Western Wednesday: Double Screenings
by Alex Billington
August 29, 2007
Today is Western Wednesday! For me that is, not you. Why, you ask? Well normally this isn't out in the public, but today I'm heading to press screenings for two of this fall's highly anticipated westerns: 3:10 to Yuma and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. I'll state it plain and clear - I'm not a fan of westerns. In fact, I hate them. So why in the heck do I even care about screening these two films?
It was the trailer and simply my continual appreciation for the better films in Hollywood (and beyond) that sparked my interest in 3:10 to Yuma initially. As with The Prestige, you put two extraordinary actors together in the same movie (Batman versus Maximus), and interest peaks for movie geeks like myself. However I've really been sold on the trailer and the clips and have a feeling their is an incredible western to be discovered. When I was a kid I simply thought they were boring, but I think as my film expertise has grown, so has my appreciation for "boring" films. I'm not say that 3:10 to Yuma will be boring, but I'm saying that I think it's almost an acquired taste, at least at the moment.
Following my always-increasing hype for 3:10 to Yuma, I was truly thrown right over the edge when the The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford trailer arrived (click the title to watch). Damn does this film look stunning!! It visually looks great, Casey Affleck and Brad Pitt are great, and the music sounds perfectly serene (odd for a western but still key for me). I'm addicted to the trailer, which is usually a bad thing, because it means they've crafted such a perfect trailer my expectations will likely be too high. Either way, you combine my hype for both of these two westerns and I've turned into a western fanatic myself - without having even seen one!
There really hasn't been an incredibly successful mainstream western in Hollywood since Unforgiven won the Best Picture Oscar in 1992. Even Alan Tudyk, who stars as the comedic relief in 3:10 to Yuma, mentioned in our recent interview that "you didn't see a bunch being made after [Unforgiven]." Even as an actor in the film he's not sure whether the genre will strike success and make a comeback in mainstream Hollywood. "I think actually these next few months are going dictate how Hollywood feels about westerns." Although vague and if anything nervous, it's how all of us, including myself, feel about the western genre in these next few months.
I'm excited to see if these are good enough and have a strong enough pull to warrant a comeback for the western genre. If they end up being great, I'll be promoting all the way. If they end up turning bad, I'll be quickly covering them with dirt and forgetting I even thought this genre had a chance.
Unfortunately due to studio regulations you probably won't read my reviews or my thoughts until a few weeks when 3:10 to Yuma hits theaters and when The Assassination of Jesse James premieres at the Toronto Film Festival. Until then keep yourself occupied and be ready for a barrage of quality western coverage.