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Kino Korner November 25, 2003
Kill Quentin, Kick Coens
By Mark Ames Browse author Email
Page 3 of 4

Three glasses of water. This movie passed through me without bothering me.


I've made a few mistakes here in my movie reviews. Like for example, I didn't hate Bruce Almighty as much as I should have, and I was entertained by Ballistic. Folks, I can tell you why I made those mistakes. I was HIGH! High as a fucking balloon!

Now that I am sober, I can tell you in-advance that I'm about to make another epic error which will cause many of you to reconsider your faith in my reviewing skills. The error is this: I kind of liked Open Range. Does this prove that drugs had nothing to do with my previous errors?

Perhaps I liked Open Range because I bought it specifically expecting it to pump my bile glands into overdrive. Low expectations can do that. It stars Kevin Costner, the blandest-working actor in show business. Costner...somehow he reminds me of a mastectomy. He's that inny-scar, that sphincter-twist where the breast used to be. So why is (or rather was) he so popular? There are just some things about Middleius Americanus that I will never understand and never want to understand.

Open Range is a cowboy movie which pits an evil rancher and his evil sheriff against a small group of free-ranging cattle herdsmen. The free-rangers are led by Robert Duvall, who is compelling in an understated, "genuine" sort of way, and Costner, who, as the formula goes, has a dark past that he doesn't like talking about. Then there's a fat guy who's there for purely pathos purposes (as is his dog), and some little Mexican kid. I don't want to think about what that Mexican kid is doing with three single men roaming the prairies, especially after all this NeverLand business.

For some reason, the evil rancher is an Irish guy -- which historically seems weird because I thought that the Irish, just a generation out of the Famine when this takes place, made up the bulk of the white underclass in 19th Century America.

The rancher doesn't like free-rangers, so he arranges to have the fat guy and his dog killed. Now that's just not nice. So naturally, this gives Duvall and Costner a fair 'n square reason to shoot everybody up.

It sounds formulaic and it is a sort of Unforgiven Lite, but so what. That's not a bad movie to plunder. What's good about Open Range, first of all, is that it takes place in lush green foothills, and not the awful dry prairies of Texas, like so many shitty Westerns. It was nice to see that lush green, to think that some of it might still be left in my rodina.

The showdown developed slowly, which I also liked. The cowboys didn't swagger and engage in numerous shootouts. People don't like to get into even half-fair shootouts. They look for ways out, they look for ways of defeating the enemy with all odds on their sides. So a real gun battle like this really would take time to unfold. And the actual shootout in Open Range is great -- it's confusing, it takes a long time, and most of the bullets miss their targets.

The really bad part -- and it's REALLY bad -- is Annette Benning. It's not so much that her crow's feet were terrifying -- it looked like Poe's Raven was in charge of her makeup and it just couldn't keep its claws to itself -- it's just that she's a ridiculously bad actress. Every time she appeared, she queefed on the screen. She's so awful, I wouldn't want to wendel her with my enemy's unit.

If Annette Benning bothers you as well, then here's my advice. Near the end of the movie, after the shootout ends (and you'll know when it ends), do what I did and pull the movie out of your DVD player. Or flee from the theater. I mean fast. Take your date by the arm and drag her if you have to. Step on toes, climb over seats, I don't care -- do what it takes, but GET THE HELL OUT OF THE THEATER NOW!!!


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