Saturday, September 7, 2013

910. LONE STAR (1996)

Running Time: 134 minutes
Directed By: John Sayles
Written By: John Sayles
Main Cast: Chris Cooper, Kris Kristofferson, Matthew McConaughey, Elisabeth Pena, Clifton James
Click here to view the trailer

NOTE: I've decided that instead of jumping back and forth between oldest movies I have left and newest I have left, I'm just going to start going in reverse chronological order. Therefore, I'm just going to continue backwards from "Lone Star" (the newest film I'd yet to watch) and work toward the front of THE BOOK. I'm doing this because the idea of pitting the 50s films against the 90s films doesn't bode well for the 50s flicks, as I grew up on 90s movies and am more prone to enjoy them. I want the 50s movies to get a better chance at getting in my good graces, therefore I'll do them separate from the 90s. Also, remember that I've set aside twenty-five movies (probably the twenty-five biggest, most popular, most important, best films I had left) to be the grand finale to this whole project, hopefully late next year. That is all...


I can still remember leafing through THE BOOK when I first got it and wondering what this Matthew McConaughey movie was doing in a text entitled "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die". The movie was "Lone Star" and despite growing up in the 90s - consuming anything and everything I could get my hands on, movie-wish - I'd never seen it.

The central plot of the story revolves around a skeleton that is dug up at the beginning of the movie, by a couple of schlubs searching for stray bullet casings on an abandoned rifle range. The only clues on the skeleton are a masonic ring and a sheriff's badge. Current Sheriff, Sam Deeds (Cooper) has a hunch (which proves to be right) that the skeleton belongs to the former, racist, corrupt Sheriff Charlie Wade. Wade was the Sheriff way back when, during a time when racial tensions between Mexicans, blacks and gringos was reaching a boiling point and Wade had a hand in everyone's affairs.  The deputy at the time was Buddy Deeds (McConaughey) - Sam's father - who ended up ousting Wade, taking over and becoming a local legend. The film revolves around Sam's investigation into who killed Charlie Wade, which won't be easy to figure out, considering he had a lot of enemies. There's also subplots, with Sam dealing with pent up, never forgotten issues with his late father and a long lost romance with a former girlfriend, Pilar Cruz (Pena), whom he's reconnecting with; not to mention the underlying racial themes.


Man, I really didn't like this movie! However, let's kick this off with the good and then we'll tackle the bad and the ugly, before putting this baby to bed.

Let's see....good, good good....ah yes, Chris Cooper! Man, I really need to find myself a top notch Cooper flick, because this guy is the shit and I mean that in a good way! This is his second movie in THE BOOK, the other being "American Beauty". I didn't care too much for AB when I reviewed it a couple of years ago and "Lone Star", despite featuring a great Cooper performance, won't do either. No, what I needed was something like "Adaptation" to be in THE BOOK or another, yet unseen, great Cooper movie. Frances McDormand also shows up here for about five - seven minutes, playing the football crazed and in general CRAZED ex-wife of Sam Deeds, and still, somehow manages to hit a home run, proving that she was bringing her A+ game in 1996. The presence of Kristofferson was welcome too, but he really wasn't given enough time to shine, only appearing in flashbacks and getting the short end of the good dialogue stick. As a matter of fact, I have no cast gripes whatsoever, as McConaughey is barely present and everyone else is mediocre to good. I also dug the ending, which reveals that Sam Deeds and his girlfriend are actually brother and sister (well half anyway).

The rest of it was just an absolute BORE and left me, perhaps more than ever, in a state of befuddlement, wondering what in the hell this movie was doing in THE BOOK. What would possess anyone to think that this is one of the 1001 most must see movies of all-time? I think even the fans of the picture would agree that it's not so good that it needs to be included in the company that it's included with. I just do not get it; not in the slightest. It was mediocre at best and even that's a overstatement, as it just wasn't unique enough or special enough to warrant anymore attention than your average movie. For starters, I'm really beginning to hate films that revolve around racial tensions. Maybe you have to be a racist or a minority to get why this theme is so important, but I'm not racist and being preached to that racism is bad and equality is good, gets old after about two minutes. Then there's the whole investigation into who killed Charlie Wade and the whole time I'm thinking, "WHO CARES?!". The flashbacks are never made prevalent enough to make us actually care about who killed who and why, therefore the whole driving force of the movie was put into low gear and I was left struggling to stay awake. Then it ends up being the Hollis character, as if we're actually supposed to be left mouth agape over that revelation. Puh-lease! Oh and the overlapping the flashbacks with the present was a cheap trick and really irritated me for some reason. It seemed like someone thought it'd be a clever idea (probably Sayles) and it wasn't, it just came off as amateurish. And speaking of the flashbacks, they came up with some of the most feeble excuses to cut to flashback that I've ever seen - "Oh lets have Sam go stand in a field and stare out into space and then we can flashback to something that happened in the same field!" - gimme' a break! I'm going to have to do some digging into John Sayles, as I'm almost completely unfamiliar with him, save for this film, but talk about your bad first impressions.

RATING: 3.5/10  Just a big thumbs down. Chris Cooper and cast poured their hearts out, it's just too bad they didn't have a better script to savor. Nuff said!


September 7, 2013  1:18am


  1. Well, you gave me cause for a long pause before I took to keyboard to seriously think about what you said. (There, a nice compliment to set you up for the day)*

    Why? Because I really rate this one.
    So a good pause before I start to disagree with you.
    OK, I need to qualify. It is many years since I saw this.. I had it on video, but it had to go as a space saving exercise, and it is not available on R2 DVD. (Perhaps that is saying something). So perhaps I'm just having fond memories of it?
    Heck, no, I saw it twice when I had it, and liked it, and I'm going to stick with it.

    OK, it is quite a long film, maybe strung out a bit, and I could see it being boring if it didn't grab you. But it did grab me.. and I was enthralled all the way through, loving the atmosphere, the tension and the mood.
    (OK, 'loving the atmosphere' is open to mis-interpretation, as the atmosphere is one of simmering hate and mis-trust. I loved how that unpleasant atmosphere was made palpable.)
    Yes, a good point that 'wandering into a field as looking at the horizon' is perhaps a little corny as an intro to a flashback...But i'd not seen it as such until I saw it there in cold print.
    All in all, sorry to disagree, but easily a 7, perhaps an 8 from me.

    * Hang on.. you probably get this in the evening don't you...

    1. This particular one I got right after I got up, since I'm off today. Usually, I get them in the evening though, yes.

      Well, if I had you stop and think about your own opinions, then I guess I'm writing decent reviews and I WILL take that as a compliment. Thank you.

      I just didn't get the love for this at all. Glad you got something out of it though, as always when we disagree.


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