3:10 to Yuma (James Mangold, 2007)

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Awesome Welles
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#26 Post by Awesome Welles » Wed Aug 22, 2007 7:29 am

Although I have yet to see Romper Stomper I must admit I do like LA Confidential, yet this film seems to be the general Russel Crowe performance, damaged man, chip on his shoulder, gravelly voice, uber masculine. I thought his performance in A Beautiful Mind was not very well measured and hammy, similar performances in (which the trailers alone put me off) Master and Commander and that boxing film which the title escapes me. Those gravelly, masculine, damaged performances seemed to reach their peak with Gladiator and then went mouldy onwards. Proof of Life anyone? I think his only really good performance has been The Insider in which, seemingly, he played a human.

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#27 Post by David Ehrenstein » Wed Aug 22, 2007 9:19 am

GringoTex wrote:How did this version handle the bar scene where Wade seduces Emmy? (the original's, of course, being one of my all-time favorite scenes)
Just a sleazy come-on. Nothing to distinguish it cinematically in any way.

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#28 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Aug 22, 2007 10:01 am

Antoine Doinel wrote:
FSimeoni wrote:I just don't get, with his public behaviour and his films (mainstream audiences must see this?) becoming stinkier by the minute, how Crowe is still making such high profile movies.
Because he (inexplicably) puts women's asses in the seats. Despite his PR issues, a large portion of the female population still consider him some sort of awe-inspiring representation of all things masculine.
That reminds me of a funny story. When I was at a class at University around the time Gladiator had just come out on DVD I overhead one of the girls in the class chatting to the, also female, lecturer and saying how she was totally enamoured of Russell Crowe until she saw that opening scene of his character running his hands through a field of wheat. She said how she was totally turned off by him from then on because she wasn't attacted to men with "stubby fingers!"

Very fickle of her! But it stuck with me because a couple of days before I'd been listening to Ridley Scott's commentary track where he described how they had used a stand-in for that shot! So they weren't even Russell Crowe's 'stubby fingers'! I bet the girl is kicking herself for crossing him off her list so easily! :wink:

I didn't say anything as not only would it have been a nerdy correction, I would probably have gotten punched repeatedly in the face in return! :)

I agree about all the L.A. Confidential, Insider and Romper Stomper praise for Crowe - I'd also add Proof for both Crowe's and Hugo Weaving's performances. Sadly I'm so far behind with my 'to watch' pile I haven't yet seen Master and Commander, but I did manage to pick up Proof of Life on DVD for £2 a couple of weeks ago...hopefully it will be worth the expense! :wink:

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#29 Post by Andre Jurieu » Wed Aug 22, 2007 2:46 pm

FSimeoni wrote:Those gravelly, masculine, damaged performances seemed to reach their peak with Gladiator and then went mouldy onwards. Proof of Life anyone?
I thought he was pretty low-key and restrained in Proof of Life, with none of the usual unnecessary bravado he typically applies.

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#30 Post by Polybius » Sat Sep 01, 2007 2:02 am

That was my impression, too. I rather like both of these guys.

And the only really bad performance Crowe's given, at least by my lights, was in the generally wretched A Beautiful Mind. Connelly richly deserved her Oscar for rising above the treacly swill, but it sucked even capable hands such as Crowe and Ed Harris under. If Crowe had actually won the Oscar he was supposedly a lock for, it would have been on a par with Hanks and Julia Roberts' wins for sheer embarrassment for the AMPAS.

Insofar as that's still possible.

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#31 Post by foggy eyes » Sat Sep 08, 2007 7:01 pm

Bordwell's blog entry on Mangold, MacKendrick and the film itself.

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#32 Post by Jem » Sat Sep 08, 2007 8:03 pm

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#33 Post by Roger_Thornhill » Sat Sep 08, 2007 11:15 pm

Just saw this tonight and overall I'm very impressed with it. I am admirer of the original Delmer Daves film and while it's a bit more over-the-top than the original with the huge body counts and wild action sequences, I was fully engrossed in it the entire time. Although I think the novelty of seeing a new Hollywood Western played a significant role in my enjoyment of the film.

Anyways, I agree with David that it relied excessively on close-ups and medium shots, like most Hollywood films these days, unfortunately. However, I never got the impression that Mangold was aping Leone's style. Not at all. I was just glad he didn't employ the over-used shaky handheld camerawork that has become all the rage these days (although it's somewhat used in the action sequences).

