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Harry boards the 3:10 TO YUMA and it's headed for Hell!!!

When you take a month and a half off – travel the country – I can’t tell you how hard it is to get back into the mode of writing about film. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing about film, it’s just for the last month and a half, I got used to doing other things first, choosing to plan things first, drive a few hundred miles first, go get my tuxedo first, etc, etc etc… Well, on the final day of the Rolling Roadshow trip – Yoko and I pulled into Austin at about 4:47am - that day we’d left Atlanta, driven to Texarkana to watch SMOKEY & THE BANDIT – then decided we didn’t want to sleep in another hotel for as long as we could help it. So we drove from Texarkana to Austin. Then, about 40 miles out of Austin, Quint messages me that I’m making it just in time for 3:10 TO YUMA the next day at 3pm. Talk about jumping right back into the heat of things. And with a movie I was dying to see. So we got home, unpacked – played with our Nazi dog – each took showers then passed way the hell out. Woke up the next day to have lunch at our favorite restaurant then head to the Alamo South for 3:10 TO YUMA. This was the first film back from the “not a Honeymoon” trip – first press screening as a married man – and there was something awesome about it being a rougher than a burlap sack, rugged as Jack Palance’s face sort of western. If studios want to know why Westerns, as a genre, haven’t been huge moneymakers for the past few decades – it’s a pretty simple thing to put a finger on. With the PC-ification of the United States history – it is next to impossible to make anyone but the United States itself, the bad guy. Can’t have blood-thirsty Indians, guns are bad evil things, you must show that it takes forever to get anywhere in the old west on horseback. So the films are all about how wonderful wide open spaces are, how beautiful nature is – and not at all how badass it was to fucking be a gun slinging six-shooter in the old west that was filled with certain death. The Western has been a toothless, clawless old hag of a genre for way too long. This is our SAMURAI movies – and the swords cut, the blood flies and the heroes are quiet men whose actions speak louder than words. 3:10 TO YUMA by James Mangold is exactly the sort of Western I have wanted to see get made for a very long time. Just a gritty western world filled with men that’d kill ya faster than they would see ya. A Western filled with cowards and men of principle. Men with a code and men with no code. I’m tired of the aging decaying West. I want that mythical west were actions were turned into Penny Dreadfuls with lurid acts on every cover. When 50 miles was a quick horse ride – and stagecoaches had gattlin’ guns. Elmore Leonard’s 3:10 TO YUMA was, for me, always a variation upon HIGH NOON. It was all about an impending deadline that could not be escaped. A situation where no man was your friend… and all men knew you were a walking tombstone. It’s a Kobayashi Maru sort of fucked situation. You can’t win, there’s no Kirk way out of rewriting the game – it was simply fucking an impossible shit situation. That’s 3:10 TO YUMA. It doesn’t feel that bad for most of it. Taking a prisoner to a train. But the closer you get, the harder it gets. And then there’s one point where something happens that just makes everyone around you turn yellow. What is fascinating at that point is what keeps your hero, the hero. What is he holding on to? Why not give up? Usually in film, it’s because the writer wrote him to be a hero. There’s nothing more to it than that, but here… here Bale isn’t a hero. He’s never been a hero. In his oldest son’s eyes, he’s a coward – worse, he’s a cripple turned coward – scared of risks, terrified to do anything. Here – Bale is watching his son at that precipice – between good and evil and his own life doesn’t add up to a sack of manure, but if that life can be laid down as fertilizer for his son’s to bloom from, then fighting isn’t an option, it’s the only path in front of him. James Mangold has created a modern classic western. I love the Glenn Ford and Van Heflin version – but it doesn’t have the grit of this. This film is just mean. The cast overall is vastly superior to the original. It isn’t just Bale and Crowe – it’s everyone else. But for me – the real stand out is Ben Foster. Who? Warren Worthington III – The Angel from X3. In that film, his character had shit to do. Here – he’s Russell Crowe’s second. His number one man on his team of badasses. In a million years, I never would have thought that the actor that played the Angel in Brett Hackner’s X3 would be worth spitting at, but in 3:10 TO YUMA – he is – THE SHIT! His Charlie Prince is just awesome. He’s death on a horse. He is that loyal sidekick that isn’t lame in the slightest. He’s loyal unto death – and is the face of determined badassness. I’m about to write up THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD – and these two films couldn’t be further apart in any way – other than quality. They’re both brilliant westerns – but don’t resemble each other in the slightest. That is what rules about The Western. They’re about totally different themes, totally different film styles. In 3:10 TO YUMA – you have a western score that makes you want to throw away the keys to your gas-guzzler and mount up. This is the best kind of remake, one filled with passion, excitement and exemplary performances from top to bottom. This is my favorite kickass western since THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES – note the word – “since”. It really is that good!

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