The western genre was once a proud staple of the cinematic landscape. On par with dramas and musicals, in their 50’s heyday dozens of westerns were produced each year in the United States alone. They were like the comic book movies of their day. But people have been predicting a saturation point for the comic book movie boom for years, and that seems to be what eventually happened to the western; these days you might get two or three of note, and in an unlucky year one of those might be A Million Ways to Die in the West. The Homesman is here in an effort to bring the genre’s reputation this decade back in line with films like Django Unchained and True Grit. And co-writer/director/star Tommy Lee Jones (of Small Soldiers fame) exercises quite a bit of ambition in the movie’s execution.
The deck was stacked against Begin Again from the very beginning. As I sat down in my seat at the Arclight in Hollywood, my pen broke. Truly frustrating, especially for an habitual note-taker like myself. I mean sure, nothing broke that was essential to the pen’s designed purpose – I can still write with it – but come on. Then Don comes up to do his spiel. Don. Hah! Don is a joke, and he knows it. Acts like he owns the place. So I think it’s pretty clear that I’m not in the mood for a light-hearted music movie. Surprisingly, the latest film from John Carney (Once) went a long way toward cheering me up.