Series Review: Yellowstone – Season 3 (2020)

This show is fascinating to me. It’s never been one of my favorites, but I always feel compelled to come back to it when a new season airs. It’s like Al Pacino says in “Godfather Part 3”: Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. So let’s see if this third season is any good.

Ladies and gents… “Yellowstone” season 3.

It’s summer in the valley, and everyone of the Dutton clan is slowly settling back into their lives after the tumultuous events of season 2. But just when the characters think they might be able to take a breather, a seemingly friendly, yet cunning businessman (Josh Holloway) starts making moves to get hold of the Yellowstone ranch for his own businesses. And as per the norm with this show, things start escalating from there, both for the Duttons themselves, and for the people around them. When this season started, something fascinating happened. I felt fully invested in what was going on. In previous seasons that was a little hard at times, either due to weird pacing or overbearing melodrama. But for the first few episodes there was no real sign of that. It felt like new life had been breathed into the show. But then towards the middle the show fell back into that aforementioned pit for a bit. But towards the end it really swung up to greatness again. But I do think the story on the whole this season is really strong. While the things I didn’t enjoy in previous seasons occur, there’s certainly less of them this time around. And when this season isn’t wallowing in some of that melodrama, then it is fucking fantastic. The dark moments are truly dark, the stakes feel truly high, and when a moment wants to leave a visceral impact, then it really does. Again, it’s still not a perfect line, but it’s damn close to getting there.

The characters in this are flawed, colorful, fascinating, and quite entertaining. The returning main cast of Kevin Costner, Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley, Luke Grimes, and Kelsey Asbille all give great performances, and we get to see their characters develop in some really great ways. Returning supporting cast of people like Jefferson White, Brecken Merrill, Cole Hauser, Forrie J. Smith, Gil Birmingham, Denim Richards, Ian Bohen, and Mo Brings Plenty are all great too. Let’s talk about newcomer Josh Holloway, who plays Roarke, a well spoken, outwardly friendly businessman who creates some tension for the Dutton empire. At first he seems like a breath of fresh air, compared to the sliminess of Danny Huston’s Jenkins or the intensity of Neal McDonough’s Beck. But then he barely has any real presence within the narrative. Roarke’s shareholders and attorneys and such take up more space than him, and it almost makes him feel like he has little place within the story. Holloway does a good job with his performance, but the characters just kinda fizzles out in interest over time. So main antagonist aside, the characters here are great.

The score for this season was composed by Brian Tyler and Breton Vivian, and I think they did a really good job with it. The score retains that pseudo-western vibe that we’ve come to expect, and uses it to create a compelling soundscape that works really well for the show. There’s also a bunch of licensed songs used throughout, and they work pretty well too.

As with the previous two seasons, all episode of “Yellowstone” season 3 were written by Taylor Sheridan, with some other cool people directing. And the craft on display here is of course top notch, they’ve really come into their own in this department. The direction is confident and bold, really capturing the sweeping scale of the setting, all without sacrificing the intimacy to the characters. And this helps keep every scene feel somewhat interesting, even if the writing may dip a little bit. And the cinematography by Jim Denault and William Wages is terrific. It’s just well crafted, yo.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 83% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8.5/10.

While not perfect, season 3 of “Yellowstone” is still a massive step in the right direction for the show, giving us the best season so far. It has a really good story, great characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Yellowstone” season 3 is an 8.88/10. So it’s definitely worth watching.

My review of “Yellowstone” season 3 is now completed.

Yeehaw.

Series Review: The Good Lord Bird (2020)

We all agree that slavery was one of the worst things in human history, right? Alright, good. At least we’re on the same page on that.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Good Lord Bird”.

The story follows Henry “Onion” Shackleford (Joshua Caleb Johnson), a young slave who gets freed by abolitionist John Brown (Ethan Hawke) and then joins his merry band of freedom fighters. And we follow Onion as he follows along on Brown’s crusade to free the slaves. What I found fascinating about “The Good Lord Bird” is the interesting use of of tonal shifts to tell its story. While at its core it’s a serious drama about the liberation of shackled people, the writers use a surprising amount of comedy throughout, which adds quite a bit of nuance to proceedings. But it’s not just a tonally unique slavery drama, but it’s also largely a coming of age story, since we get to see how this young boy gets to evolve while following along with Brown’s crusade. And while this sounds like it could be quite messy, it really isn’t. I found the story here to be utterly engrossing and entertaining, having me utterly engaged throughout the seven episodes.

