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The TOP TEN Westerns of ALL-TIME................

Discussion in 'Pop Culture Board' started by Mike Ness, May 30, 2010.

  1. toddus

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    Seconded. Anyone who doesn't find Rooster Cogburn awesome is a communist.

    I disagree on Wayne not being in any really good films. The man who shot Libery Valance and the Longest Day are brilliant. Honorable mentions all go to How the West was Won, The Alamo and Sands of Iwo Jima. There is probably a couple of others I would name but they would arguably be debateable.
     
  2. Nettdata

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    Two Mules for Sister Sarah is one of my favorites that I haven't seen brought up yet.

    [​IMG]


     
  3. lust4life

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    I always enjoy watching The Quiet Man, though more for Barry Fitzgerald than John Wayne.
     
  4. zyron

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    Love this movie. My personal favorite movie made with John Wayne.
     
  5. TexasTornado

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    We're in the spirit world, asshole

    Here is one some of yall should add to your lists: Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid starring James Coburn and Kris Kristofferson, respectively. It's directed by Sam Peckinpah director of The Wild Bunch and Bring Me the Head OF Alfredo Garcia(which could arguably be classified as a Western). It has a great soundtrack entirely by Bob Dylan. The scene when "Knockin on Heavens Door" starts, never fails to give me chills. I love to put on this soundtrack or an Ennio Morricone score while playing some Red Dead Redemption
     
  6. Now Slappy

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    What? Three pages and no mention of The Three Amigos?



    Focus: On a serious note, I'm wondering what you guys/gals would classify the movie Desperado as? Western, or just modern day action film set in Mexico? (And yes I realize it is only part two of the El Mariachi trilogy, but it can and does stand on it's own.)
     

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  7. Obviously5Believer

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    I would be more likely to call it a "neo-western" than a true western. That genre is actually a bit more broad because it can refer to films with classic western elements that don't take place in the west. I like to use it to talk about the films that are set in the contemporary west or somewhere similar (The Proposition comes to mind), but using images and themes that are exemplary of the classic western genre. For instance, if the landscape, in all its barren and foreboding glory, is prominently featured in the cinematography or plot. If there are strong themes of redemption, guilt, justice versus anarchy. Of course there needs to be gunfights, boots, hats, and women. No Country for Old Men is a perfect example of what I'm referring to.

    I'm kind of splitting hairs but there needs to be a distinction between films set in "the old west" and all that time period entails and films that borrow heavily from the classic western genre.
     
  8. BakedBean

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    I actually had a debate (albeit short-lived) about this very subject earlier in this thread, (based on whether NCFOM isn't a true Western) because if you leave the subject of "what is a 'Western'" open enough, the answer is so vague as to water down the genre (i.e., expand the definition enough and Die Hard is a Western as opposed to an action movie (where it truly belongs) beyond salvaging. I would argue that Western setting ends with the beginning on WW1 (meaning US involvement prior to 1917) , which leaves it open to where the "West" actually is open do the 'frontier' in which the USA is still in its own cloud of isolationsism - i.e., if "doughboys are going to Gay Paree during the setting of the story, it's not a Western). Also -and I'm sure I'll be corrected of I'm wrong - a true "western" can't have been set in living memory (today, that is - it wasn't the case when, for instance, 1939 when Stagecoach was made).

    I'd almost be willing to expand to definition of "Western" to include a story (including all media - movies, television, books, etc.,) set in the American West (up to and including the 1920s killing of the last true horseback outlaw Henry Starr - in nonfiction; it kinda killed the mystique of the 'outlaw' when any fucking Mongoloid with a Thompson 1928 could riddle the James-Younger Gang with lead and go buy whiskey with the money in their pockets), where a protagonist is fighting against traditionally anti-Western villains (take that for what you will - professional criminals, what have you), prior to the Stock Market Crash, where your average amateur is reduces to outlawry due to economic circumstance (as opposed to political circumstance - being on the wrong side of a civil war when the shooting stopped).

