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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Movie Review- Hell or High Water

See? Picturesque, right?

Intro

Even though writing is one of the most fundamental elements involved with the film making process, I don't normally pay attention to the names of who writes the films I see. As with most of your typical adult males, my first impressions are generally based off of sight. But sometimes when the pretty, flashy, lights have lost their allure, I'll notice that a good story made everything possible with a film, which makes me look a little closer. What I've recently noticed, is the particular writing skills of Taylor Sheridan. More than just a writer, Sheridan is popular for his role as Sheriff David Hale on Sons of Anarchy's first two seasons, before (pointless SPOILER ALERT!!!) getting run over in the third season premier. He has however written last year's phenomenal Sicario, it's upcoming sequel Soldado, his soon to be released directorial debut that looks interesting (Wind River), and this year's highly acclaimed Hell or High Water. Based off of the two screenplays into films that he's written and I've seen,this guy gets drama and the depths of the people he's writing about. Mr. Sheridan, you have my undivided attention. Show me what you got!

Hell or High Water

Hell or High Water comes during a time in Hollywood when most of this year's movies temporarily excite and/or leave us feeling empty inside. This movie's story is so basic and natural, that it proves that good writing can still make film watching fun and substantial, instead of just being a money-wasting chore to see. First of all, the look and feel is so picturesque, that it reminds me of an old western painting, but fluid and in high definition. Nick Cave's and Warren Ellis' (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, The Road) most recent collaborative score, and a collection of classic country tracks, also immerse the viewer into the film's West Texas Settings (actually filmed in Eastern New Mexico). There's a hovering theme about poverty and its effects on the people living through it. The local banks hold all of the cards, and they've got plenty of billboards to nail that fact home. What the theme does as well, is that it splits good people onto either sides of the law.

Characters like Jeff Bridges' (Tron Legacy) and his fellow Texas Ranger Gil Birmingham's (The Twilight saga), are eerily similar to their outlaw counterparts of Chris Pine (Star Trek Beyond) and Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma 2007). We know who's ultimately right and who's ultimately wrong, but Sheridan's writing flows so well through everybody, that sometimes the lines get blurred. That's why the film's little moments are so important; Because we know that sadness and loss are inevitably coming around the corner. Pine and Foster are perfectly cast as brothers who love and vex each other simultaneously. Their relationship is real, and all of the little touches of humor between them feels more genuine because of it. Same thing with Bridges and Birmingham; They rib each other constantly, yet there's always an unspoken high amount of respect in their partnership. The tension grows with each scene as both sides get more desperate in their pursuits. It's so good that by the time Hell or High Water reaches its subdued and non-glitzy climax, it almost feels Shakespearean in all of its Texas twang.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, of Hell or High Water

The Good- Each robbery has a different flavor, the gas station douche bag beat down, the t-bone Nazi waitress, the casino Comanche, the samaritan car chase, and the hillside stand off.

The Bad- Only 102 minutes?! This could have went on forever, which is actually good.

The Ugly- This is the third film in the Jeff Bridges mumble-mouth trilogy this decade (True Grit 2010, R.I.P.D.). He's fun every time, so take it as you will.

Final Thoughts

Hell or High Water is the best film that I've seen so far this year, and it deserves more than just universal praise. It deserves to make a ton of more money than the plastic crap that we've been subjected to all year. Even the third act has a proper ending. Let's see the Ninja Turtles do that. Maybe Sheridan can write for them as well? Better yet, he's just fine where he's at.
Rating- 9 out of 10

Hell or High Water (2016)

R | 1h 42min | Crime, Drama | 26 August 2016 (USA)

A divorced dad and his ex-con brother resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family's ranch in West Texas.

Director: David Mackenzie
Writer: Taylor Sheridan (screenplay)

Stars: Dale Dickey, Ben Foster, Chris Pine 


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