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  1.  (8234.1)
    It's been building for a while. Maybe it hasn't really ever left, but you have to admit the American Western film is making something of a comeback. I find it very interesting that, all around the same time, we have two critically-acclaimed Western comics being produced, a number of well-received films, and now Rockstar is essentially following up Grand Theft Auto IV with Red Dead Redemption.

    Plus, I'm sure one of the big blockbusters next year will be Cowboys & Aliens, which has Jon Favreau, Robert Downey, Jr., and even Harrison Ford all attached, among others.

    So what brought this on? Was it just "its turn," like the vampire/zombie revivals? Obviously it's a fascinating time but there was a day when the Western was just friggin exhausted, especially in film.

    I wonder if, in the middle of this possible successful genre comeback, Deadwood would have continued (and concluded properly) if it happened more recently.

    Probably not. David Milch is kind of a dick.
  2.  (8234.2)
    I think Milch kinda brought back the idea of the old west into popular culture, and after his other serries failed, ended up loosing the confidence to go back and tackle Deadwood again.

    That being said, the last attempt at a 'western' I saw was Appaloosa, which ...I thought was horrid, with a plot I could peg from 5mn in, horrible acting and characterization, and bad sound design (I swear everything sounded like it was on a sound stage, and heels clicking on cement are not the same sound you want to use for a lady walking across a dusty road); though I'm willing to admit the sound issues may have been due to something the theater did or didn't do.

    3:10 to yuma was decent, and I felt like seeing the original after it.

    To me it seems that westerns come and go in cycles. I remember them being popular as a kid, fading out to semi obscurity, fading in for a bit, then out until the past few years where they have been gaining popularity again. Maybe we want stories where good guys are good, and badguys are bad, copious violence involving archaic weaponry, and dramatic vistas.The idea of simpler, harsher times, where a man could be a man and a woman could be a... er. Lady in a really uncomfy dress?
    • CommentTimeMay 15th 2010
    Westerns making a "comeback" is never going to happen. The American Western Film was the product of a very specific time and mindset, and not an altogether positive one when you look at the racism/sexism/ahistorical bent they often took. "Unforgiven" showed just how dark you have to go to appeal to any kind of modern, serious audience with a western. You can do all kinds of goofy mash-ups of the genre, like this "Cowboys and Aliens" looks to be or "Wild Wild West" was, but like classic noir it's kind of a time-locked genre.
  3.  (8234.4)
    If you want to see some good, recent Westerns (Appaloosa was terrible - how about Jeremy Irons doing his best Daniel Plainview? Yeeeeeesh), check out the Proposition, the Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford, No Country For Old Men, or even Kill Bill 2. Those are about as modern as Western films can get and they're all pretty impressive.
    • CommentTimeMay 15th 2010
    I unabashedly love westerns and want to see them come back, even if just to have a couple good ones a year. And yes, Appaloosa was horrendously boring.
  4.  (8234.6)
    As a fairly young person, I like the darker, grittier westerns that pop up now. I've never really been able to get into any John Wayne movies, is what I mean... I did like the main Sergio Leone movies for their epic craziness and hilarity, though.

    So I don't think westerns will ever flood the market again, really, but I like the occasional one that comes along and isn't too terrible. It's actually even better if Hollywood doesn't think they can make too much money off of them, because then the execs will just leave the creators alone to make good movies.

    I really like Jarmusch's Dead Man, and Tampopo (a Japanese "noodle western" taking place in the 80's about a semi truck driver having to defend a woman's ramen shop. Hilarious, westernly, and definitely a movie for foodies...), Firefly, and Deadwood. And I still love Sam Raimi's The Quick and the Dead, even though it's totally cheesy and insane... Looking forward to if Quentin Tarantino ever does his newly proposed "southern", which I guess is a western done with slaves... (like Rosewood?)
  5.  (8234.7)
    I honestly don't think there's going to be some sort of big triumphant Western extravaganza to the extent that crap like vampires have gotten to recently. Even though there was a time when it was the most popular genre in the states, since then it's never been particularly huge. Still, up until recently, it's been nearly non-existent save for the occasional one-off. Even the aforementioned Unforgiven was treated like a swan song, the last film in a dead setting.

    But there's got to be something to its recent return. Maybe it is just all cyclical, like Rootfireember said. Or maybe I just really want to play Red Dead Redemption so Westerns are all I can think of.

