Please distribute this URL as you see fit. By Ted Baldwin
Amusing, isn't it?
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All the Pretty Horses"

It is South-western doings at the middle of the century. From the novel.
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Five possible.
     Billy Bob Thornton has now totally redeemed himself from the Pushing Tin fiasco.

     Working with Matt Damon, whose performance in The Talented Mr. Ripley outshone Kevin Workaday Spacey immensely last year, Thornton delivers a film that will be regarded much more highly in the future than now.

     For some reason, though, people are staying away from this. Maybe it is just not a socially right time for a western film, maybe it is the intentionally tepid panorama of the film, maybe there is no reason.

     Perhaps the film's greatest flaw is that it never really rises above the level of believability - but that is precisely the point. It is not too hard to imagine the situations happening to us, and Thornton makes wise use of that to take us into a moderate journey through hell.

     Secondarily, the passions inflamed by the circumstances yield no resolution - there are no major showdowns in the film - but things happen and tick along at a clockwork pace. Maybe intensifying the story, manipulating its impact would have made it more exciting, but that then pushes it above the realm of real life.

     Henry Thomas shines as the suffering pal who pays for Damon's indiscretions, and Lucas Black expands his repertoire of "off" characters as the lightning rod for a tragic self-inflicted chain of events.

     Flaws in Cole's character are not that great, especially compared to his good ones, but his personal problem is his inability to stay out of harm's way, even when he sees it miles away. I suppose there is a resoluteness about the boy-man as he sets off to find adventure south of the border, but this (apparently family) trait of blindness is why he will ever search for happiness.

     Bruce Dern is the father figure that does not appear in Cole's life until after the journey. Though he does not grant absolution he does dispense justice, and that contrasted with the imprisonment and torture suffered by Cole in Mexico brings a measure of faith back to the good ol' USofA's way of doing things.

     With such a moderate story in evidence, I wonder why anyone would look at "All The Pretty Horses" and go "Boy! There's a great movie waiting to happen!". It just is not slam-bang in any sense of the words - perhaps due to faithfulness to the book, perhaps just to create a western with some pretty horses.

     I am glad to see Thornton has more to offer, and I look forward to his hand in thought provoking drama.

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