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Kilburnlad

Hostiles


Hostiles

As a kid we didn't have anywhere near the range of toys that children have today, and there certainly weren't any computers or mobile devices. We were either cowboys with toy guns or some form of medieval character with a wooden sword, or perhaps a bow and arrow. I was very much a fan of cowboys, and of course regarded them as the heroes and the 'injuns' as the baddies. I've long since realised that this depiction in the old western movies and comics was at the very least a distortion of the truth. Hostiles is a film that unpicks that stereotype. Perhaps not as radically as Dances with Wolves, but with some superb characterisations it gets inside the people, revealing that things are never black and white, and that all members of the human race have a story to tell, and a right to be respected.

The action begins at a homestead, with the husband outside cutting timber while inside his wife schools two adorable young girls. Their idyll is destroyed when a group of marauding Comanches attack, leaving the wife, Rosalie Quaid, the only survivor with three dead children, one just a baby in arms.

We are next introduced to the battle-hardened cavalry officer, Captain Joseph J. Blocker, played by Christian Bale, who is in the final throes of rounding up some Apache warriors after a life of fighting the indians. After he arrives at Fort Berringer in New Mexico with his Apache prisoners, he is presented with an order that he feels he cannot accept. Colonel Abraham Biggs commands him to escort a former adversary, the Cheyenne war chief Yellow Hawk, to his ancestral lands in Montana. Yellow Hawk, played by Wes Studi, is terminally ill, and no less than the President himself has signed an order guaranteeing the Chief's safe return to Montana. Along with Yellow Hawk is his son, Black Hawk, his daughter Moon Deer, Black Hawk's wife Elk Woman, with their son, Little Bear.

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The Hateful Eight

I missed this film when it was on at the cinema and we caught up with it on Amazon Prime this week. It's classic Tarantino: lots of violence and blood but with an underlying humour throughout. As Mark Kermode said in his Observer review, "Hard to hate but tough to love."

The Hateful Eight

It's a long film presented in 'chapters', the first of which is 'Last Stage to Red Rock.' As the stagecoach crosses the breathtaking winter landscape, magnificently filmed, it encounters Major Marquis Warren, a bounty hunter with three corpses to transport. At this point we're also introduced to the passengers in the stagecoach, John 'Hangman' Ruth, and his prisoner, Daisy Domergue. After a bit of negotiation, and with an obvious reluctance, Ruth agrees to Warren accompanying them. The reluctance is because Ruth's passion for bringing prisoners in alive, so they can hang, exposes him to far greater risk than if he were to bring them in dead.

Further along the road they encounter and pick up Chris Mannix, a former confederate marauder who claims to be the new Sheriff of Red Rock, a claim rubbished by Ruth who regards him more as a criminal than a lawman. This 'yes I am, no you're not' banter continues between the two of them.

As the coach makes its way, trying desperately to outrun a blizzard, we're treated to a greater insight into its occupants, and also some gratuitous violence by Ruth towards Daisy. To him she's a murderer who deserves no special womanly treatment. In time they arrive at Minnie's Haberdashery, an isolated outpost that receives weary travellers. One is bound to ask why there would be a haberdashery store in the middle of nowhere.

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The Revenant

Our cinema film this week was The Revenant. My choice and I'm pleased that we went to see it.

Set in 1823, in the unsettled wilderness of what now is the Dakotas, it's a brutal film depicting the lives of frontiersmen hunting for pelts. The local indians are hostile and the story effectively starts when a raiding party attacks the hunters. The effectiveness of the bow and arrows against single shot rifles and pistols is graphically displayed as the 'white men' are cut down, resorting to escape by boat as the indians overwhelm them.

The Revenant

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Hugh Glass, the group's guide, who is accompanied by his son, the product of a relationship with an indian woman who had previously been killed. John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) doesn't think a lot of Glass, especially when Glass insists that the group abandon their boat and take an overland return journey to the safety of the fort.

On the way Glass is savaged by a grizzly bear and seriously injured. After at first trying to stretcher Glass it is decided that the group should split, with the captain leading the returning group and Fitzgerald remaining with Glass and his son, along with the young Jim Bridger. It doesn't end well.

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The Lone Ranger

We went to see The Lone Ranger last week but I've only just got around to telling you about it. The film had poor reviews generally, although, interestingly, the audience figure for positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes is twice that of the 'approved critics'. That doesn't surprise me as I often like films that the 'critics' have panned.

So what about this one. Well, it's a comedy, although not in the Shakespearian sense as too many people get killed. Johnny Depp plays Tonto, and as in Pirates of the Caribbean, his makeup is flawless, and original. I liked Tonto, as I long ago sided with the 'injuns', having spent most of my younger childhood playing at shooting them. They were the good guys, but not in the western books and comics that I read in the 50s. But the Lone Ranger, the man that is, was not what I expected. He was portrayed as a bit of a twit, with Tonto providing most of the brainpower and wisdom. Now it's nice to see the injun put in this role, but for somebody brought up on westerns I found this diminution of the famous Texas ranger a bit hard to take.

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