Watchable Westerns that I have Watched

Question:  My boy and I are on a Western film kick that started with Ballad of Buster Scruggs (way underrated).  From there we hit The Searchers, Man Who Shot Liberty Valence, and Hondo.  Last night we watched Butch Cassidy, which, while exceptional at times, felt dated and longer than its run time.

What else should be on the list?

Answer (D):  The key to answering this question is to know that there are lots of Best Westerns, and then there are the Best Westerns, and then there are the best Westerns, but these are some of my best Westerns, at least the ones I can remember:

Can’t Miss

  • Tombstone
  • Lonesome Dove series (!)

For pure, wholesome, family-like entertainment, it’s hard to go astray with these two.   The apex of Val Kilmer.

The Spaghetti Trinity, plus one and then plus another one

  • Fistful of Dollars
  • For a Few Dollars More
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  • Once Upon a Time in the West
  • Unforgiven

I recommend seeing at least one of the first two two before diving into Il Buono and friends.    Then wait a year and watch Unforgiven (spoiler alert: he aint like that no more).

Once Upon a Time is not the fastest-moving movie, but it is exceptional.

Top Ten in my Favorite Movies

  • There Will Be Blood

There is not a greater movie about American capitalism than There Will Be Blood.

I Really Enjoyed These Movies

  • True Grit
  • A River Runs through It (!)

I am partial to the Coen version!, though you might have to watch it with closed captions.  And, who doesn’t like movies about would-be professors and their exceptionally good-looking brothers? I also enjoyed Ballad of Buster Scruggs, especially the Liam Neeson one. 

And Franco, of course.

Modern Westerns 

  • No Country for Old Men
  • Hell or High Water 
  • Lone Star
  • Gold

No Country is exceptional, but too violent for sharing with anyone not accustomed to violent movies.  Hell or High Water was a little preachy upon rewatching, but was one of our L&D Picks for 2016.  Also violent.   Gold is definitely underrated. McConnaughey in tighty whiteys that are neither tight nor white.

 Possibly too Violent, but mostly great

  • Hateful Eight

Tarantino kept the tension high for a while, but then it devolves into Kill Bill.  Isn’t that just like him?

Way too Violent, but completely great

  • The Wild Bunch

Way Too Violent and Disturbing and Under No Circumstances Share this with Your Kid, but Great and, hey, Nick Cave!

  • The Proposition

I was so excited about this movie and I was loving watching this movie and there are so many things right about this movie and, wait, what just happened?!

I Want to Live in a World With These

  • McCabe and Mrs. Miller
  • Dead Man

Altman and Jarmusch weigh in, wow.  How this missed the Jarmusch Film Festival, I’ll never know.

More from the Classics

  • Treasure of the Sierra Madre (more western mining!)
  • The Ox-Bow Incident (yikes!)
  • Shane (I want to live forever!)

More Good Stuff

  • The Long Riders
  • Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
  • The Assassination of Jesse James…

That’s Entertainment

  • Pale Rider
  • 3:10 to Yuma

Does anyone besides me remember The Magnolias version of “Pale Horse, Pale Rider”?  To paraphrase a colleague, “The Magnolias don’t even remember playing that song.”

I really liked the remake of 3:10 to Yuma right up until near the end, and then…. Russel Crowe is very good.  Gretchen Mol is even better.  

So, that’s a hundred hours of entertainment, and you might even learn something along the way.   Hit me up if you are planning to see any of these on the big screen.

Except for The Proposition.  I can’t handle that again.

Wonder Woman


I’m just going to come out and say it. Wonder Woman is a good movie. Not a great one. We have seen all of this before. Especially the massive ending with the big explosions etc. etc. Regardless, it is enjoyable as hell and it is a movie to root for with its fantastic lead, Gal Gadot and the kick ass Director, Patty Jenkins.

As a great cultural phenomenon it would be easy to join the “Wonder Woman is great!” bandwagon…but no. It’s just too derivative. Not as much as The Mummy, our next review on the L & D, but derivative nonetheless. I will say that like many people I enjoyed the WWI aspect of the film and who wouldn’t love ACT 1, the fun and games growing up on an island of Amazon warriors. Hello! You had me at Ama.

Now of course, you will have some haters. Like the asses that sued the movie theaters for screening the film as Ladies Night for Ladies Only. But you know, those people would never be able to let their hair down and enjoy a Summer blockbuster like this…because they are old guys with no hair.

So I say, if you want to have some fun, munch your popcorn extra loud and revel in Amazonian Badassery, then get strapped into a magic lasso and check out Wonder Woman.

Alien: Covenant


SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS — Now I know a lot of people are super into the Alien series and I have been on the short end of long chronologies about where this movie places and ranks in this franchise. Fine. The thing is if you have never seen an Alien film in your life you will still get a whole lot out of this one. There is even a Franco sighting! And just for the record I have seen the first one and the fourth i.e. Resurrection. Set design is always a big deal in Alien films and Covenant does not fail here with its eerie planet and dingy sets. If you are that type of person, this film could give you nightmares. It will no doubt give you the creeps. And yet there is a certain aesthetic elegance in all the gore. Enough, I’m sure, to make even H.R. Giger grunt his approval.

The deeper philosophical part of Covenant deals with A.I. As in another movie you may have heard of by Director Ridley Scott, namely Blade Runner, we return to the idea that the robot/replicant/humanoid is just as human if not more so than an actual person. Except of course that it is not. Films have been exploring the robot/human idea since at least Lang’s 1927 German Expressionist masterpiece Metropolis. And even the fairly recent Ex Machina deals with these ideas in a profound and artistically inspired way. Alien: Covenant and Scott decide to take a darker path. In an ending —MORE SPOILERS— reminiscent of this years’ sci-fi thriller Life, Scott comes to a fork in the road and goes down the darkest path possible. It all does kind of leave you shaking your head in dismay. On the other hand, if you are a nihilist, it will warm your cold cold heart and make you hug your ferrets. All in all a powerful, well acted, well crafted entry into the Alien universe.