A few days ago I wrote about Clayton Moore’s Lone Ranger (and I even enjoyed the much maligned scattergun 2013 Disney remake with Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer) and his constant search for justice.
The Western genre has been taking a beating from Marvel super-heroes, horror, Star Wars and so on recently, but now it’s back. A Western renaissance is underway.
Trudy is deep into Netflix’s Godless, a Western town populated only by women following a mining disaster, and I just loved Hostiles – Scott Cooper’s gritty, unsentimental, masterly story about a hard bitten, cynical Army captain and Indian fighter (Christian Bale) ordered to escort the dying Cheyenne Chief Yellow Hawk and his family back to their ancestral home in Montana. And that’s just the start – the Comanche attack, families are killed, sides are blurred, values are challenged, a deranged white cavalryman joins the party. A compelling values driven drama, in a classic John Ford-like western backdrop, around the timelessly relevant themes of bigotry and redemption. Moral ambiguity to the fore.
And that’s only the beginning. I wrote about the Coen Brothers’ upcoming anthology series, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs a couple of weeks ago. I loved Series 1 of The Son – Pierce Brosnan and co – and Series 2 is due later this year. And I hear great things about Vincent D’Onofrio’s Billy The Kid – starring Dane DeHaan as The Kid.
Look out for Wind River, a Longmire-like, modern day drama near a Wyoming reservation. The Sisters Brothers – a great book I read five years ago by Patrick deWitt – now a movie starring Joaquin Phoenix – dark Western humour at its best. And finally Peter Fonda and Bill Pullman in The Ballad of Lefty Brown, a real easy film to watch and enjoy in the classic Western mode.
The Good Times are Back.