Odious and Peculiar
Philology and esoterica: scribblings, ravings and mutterings.
O&P's Current Pick:
Friday, November 12, 2010
Jonah Goldberg receives an interesting question:
I have a co-worker who is a 38-year-old Muslim from Niger... He is here on a permanent visa and plans on eventually becoming a citizen.... With some prodding from him, I have taken upon myself the task of assigning him a list of movies he needs to see in order to explain America and its myriad cultures to him... I’d love it if you could ask your readers…are there some movies that perhaps wouldn’t make a Best Movie list that I should include anyway? My only criterion is that the film has to delve into a different subculture of American life, either past or present. Whether or not you like a movie is not relevant.In accordance with the interests of this blog, let's narrow the scope a little. What movies would you recommend to an outsider to understand the people and lifestyles of the modern American West?
It might be argued that a product of both the Coen brothers and Cormac McCarthy is far too allegorical to present a clear portrait of a particular place, but I think that No Country for Old Men is a fairly accurate depiction of West Texas landscape and culture (the outdoor scenes were filmed in Big Bend, although the in-town and studio scenes were done in New Mexico). Also, I believe it presents a modern manifestation of an aesthetic that is most frequently seen in traditional westerns: the image of men attempting to survive in a harsh landscape by means only of their wits, toughness and propensity for violence. While this idea is obviously not of much practical import in the modern world, I feel it still has a significant effect on the imagination of the inhabitants of the Southwest, and can be seen in the regional weltanschauung.
That one crossed my mind, Proclus. i didn't list it because I still haven't seen it. One of these days.
The ones I know are good choices. I haven't seen Lonely are the brave in years but always loved it––amazing how well it adapted Abbey particularly considering its age.
Rancho deluxe––well you know, I was one of a bunch of New England kids who memorized the dialogue the way others did with the Rocky horror picture show, although I was the only one who ended up in the West. Again it stands up; the cameo of “Squire Tom” in his Captain Berserko period still gives your mother hysterics.
I agree on No country for old men too. I don't know about Cormac McCarthy's other novels as adapted to screen. Sadly, violence is a fact of life on the border, still. As border balladeer Tom Russell sings, “narcotaficante boys they own the borderline." One of the more recent victims, Rob Krentz, was a friend of friends.
Please forgive any wonky capitalization. I'm using new dictation software as an experiment, and I don't quite have the hang of it yet!
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Proper places: Tombstone though hardly perfect is the best traditional Earp movie. Place is perfect, with real historical buildings and signs as well as the Chiricahuas. Val Kilmer as Doc ("I'm your huckleberry") ahistorical but immortal.
Movie of Monkey Wrench: BAD idea. Peacock will like it anyway. "Print the legend" (Liberty Valence).
Movie of WNW: GREAT idea. Nobody out there to do it though.