My first challenge this year, and naturally I was going to return for the Western Challenge. Not sure how competitive I'm going to be, but as a annual tradition I'm watching all the new Westerns that's come my way the past year. The first selection is so bad I put off doing this for a few days, but it looks to get better once we get over the first threshold.
1. Sheriff of Cimarron (1945, Yakima Canutt) [*****]
--- Stuntman and B-movie cowboy Yakima Canutt only directed a few movies during his long career in Hollywood. Most of them fairly decent for the B-western's they were. And here he directs prime Sunset Carson for a enjoyable Republic Pictures fair with a good dose of humor and quite a bit of action. It's a snappy western that wastes no time. Perhaps doesn't bring anything original to the plate, but what it does, it does well. And that on a small budget. Very solid job from Canutt.
2. Marshal Law (2015, Patrick Stark) [*] [/b]
--- Marshal Law (2015) is the first in a trilogy of super amateur western movies. And this was so damn long and boring! Among the worst experiences I've had watching movies. There's a reason no one had added it to Letterboxd in the over 7 years it's been widely available out there. So naturally I'll be watching the two longer films that followed in the series right after this...
3. Marshal Law: Insurrection (2018, Patrick Stark & Tom Smith) [*] [/b]
--- Three years since the first film, and they'd not gotten any better at it. In a way it felt even worse, driven purely by the dreadful dialogue and acting that matched it.
4. Marshal Law: Reconciliation (2018, Patrick Stark & Tom Smith) [*] [/b]
--- And they conclude the Marshal Law trilogy the same year with a film that for some reason felt it needed to be an hour longer than the other two, yet none-the-better. They just wanted to torture you with some of the worst acted westerns out there.
5. Jezebeth 2: Hour of the Gun (2015, Damien Dante) [*] [/b]
--- A vampire western with a metal theme. It was so odd that it almost had me intrigued, but it couldn't hide the fact that it was a load of trash. If I was to say something positive about this amateur mess is that at least it attempted something a little bit different compared to the many other crappy westerns I'm watching this month. But not even the camp elements could save this one. Let's just say I won't be seeking out Jezebeth 1 anytime soon.
6. C-Bar (2015, Patrick Ball) [*] [/b]
--- Another amateur western production with a story that didn't need to be told, and no gimmicks to make up for it either. Just a complete drag with no hook.
7. The Porter Brothers (2016, Wilhelm Kuhn) [***]
--- An UK-French mini-western. Not too bad. Told the little it had to tell decently enough, and showed more polish than most equivalents from across the pond. Not that it's anything anyone needs to see.
8. In Dubious Battle (2016, James Franco) [****]
--- James Franco tries to bring the mood of workers fight for rights back in the old rural parts of California. It sometimes catches it, but there are a lot of parts that's just slow and uneventful. Got with him a interesting cast ranging from Selena Gomez to Bryan Cranston to help make this feel more than just a B-movie, but the end result leaves a lot to be desired, even if the heart is in the right place.
9a. A Fistful of Pebbles (2015, Somchanrith Chap) [****] - 7min
--- This was kind of cool. Some sort of Cambodian western-hybrid lasting 7-minutes. Not so much a masterful story or anything. Just something different that put a smile on my face.
9b. A Girl and Her Gun (2015, Samuel Dawe & Paul Holbrook) [****] - 18min
--- A dramatic short from the UK. Not a western, but western movies plays a vital part of the story, as this young girl finds escapism from her miserable life by watching old westerns. And through that finds inspiration to confront the bad influences in her life (her outlaws) by the gun. Tragic little thing.
9c. A Killer of Men (2015, Gregg Meller) [***] - 21min
--- Modern story with heavy western vibes. Bloody and decently produced. Not too much to tell. At least it used a obscure David Bowie song as the outro.
9d. Cowboys & Engines (2015) [***] - 26min
--- A steampunk western starring Richard Hatch, and also features a prominent part for Malcolm McDowell! But while it's got star-power, a cool premise and some decent effects, the story and how it was patched together didn't do much. *IMDB says 7min, but the cut I saw was 26.
9e. Bisonhead (2016, Elizabeth Lo) [**] - 8min
--- Hunters honking at Bisons. Got something to do with hunting politics between the state and Native Americans. Don't know much about it, and this 8 minute documentary doesn't say much either. It's simply just about the mood.