    I haven't seen "Desperado", but I'm about to put it on my Netflix queue (mail if that's all I can get, and instant if I can get that, so I can watch it right now like the impulsive American I am), and I'll weigh in after I've digested it. That said, after seeing El Mariachi, if it's set in the same time period (after the invention of cellular phones, if not the internet proper), it's a contemporary Western and not 'True Western' - by which I qualify if an Ingram submachine gun (that's a MAC-10 to anybody under 30) is shown in the movie - then you're answer is "no". That's not to say it's a bad movie, just that it's not a true Western, and I suggest you see Unforgiven or any John Wayne movie (other than that Dirty Harry rip-off McClintock) if for nothing else than keeping yourself sane. You'll thank me after:
    Little Bill Daggett/Scar (that's probably not the villain's name in The Searchers, but it's been 10 years, sue me) are deader than haggis and the credits role.
    On reviewing my previous point-of-view regarding "what makes a Western" - which has seriously narrowed in the meantime - NCFOM doesn't qualify as a Western any more than Blood Simple or (and remember, for your own pride if for nothing else, that my disagreeing with you doesn't mean you're wrong; it's just an opinion when it all boils down. All that said, I liked El Mariachi (although I'll have to ask, was that Bad Guy supposed to be Gringo, Peninsulare, Mestizo or Hispanic?), and I've heard only good things about Desperado and some of its sequels. Do any of them feature Salma Hayek exposing any part of her insanely hot naked body that would require a fine on an uptighht, public American beach? That will add extra points to the quality of any movie you suggest in this thread, regardless of the end-result genre (I would watch The Muppets Present: Schindler's List if I got to see Salma with her fingers completely knuckle-deep between the lower-lips of, say, Natalie Portman (or Shakira, or Eva Mendes, or Sarah Silverman, or 'insert any hot/fuckable Latin/Jewish actress)*.




    *That's fully-visible, not implied. I can watch hardcore porn (ethnic at that) for free on my ISP, why would I watch celebs dyke it out for cold hard cash when I don''t have to? (That's not a rhetorical question - if you can point me toward a video of Zoe Saldana tongue-deep in Sarah Shahi's tiny little sharpshooter's target, I'll not only pay money to see it, I'll actually be depressed that the tongue-in-question isn't mine.
     
  9. KIMaster

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    I don't get this discussion about "Desperado". It was a slightly above average action film with a few memorable scenes and characters, (Danny Trejo's knife-throwing assassin being the highlight) horrid pacing in the middle, and a weak conclusion.

    In Robert Rodriguez's trilogy, not only "El Mariachi", but also "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" were superior movies.

    Anyways, BakedBean mentioned a lot of Westerns I have heard get praised in recommendations for that genre. Does something like "The Searchers" or "Stagecoach" hold up to modern viewing standards?
     
  10. Mike Ness

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    I have no idea how you can qualify Desperado as a Western. No cowboys, no sixguns, and no horses. It has to be more that a shoot em up that happens in Mexico or the West to qualify as a Western. I think KIMaster went into it earlier but I'm to lazy to look.

    That being said I have much love for Desperado.

    "This beer tastes like piss."

    "That's cause we piss in it!"
     
  11. Now Slappy

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    I think all of your responses are accurate, and thank you guys for them. I was just curious to see where you all stood on the issue.
     
  12. SBSam

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    I love the original "3:10 to Yuma." It is an incredibly intense psychological thriller. Haven't seen the new one, but the original one is CREEPY. How the outlaw hits on the man's wife... sends chills down my spine. The only thing about it that seems dated is the opening song.

    <a class="postlink" href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkXDLNRVMxY" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkXDLNRVMxY</a>

    It cracks me up every time I hear it. A million times better than that god-awful song at the end of "Gran Torino" though.

    And yes, to me, "Lonesome Dove" is the greatest western of all time.
     