    (Incidentally, I'm also reading Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy, which is quite brutal but amazing so far).
    • CommentAuthorJiveKitty
    • CommentTimeMay 16th 2010
    I think the problem with Westerns was that very few directors expanded the scope of the genre. Eastwood's early films were great because they did that, but after a while they became variations on a theme with Eastwood being the elevating factor. There were, of course, exceptions like the batshit insane "El Topo", and I guess something like "Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia" fitted loosely into the Western genre. (Thematically Westerns and Peckinpah would've been a good fit. Pity.) "Unforgiven" seemed to be the apex of what one could do with the genre, while still being strictured by the majority of its conventions, and did seem an almost conscious attempt to bow that wave of the genre out on a high note. So I guess, it could be somewhat cyclical in that it was unclear where the genre could go from there, and that it took a long time to pick up from that.

    I haven't seen many recent Westerns, but I do think the genre could undergo some kind of renaissance propelled of by the success of more straighforward(?) takes such as "Deadwood" and "The Proposition" (which I haven't seen in full) but also at a stretch by the success of more boundary-pushing re-envisionings of Western settings like "Cowboy Bebop", "Firefly" and "No Country for Old Men". The themes are pretty universal and resonant in these times: ambivalence and uncertainty about the future, moral shades of grey and so-on, and the manner in which Westerns present these has typically been compelling and good-viewing (with reference to Eastwood and Leone when concentrating on gritty realism anyway).
    • CommentAuthorHenchbot
    • CommentTimeMay 16th 2010
    i love Westerns. FUCKING LOVE THEM.
    John Wayne is a big strapping douche who shouldve been partially gunned down by Lee Van Cleef then left for dead in the desert, buried in sand up to his neck with his mouth propped open by a stick.

    Now that Lee Van Cleef has been mentioned in this thread, I am content.

    I grew up watching High Chapparrel and Gunsmoke which were ok but really all about the white hand of Justice and cunts who sat around all day in the "frontier" baking pies for their two bit lawman husbands. Rolling around in godamned fancy hoop skirts and parasols atop tricked out wagons: fuck. Give me a break. It pissed me off to see Jimmy Stewart in his usual fare: the salted but genial lawman who only spoke/growled out of the left side of his mouth and it was always the same shit: "he shore dont say much that Sheriff, but when he does it means sumthin". Then Gene Autry the singing cowhand.
    Life changed when I saw Blade, How the West was Won, Josey Wales, A Bullet for the General, Companeros'! and of course the greatest of all: The Great Silence. THOSE are godamned Westerns through and through. I'll throw my lot in with the 3:10 crowd here as well, a fine fucking bit of work, although the original is a peice of shit production that almost made you want to puke.
    Gimme the roughneck bounty hunters, unshaven murderous carpetbaggers, ruthlessApache half-breeds and corrupt lawmen any day! Long live the bloodied Bowie sunk deep in the neck of the pilgrims who dared to pass through the gun slinging cattle barons meadow, long live the Western and while we are at it: fuck those cocksuckers in Yankton!
    Fucking Squareheads.
    Bonus points to any western about a gun totin priest who is also an achoholic/womanizer.
    • CommentTimeMay 16th 2010
    Just a thought. "No Country for Old Men" was just about the most perfect western I've seen. Of course it's set in modern times, but does that really matter?

    "The Proposition" is pitch black perfect western storytelling set in Australia. Hell, has anyone here seen "Quigley Down Under"? Laugh all you want at Tom Selleck with a sniper rifle in 19th century Australia, but Alan Rickman turns in a fantastic turn as a sneering villain.

    On television, you had "Firefly" which has a cult following nearly 10 years after it went off the air. "Justified" is trying to put the lawman in the 10 gallon hat back on the tv as well. To say nothing of dead and departed "Deadwood"

    The trappings of the western as so painfully cliche (the man in black, the hard-hearted hooker, the shoot-out) that it takes a really clever creator to make them new again. But as a classic form, I think it's good and buried.
    • CommentAuthorJiveKitty
    • CommentTimeMay 16th 2010
    Is "Preacher" still meant to be coming as a TV series or movie?
    • CommentTimeMay 16th 2010 edited
    I grew up with Westerns. Spaghetti as well as John Wayne as well as Bonanza (as well as F Troop!). I have...a different feel for them now. They were in my childhood - I'm not that old, but my dad is and he *loved* John Wayne. But in my teenage years there was Dr Quinn Medicine Woman and other moralizing-in-favor-of-the-misunderstood-minority shows. The truth is somewhere in the middle. Good art displays the truth. A good Western tells you as much about where you are now as a good contemporary drama.