Bale is fantastic, as usual, and I liked Crowe as well. But if you're not a fan of Crowe and hate his macho, flashy performances you'll hate him in this. But! The excellent supporting cast of Peter Fonda, Ben Foster, and Dallas Roberts may make up for Crowe haters out there.

It was also interesting to me that the cowardly, asshole company subordinate that you often see in the movies is more nuanced and human. He can rough it up just like the rest of the boys and is not portrayed as some greedy bastard that ends up being a foil to Crowe to make him look better. No, that's Peter Fonda's job and he's fantastic as a bounty hunter hired to protect the cash that Crowe's gang stole. Foster is also very good as Crowe's loyal liuetenant and borderline psychopath.

Do I like it more than the original? No, and I can see why David dislikes the 180 that occurs in the film but I actually sort of liked it. I didn't quite expect it as it ends differently than the original. Good Western but I imagine "The Assassination of Jesse James" will be the better Western of the two.

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#34 Post by ranaing83 » Sat Sep 08, 2007 11:56 pm

Henry has been dead for 25 years, but Peter was great in the film. :)

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#35 Post by Mr Sausage » Sun Sep 09, 2007 12:11 pm

ranaing83 wrote:Henry has been dead for 25 years, but Peter was great in the film. :)
All fixed.

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#36 Post by Roger_Thornhill » Sun Sep 09, 2007 7:45 pm

ranaing83 wrote:Henry has been dead for 25 years, but Peter was great in the film. :)
Oops, I just watched Fort Apache the night before 3:10, got my Fonda's all mixed up. :D

Thanks for fixing it Mr. Sausage.

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#37 Post by Richard--W » Sat Sep 22, 2007 1:58 pm

The original 3:10 TO YUMA (Columbia, 1957) is a plaintive outlaw ballad that unfolds like a chamber play. I like its simplicity, the time it takes to layer a story and flesh out characters. The motivations are personal. It's about real things that can make or break a man -- like saving your livestock from dying in a drought, being a good role model to your kids, living up to your wife's expectations, putting food on the table, paying the bills, persevering through adversity, taking a risk, and doing the right thing in the face of all the temptations to do wrong. If the rancher Dan Evans stumbles just once, if he takes the easier path, he'll be no different than the killer Ben Wade he's escorting to prison. Evans is really tempted, too, because Wade knows how to tempt him. These two men are opposite sides of the same coin, and they recognize each other as such. The moral dilemma and temptation to sell out is carefully sustained right up to the closing moments giving the film a depth and emotional resonance few westerns can match.

There are many understated moments that draw us into the film and involve us in the characters. When Alice Evans looks at her husband, her expression is an accusation and a disappointment, even though her words deny it. When the sheriff organizes a posse, one woman refuses to wake up her husband, who is sleeping off a drunk, knowing that he's foolish enough to join the posse and get himself killed. Watch how Ben Wade seduces the achingly lonely saloon girl, stuck in a dusty old town for the rest of her life if someone doesn't take her away from there. She'd follow Ben Wade anywhere, even though he gets the color of her eyes wrong. Instead, she opens the coach door that will take him to the train, her head nodding in agreement to his hollow promises while her expression is one of profound resignation.

3:10 TO YUMA represents the best that the American western can achieve in the hands of film makers who know how. It is Delmar Daves best film, and one of the great westerns of the 1950s (that's saying a lot). No silly premise, no slap-happy gunfights, no trick shooting, no contrivance or artifice, just down-to-earth grit. The two leads -- Van Heflin and Glen Ford -- play off each other's similarities, sounding out weaknesses and strengths in quiet competition. Heflin seems to inhabit his worried rancher like a tailored suit of clothes, a simple man who works hard, hopes for the best, and has a lot to prove to his family. Glen Ford's ingratiating performance as the killer outlaw is as much a revelation as Henry Fonda's villain in Once Upon A Time In the West.

