Series Review: Yellowstone – Season 1 (2018)

Kevin Costner. What an interesting career this man has had. From being one of the biggest stars of the late 80s/early 90s, to kinda going into obscurity for a while, and then kinda making a comeback in the 2010s. And now he stars on a tv show. So let’s talk about it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Yellowstone” season 1.

The story follows John Dutton (Kevin Costner), an aging rancher, as he tries to keep his family in check while also dealing with various parties trying to encroach on his land. So now we have our neo-western-drama-thingamabob. And while it does dip a bit much into melodrama at times, I find the story here to be quite interesting, taking some really colorful characters and having them scheming around for the sake of their own or someone else’s success. The pacing does suffer a bit at times, and like I said, there’s a strong stench of melodrama at times. But overall it’s still a highly entertaining plot with some solid drama sprinkled throughout.

The characters in this are flawed, entertaining, surprisingly layered, and overall interesting. Kevin Costner plays John Dutton, the aging patriarch of the Dutton family and owner of the Yellowstone cattle ranch. He has demons of his past he has to deal with while also trying to keep his entire livelihood going with everything going against him at once, making him pretty interesting even though he can be a bit of an ass at times. And Costner is great in the role. Next we have Kelly Reilly as Beth, John’s daughter. She has a lot of issues that she at the start of the series hasn’t gone through, making her kind of a fucking mess. But she also has one of the best arcs in the series. And Reilly is great in the role. Next we have Luke Grimes as Kayce (Kay-see), one of John’s sons. A former Marine, he tries to balance being a Dutton with trying to be a good father and husband, which is quite complicated. And Grimes is really good in the role. Wes Bentley plays Jamie, John’s other son, who also happens to his lawyer. Yes, he’s a little smarmy, but mostly he’s probably the outlier of the family in a sense. And Bentley is good in the role. We also have Cole Hauser as Rip, John’s second hand man, who has to keep the ranch going in the events when John is unavailable. And while I won’t say too much more about Rip, I’ll just say that he’s my favorite character on the show. And Hauser is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Danny Huston, Gil Birmingham, Kelsey Absille, Jefferson White, Ian Bohen, Brecken Merrill, Ryan Bingham, Josh Lucas, and more, all doing well in their respective roles.

The score for the season was composed by Brian Tyler, and I think he did a great job with it. Obviously taking influence from various westerns, he creates an ambient score that works very well within the show to create a certain mood. The theme he composed for the show is also pretty damn solid. There’s also some licensed tracks used throughout, and they work pretty well in their respective scenes.

Created by John Linson and Taylor Sheridan, all episodes this season were written and directed by Sheridan. And the craft here is really solid. Well shot, at times tense, Sheridan does a damn fine job in keeping my eyes stuck to the screen. Ben Richardson’s cinematography is also good.

This show/season has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 51% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 54/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,3/10.

While season 1 of “Yellowstone” misses the shot in some parts, it’s still a really solid season of television. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and really good writing/directing/cinematography. Where it falters (as previously mentioned) is in its occasionally dodgy pacing and unnecessarily frequent dips into melodrama. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Yellowstone” is an 8,61/10. So while flawed, I’d still say that it’s definitely worth watching.

My review of “Yellowstone” season 1 is now completed.

Movie megastar Kevin Costner doing long-form tv. Still blows my mind.

Movie Review: Wind River (2017)

The frontier. A wild, unpredictable, and untameable part of our world. As beautiful as it is dangerous. Something that Taylor Sheridan seemingly likes to explore in his scripts.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Wind River”.

Set in the cold mountains and forests of Wyoming, we follow an FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) as she has to investigate the death of a young woman with the help of a local tracker (Jeremy Renner). So now we have our murder mystery that isn’t just a murder mystery. Yes, the investigation is a big focus of the movie, but the plot is also largely about the exploration of this place and the people who live there. Like with the two previous movies written by Taylor Sheridan (“Sicario”, “Hell or High Water”), it sets up one basic plot, and then gives it a few extra layers to explore certain themes. So what we get here is a deep, suspenseful, emotional, haunting, and just overall intriguing story.

The characters in this are all layered, interesting, and feel quite real. Jeremy Renner plays Cory Lambert, the tracker tasked with helping out in this investigation. He’s a skilled hunter with a tragic past that gets explored in a very interesting way through the movie. And Renner is fantastic in the role, playing the character with a very understated sadness and intensity, this is the best performance I’ve seen from him. Elizabeth Olsen plays FBI agent Jane Banner. She’s a bit of a fish out of water in this, as she’s not used to the cold, unforgiving frontier. This doesn’t make her useless, as she shows herself as quite capable through the movie. She’s tough, but she also does have a more vulnerable side, which gives her some layers (which is important to have out in the cold). And Olsen is really good in the role. Next we have Gil Birmingham as the father of the dead girl. While we don’t get too many details on him as a character, seeing him in pain and trying to cope with his daughter’s death is utterly heartbreaking and makes him an interesting enough character. And Birmingham is great in the role. Then we get some supporting performances from Graham Greene, Julia Jones, Martin Sensmeier, Hugh Dillon, Eric Lange, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, and if you’ve read any other reviews of mine where they’ve been the listed composers, you should suspect that I loved their score for this. It’s eerie, dark, emotional, and haunting, perfectly capturing the feel of the area, while also working very well for the murder mystery plot of the movie. I am slightly biased towards their music, but I do genuinely think their compositions for this movie are fantastic.

As I’ve not so subtly alluded to, this movie was written and directed by Taylor Sheridan. I already liked the other movies he’s written, so I was curious to see how he’d do at directing. And I have to say that I am quite impressed. His direction is manages to be sweeping and ambitious, while still tight and intimate with the characters/situations. He also manages to build a lot of suspense throughout, especially during the final act where that tension escalates to a whole new level. But none of it ever feels Hollywood-ized, which feels quite fresh in our modern world. And the cinematography by Ben Richardson is pretty great.

This movie has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 87% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 73/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,8/10.

“Wind River” is a fantastic little drama, and another great showcase for Taylor Sheridan’s writing. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, fantastic music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Wind River” is a 9,88/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Wind River” is now completed.

We’re going back to the wild frontier…