  13. modsquad

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    It gets no historical love, and most people have an opinion on this film without having seen it, but Heaven's Gate is well worth watching. The wardrobes and sets are stunningly accurate. The storytelling and acting is first rate, and the template of foreign languages among the impoverished European settlers is a well executed detail. It's a long movie that doesn't move with blistering action, it behaves more like a full season of a tv show. That aside, the only reason I can think of why it was crucified critically is because the bad guys won... the bad guys being the land owners and the very rich, predecessors to the modern corporation. Power brokers today don't like to see their methods revealed amidst a little fictional storytelling.
     
  14. KIMaster

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    That's the only reason you can think of it being crucified critically? Are you fucking serious? Because "the bad guys won", which occurred in dozens of the critically acclaimed, successful films of the 1970s? ("Heaven's Gate" came out in 1980) I'm not telling you to dislike the film, but if you blame its failures on that non-reason, you're being delusional.

    For starters, "Heaven's Gate" was a meandering, overly long mess. Even Cimino decided to re-cut it from almost 4 hours to 2.5 hours. Much of the film is utterly pointless to the central struggle.

    Secondly, "Heaven's Gate" single-handedly bankrupted United Artists, a production company that gave its directors great autonomy, and produced many of the finest films of the 70s. In fact, that was one of the events that led to the decline (in my opinion) of American movies from their magnificent high point during the 70s, as producers could no longer give their directors such free reign, for fear of another "Heaven's Gate". Watch "Final Cut: The Making of Heaven's Gate", a good documentary piece about the subject.

    So for a film which delivered such a crushing blow to the entire industry, and caused dozens of other projects to never get produced, "Heaven's Gate" didn't just need to be good, but something magnificent. And it failed.

    Those two reasons are why it got panned, not "because the bad guys won".
     
  15. modsquad

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    Cimino's original cut was delivered to the studio at close to 5-1/2 hours. UA ordered it cut and Cimino offered 3-1/2 hours for the original theatrical release (New York only). When that was critically panned, the studio pulled the film and ordered it cut again, coming in at 2-1/2 hours for rerelease six months later. By then the public went in with a preconceived negative notion of the film. I'd mentioned that its pace compared to that of a season's length of a tv show. It's a wide story, but "overly long mess" and "utterly pointless" would be a personal opinion based upon the interest with what's being said. One man's poison is another man's bread I suppose. For years before I'd seen it, I held the common public opinion that it was a bad film, ruined UA, Cimino deserved all the negative press he got, etc... until I actually saw the movie.


    Supplanting spreadsheets for artistic criticism would mean Transformers 2 is a fine example of a quality film. By 1980 UA was owned by Transamerica Corp., which was a subsidiary of Bank of America. The depth of UA's pockets wasn't at their demise, it was Transamerica's commitment to the studio. The executives of UA walked out en masse in '78 to form Orion Pictures due to their differences with Transamerica over content control with some of those fine films of the 70's. Transamerica (these guys are bankers) were embarrassed with the negative publicity around Heaven's Gate, and ultimately sold UA to MGM for $350 million in 1981. Hardly cupcake money for a bankrupt studio.


    Agreed there was some wonderful freedoms that came through film in the 70's, some of which would never be green lit today (Network for instance). Cimino's artistic opulence was simply that free reign wave cresting towards shore.... but the end was already in motion. Coppola was a part of that 70's liberation, and almost preceded Cimino's failure with Apocalypse Now. I was a non-industry teenager at the time, but even I heard rumors about cost overruns and Coppola's loss of control during the making. When Apocalypse came out it already had the label of an albatross, and criticism was about split 50-50 between instant classic and atrocious, self-indulgent mess. Coppola ended up being the wave that hit the rocks with One From the Heart in '82. He tried to recreate the original ideals of UA with Zoetrope, but that creative freedom lasted for just one film. Since he neutered his own wallet, Coppola doesn't get the grief Cimino does over UA. A bit of an aside but relevant, what isn't really associated with the demise of that 70's artistic freedom is simply inflation. The 70's saw double digit inflation for most years, and the financial risks of filmmaking became more and more severe. Transamerica didn't just get out of the film business because of creative differences with their executives — interest rates in 1981 were above 20%. They were making a fantastic return just with their banking business.... why risk capital in the film industry where costs were skyrocketing and the returns unpredictable? Transamerica weren't the only investors thinking that way at the time.