The characters in this are colorful, flawed, surprisingly layered (like an onion, HA!), and really entertaining. Joshua Caleb Johnson plays Onion, the young slave who becomes part of Brown’s gang. He has quite an interesting and highly enjoyable personal arc in this, while also serving as the audience in this story, being our look at Brown and his antics. And I think Onion is a really fun protagonist, with Johnson giving a great performance. Next we have Ethan Hawke as John Brown, preacher and abolitionist. He is a fascinating individual, being really passionate about the emancipation of the slaves. And when I say passionate, I mean PASSIONATE, borderline fanatic. His heart is of course in the right place, it’s just that he’s maybe also a bit gung ho about it all, making his methods seem a little insane at times. But that’s what makes him such a fascinating character. And Ethan Hawke is terrific in the role, selling every bit of Brown’s eccentric personality wonderfully. We also get supporting work from people like Beau Knapp, Hubert Point-Du Jour, Ellar Coltrane, Mo Brings Plenty, Nick Eversman Daveed Diggs, and many more, all giving top notch performances.

The score for the show was composed by Jamison Hollister, and I thought it was really good. If you’ve heard a western score in the lat 30 years, you probably know what you’re getting. A fair bit of strings, high energy, and just a vibe that says “this is a fun western”. There’s also a fair amount of licensed songs used throughout, and they work surprisingly well in their respective scenes. So yeah, this show has good music.

Based on the novel of the same name by James McBride, “The Good Lord Bird” was developed for Showtime by Mark Richard and Ethan Hawke, with writing and directing by a whole load of cool people. And the craft on display here is superb. Usually when I watched a tv show, even ones on high budgets with super talented crews, I can still usually tell by how it’s shot that it’s a tv project. But I don’t really get that feel here. They’ve taken careful steps to make sure it blurs the line between cinema and television with their shots and camera movements here. This comes partly from Peter Deming’s beautiful cinematography, and partly from the directing which crackles with energy and feels so lively. This doesn’t mean that anything feels rushed, because the crew really know when to slow down and let moments simmer, creating a perfect balance between the fun, the emotionally charged, and the exciting.

This show has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 84/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.2/10.

“The Good Lord Bird” is a highly entertaining, fascinating, and unique take on slavery-themed drama, and is one of the best shows of 2020. It has a great story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Good Lord Bird” is a 9.91/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Good Lord Bird” is now completed.

Ethan Hawke has two modes in this show: Low grumbly growling and PASSIONATE, THROAT-RUINING SCREAMING.

12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 7)

That’s right, this series is still going. I am not giving up on it, even remembering to do a post each day is a surprisingly stressful act. Anyway, here’s today’s post.

Based on a book by Ron Hansen, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” was released in 2007, and directed by Andrew Dominik. It follows a young man named Robert Ford (Casey Affleck) who has idolized legendary American outlaw Jesse James (Brad Pitt) for many years, and then finally gets the chance to join his gang at the age of 19. The movie is a character-driven psychological drama all about demythologizing Jesse James while also deconstructing its central protagonist, Robert Ford. So now you’re probably wondering how I’m gonna contrive this to be a christmas movie? Well, watch and learn, my friends. This is how the pros (read: idiots) do it.

Now, one or two of you might assume I’m gonna use the scenes set in snowy landscapes for this. Well, as I’ve probably established earlier in this series, I’m not that fucking shallow. That’s not contrived enough. No, I got something else.
What we see in the movie after Bob joins Jesse’s gang is how much he notices what a psychotic, paranoid disappointment Jesse actually might’ve been, and not this awesome cowboy legend you might read about and enjoy following in a dime novel. So one of the basic messages one can sort of get out of this movie is “Don’t meet your heroes, because you’re just gonna be disappointed”. And that works as our christmas analogy, because as a kid you might be celebrating the holiday with your family, both immediate and extended. And all of a sudden Santa Claus shows up, lets kids sit on his lap, and give them presents. But then one of your dumbass cousins decides to tug at Santa’s beard and find out that it’s just your uncle in a cheap costume, and it turns out there is no actual magical lobster man. Bob getting to know Jesse is kind of the same thing. Instead of this magically awesome being he thought he knew, it turned out to be something a bit more disappointing. So “The Assassination of Jesse James” is a christmas movie in the sense that the truth about the legend is a fucking disappointment, just like Santa Claus.

The movie on the other hand isn’t a disappointment, it’s fucking fantastic. One of my favorites.

Have a good one.

12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 4)

Howdy. 12 Films of Christmas, contrivance edition. The fourth part. Y’all ready?