A remake has to find new avenues within the story so it won't be a carbon copy. I understand that, and I welcome a fresh approach, but I had hoped for a more disciplined and insightful script. The new version throws in a kitchen sink's worth of political correctness masquerading as subtext. The scenes it has in common with the original shrivel in comparison, especially in the interaction with women characters who are marginalized before dropping out of the film completely. Unfortunately, the new material is no improvement. While the journey from Contention to Bisbee is prolonged, with two camping scenes and altercations first with bloodthirsty Indians and then with bloodthirsty miners, seems like one irrelevant distraction after another has been substituted for the main conflict between the posses and the outlaws. There's is no logical reason for every supporting and background character to be a vicious opportunist eager to kill the posse for money. They are well-matched to Ben Wade gang of outlaws, who are extreme sadists more in the tradition of spaghetti westerns than the American western. Worse, the twists and turns in the last few minutes violate the story's own logic and are not believable.

Whoever is responsible for deconstructing Dan Evans did not think through all the neurotic changes made to the character. Instead of being a stoic rancher, Evans is a chronic whiner who lost a leg in the Civil War, shifting the emphasis from a morality dilemma to a plea for sympathy. He thinks of himself as a failure because the war never gave him the chance to be a hero. How believable is it for a man who is missing one leg to jump off buildings, run, fall, roll and get up as easily as if he had two legs? At first we are asked to sympathize and excuse his failings because of his handicap, and then he performs like an acrobat. In his last moments, Dan Evans is pathetic, a beggar, and a failure whom the outlaw feels sorry for. In making the male lead politically correct to appease the skirts in Hollywood and the men who wear them, the remake dumbs down the story and diminishes its poignancy. This is my strongest objection, and it's a big one.

The original film provides romance that can be eroticized, suspense that can be intensified, action that can be prolonged, and internal tensions that can be probed by ensemble acting. But the remake is badly misdirected by James Mangold who blows every opportunity to improve and elaborate. His errors in judgment begin with the tone and attitude of the piece. There are no highs and lows here. Every moment is played at full throttle, proclaiming its self-importance. There are no gentle or amiable people: even the smallest part is played for aggression. There are no quiet interludes: when the action lets up, there is still plenty of noise. The original doesn't seem dated because of its dramatic minimalism. The audience is allowed to participate in those pregnant silences. In the remake, Mangold makes certain there are no pregnant silences.

One of the great pleasures of the western genre is its attention to portraiture and landscape. But don't look for horsemen riding across pictorial vistas to establish a sense of how men relate to the landscape. There are no wide angles in this western. The Bonanza Creek Ranch is one of the prettiest locations in New Mexico, but Mangold relegates scenery to a blurry backdrop for talking heads -- or cussing, threatening heads. How can the western landscape be a presence in a film assembled almost entirely in mediums and tights? With the camera that close, there is no reason to be racking focus in the middle of a shot all the time. I've never seen a feature film with so many shallow depth and rack-focus shots. There's a way to group people so that the eye is led into the frame toward what's important, but Mangold's crowd shots are just chaotic, and sometimes, so are his groupings of twos and threes. Although the cutting is faster and the angles are closer, there is considerably less going on in the remake than in the original.

I expected costumes, props, and accoutrements to be accurate to the period and sensible to the circumstances. Forget it. Ben Wade and his sidekick wear outfits on the silly side of historical inaccuracy. There are many similar offenses. After the high standard for accuracy established by TOMBSTONE (1993) and subsequent westerns, the remake of 3:10 TO YUMA is a regression.

The American west was full of immigrants, so I welcome foreign actors with foreign accents playing westerners. But I do wish these new versions of the characters were not so one-dimensional and neurotic. Female characters are dismissed as quickly as possible. Russell Crowe was a good choice for Ben Wade. He has the sneaky charm that the character requires. Christian Bale is one of the most talented actors working today, but his Dan Evans shrivels up compared to Van Heflin's. It is partly the writing and partly the actor that undermines the emotional center of this remake. Bale gives his all, but he is miscast. The part demands an American actor whose stoic presence reflects a feel for the period and the life, the time and the place, someone like Tommy Lee Jones or Kevin Costner or Sam Elliott or Powers Boothe or Chris Cooper or even the excellent Thomas Haden Church (star of the recent BROKEN TRAIL). With a different actor, this remake would be a much better film, and its flaws would be easier to overlook.

Perhaps 3:10 TO YUMA was the wrong classic to remake for today's audience. The original is a character driven suspense drama that achieves eloquence through dramatic minimalism. The remake cuts to another angle every 3 seconds, stepping on its own beats and never allowing the audience to feel the moment. Nevertheless, Mangold was wise to keep the story, such as it is, up close, fast, and bombastic. The audience had a good time with the over-the-top spaghetti western violence and non-stop action. Audiences are not critical if they are exposed to a lot of action, and this remake has action.