    Tombstone is damn entertaining. Unforgiven, Josey Wales, Butch Cassidy, Little Big Man and Jeremiah Johnson are all damn entertaining. With most Westerns its very easy to say "here's my good guys" and "here's my bad guys" (or often with Clint, "here's my bad guy who I'll happen to root for"). Rustler's Rhapsody beautifully satirizes the whole genre and its stark line between the Good Guy/Bad Guy. Man-In-White is good and easy to spot. Man-In-Black is bad, and easy to recognize. Two ideals collide in a childishly simple way. Good wins out (or Clint).

    I know the bad guys winning is not unique in film. What I found interesting about Heaven's Gate is who the bad guys were. The poor were stealing cattle to feed themselves. In the story of Robin Hood, the same thieving poor were the heroes. At the start of the film Kristofferson graduates from Harvard, obviously coming from money. Years later he ends up a sheriff, caught between the poor and rich landowners. He sides with the poor until it reaches a point where the rich call in U.S. Army troops to enforce their will (see Bonus Army, 1932). At the end of the film, years later, Kristofferson's on a yacht. He came from wealth, he tried to change things — couldn't — and went back to his roots, no longer trying. Yes the film may seem long, slow and meandering... it's not flawless. But four hours of Heaven's Gate could supplant four years of Poli Sci study in terms of learning how society works. Most of us are cynical enough to say, "Yeah, yeah, the system's corrupt, we all know that." Most might know that, but Cimino goes beyond the general cynicism and blueprints everything. As Blazing Saddles held up a mirror to the bigots of the world, Heaven's Gate holds up a mirror to everybody. "Here's how it works. Here's how Power behaves. This is what your Master does to remain Master." Most people don't want to sit there for four hours and look at the reflection. We've come here to be entertained ("I'm your huckleberry") not to be lectured. Heaven's Gate isn't a Western, it's a horror story that happens to be set in the West. That's why I said it was crucified over the bad guys winning. It's beautifully shot, honestly set, well acted and just by coincidence, went way over budget using money from the very men who wouldn't think twice about calling in Army troops to protect their domains. No wonder they sold the studio.

    "Lip balm?" ~ Dusty
     
  16. KIMaster

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    Well, that's an excellent response.

    That is of course true. However, there is a difference between finding something in a film good/bad, and not understanding why others might feel differently about it. For instance, I find "Kill Bill" to be a poor movie, but I can understand why other people enjoy it.

    In "Heaven's Gate", it's not hard to envision people finding many of the extended scenes, especially those with little relation to the central plot, nauseatingly long and disengaging.

    All perfectly true. Nevertheless, were it not for "Heaven's Gate", you agree that UA would have continued trudging along for at least a few more years, yes? And this would have meant dozens of pictures would have been released that have never seen the light of day, all done with relative autonomy by the director. Potentially, there were several gems crushed out forever by the debacle of "Heaven's Gate".

    This is also true, but Coppola's "Apocalypse Now" was a genuine masterpiece, one of the greatest movies I have ever seen, and actually turned a major profit at the box office by the end.

    Very true. In the end, this was probably the biggest reason behind the change in film-making practices. However, "Heaven's Gate" exacerbated that demise. Matters could have held out a bit longer otherwise, and in the process, many other films would have been successfully produced.

    But on this point, you're going way overboard, and childishly painting UA execs as "bad guys". In fact, they were a bunch of honest guys who ended up losing their jobs and livelihoods over the fiasco, and were consistently told "fuck you, I don't give a shit what you think" by Cimino every time they made reasonable points about budget or time.

    The metaphor actually works better with Cimino being the greedy, rich asshole landowner, who doesn't care how many poorer men get trampled by him in the process.
     
  17. modsquad

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    Sure, it's a slow mover. It must be personal, because I don't mind the pace.


