President’s Choice rainbow trout filets, frozen. Peppered and smoked (or, more likely, smoke flavoured). Decent but the smoke flavouring is overpowering.
Of the few Clint Eastwood-directed movies I’ve seen, I came to the conclusion that the man is a completely capable director, with a penchant for directing Hollywood-style Oscar films, as in things laden with importance, often laying it on too thick. They are engaging films to watch, but upon reflection the drama tends to feel too calculated. What came out of my few Eastwood experiences was that, while I would watch them, but I wouldn’t make a point of watching them.
Aden has told me a number of times that I need to see Unforgiven (pretty much after every western film we see). She marked it as a deconstruction of the western genre, which I suppose is what intrigued me enough to rent it where any number of accolades and awards haven’t.
The film, like any Eastwood film, is well made and well casted, however it’s also somewhat uninspired in its presentation at times save when it’s alluding to great western directors of yore ala Sergio Leone ins some campfire or candlelight filming.
However, what I found surprising was how Eastwood was able to make the film engaging for it’s entire 130 minute run, despite is rather thin set up. A whore is cut up by a horse wrangler one night, and when the sheriff, Little Bill Dagget (Gene Hackman) lets him and his buddy off with a fine of five and two horses each (paid to the owner of the billiards hall above which they operate) the angered whores pool their money and put a bounty on the wranglers’ heads.
A young hired gun, The Schofield Kid (Jaimz Woolvett), finds a notorious bounty hunter/bad man William Munny (Eastwood) on his unsuccessful farm, raising a young son and daughter alone after his wife (and reformer) has passed on. Woolvett requests his assistance on taking the bounty, but Munny says he’s left that life behind, but looking at his kids, and his sick pigs, he knows he could use the money, even if it means returning to a life he promised to leave behind. He convinces his old riding partner Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman) to join him, and they set off on a journey they aren’t altogether certain they’re capable of completing.
With news of the bounty spreading Little Bill designates his town as a gun-free zone, and makes an example out of legendary bounty hunter English Bob (Richard Harris), shaming him in front of his biographer (Saul Rubineck). Little Bill is an unlikeable man, but he keeps the order and the peace in his town, and he doesn’t tolerate people of questionable ethics and disposition. So when Will, Ned and the Schofield Kid come into town, there’s going to be trouble. The encounters between the men seethe with tension, especially since Will runs a delusional fever upon first meeting Little Bill. But after completing their deed, a repeat showdown follows.
The legend of the old west gunslinger is the real focus of the film, as Will’s dastardly past keeps getting brought up, and it’s something he earnestly tries to bury as a part of another life. Meanwhile, Little Bill revels in telling tales of his own prowess to the biographer, while downplaying or eviscerating other’s contribution to the old west mystique, like English Bob. Though Little Bill is truly the hero, egocentric as he is, he’s also the just lawman. Yet, Will Munny is the protagonist. He is a very bad man and in the final ten minutes, he lets the bad man out again.
The film looks at those men who survived the Wild Wild West, and what they made of themselves afterwards. It looks at the legends they left, the people they inspired (like the Schofield Kid) and also the damage that they’ve done. It’s about the egos and the embarrassment, the glory and the shame, it looks back upon the mythology of the old west and damns it. It’s not flawless (it didn’t quite explore in much depth these personalities’ impact on the “normal” world around them, even though there was the opportunity to via the wranglers and whores) but it’s a fully engaging and satisfying film that doesn’t succumb to its own weightiness after viewing.
I was not aware that Skype was a free service, or rather, that Skype-to-Skype “calling” was a free service. My Dad, so excited about his first grandchild, wants to interact with her as much as possible face to face, and when he was visiting last he suggested we try setting up on-line video calling. With Aden’s Macbook we knew we were set up already, and Dad went out straight away and got a webcam (with built in microphone). We both set up our accounts today and got it all working (some old fashioned phone calling was done first) and it was a fun experience to see my parents, and have them see me. The great thing about the Macbook is that it’s mobile and I could show them the finished baby’s room. All for free. I don’t know how Skype affords it, with nearly 15million people on-line today, the hardware they have to have in place must be incredible.