September 24th, 2007


Four Westerns

Something's come over me that prolly nobody would've seen coming had they known me as a child. I've developed a taste for Country Western Movies. If there was ever a western on my living room television, there was a 98% chance I was running in the opposite direction. Of course, I know exactly where my newfound appreciation came from; it came from the movie Tombstone. Genres aside, that's in my Top 5 movies easily. And now it's opened the way for me to enjoy other westerns, even those not made after 1990.

I've seen four westerns within the past month; one of them was Tombstone, while my brother was here. The second was 3:10 to Yuma in the theater; it has Russell Crowe and was also good, but pales in comparison to Tombstone.

The third was Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, which I downloaded because I've heard so many good things.

The fourth was The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. It's seeing a limited release, starring Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck.

You'll hear critics tell you that the Brad Pitt movie is superior to the Russell Crowe movie, but don't believe 'em. See, Jesse James and Yuma are apples and oranges. Yuma has a plot, Jesse James is just a collage of scenes pasted together in a linear fashion of his final year on Earth. The Jesse James movie, however, is all about the actors; I'm convinced Brad Pitt only made this so he'll be nominated for an Oscar. As it stands, he's not even the best actor in this movie and he would've been better served being in it less. Casey Affleck - who plays the murdering Robert Ford - dominates this movie from top to bottom and there should've been more coverage given to his own personal aftermath after he murders Jesse James; but since Pitt is a producer, of course the entire focus of the movie revolves around him when it really shouldn't.

I liked these movies for different reasons. Crowe and Pitt are good in practically anything they do. Of course, I say that, and then I think of all the crap they've released since Gladiator and Fight Club, so let me qualify that: Crowe and Pitt are good in practically anything they do when they portray interesting characters in good movies. Having said that, Yuma has the superior storyline, where the action builds and builds toward the climactic final shootout. In Jesse James, you already know how it's going to end - it's in the fucking title of the movie for Christ's sake - so what you're waiting for are those moments where the actors make you believe. Where they absolutely murder a scene, or a line of dialogue, or whatever. Casey Affleck does this throughout the movie, playing the nervous, awkward, creepy murderer who believes he's doing right even though most of America believes him to be a coward.

Of the westerns I've listed here, all but Tombstone feature the "Bad Guys" as the heroes. Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid (Paul Newman and Robert Redford in their classic roles) are two bandits on the run throughout the two-hour feature from a posse of lawmen who'll stop at nothing to track them down and kill them. In Yuma, Russell Crowe is the leader of a gang who's been arrested and being taken to the train bound for jail; but his gang is high on their trail ready to spring him from the authorities. And, of course, Jesse James is the classic cult hero who robbed a bunch of trains and banks and carriages. Audiences always find themselves rooting for these antiheroes because they ARE legends, regardless of the fact that they kill and they rob. We like the badguys. It's just too bad in most cases, the badguys end up getting theirs in the end anyway.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were taken out in Bolivia by damn near the entire Bolivian army when they were finally cornered in a house with nowhere to go. In heroic fashion, they ran out of the building with their guns firing, falling in a hail of bullets. Quite the noble death compared to the chickenshit way Jesse James died. Still, it's nearly unforgivable to imply in the title that Robert Ford is a "Coward." That automatically creates a bias against the man when, really, throughout most of the movie, he's quite the sympathetic character. Always picked on, never knowing how to interact with his childhood hero, expressing his feelings in all the wrong ways. Finally, he's coerced by a law dog into going on this mission to kill Jesse - mostly because he doesn't know any better, he's only fit to follow orders from those giving them - and we don't realize just how much of a cowardly jackass he is until after Jesse's dead. He goes on to relive the moment as an actor, on Broadway, in a reenactment of the assassination; and while he gains notoriety and popularity, everyone knows he's scum, and they treat him accordingly.

This movie should've delved more into that portion of his life, instead of wasting it on a simple coda; because he really declines into depression over the years until he himself is murdered by someone fed up with him still being alive while Jesse James is no more. There's nothing noble or heroic about his death either, but I guess that's the point. Sometimes our heroes aren't taken out in a blaze of glory by the entire Bolivian army; sometimes it's some smarmy, sneaky, pale-faced derilect who points the gun to the back of his head while he's dusting a picture on the wall.
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If Friends Were Flowers, I'd Pick You!

I'm running the treadmill these days; it's quite the optimistic experience. Today was Day 8 of 8 Days in a Row, and I must say I'm steadily improving. For the first half of last week, I was just running 30 minutes and seeing how far I could make it (never getting any further than 2.70 miles); then I started plowing past the 30-minute mark until I reached exactly 3 miles. Well, today was my best time on that end (33 minutes), and I attribute that to improving my Lowest Base Speed.

See, I start out walking the first minute - about 3.5 mph - just to warm up, then I kick it up to 6.0 mph. This doesn't last too long - anywhere from 5-10 minutes - before I begin to falter and I have to kick it back down to an appropriate base jogging speed. At the start of last week, this was 4.0 mph; as of today, it's 5.0 mph and it was ALMOST 5.5 mph (I started getting tired with about five minutes to go on the run). What does this all mean? Not a damn thing, it's just geekspeak.

Thanks to Day 8 of 8 Days in a Row, I'm now officially out of underwear. You wouldn't believe how much you sweat out of your ass when you're me and you're doing my exercise regimen. Now, I'm either going to have to do laundry tomorrow, or I'm going to have to run Commando. I don't like the sound of either of those options, but I'm not at liberty to be buying any more pairs of boxer shorts until the price comes WAY down.

You know what I learned today? I abhor carrots. Have you ever sat down and tried to eat three raw medium, Bugs Bunny-sized carrots? In a row? My God man! I decided to get a little sun this afternoon - you know, pretend I'm not the hermit I actually am - so I washed and cut the ends off of three carrots and took to the streets. I figure I was out there about an hour ... and I managed to finish exactly two of those badboys before my mouth was completely devoid of saliva and my body was completely devoid of a will to live.

And that was lunch.

On the work front, I called my main temp agency and they said it's looking like a slow week. I called my secondary temp agency and the woman I was talking to is apparently on vacation for the week. So, I reached down into my pocket and called up my skeevie, shady temp agency (last year they offered me a job for $10 an hour which I turned down; now I'm thinking I might actually take such a lowly salary). This is the agency that offers 1st, 2nd, and 3rd shifts; which means I could conceivably get a call within the next few minutes and end up working a Graveyard shift. Fucked up, no?

Well, all is not lost. I got my boy Mario on the case and he talked to someone he used to work with; in turn, she talked to someone here in New York, and tomorrow I may have an interview lined up for a FOURTH temp agency. I just have to call her back and find a way to print out my resume (seriously, why do I have to bring one if I've already e-mailed it; stupid interviewing etiquette).

If this doesn't work, I swear to holy hell I'm going to the nearest McDonalds and using my brother as a reference. Fuck this shit man, I'm a destitute motherfucker.
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