    Probably. It's also possible dozens of pictures die every time there's a change of command at a healthy studio, or whenever new owners come into an existing studio. Quick aside, here's a sample of some of UA's previous releases from 1969-1977:
    ————————————————————————————————
    Midnight Cowboy (1969) — budget $3.6 million

    Last Tango in Paris (1972) — budget $1.25 million

    Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex (1972)— budget $2 million

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) — budget $4.4 million

    Network (1976)— budget $3.8 million

    Annie Hall (1977) — budget $4 million

    ————————————————————————————————
    UA: 1979-1980:

    Apocalypse Now (1979) — budget $31.5 million

    Heaven's Gate (1980) — budget $44 million
    ————————————————————————————————

    Apocalypse Now and Heaven's Gate were anomalies... two movies of that period with directorial freedom AND budgets of significant size. ApocNow made money, Heaven's Gate didn't. Heaven's Gate was the end to a very short experiment for every studio, not just at UA. Since I've drifted this far off topic, I'll add one more caveat:

    ————————————————————————————————
    Jaws (1975) — budget $9 million (gross $470 million)

    Star Wars (1977) — budget $11 million (gross $775 million)
    ————————————————————————————————

    Jaws and Star Wars had more to do with the changes in Hollywood than the failure of Heaven's Gate or rampant inflation. Jaws' box office might have been considered a fluke, as the novel was a bestseller before the film. But Star Wars came out of nowhere with nothing. Aside from Alec Guinness, it was unknown actors in an unknown story with a bereft theme (sci-fi). Up until the mid-70s there was no such thing as a summer blockbuster. Look at those earlier UA pictures.... Midnight Cowboy, Last Tango, Cuckoo's Nest, Network, the Woody Allen pics... these were driven towards a mature and intelligent audience... fine art from fine artists. But Star Wars? Who knew 10-20 year olds could drop so much money into a studio's hands. Disney had been milking that vein for 30 years and never had a hit like that. Everything changed. Look at the pacing of the first Rocky movie to Rocky III... Rocky IV... Hollywood embraced a formula of more pace, more action and less introspection. Intelligent art went back to a smaller budget.

    UA always comes up whenever Heaven's Gate is discussed. I'm certain dozens of potentially great films died in every Hollywood studio after 1980 when Empire Strikes Back proved Star Wars wasn't a fad. That was it for everybody... retool. Market to youth and crank up the pace of films. Target the summer market, target Christmas, target whatever, but keep to a release schedule and tight formula. Hollywood's like the fashion industry now, showing a new line of films for each season and demographic. Heaven's Gate hurt Cimino's career, but all other changes to the industry were the happenstance of natural selection. Just my opinion.


    You may have misunderstood me here. The "bad guys" I was referring to were characters in the movie, not the UA execs. The story of Heaven's Gate is based on the Johnson County War, meaning (to me) the rich land barons are the bad guys. The rich land barons won. They used their power to destroy lesser rivals, then used their political influence to avoid prosecution when their activities became public. They literally got away with murder. And Cimino took the money of Transamerica bankers to make a film about how the rich sometimes behave when it comes to keeping their money and power. Again, no wonder Transamerica sold the studio.

    Anyway, it's in my top 10 for westerns, and it doesn't get much love. That said, if Heaven's Gate and Three Amigos were on tv at the same time... well, clever stupidity does have its virtues.

    "Great, you've killed the Invisible Swordsman!" ~ Lucky
     
  18. KIMaster

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    Oddly enough, the only films where I can understand and even appreciate a very slow pace are...Sergio Leone Westerns. There, it simply continues adding to the incredible tension and excitement of the inevitable gunfight, and in the process, makes a point that shootings themselves are fast and brutal, while the rituals around them are slower and more engrossing.

    It has been a long time since I watched "Heaven's Gate", and I don't know what rating to assign it overall, far too many scenes had nothing to do with its central conflict and themes.