10a. The Ballad of Immortal Joe (2015, Hector Herrera) [****] - 6min
--- A little western themed animated tale of a dude called Joe. Almost a throwback to the cartoons of the 1950s, but the focus is more on the dramatic parts than being a silly cartoon. Gets a lot right.
10b. The Little Deputy (2015, Trevor Anderson) [****] - 9min
--- Sort of a western twist of a crossdressers origin story. Clever.
10c. The Lotus Gun (2015, Amanda Milius) [**] - 25min
--- Got ideas, but doesn't bring any life into them.
10d. The Mediator (2015, Graham Phillips & Parker Phillips) [***] - 15min
--- It's a fine little wild west drama, but it once it's over it has left very little impression.
10e. Savant: Kali 47 (2015, Mike Diva) [**] - 3min
--- Brief slasher western montage piece. Cool and pointless.
10f. Times Like Dying (2015, Evan Vetter) [****] - 22min
--- For a short, the story was more focused that you'd expect. Nothing too revolutionary, but they stuck to it, and it kept my attention. More drama driven than action.
11a. All Raccoons Are Bandits (2015, Brett Wagner) [****] - 16min
--- Smooth enough western comedy, all about a lucky idiot that on the wrong side of the law. Got a few laughs out of me, which was more than I had expected going in.
11b. Bird of Prey (II) (2015, Jelle Brunt & David de Rooij) [***] - 2min
--- A western themed animation film so short it barely has any time to make an impression. But what's here was good. Just wish it was more than a one-gag creation.
11c. Cowboys: High Noon (1991, Phil Mulloy) [****] - 3min
--- Doing the Phil Mulloy "Cowboy" cartoons, and I believe this was the first one, taking on a classic wild west duel with near-stick people animation. I appreciated the simple aesthetics of this thing, even with the slapstick finale, I found myself enjoying this.
11d. Cowboys: Murder (1991, Phil Mulloy) [****] - 3min
--- Murder and hanging in the most simplistic and grotesque fashion possible through animation. Nicely done Phil Mulloy.
11e. Cowboys: Slim Pickin's (1991, Phil Mulloy) [***] - 3min
--- A take on false promises and greed. Not as good as High Noon or Murder, but it's still got that cynical feel.
11f. Cowboys: Outrage! (1991, Phil Mulloy) [*****] - 3min
--- Apparently sex is not good. It's actually disgusting! Phil Mulloy delivers a cartoon oozing of wonderful hypocrisy.
11g. Cowboys: That's Nothin' (1991, Phil Mulloy) [****] - 3min
--- A totally perverted cartoon from nonother than Phil Mulloy. These Cowboy films sure are something.
11h. Cowboys: The Conformist (1991, Phil Mulloy) [***] - 3min
--- Not as graphic as some of Phil Mulloy's other cartoons, but you know it'll have a bitterness about it.
11i. Along the River (2016, Daniele Nicolosi) [***] - 27min
--- A sheriff's troubles with a sleazy lawyer and a horrible son. Got its moments where filth shines through, but it's not exactly a pleasant western short. Neither by art, nor story.
11j. Cold Hearts (2016, Danielle Baynes & Yolanda Ramke) [***] - 18min
--- Cold hearts, cold landscapes. That's what this Australian wilderness drama starring, written and directed by Danielle Baynes & Yolanda Ramke is all about. Decent and uneventful.
12a. Seth's Gold (2015, Guillermo de Oliveira) [**] - 10min
--- A Red Dead Redemption fan film. Unfortunately, I've not played any of the Red Dead games, so the lore of this is lost of me. But it's like any western lore ever made. Nothing original or particularly good about this.
12b. The Canary (2015, Karl Herrmann) [***] - 19min
--- Got some allure, but overall execution is not that great or effective. More a 'what could have been' short of the old west than one that'll stick with me.
12c. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (2015, Cal Evans) [***] - 6min
--- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly meets Star Wars! The mash-up I didn't think I needed. Well, I still don't need it, but I found this stupid little thing amusing.
12d. Where the Shadows Fall (2016, Kate Phillips) [**] - 13min
--- The kind of short film that shows us some moments, but for the most time likes to waste time.
12e. Revoltoso (2016, Arturo Ambriz & Roy Ambriz) [******] - 32min
--- A very cool stop-motion film from Mexico, giving us a story from the Mexican Revolution with some unique looking creatures and burning nitrate film. Wonderfully bizarre. Just wish there was more, even better focused story to tell, for what was here had all the style needed.
- The Western
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