If the box-office success of this slovenly mess helps to get more westerns financed and distributed in cinemas, it will serve a good purpose. Personally, I could not be more disappointed. Let's hope the next western gets a better script and a director who comprehends the genre he's working in.

Richard W
(who lived 18 years in southern Arizona situated between Contention and Yuma)
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#38 Post by Richard--W » Sat Sep 22, 2007 3:13 pm

David Ehrenstein wrote:the movie is a perfect example of what Manny Farber calls "The Parade Float."

Nary a nanosecond is allowed to evolve simply and easily. Everything on screen is there to impress .

The camera is on top of the actors from first to last -- peering though every piece of the sets in rack focus suggesting that Sergio Leone has risen from the grave and bitten Mangold in the neck. But this "Renfield" thinks it knows better than his master. And so instead of visual choreography (which would have given us a fucking longshot once in a while for crying out loud!!!) we get fake "psychological realism" in terms of character.

In other words the leads have "sides" --but only when it suits Mangold. As a result the finale features a 180 so severe as to give one whiplash.

If the western is indeed dead,such zombified necrophilia won't revive it.
Or maybe it will revive more zombified necrophilic remakes. I agree with your analysis above.
David Ehrenstein wrote:'d have been happy with Charles Marquis Warren compared to this.
I hear you. Warren's cheapest and stiffest B westerns look better than this remake.

It really is a slovenly mess. Mangold best moments don't measure up to Delmar Daves direction of the original. But audiences are not critical. They respond to the action, which covers up a multitude of mistakes.

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#39 Post by Richard--W » Tue Sep 25, 2007 3:39 am

The more I think about this film the less I like it, so I revised my review in the post above, in case anyone is interested.

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#40 Post by Antoine Doinel » Wed Sep 26, 2007 10:20 pm

Saw this tonight and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. Though I have not seen the original, I thought Mangold's film was just fine and I'm quite suprised at the criticisms of quick cutting levelled at the film. Having just walked out of Shoot 'Em Up last week, a film that is almost exlusively jump cuts and hard close ups, 3:10 To Yuma felt like a breath of fresh air. The moments where Mangold does choose to go hard into the characters faces is simply because Bale and Crowe say a lot in many scenes with looks. Indeed, much of the respect they build for each other is unspoken. Also, Mangold does a great job is subtly weaving in various threads without harping on them: the mythology vs. the reality of violence; the murky territory of moral judgment; and how both "good" and "bad" men can reach salvation. The only insincere moment are political overtones in the torture sequence but thankfully that doesn't last long.

The only thing that didn't work for me was the wonky secondary character casting. Gretchen Mol was pretty well wasted and the Luke Wilson cameo was distracting. Both roles could've been played by non-celebs and the film wouldn't have been the less for it.

Anyhow, this was a lot better than Walk The Line but I'm still hoping that Mangold goes back to the territory and minimal style he explored in his debut, Heavy.

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#41 Post by Richard--W » Thu Sep 27, 2007 1:40 pm

A spoonful of action helps the perversity go down, I guess. The director who undermines the ideals and reverses the subtext, sissifies the male hero, adds electrocution, burning people alive, and a hyper-hostile tone to 3:10 To Yuma clearly does not understand what made the original film the enduring classic that it is, nor does he respect it. The only contribution this remake makes is stupidity. It's a stupid idiotic perverse movie. After this offense, I hope Mangold will leave the western alone from now on.

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#42 Post by Grand Illusion » Sat Sep 29, 2007 1:20 pm

The action was poorly choreographed, but the acting was excellent. I really had no problems with the characters... until the end. The character choices in the latter half of the third act had me scratching my head, trying to come up with motivation where there clearly was none.

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#43 Post by noelbotevera » Fri Mar 07, 2008 2:52 am

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#44 Post by Nothing » Sat Mar 08, 2008 10:59 pm

This was for the most part watchable, if bland, but surely no-one could have been impressed by the cookie-cutter Hollywood cop-out of the finale.

"But the character must have an arc!"
"There has to be redemption!"
*sound of scribbling notes and brain-cells dissolving into the ether*

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