    Good breakdown, but I'm not sure about the last few sentences. Films like "The Sting" (also one of the 15-20 highest grossing films ever when adjusted for inflation, although not at the level of "Jaws" and "Star Wars") had an exceptionally fast pace, as did many other films of the 70s. Certainly, it would become faster and more action-packed, but I don't think there was a major difference from the late 70s to the early 80s, at least from what I have seen.

    As for Rocky, it just became a more mindless and commercial series with each new iteration, although I think even the first one is overrated nowadays. (A very good film, but best picture that year? Seriously?)

    Again, I totally agree. The larger changes to the studios occurred for more significant reasons than a single movie going way overbudget. But specifically, "Heaven's Gate" killed perhaps another dozen good films we would have otherwise, before UA adjusted to the changing market.

    As "Avatar" proved, that kind of thing, even when paired with extreme hypocrisy, doesn't matter much as long as the movie makes money.

    All that being said, this has been a fun and enlightening discussion. Thanks for that!
     
  19. Dr. Gonzo Esquire

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    The Magnificent Seven: Steve McQeen, Charles Bronson, Yul Brynner... nuff said.

    Tombstone: Doc Holliday is my hero, and no man played him better than Val Kilmer.
     
  20. KIMaster2.0

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    Wow. My twin brother from 2010 deserves to be beaten with a stick for this post! For one thing, even submitting a top 10 list was downright criminal. Even now, more than a decade later, my Criticker shows me ranking about 45 Western movies, a few of which might not even technically qualify. That's maybe a tenth of what one needs to watch to be able to come up with a credible list, even ignoring the instrinsic problems of numbered lists in general.

    My twin's number of watched Westerns was even lower in 2010, and he hadn't even seen classics like High Noon or The Searchers yet. Also, he should have limited himself to only 2 films per director. Yes, Sergio Leone was a genius, but there is a lot more to the genre. Same reasoning would prevent the list being dominated by John Ford, for as much influence as he had.

    However, some of the particular picks and comments are dumb as hell. The original True Grit, KIMaster? It's a decent picture, but nothing special! Casting a 21 year-old actress as Mattie, which ruins the central conceit of the story, should disqualify it from any top 10 and possibly top 100 all by itself. In my twin's defense, the excellent True Grit by the Coen Brothers, which improved upon it in every way and was more truthful to the book it was based on, wouldn't come out for several more months. That would be an infinitely more defensible inclusion in the list.

    And saying that this was the only "really good film" John Wayne had ever made? You deserve a sloppy haymaker from The Duke himself for a comment that blitheringly stupid!

    But holy shit, Chato's Land at #10? Why not just admit you don't know nearly enough about Westerns while you're at it? I love the immortal Charles Bronson as much now as my twin did back then, but it's a fairly poor revenge film dragged to the level of "slightly above average" by the combined efforts of Bronson as the lead and Jack Palance as the slimy villain.

    And yes, Michael Winner directed Death Wish only two years after he did Chato's Land. Yes, they're both violent revenge films starring Charles Bronson's wife/family being raped and murdered. NO, you shouldn't have compared them. Because the similarities largely end there. Completely different characters, completely different themes and ideas, although I would argue Chato's Land is very short on the latter.

    On the bright side, my 2010 twin did put Once Upon a Time in the West in first place and call it one of the best films ever, which I can't remotely dispute nowadays.

    ***

    Also, re-reading the conversation between modsquad and KIMaster is tremendous fun. Holy shit is that second post by modsquad above beautiful.

    My 2010 twin called it "excellent", but having grown older, understanding society and economics better, especially the nature of Power modsquad referenced, I would go as far as calling it "one of the best in this entire forum's history".

    There's also one question I would love to ask modsquad in private, based on his very specific way of writing and ideas, but alas, it appears he last visited in 2019.

    Regardless, thanks for educating my twin brother back in the day! I still haven't seen Heaven's Gate in its entirety but your take seems like a much better one than the generic, popular, oft-repeated one my twin initially dismissed Cimino's work with.
     
    #60 KIMaster2.0, Mar 24, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2021