Western

Every Sunday, Film School Rejects presents a movie that was made before you were born and tells you why you should like it. This week, Old Ass Movies presents the story of a sheriff who was too proud to run, but also the story of one man who refused to give his home up to murderers and thieves. It’s a western with a clock ticking constantly in the background, promising the carnage to come when the sun hits its highest point in the sky and one man has to take on four.

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There’s a core lesson somewhere inside the remake (or novel re-adaptation) of True Grit about pulling on bootstraps, feeling the bitter cold of the ride, and doing what needs to be done. Of course, that lesson is buried beneath a lot of snide remarks and funny moments. Even if the lesson is hard to find, the film itself is a reminder that there are few things quite as entertaining as seeing a snotty little girl and an eye-patched drunkard go exact a little buck shot revenge. Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) is desperate to track down the man who killed her father, so she enlists the reluctant help of sodden U.S. Marshal Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) and a Texas Ranger named LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) who takes every opportunity to brag about himself. Through a tough ride in Indian Territory, Mattie comes gun barrel to gun barrel with murderer Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) with a chance to pull the trigger and right his wrong.

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We’ve taken you behind the scenes, into director Jon Favreau’s mind, shared the movies that inspired the sci-fi western, and now we continue our set visit of Cowboys & Aliens with a look at its stars. Harrison Ford, Sam Rockwell, Daniel Craig, and Paul Dano all took time out of a busy shoot to talk about the film and get our hands dirty. All professionalism goes out the window when talking to Harrison Ford. He was standing 20 yards away the entire afternoon of the set visit, posted up like a western specter on the top of an outcropping in his cowboy hat against the blazing sun. Now he’s standing toe-to-toe with me, and I’m not embarrassed to admit now that I lose my cool. I find myself shaking hands with a living legend and looking around to make sure that the other journalists lose their composure, too. There’s a one-sided giddiness that suddenly finds its way permeating the steel cool of those used to meeting the famous, and the latent buzz is pretty heavy in the air with Ford standing there. I imagine this is what God must feel like when he’s shaking Harrison Ford’s hand. The man of so many iconic roles doesn’t say much, but he smiles a wry smile when he does speak, leading me to believe that even he can tell that the group is seriously considering losing critical credibility in order to give him a great big hug and ask Indiana Jones to autograph […]

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We’ve taken you behind the scenes of Cowboys & Aliens and into the mind of director Jon Favreau, and today we dig deeper into the films that the filmmakers talked most about during the set visit. Cowboys & Aliens may be the only Steven Spielberg film that Steven Spielberg isn’t directing. From the conversations I shared with Jon Favreau and co-screenwriter Bob Orci on the set of the film, a select group of movies kept returning to the fold as titles that had a lot to do with the shaping of tone and storytelling. A theme quickly emerged. While Executive Producer Steven Spielberg was busy inviting the filmmakers to private screenings of new prints of The Searchers, the filmmakers were drawing on their childhood love of Amblin and the films of Spielberg himself. Still, even though it lacks diversity in the directorial column, this is one seriously formidable list of inspirational films.

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“So anything you’re seeing is really spoiler stuff here, right?” That’s how Jon Favreau greets us as he takes refuge inside a pop up tent that is struggling to keep the New Mexican heat and dust out. He’s a force as he enters, a commanding man whose voice is a mix of sarcasm and sweet. Still, he’s about as unimposing as a man over six feet tall can be, and with his breathable pants and bandana he seems more likely to be taking a group of scouts camping than directing a science fiction western starring Daniel Craig. Plus, he’s right about the spoilers. Cowboys & Aliens doesn’t hit theaters until July of 2011, but FSR was invited to the set in the middle of August to watch the crew film a scene and to see who could avoid heat exhaustion the longest (it was Harrison Ford). We won’t be revealing any spoilers from the film, but we will be spending the entire week exploring what the set was like, discovering the movies that inspired the shoot, and talking with Favreau, co-writer Bob Orci, and the cast. Plus, hot off the old dusty trail, we’ve got two behind-the-scenes pictures to share with you after we take you into the canyon where the film was made.

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There’s a gun slingin’, Johnny Cash song usin’, eye patch wearin’ new trailer for True Grit out today, and it looks like the Coen’s have crafted another beautiful lookin’ film. We’ll have to wait to see the film to judge it on its own merits (and not just two minutes of clips), but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. Plus, check out the 2:11 mark for a guest appearance by Mary Poppins.

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For 36 days straight, we’ll be exploring the famous 36 Dramatic Situations by examining a film that exemplifies each one. From family killing family to prisoners in need of asylum, we brush off the 19th century list in order to remember that it’s still incredibly relevant today. Whether you’re seeking a degree in Literature, love movies, or just love seeing things explode, our feature should have something for everyone. If it doesn’t, please don’t get a posse of famous actors together to hunt us down in Mexico. Part 5 of the 36-part series takes a look at “Daring Enterprise” with one of the best Westerns ever made, The Professionals.

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Red Dead Redemption

Since Roger Ebert doesn’t consider video games art, he can go suck a rattlesnake. Meanwhile, at Film School Rejects, we celebrate the cinematic qualities, and the John Hillcoat short film, of Red Dead Redemption.

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We’re happy to announce the Timothy Olyphant modern western “Justified” has been added to our weekly TV review list.

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We have to say goodbye to the King of the Wild Frontier – Fess Parker.

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Finally, two Jewish men will be delivering a remake of a John Wayne film on Christmas. My 2011 is complete.

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Link Jones has turned from a life of outlawing and is trying to take the straight and narrow path in a small town. That doesn’t last long.

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BridgesRoosterCogburnTrueGrit

For some reason, I get the feeling that Rooster Cogburn will suddenly be attacked by a water-dwelling mammal.

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tarantino-header

He does like to talk, but maybe post-Basterds he’s actually going to become a Woody Allen-like film-a-year kinda guy.

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oam-oxbowincident

The Ox-Bow Incident is the story of a lynching that went right, but in the wrong way. Simple as an old man’s morality tale and painfully to the point, it covers a timeless debate concerning law, justice and the misconceptions they suffer in our hands and minds.

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coronersreport_newheader

The Coroner saddles up and rides off into the hellish sunset as he battles The Burrowers on DVD.

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Destry Rides Again

Destry Rides Again still delivers honest fun and a couple of memorable dialogs. Plus, the birth of a great western actor and one hell of a catfight!

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Viggo Mortensen in Appaloosa

Robert Fure polished his tin star and took a ride through the Old West with Ed Harris’ “Appaloosa” and thought it swell. But it wasn’t perfect. Here’s what worked and what didn’t.

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Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen in Appaloosa

Saddle up and take an early look at Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen’s classic western, Appaloosa.

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Join us as we saddle up and ride off into the sunset with an in-depth look into the history of the Western and its recent resurgence via Robert Fure’s love note to the genre.

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