Cowboys & Aliens First Thoughts

We interrupt our regularly scheduled moving and television coverage because a dear friend was kind enough to invite me to a pre-screening of Cowboys & Aliens at the nonprofit, ultra-classy American Cinematheque in Santa Monica, followed by a Q & A with director Jon Favreau. What a great way to start playing in LA!

Per Favreau’s request, I’m going to avoid talking about the film’s many twists, turns, and alien designs, but he also requested a spreading of the word, a contributing to the cloud, as it were.

I’m sure they’ll be a lot of comments about the gorgeous sound design and score, the myriad invocations of classic Westerns. (In many ways it’s The Searchers with aliens and a Man With No Name for good measure. This is not at all a bad thing. In fact, if you haven’t seen the films Favreau and his team are referencing, you may have your brain broken by the distinctly different pacing and composition of the filmmaking and storytelling, especially in comparison with more standard tentpole features like the pre-Avengers movies or Avatar.

Something I do want to point out is that in many ways Cowboys & Aliens is a story about who is allowed to have catharsis, who’s allowed to kill the monster. I don’t want to give anything away, but if you’re a regular reader of the blog, go to the cineplex and bring your dialectic mind. Keep asking yourself “Who’s the monster here?” I feel a paper coming on, don’t you? Also, ummmm EXPLOSIONS + ANTHROPOMORPHIC LENS + = WINNING. (Lowbrow fangirl enough?)

A very important Daniel Craig related side note: Favreau said something that I found a little hard to believe. He talked about a new era in film, an end to the rule of the movie star. While speaking to a mostly older audience he said that a lot of young people [advertisers’ primary audience] don’t come to the movies to see Harrison Ford or Daniel Craig. You can’t just use stars to sell movies anymore. As one of those young people, and as a former eight year old girl who insisted to her mother that she was going to marry Han Solo, I was a bit confused. James Bond and Indiana Jones can’t sell a film? Society is doomed.

So, as a public service, I offer Daniel Craig and Catherine Tate’s Comic Relief sketch from a few years ago, which hinges on Craig’s status as a sex symbol in the UK, yet, as Elaine (Tate), his current girlfriend, confides, “He says he’s an actor but I’ve never heard of him.”

There are cowboys guys. And Apaches. And Aliens. And a dog. And movie stars! Let’s rebuild society. I don’t want to live in a world where people don’t go to a movie like this, that harkens back to an older era, casts leading men against type, and aspires to be “a smart dumb movie” (to quote Favreau.)

Progress, regress, or just delicious? I DON’T EVEN KNOW ANYMORE.


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