October 16, 2007
Just got off the phone with a radio interview from Lake Havasu. More on that later. just got this review on The Assasination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford and wanted to get it up here:
"Even three days after seeing it, I think TAJJBTCRF may be one of the best period films made. This one will not be for everybody—it is a mature BIO-PIC concerning the complicated relationships between two men. What little action there is, is violent and bloody but conscientiously awkward, almost like a local dinner theatre might attempt. This is not to say it looks bad, just the reverse—it looks all too real.
"Since we all stand on the shoulders of giants, this film seems to have been influenced by THE GREYFOX, BARRY LYNDON and a bit of HEAVEN’S GATE. Depending on what one thinks of these films will probably determine how TAJJBTCRF will be received.
"A viewing of RIDE WITH THE DEVIL followed by THE LONG RIDERS will do anyone a good turn to refresh the palate prior to seeing the new movie. It is the perfect threequel, but at the same time in many ways surpasses the other two. Production design, wardrobe, and dialogue are all as good as can be found. The minor quibble is the horse equipage—it sucks. Probably not productions’ fault so much as the wranglers. Until films put saddlery in the props category, it will not get better. Wranglers generally bring every high cantled/pommeled saddle they can find and assume it will be right. I have no quarrel with this on background, but for goodness sake, the principles need accurate saddles. Our mutual friend David Caarrico built nice gun leather for the film and it’s a pity he was not allowed to build saddles as well.
"The movie flows at a 19th Century pace, which some might say is slow, but it is not at all. The editing will not allow us to get in front of the story; we must follow at the stroll rather than the overthetoptwohourblockbuster speed. It worked perfectly.
"Each scene is masterfully composed. The streets are filled with people going about their days and dressed as they would have been in NYC or London (rather then the normal back and forth in front of the camera stuff). The DP was fantastic, spare, stark, and beautiful. Many shots are through appropriate period windows (remember the dustup with DEADWOOD?) and the saloons are cramped and authentic going even further than TOMBSTONE in this regard.
"I stand by my original comments that this is not a Western, but rather the final act of a failed insurgency. While preparing for the only train robbery in the film, Wood sings 'I’m A Good Ol’ Rebel' (last heard on film in THE LONG RIDERS), and an important story point reminds us from whence Jesse came, when he beats a young man while questioning him, then stops and weeps like a child must be remembered from teenage Jesse’s beating by Union forces at the family farm during the War. I understood his shame because I know the backstory, others may not.
"I have long been a fan of the novel, and own a threadbare mass market edition from the eighties. I am reminded of LONESOME DOVE in that both novel and mini-series do not detract from each other but form some sort of continuum and compliment each other. The same can be said for TAJJBTCRF. I eagerly await a Special Edition DVD with the uncut movie."
—ALAN C. HUFFINES
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