    Someone upthread said "Firefly" and "Cowboy Bebop" - space cowboys. Same difference. }:> We see ourselves in those crews. The crews were designed for it and because the shows were good, they hit their marks.

    I haven't watched a lot of the newer films - many of the ones mentioned have been on my Netflix queue for a while (I'm a slow watcher). But I always appreciate the tough old guns of The Good, The Bad & The Ugly and Magnificent Seven.

    Also I'm writing a story that had to be a Western, neither here nor there exactly, but it would help me a little if there was a resurgence. }:>

    @MG - Alan Rickman is the *best* sneering villain EVAR
  6.  (8234.13)
    I thought the Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford was terrible... Not only was it ridiculously slow, it pretty much butchered the story of Jesse James. The scene where Jesse James pistol-whipped a man while robbing a train, just pure b/s.
    • CommentAuthorDarkest
    • CommentTimeMay 16th 2010
    I love the Western, The Magnificent 7, Spaghetti Westerns and the Wild Bunch plus whatever my brother has in his collection.

    I would like to submit the manga Priest Min-Wo Hyung. Sort or A western crossed with The Crow only better than it sounds
    • CommentTimeMay 16th 2010
    @government spy:

    That movie didn't start out well by having the most ridiculous film name since "Fat Guy Goes Nutzoid".

    I can dig slow pacing in a film, but that movie was glacial. Actual ice ages occured between story beats. My mind was completely blown when I found out that it was directed by the same fellow who did "Chopper", one of the best, hardest hitting crime movies to come out in ages.
  7.  (8234.16)
    I don't know, maybe it was because I watched it on Blu-ray (looks beautiful in HD) and I think I even split it into two viewings originally... Jesse James went well with me. But I often dig the meandering tragic story, not unlike a lot of Japanese dramas. Ever see All About Lily Chou-Chou? Christ that movie is slow. But it's pretty and I love it.

    Getting off topic.

    I completely forgot about Justified, which sometimes seems a little forced to me. The whole "new sheriff in an old town with a hair-trigger quickdraw" thing... I don't know. It sounds good on paper, but it didn't work for me for the first couple episodes.

    Still, they could just have easily made this another big city cop in a hick town series, but they went a more interesting route and it's getting a lot of attention. So it's more evidence to throw on the Western Renaissance pile.
    • CommentTimeMay 16th 2010
    @Adam Violent:

    The problem with "Justified" is it's a great serial show about dumb, greedy criminals that's trying to wedge in an arc. Seriously, every week could be Waylan just shooting the shit with some ne'er do well he's about to shoot and it would be a fantastic show. The episodes with the least amount of Walter Goggins (whose kind of wasted here) and the completely lifeless love interest (oh no, is she in peril?) are great fun. Just make it about southern fried dumbass criminals and it would be golden.

    The last episode had him spend a whole damn episode having a talk-down with the gent who played Al Swearengen's heavy on "Deadwood". It's Dan and the Sheriff talking at knife/gun point.
    • CommentAuthor256
    • CommentTimeMay 16th 2010 edited
    Reading through this thread, I realized 2 things:

    1) I've never seen most of the good/modern/modern and good Westerns that people are mentioning - although I did watch and like The Quick And The Dead. It ain't perfect, but there's plenty of things to love there. And what a fabulous title!

    2) What I hate about Westerns is that they're so FLAT. You've got your main street, flat, some flat old desert, maybe some canyons that are never explored, a few rows of buildings with 1 or 2 stories... I guess that sounds like a weird sort of criticism, but if someone could show me a Western with a sense of verticality I would watch the shit out of that.

    Also: Blade Runner is to Film Noir what x is to Westerns. Give me some x.

    Also also: More Henchbot please.
  8.  (8234.19)
    I would say Firefly/Serenity but that's too easy.

    Blade Runner is to Noir as that wierd-ass Muse music video (the one with cowboys, lazer guns, holographic strippers and unicorns) is to Westerns
  9.  (8234.20)
    There will be no return for the Western, but it has and will continue to influence other films.

    Some things just don't have the mileage. Take the werewolf for instance, the creature has no where near the fandom of vampires, not because it sucks, but because it has evolved into other things; Jeckle & Hyde springs to mind, then Incredible Hulk from that, alien body snatchers and Hollywood "split personality" types.

    I'd just like to mention Cowboy Bebop, just generally.