So today’s pick is an interesting one. Today we’re chatting about “Deadwood: The Movie”, a 2019 made-for-tv film based on the hit tv show that ran from 2004 to 2006. Set ten years after the season 3 finale, we return to the South Dakota camp, now a small town. And we follow Bullock (Timothy Olyphant), Swearengen (Ian McShane), and all the other cocksuckers of Deadwood as old wounds get opened up in the midst of Dakota becoming a state. I got to the show far after everyone else, only really starting it in late April/early May of this year, and was done at the end of May, right around the time the movie was released. So I didn’t have the same distance of time/nostalgia that a lot of other people did. But I still watched it. So how is “Deadwood: The Movie” a christmas film? Well tag along with me.

Imagine: The year is 2006. You’ve been watching this show, “Deadwood”. You’ve endured the drama, you’ve fallen in love with the characters, you are so excited about a fourth season… but then the show gets cancelled. You’re distraught. Plot threads dangling loosely, no real resolution, your tenure with these characters gets abruptly cut off. Then, 13 years later, you get to see them again, thanks to this movie. It’s a christmas fucking miracle, a god damn gift! And you know who delivers gifts? Santa Claus.

If you are a fan of “Deadwood” and haven’t checked out the movie yet, I highly recommend doing so. It’s a wonderfully acted and written sendoff for these characters we love. I may have been late to the “Deadwood” party, but that didn’t stop it from having a big impact on me. The show is fantastic, and the movie is one of my favorites of the year.

Have a good one.

Series Review: Yellowstone – Season 2 (2019)

Earlier this year, I reviewed the first season of this show. And now the second one has come to an end over here. So I guess that means I should talk about it. So here we go.

Ladies and gents… “Yellowstone” season 2.

We once again follow rancher John Dutton (Kevin Costner) as he tries to protect his land from opposing forces, new and old. All the while his three kids (Luke Grimes, Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley) deal with a lot of personal issues of their own, while there’s also stuff going on with the people working for John. So now we have a more “Yellowstone”… in all the ways that entails. On one hand you do get a lot of that epic crime-drama that the show mostly sells itself on, and that shit is insanely compelling, always riding a line of grey morality perfectly, giving us some truly great tv at times. Buuuuuut then it also wallows a bit in family melodrama. At times that stuff doesn’t bother me, as there are points when it’s decently well handled. But then there are times when it sort of just drags the show down, and makes it kinda boring at times. I don’t need the crime-drama stuff all the time, but the family drama here isn’t always that great. So overall the story is pretty good. Flawed, but solid.

The characters here are flawed, layered, and quite interesting. Kevin Costner returns as John Dutton, the aging patriarch of this family. He has to come to terms with his own age a bit this season, at the same time as all this crazy shit happens around him, and it’s pretty interesting. And Costner is once again really good in the role. Luke Grimes returns as John’s son Kayce, a father who has to deal with some issues with his wife and son, while also having to manage his new role at his father’s ranch. And while I had slightly mixed feelings about him last season, he kinda grew to become my favorite this time around. And Grimes is really good in the role. Kelly Reilly returns as Beth, John’s take-no-nonsense daughter who often acts as a bit of a wild card, even if she is a bit more restrained this time around due to development from last season. And once again, she’s an interesting character, with Reilly giving a great performance. Wes Bentley plays Jamie, John’s lawyer son, and holy shit, he gets some actual development this season. They made Jamie interesting! And Bentley is great in the role, even if he still constantly scowls like someone shat in his backyard. Cole Hauser returns as Rip, the ranch hand/resident tough guy, and he’s once again great in the role. The stuff with returning antagonists Danny Huston and Gil Birminham is still solid. And new antagonist Neal McDonough, he’s pretty good. We of course also get supporting performances from people like Kelsey Asbille, Brecken Merrill, Jefferson White, Forrie J. Smith, Hugh Dillon, Ryan Bingham, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As with season 1, the score for season 2 of “Yellowstone” was composed by Brian Tyler. And it was once again good. Tense, emotional, and fitting of the semi-western tone that the show goes for. It’s solid stuff that fits the various scenes it’s used in.  There’s of course also a lot of licensed music used throughout (especially from the band Whiskey Myers). And that music works well enough for the respective scenes they get used in.

The show was created by Taylor Sheridan and John Linson, with Sheridan staying on as writer for all the episodes, but let a bunch of other cool people handle directing. And the craft on display here is generally good. A lot of nice looking shots of the sweeping vistas, some decent looking shots for smaller moments. The directing often elevates the material here, which is what makes some of those melodramatic scenes I mentioned earlier a bit more tolerable. And the direction also helps make some scenes quite suspenseful when needed. ’tis a solidly crafted show.

