number of Tarantino regulars in the trailer, plus a few newbies, bumping elbows in a log cabin in the middle of the winter. Check it out:
The Revenant has been anticipated since April of 2014, when Alejandro G. Iñárritu announced that he had started to work on the project with Leonardo DiCaprio in the leading role. The story was to be based on a novel of the same name detailing the true events of a fur-trapper on the American frontier at the beginning of the nineteenth century. After the world saw the heights Iñárritu was capable of with Birdman, that anticipation skyrocketed, and we are fortunate to finally get a brief look at The Revenant with a haunting teaser trailer which revels in the mood of a dark, savage thriller. Watch the teaser below: