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Western Watchins #126

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Something like this starts and you know inevitably that it’s somehow got to end. Justified began in 2010 and over the course of six seasons took us all on a ride through the hills and hells of Eastern Kentucky with almost eighty episodes of the best television you’ll ever get a goddamn look at. Most of my Watchins are around twelve or thirteen hundred words long and feature a dozen pictures or so. I could write ten times as many words and not fully explain my appreciation for this show or properly caress you into watching it if you haven’t already done so.  I could post a panoply of pictures to expose you to the epic shit-tons of guest stars piled high upon an already outstandingly impressive main cast, but again, my thoughts on the images might not move you to invest the time to see any of them in action. So I’m left, here at the end of my day, seated and solemn like a distiller ready to boil down this meaty masterpiece unto its purest and most convincingly flavorful form. Justified had seasonal story arcs and a few more series spanning main arcs but the soul that lived in the heart that beat in the breast of this, the lord of all lawman shows, is one simple, time tried relationship between two men.

Marshal Raylan Givens and outlaw Boyd Crowder.

 

 

Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins in what might be the performances of their lives. These two were born for these roles harder than Ben Affleck was born to never play a superhero. For more than half a decade, Oly and Gogs took each other to so many different deadly dances that the will they/won’t they/wtf-did-they-just-do dynamic almost takes on a life of its own. And this story is brimming full with life. Several lives in fact. And the hero and the villain are touched by them all and touch them all back, some more violently than others. But for a white hat chasing a black hat in a gray world kind of show populated by guns and gusto Justified never slips into cliché, is rarely predictable and remained fresh throughout its run. Henry Winkler never once appeared in an episode because no sharks ever needed jumping. In a world of Dexters and Sons of Anarchys that sought to convince us the only way to write a series finale was to hire writers who had never seen the show, Justified‘s end was a happy slap upside the head reminder that great entertainment still wanders the wilderness along with lumberjack serial killers and the worst, unnecessarily computer generated biker gang boss in history. And unlike Jax Teller’s last, this ride was always fun.

There were of course serious times and sentimental ones and a heavy sadness grew in every dark corner of those Kentucky hollers we came to love over the years but in the end there was always at least a little bit of hope. Elmore Leonard, who created Raylan Givens and wrote the original novella upon which this show was based, liked his good guys to win even if things got bad along the way. Breaking Bad began as a Disneyland fantasy only to end in a damnation that forced you to feel every damnable act. All merriment was exorcised from that show like a demon. Thankfully the better angels of Justified‘s nature proved “gritty” could still exist in a narrative that kept well outside of the godawfully depressing. Justified always managed to keep its heart light which is an admirable undertaking considering that heart’s size. I rode along for all the concern and for all the carefree too, and I’d enjoyed every country mile. It was mentioned, at least a few times, that Raylan and Boyd used to dig coal together. By sticking close to those two, the producers made sure that no matter how big the world felt you realized this tale didn’t much meander outside of one small town. You moved in as a new resident during the first episode and were sad to be packing up and moving on come the last.

But knowing when to go, and doing that on your own terms, brings its own joy. And that’s why weekly editions of Western Watchins end here today.

I know. I can hear the collective gasp of all four of you as you wonder what you’ll do for five minutes every Thursday morning now but don’t worry…I’m not done writing. Not even done with reviewing westerns. But there is a time for everything and now these wonderful reviews have had theirs. I kept my promise and never once stopped a one of them once I had begun. Sometimes they were fantastic, a few times I was delightfully surprised, more often than I’d wanted all I got was garbage and the stench of that pile wasn’t worth the sniffin’. I’d almost wrapped things up at 100 with Josey Wales but a new reader left me a simple comment that encouraged to me to continue. My words are marked with humor and their own inspiration. That’s a gift I don’t take lightly, a blessing I gladly share and the drive to do so weighed on me so much that the thought of ending my Watchins would bring furrows to my forehead and knots to my gut. I had to understand that it’s not the subject matter being discussed as much as it is the man behind the discussion who truly matters. I’m proud that for more than two years I’ve used my beloved westerns as a springboard to crack jokes and wax poetic about everything under the sun. I’m proud that I’ve made you laugh, moreso that I’ve made you think. You keep on coming back here and, in one manner or another, I’ll keep doing both. Now, before we ride off…

Justified is an undeniably outstanding show and one that’s incredibly special to me on a personal level to boot. My wife and I started watching this show with a dear friend of ours and finished it off the exact same way. That man is one of only three in this world I know who, beyond any shadow, would be there for me no matter the cost to himself physically, emotionally or financially. Unplanned, he and I both drained the remaining whiskey from our glasses just as Raylan and his Chief did the same on screen making for one culminating toast I’ll never forget. Then it all ended. Just as it had begun. With Raylan and Boyd on opposite sides of that proverbial coin. How do you even rate the kind of emotion I feel for all of this?

With something as unique as the show itself.

Timothy Olyphant had starred in Deadwood, a glorious show that never got the glorious send off it deserved. This time around I think Sheriff Bullock via Marshall Givens would have none of that. One shining Silver Star then is what I’ll leave here for Justified. The cylinder sits empty, no more triggers need be pulled, the smoke will clear and that star will forever shine. I’ve seen some tremendous T.V. in my day but nothing as good as all this, to say it’s once in a lifetime viewing is not at all an exaggeration.

And I’m not at all exaggerating when I say that it’s been my pleasure to write these 126 reviews, for myself and for all of you. Finding the right place to stop was a decision I did not take lightly and once I’d set my sights on Justified the additional burden of not only giving it a perfect sendoff but one for the Watchins as well sat with no little weight upon my mind. I’d already delayed it by a week and even contemplated pushing it off again doubting my abilities to compose, at the current moment or any future one, the perfect goodbye. But perfect is just an excuse. Wait for perfect and you’ll die having gotten not a damn thing done. I will never write the perfect review. I will never draw the perfect picture. I will never run the perfect race. I will never be the perfect husband. I will never be the perfect friend. And neither will you. But that’s a wonderful reason to get up tomorrow and every day thereafter my dear amigos.

Just to see if, on that particular day, you actually can.

Western Watchins: It’s time

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Got me a busy week ahead, got a busier weekend on the tail end of that and I got a feeling in my gut that next week’s Watchins is gonna be something special. I didn’t feel justified in rushing it out the barn door so allow me instead seven days of delay along with the following insight.

If you’re in a room with other people and you’re the only one talking, no one is listening.

We all know folks like this. The moment they’re in earshot they’re shooting and it’s an unassailable barrage about what they’ve been up to, how great they are and what they’ve been up to makes them even greater. Even preachers, motivational speakers and candidates for public office pause and whether through direct conversation or simply casual eye contact they’ll confirm that you’re hearing them and, more importantly, they are hearing you. Good public speakers acknowledge you, are interested in you. The bad ones aren’t interested in much past the edge of the stage. Someone who listens builds a rapport and earns your respect. Someone who never shuts the fuck up will never be afforded these treasures.

And treasures, I can tell you, they are.

When someone shares with me after an event, in person or online, about how much fun they had, how inspired they’ve become or perhaps just how they felt noticed for the first time in forever, well that right there is my definition of success. And it’s a success more valuable to me than any gold. Anyone can talk into a microphone but it’s another thing entirely to change someone’s life for the better while doing so and have your own life change in return. It’s a tremendous gift, one I’m terribly thankful for, and it all comes back to listening. To the audience as a whole and to each individual heart in attendance.

I’ve stood in front of thousands over the years at so many outings I’ve lost count. As an established attention whore my breast, along with other more manly sounding parts, has always swelled with excitement. Excitement knowing that I’ll soon be bathed in fleeting admiration and cell phone flickerflash sure, but also so excited, more excited, the most excited…that right then and there I’ve got the opportunity to make a lasting connection to anyone within the sound of my voice. I’m here for you, you’re here for me.

My thunder cracks, and the room goes boom!

I stand in front of you all now in much the same way. For years a few of you have faithfully read my reviews. You all know my favorites, the rest and the worst. It’d be a real shame if I went on ranting and never took a moment to quietly see what y’all have to say. That’s important. Bein’ pals is a group effort else we’re just a gang of miscreants with a mal appropriated mouthpiece that never lets another open theirs. Everyone’s got a voice and while we all use them in different ways not a damn one is any better than any other just for being louder. So for a week I’m gonna go silent on the subject of that there western genre instead hoping you will do the kindness of sharing with me, here or on Facebook, what your favorite western is. Or the one that should be avoided at all cost. Or one of both flavors if’n you’re feeling inclined.

Know how very much I appreciate you, the dedicated, that have kept with me for so long. Hell, I don’t even know how many of you are really out there but figure if I just sit still for a bit, I might just find out.

Gracias, mis amigos, muchas gracias.

Haikuesday

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Metal fists clench tight

Towering monsters fall dead

This child’s grin is wide 

Western Watchins Week 26

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Wyatt Earp died on January 13, 1929 in Los Angeles California which means he never had to see Wyatt Earp. Of all the bullets he dodged perhaps this was the greatest of them all. I was not so lucky, but fearlessly reviewing any and all kinds of Westerns leaves me open to attack at times not unlike the great Jim Bowie who, out on some lonely sandbar, was repeatedly shot, stabbed and beaten while still managing to kick all kinds of ass. And now so too shall I, not with a famous knife but with my famous words.

If any movie ever deserved to be left bleeding in the alley behind a corral this is the one. And terrible as Wyatt Earp was stop and remember that it was almost Tomsbstone! Kevin Costner had been involved with that other Earp-ian flick but left over creative differences. Those differences being everyone at Tombstone wanted to film something memorable and exciting while Costner wanted to film a bowel movement. And with 191 minutes to work with that’s a lot of shit. Even if you find fault with Tombstone‘s faster and at times glossy pace you will miss it once Earp‘s monotony takes the reigns. Every detail of a man’s life, even a great man, need not make it into his biopic. The filmmakers did attempt to paint the man, his friends, his enemies and the conflicts that embroiled them all as less black and white than you’re used to and for that I can salute them but for every interesting tit there was forty five minutes of tat. Boring, boring tat.

You’d be hard pressed to see a more boring Western screenplay realized. A million monkeys with a million typewriters would never come up with this crap because they would die of boredom first. Paint drying on the wall was asked what it thought about Wyatt Earp and said “fuck my life that was boring!”

And if fighting off the boredom wasn’t enough to send you off to the liquor cabinet the casting surely will. Kevin Costner must have read somewhere that the real Wyatt Earp was an emotionless waste of a man and I firmly believe only took the role to spite everyone making the competing film. A film he tried his darnedest to quash. A film that would out gross his by a 2 to 1 margin. They say “pride goeth before the fall” but Costner’s lifeless and real-life vengeance fueled portrayal of Wyatt was less pride and more pride fucking his own mom in the ass and then turning around and giving him a Dirty Sanchez.

It’s that horrendous. Go ahead and try me, watch it and tell me I’m wrong.

For most of the rest of the cast the producers must have sent out this casting call:

“Wanted: People who can say things.”

I’ve been to cold reads that had more personality than some of the scenes in this one. I’m thinking everyone wanted to remodel their kitchen or a free trip to Arizona or both. Now I can’t fault them. Anyone wants to send me to the old AZ for free I am there. I’ll even appear in Wyatt Earp 2: The Legend of the Hooded Angels if I get a free trip to Arizona. I love that place. I need the desert. I need the warm, dry air. I need those sunsets. I also need to payoff several drinks worth of kindness to my friend Kyle so I get it. But damn people, you’re actors. So fucking act. I know Tom Sizemore has done a lot of drugs and now I know this is probably when he started. You could say they were wooden but I saw Lord of the Rings 2 and those Ents were yelling and throwing rocks and shit so I know everyone involved could have done better or at least yelled and thrown a rock or some shit.

The only person who gave any kind of shit, aside from Gene Hackman who gave a little shit, but the biggest pile of shit given was by far given by one Dennis Quaid in a stunning turn as the awesomely cantankerous Doc Holliday. And he even looks like the guy! See!

(Real Doc Holliday)

(Fake but still fucking amazing Doc Holliday!)

He looks outstanding! Kevin Costner just looked like that asshole from Waterworld in a cowboy hat. In all seriousness, Quaid’s performance was the stuff of thespian legend. It was a poignant powerhouse that left the rest of the film stewing in the outhouse. He lost more than 30 pounds to come off all sickly for goodness sake! He tuburculosified himself so that anyone sitting through this movie would be able to think “yeeesh, I guess it could always be worse” so just look at this pic while you sit there not coughing up your lungs. It’s all you need to know about Wyatt Earp in one screen cap.

There’s Dennis hoping craft services has more whiskey, Sizemore realizing that yes this is where his career starts to die and Costner breathing. Forget any sort of 20th anniversary special edition Blu-ray of this thing next year if Warner Bros. was smart they’d just release a Doc only version and maybe make some of their money back. Funny side note: Dennis Quaid went on to play Bill Clinton in a TV movie.

It’s not so weird once you think about the fact that he’d already been in Wyatt Earp which sucked in the wrong way 😉

So dig up his scenes somewhere and enjoy them. Bury the rest and move on to enjoy the two hours and forty five minutes more of your life than I now have. This film along with The Postman and the aforementioned Waterworld round out Costner’s “Roughly Eight Hours That Will Shit On Your Soul Trilogy”. Did I enjoy this movie? Let’s just say…

Yeah, Wyatt Earp earns 1 round and I probably can’t even be bothered to chamber it. Dennis Quaid however gets 5 rounds. Well damn done sir, I raise a glass tonight to you and to that original damned dicer. May we all be brave or foolish enough to face the life we have left with as much humor and testicular fortitude as you good sirs.

And best to you all as well amigos, ride true till next we meet.

Western Watchins Week 20!

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Do I even need to write this? Is there any doubt this will receive 6 glorious rounds in the cylinder, a score as of yet unrivaled in the history of this humble reviewery? The first answer is “yes”. The second a resounding “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” If you don’t get that punch yourself in the dick for not having seen this already. Or if you’re a girl find someone with a dick and punch them while saying “why Kate you’re not wearing a bustle” and stew in the pain and confusion this will inevitably cause! Tombstone stands as one of the finest Westerns ever made and it almost wasn’t.

Made.

It almost wasn’t made.

Did you not know that either? Agghhhh, don’t make me make you punch yourself or others again! Okay let’s all calm down and put our fists and dicks away at least for the moment. The purpose of this blog is to make you laugh and think and learn something along the way that maybe you haven’t learned just yet. So no harm in not knowing this movie’s minutiae but still penis punching if you haven’t seen it ever. It’s filled with one of the greatest ensemble casts ever assembled plus nearly every line is infinitely quotable. It showcases beautiful sets and scenery and everyone is wearing just about the coolest fucking wardrobe you’ve ever seen. Top it all off with tons of action, and even more heart, and it’s easy to understand why I want to be buried in this movie when I die! In the movie!

Is this unrealistic? No nearly as much as all the expectations surrounding the production of this film. Long story short and off the top of my head Kevin Costner was involved with this and it was headed in a different direction and running into all kinds of shit along the way. So he leaves and the studio almost shuts down the whole thing when along comes Jack “Kurt Russell” Burton to literally save the day. He pretty much goes on to direct the whole thing behind the scenes and gathers so much awesome into a little over two hours it’s not hard to realize why there wasn’t any left lying around for Costner who went off all butt-hurt to make Wyatt Earp.

Now if you haven’t seen Wyatt Earp just step away for a minute and go take a shit. Now stare at that shit for two hours and then keep staring at it for another hour and eleven minutes. That’s pretty much it. No shit. Now I’ll admit I’ve never watched the entirety of the film myself but it’s got some glaring historical inaccuracies in it to round out the boredom from what I hear. And from Mr. Costner what do you expect? Did you see Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves? Kevin’s not even British! And sure, Tombstone has some inaccuracies too..but then it has this!

Is it possible my erection just got an erection? Why yes it is! This movie just squeaks by into reality and we get scenes like this one? That’s some amazing Great Conjunction kinda shit right there can I get an amen?

Thanks for the backup Aughra! Don’t argue with Aughra or she will skull fuck you. I swear. That’s what my buddy Ken over at That F’ing Monkey told me and he, much like this musty muppet here, does not lie! And when I tell you that Tombstone is worth all the time you will ever give it I am not lying either. Did you know Powers Boothe is in this too? And Michael Biehn? Fact: Powers and I were both born on June 1st. And also fact I spent some time in an elevator with Michael Biehn so by the transitive property I was sort of in this movie. Holy shit, a Dark Crystal reference and self gratification all in the same review! And just in case you were thinking “I don’t know, maybe this movie doesn’t have anything in it for me OR anything to do that’s relatable to D&D”. Well if you’re thinking that I’m doing better than Spence and Gus and also I have this for you:

FYI I’m somewhere between Johnny Ringo and Wyatt Earp so I guess I’m sort of Dana Delaney with a knife stump for a hand. BOOM, Walking Dead reference! And that reference alone is far more exciting that the season finale that just aired. It was boring and forced and trite all wrapped up in poorly written and weakly directed. All the things Tombstone isn’t though both feature Merle and really who wouldn’t give their right hand to be in both Tombstone and The Walking Dead?

Okay, I’m done. I’ve been running and imbibing all night and my folks just left town and I’m emotionally compromised so a little or 850 words should be more than good enough.

I said it before and I’ll say it again. 6 superb rounds in the cylinder for the Western miracle that is Tombstone. I could easily watch this in part or whole every week until I died and die a happy man.

Hopefully with my boots on at that.

Till next week then.

 

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