This show/season has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating. On Metacritic it exists, but has no overall score. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,4/10.

Season 2 of “Yellowstone” reaches some great heights, but wallows enough in some melodramatic lows to still bring it down overall. It has a pretty good plot, really good characters, great performances, good music, and really good writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 2 of “Yellowstone” is an 8,52/10. So while not perfect, it’s still certainly worth a watch.

My review of “Yellowstone” season 2 is now completed.

Cooooooostneeeeeer.

Quentin Rankantino

Howdy, motherfuckers. Today we’re doing something a little bit differently. Instead of reviewing something, we’re ranking stuff. And by we, I mean me. With the impending release of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”, I have been rewatching all of Quentin Tarantino’s movies. So now that I got that task done, I have decided to rank them, from least favorite, to my top pick. So get your buckets of blood and Samuel L. Jacksons ready as we rank the movies of Quentin Tarantino, in a special post we call… Quentin Rankantino!

Number 9: Death Proof.

Coming in at the bottom is Tarantino’s grindhouse homage, “Death Proof” (fittingly used within the “Grindhouse” double feature). It’s not awful per se, but it’s Tarantula’s weakest movie by a mile. The pacing is wonky, and I don’t exactly find any of the characters particularly interesting. What gives it some points are the action scenes, which are a hard-hitting bit of fun. Also, Kurt fucking Russell… I don’t have much to say there, I just like Kurt Russell.

Number 8: Jackie Brown.

For our number 8 slot we make a huge god damn leap from “not that good” to “that’s really good”. In Toronto’s third movie, based on “Rum Punch” by Elmore Leonard, a stewardess (Pam Grier) gets drawn into a complex crime plot by the ATF. It can feel a bit cluttered at times, affecting the pacing a bit, which is why it finds itself so low on the list. But with that said, thanks to the stellar cast and one hell of a funky soundtrack it still stands out as a damn solid movie in this director’s filmography.

Number 7: Kill Bill Volume 1

Now, I know that Turntable considers “Kill Bill” one movie, but they were released as two, so I rank them as two. Now, I find the story and characterization a bit weak in this one… but it’s still a damn good movie, filled with stylish, batshit insane action and some fun performances.

Number 6: Kill Bill Volume 2

While I’d put both “Assassinate William” movies on the same level in terms of various technicalities, I still do prefer the second one, due to its slower, more character-driven journey. Yes, we do still get some crazy, well handled action, but it’s not quite as much as in the first movie… and that’s okay.

Number 5: The Hateful Eight

Tabernacle’s second western is quite the interesting tale of assholes trying to not kill each other… which is technically how one could describe all his movies to some extent. Hmm. Either way, this 2015 western-drama-thriller may be very slow, but it’s quite the electrifying experience, thanks in large part to the absolutely mesmerizing performances from its core cast. Plus, having a score from maestro Ennio Morricone certainly doesn’t hurt.

Number 4: Pulp Fiction

Oh how many watches am I gonna get shoved up my ass for this placement? That’s right, the fourth place winner is Tacheometer’s sophomore outing, “Pulp Fiction”. Often considered one of the greatest movies ever made (and I can see why), it tells the tale of many assholes and their overlapping stories. And it’s that story that brings it down a bit for me (*”Ironside” siren blares*). It’s fun to watch, but the jumping back and forth, especially between so many stories can make it feel a little, well, jumpy at times, which can every so lightly fuck with the pacing a times. But with the help from an amazing cast, great music, and the ever so fiery dialogue, it manages to still hold up quite well.

Number 3: Django Unchained

A mostly straightforward revenge tale, Tartarology’s “Django Unchained” still manages to entertain across its nearly three hour runtime thanks to a colorful cast, an amazing soundtrack, and some of the most blood-soaked shootouts I have ever fucking seen. It’s a bit of slavery drama mixed with a popcorn bloodbath. What’s not to love?

Number 2: Reservoir Dogs

At the number two slot is where we find Tatterdemalion’s cinematic debut, “Reservoir Dogs”, a heist movie that isn’t really a heist movie. Showing the before and after of a botched diamond robbery, the movie jumps back and forth as we get to know the various characters as they deal with this entire situation. It’s fun, it’s suspenseful, and it’s one of the most impressive debuts I have ever seen.

