Friday, October 10, 2008

Black + White Friday: Open Range

The reason behind the decision to choose Kevin Costner's great western (one of the few I actually really like) for this series was because, as will become blatantly obvious, this movie is goooorgeous! It's as simple as that, really.

I've never particularly been a big Robert Duvall fan, but I am a big fan of his performance in this movie. He really has that ol' timer American thing down pat doesn't he? Costner sure did know how to open this movie, huh?

One of the things I noticed about these early cattle driving scenes is how similar the scenes from Brokeback Mountain are. Like, incredibly so. Of course, I guess it can't be helped when they share the same region and the same setup of men directing animals across it.

Doesn't this look like a shot taken directly out of a western from the 1950s? These initial town scenes are so good at setting up the shootout sequence at the end. Showing all the buildings and the doors and the little side alleys. Costner really did a great job here, it's such a shame he and the movie go largely unheralded.

Again, it's almost as if it's a 1950s film. You could be forgiven for thinking this was A Boy and His Best Friend or something equally saccharine and kiddy-friendly.

Annette Bening is not this film's greatest asset, although she's quite good, but it's nice to see her in a smaller quieter role than we've seen her do this decade. I chose this screenshot because I thought it was funny. She's not trying to make a face, she's just speaking that way.

I like how the rain drops sort of look like film scratches such as the two over Derek Jeter's face and the one just above Costner's (on the right) shoulder.

Yet more examples of the film's backgrounds appearing to be both real and matte at the same time. This is the moment where Costner says the best line in the film - "Men are gonna get killed here today, Sue. And I'm gonna kill 'em." Kinda gives me shivers.

Oh yes, Costner may be striving for classic, but that doesn't mean he can't give in to artsy look-at-me shots. I imagine an M Night Shyamalan western would be full of crazy camera angles so let's hope that never happens.

No reason, I just really like this shot.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Costner's shootout in Open Range is perhaps the best ever. Yes, ever. It's amazing. Truly astounding. And watching this really makes the shortcomings of the recent 3:10 to Yuma standout. I don't remember a single action sequence from that film, when they should scream out to be remembered.


Scott Mendelson said...

Easily the best western of this decade, and I agree that it may be the finest shootout in film history. It's long, expertly shot and edited, and incredibly suspenseful as literally every character is theoretically in peril.

elgringo said...

That Annette Bening picture is the best. Her face is timeless. As, I always say, I love this series. I'm still convinced that Hackers would make a great addition, but no pressure. Oooh! Oooh! THE WARRIORS in black and white. AMAZING!