Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Beautiful! Just beautiful! That's my opinion of "Open Range," Kevin Costner's latest flick While not as expansive as "Dances With Wolves," this is a tightly-scripted tale of two cowboys who live by a code – mostly unspoken, as all the 'good' cowboys know – that motivates them to take on a greedy, immoral cattle baron who hates freegrazers, cowboys who drive small herds across the prairies to market, letting the stock graze where it will.

Needless to say, the antagonist wants 'his' land protected from these dusty gypsy types and their paltry herds so that his and only his cattle can benefit from the prairie grasses.

The plot is simplistic and its been used dozens of times but it still holds a certain beauty and complexity by the nature of its characters, and Costner, alongside Robert Duvall as "Boss" Spiers (sp?) turns in a mesmerizing performance. The whole ensemble performs at such a high level of believability it's impossible not to get caught up in the story.

While one can find a few weak spots along the trail, so to speak, they're hardly worth mentioning. The camera work is impeccable; the acting I've already covered; and the pacing is perfect.

Annette Bening stuns with her performance as a spinster whose brother is the only doctor in town and, therefore, a valuable asset to the clashing opponents - the barbed-wire crew versus the freegrazers.

The good versus evil aspect is not as clearcut as most films of the genre portray, meaning Duvall's and Costner's characters are no saints.

But their cause is righteous and their methods are straightforward, as opposed to the slimy, back-shooting style of the bad guys.

This is definitely a winning film worth spending a few bucks to enjoy.

I'm out.

Got a dinner invitation and all I have to do for my supper is read a chapter or two from a book to my D.

Farewell, live long and prosper.


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