NUMBER 1: Inglourious Basterds

And we’re finally at the number 1 slot. Numero uno. Top of the pops. My favorite of Tangoreceptor’s movies. “Inglourious Basterds” is a clever piece of historical fiction, showing the stories of various people trying to kill nazis. From a group of Jewish-American guerrilla soldiers, to the British government, to a young woman seeking revenge… everyone is out for nazi blood, and it is one hell of a good time. Dramatic, funny, suspenseful, exciting, it’s everything one could want in a movie from this director. There’s a ton of great stuff within this movie that I don’t have the time (or current willingness) to write about, but all of it comes together wonderfully to make my favorite movie from this director.

So what do you think? What’s your favorite movie from Quantum Turnbuckle? Please tell me, I’d love to hear from y’all.
Have a good one.

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: Sweet Country (2018)

Australia. Beautiful scenery, deliverer of my favorite band, origin of so many great actors… there’s a lot to appreciate, but there’s also things that one won’t appreciate. Like snakes… and spiders… and the fact that not even the country at the end of the world has been free of racism. Oh well, let’s go down and under and back in time a bit.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Sweet Country”.

Australia, the 1920s. We follow an Aboriginal farmhand (Hamilton Morris) who has to go on the run after he shoots a white man in self defense. So now we have our historical Aussie western. And I thought the plot here was good. It has an interesting premise, the events unfolding are somewhat engaging, and the entire story is pretty well told. It gives an interesting glimpse into what it was like in the outback during those times… but despite all this, it never really grabbed me. It was interesting enough for me to follow along, but there was never any point where the story had me in its grasp. I don’t know how to properly explain it. Yes, the story is good, but it’s not one of those that really dug itself into my mind.

The characters in this are decent, not ones I’ll be remembering, but they worked well enough in the movie. Explaining their arcs like I usually do is hard as to not get into some spoilers, so I’ll just skip that and list the actors (who are all really good). Hamilton Morris, Bryan Brown, Tremayne Doolan, Sam Neill Ewen Leslie, Matt Day, and many more.

The score was composed by… no one? Yeah, there’s no music here except for the end credits and like one really high pitched note at one point. But other than those… no music. Hmm…

The movie was shot and directed by Warwick Thornton, and I think he did a really good job with it. He has a way of keeping you engaged through his tight and often kinda tense directing, while also giving us some great shots of the Australian outback. It’s well shot and well directed. Not much else that can be said on that front.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 87/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,8/10.

While “Sweet Country” didn’t enamor me like it has the critics, I still think it’s an incredibly well made historical western-drama. It has a good plot, okay characters, great performances, no music(?), and great directing/cinematography. Though as previously mentioned, despite the plot in itself being really good, I wasn’t that engaged by it. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Sweet Country” is an 8,51/10. So while flawed, I’d say that it’s worth buying.

My review of “Sweet Country” is now completed.

G’day.

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…

Great Music #27

Hello there, ladies and gentlemen of the internet! It’s time for me to ramble about some music that I like again. I should probably also try to do more of these, as you guys seem to enjoy them. Anyway, let’s get into the song.

So for today I chose an odd little song. Not odd in the sense that it has weird lyrics or wacky noises in it, but odd in the sense that it mixes a couple of styles that one wouldn’t think could mesh very well… but somehow it worked and sounds pretty cool. The song in question is “Long Hard Times To Come” by Gangstagrass and T.O.N.E-z. Now how was I introduced to this odd song then? Well, I was introduced to it through the American action-drama series “Justified” (AKA my favorite show). “Long Hard Times To Come” is the show’s opening theme, and that makes it difficult not to notice it and remember it. It’s one of those songs that just kind of fits its show pretty perfectly. I guess I should explain what the show is about to justify (HAHA!) this pick. “Justified” aired from 2010 – 2015 and is about US Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) as he’s transferred from Miami to his old home in Kentucky after he shoots a bad dude. And after Raylan arrives in Kentucky, we follow him as he, and his colleagues, work to take down various criminals that cause trouble in the area. It’s a show filled with great characters, snappy dialogue, badass action, and top notch acting. I absolutely love it. It’s kind of like a modern day western in how Raylan has that old Clint Eastwood cowboy swagger about him, even though it’s the modern day. And that’s why the theme works so well. It has the bluegrass sound one could expect from the southern hillbilly/cowboy stuff, but then it also has the rapping that fits the more modern crime stuff. It’s an interesting mix that makes for one of the most memorable theme tunes in recent years. A great theme for a great show.

Have a good one and enjoy!