Derik Badman's Journal

2021-08-14 10:39

More westerns... Monte Hellman's The Shooting from 1966 seems all bleak and unanswered questions and little payoff. Definitely more modern dark western than I generally like. I stuck with it until the end because I thought it might go somewhere but... I don't know. There are clues to the events, no explicit explanation, but even if one untangled some meaning to it all, it doesn't feel like it's worth the effort for what is at its heart a revenge plot.

Westbound another Budd Boetticher directed, Randolph Scott starring movie from the 50's is not part of the "Ranown Cycle", different producers, I think a different studio all together. It's not as tightly plotted as the others, Scott's protagonist is lacking in any... character... It's all about him trying to get the postal service running so the Union can get gold from California to the East via this Colorado town that is mostly populated by Confederate sympathizers. There's probably a decent plot in there, and there are elements that could work, but it feels a little too baggy or maybe a little too short to really draw everything out. The townsfolk (as said, Confederate sympathizers) at the climax decide to help the Union guy (who again is explicitly there to make sure gold gets to the Union) because... I don't know... they don't like the Confederate ruffian antagonists who don't seem to otherwise be antagonizing the town that much (ok, they do run a stagecoach off the road, killing the passengers). Also seems this movie would have been better if the protagonist were the Union soldier who arrives home to his wife having lost one arm in the war. He struggles to accept that he is not "half a man", but ends up getting shot (and then dying, opening it up for an implied romance between the wife and Scott's protagonist at the end) without really resolving that particular conflict.

Raced through Ottessa Moshfegh's My Year of Rest and Relaxation in three bursts. It was less in my wheelhouse than her more recent Death in Her Hands (see my comments on it), but I really enjoyed it. A young woman living alone in New York basically tries to sleep her way through a year, hoping to somehow empty her life and renew it. It can be pretty bleak, but it's also smart and funny and engaging.