Gold Star (2016) Victoria Negri

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Gold Star (2016)
Written and directed by Victoria Negri
Produced by Effie Fradelos, Katie Maguire, Jose Del Carmen Martinez, Victoria Negri, Carlos Oller, Zachary Silverstein, Ellyn Vander Wyden, Greg White
Edited by Chris Steele-Nicholson
Cinematography by Saro Varjabedian
Music by Ben Levin
(1:30)

In the opening shot of Gold Star we see a young woman running, but we’re not sure why. Her breathing is labored and the camera captures her only from the neck up, so we’re immediately asking questions: Is she exercising? Evading someone? Some thing?

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Bone Tomahawk (2015) S. Craig Zahler

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Bone Tomahawk (2015)
Directed and written by S. Craig Zahler
Produced by Iain Abrahams, Jonathan Feuer, and twelve more
Cinematography by Benji Bakshi
Editing by Greg D’Auria, Fred Raskin
Music by Jeff Herriott, S. Craig Zahler
Costumes by Chantal Filson
Caliber Media Company
(Amazon streaming; 2:13)

In discussing Johnny Guitar a few weeks ago, I mentioned that when the film was released in 1954, Westerns were already in a steady decline. At one time, Westerns reigned supreme in American movie theaters (and later on television). In 1952, 80 Western movies were produced in America. In 1953 that number slipped to 72 and in 1954 plunged to 52. We’ve seen Westerns make small comebacks over the decades since then, but – the Coen brothers and Quentin Tarantino notwithstanding – Westerns are pretty rare. If my research is accurate, only 12 Westerns were released in the U.S. in 2015. One of those is Bone Tomahawk, a Western far too many people haven’t seen, but should.

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Hard Times (1975) Walter Hill

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Hard Times (1975) Walter Hill
Amazon streaming (now expired) (1:33)

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I’ve been a fan of director Walter Hill for years, but until recently I’d never seen his first film Hard Times. Charles Bronson (above) plays Chaney, a drifter who gets where he’s going by slipping on and off boxcars in the Depression era, picking up a few bucks in pick-up fights before moving on to the next town. A shifty promoter called Speed (James Coburn, below right) sees how Chaney’s fighting skills could help him get out of the financial hole he’s in with a loan shark.

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I can’t top Kristina’s excellent review of this film over at Speakeasy, so I highly recommend you check it out if you want to know more.  Instead, I’d like to dwell for just a moment on Walter Hill.

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