November 24, 2008

Appaloosa

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/cc/Appaloosaposter08.jpg


Appaloosa
is a 2008 American Western film based on the 2005 novel of the same name by crime writer Robert B. Parker. The film is directed by Ed Harris and is co-written by Harris and Robert Knott. Appaloosa stars Harris alongside Viggo Mortensen. The film premiered in the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival, was released in select cities on September 19, 2008 and expanded into wide-release on October 3, 2008.

Plot

Based on the 2005 Western novel by Robert B. Parker, Appaloosa is centered around lawman Virgil Cole (Ed Harris) and his deputy Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen), two friends who are hired to defend a lawless 1880s town from a murderous rancher (Jeremy Irons). Their efforts are disrupted and friendship tested by the arrival of a woman (Renée Zellweger).

The movie shares many narrative similarities with the 1959 Western Warlock, directed by Edward Dmytryk and starring Henry Fonda, Anthony Quinn and Richard Widmark. There is also another Western named The Appaloosa with Marlon Brando, but it shares no relation with Harris' film.

Cast

Bob Harris, Ed Harris's father, has a small role, as Judge Callison.

Production

Appaloosa marks Ed Harris's second outing as director, following the 2000 biopic Pollock, in which he also starred; Harris co-wrote and co-produced Appaloosa along with Robert Knott.[1] The budget for Appaloosa was $20 million[2] and filming took place from October 1, 2007 to November 24, 2007 in Sante Fe, New Mexico and Austin, Texas.[3] Harris was drawn to Robert B. Parker's bestselling novel because it was constructed like a classic Western, but included crime themes still relevant to contemporary society. He purchased the rights to the novel and hired Parker to adapt his book into a screenplay.[4] Harris, who also stars as Virgil Cole, wanted to make the film in the old-fashioned style of such films as 3:10 to Yuma, My Darling Clementine and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, rather than a revisionist approach. Harris also acknowledged the challenge of making a successful Western movie, saying, "You can count on one hand, or maybe half a hand, the number of Westerns that were box office successes in the recent past."[5] Production of Appaloosa slowed when New Line Cinema and producers became concerned with the box office prospects of a Western during a season with such anticipated blockbusters as The Dark Knight. Diane Lane originally signed on to play Allie French, but left the project when the film stalled. The movie got back on track due to the success of the Deadwood series on HBO and the film remake of 3:10 to Yuma. Renée Zellweger was signed to replace Lane.[4]

Harris enjoyed working with Viggo Mortensen in A History of Violence and had him in mind for the part of Everett Hitch. While publicizing A History of Violence at the Toronto Film Festival, Harris handed Mortensen a copy of the novel and asking him to read it and consider playing the part. Harris said it was "a totally awkward proposition, handing another actor a book like that,"[5] but Mortensen agreed to take the part after responding well to the character and the relationship dynamic between the two characters.[5] Harris said he wanted to make the film because he was drawn to the "unspoken comradeship"[5] of Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch. "Though they've been hanging out for years, they're not too intimate, but they know each other. Aside from in sports, or being a cop, I can't think of any other situation where a friendship like that is called for."[5] Mortensen felt similarly, saying, "I like to ride horses, and I like Westerns, but there are a lot of bad ones. What set this one apart is just how the characters are a little more guarded."[5] Mortensen studied Frederic Remington drawings and other images of the American Old West to get into character and master the proper way to stand during a gunfight.[6]

Reception

Early reviews of Appaloosa from the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival were lukewarm. Brad Frenette of the National Post said "the film feels double its 114 minute running time, but Appaloosa redeems itself through unexpected moments of levity, Harris's steady direction and the god amongst men, Lance Henriksen."[7] Frenette also said Renee Zellweger is "mostly a bust"[7] and Viggo Mortensen "oozes cool."[7] Popjournalism reviewer Sarah Gopaul said Harris and Mortensen spend too much time talking and discussing their feelings, which she said made the film too light for the gritty Western genre. Gopaul said Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen delivered decent performances and that Renee Zellweger's character has more depth than the traditional romantic interest in a Western.[8] The New Yorker’s David Denby called it “a well-made, satisfying, traditionalist Western with some odd quirks and turns.”[9]



Source: Wikipedia

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