STEVE INSKEEP, host:
3D might be the future of movies, but this weekend's releases include a movie genre from the past. Kenneth Turan has a review of a Western, "Appaloosa."
(Soundbite of movie "Appaloosa")
KENNETH TURAN: Few movie sounds are more appealing than pounding hoof beats heard before the opening credits. A Western is about to start, and if everything goes right, nothing could be better than that. "Appaloosa," the latest film to begin with that stirring sound, has done a lot of things right, but not everything. It respects Western-movie tradition, and it co-stars Ed Harris, who also directs, and Viggo Mortensen.
Both are excellent as the kind of tough, laconic, unflappable men Westerns couldn't exist without. These two are partners in a lawmen-for-hire operation. If your town is a mess, you hand it over. They clean it up and move on. As one of them puts it, I don't kill people for a living. I enforce the law. Killing is sometimes a byproduct. In the New Mexico town of Appaloosa, the team ends up negotiating with the inevitable psychotic rancher played by Jeremy Irons.
(Soundbite of movie "Appaloosa")
Mr. JEREMY IRONS: (As Randall Bragg) We need to make an arrangement.
Mr. ED HARRIS: (As Virgil Cole) There's a set of bylaws posted right outside the door here of this very saloon. Your boys do like the bylaws say, everything will be muy bueno.
Mr. IRONS: (As Randall Bragg) And if they don't?
Mr. HARRIS: (As Virgil Cole) I arrest them.
Mr. IRONS: (As Randall Bragg) And if they don't go along?
Mr. HARRIS: (As Virgil Cole) I shoot them.
TURAN: The real love match of this film is between the two lawmen. So, it's unfortunate that a train rolls into Appaloosa one day and brings the town a young widow, played by Renee Zellweger. She arrives with an extensive wardrobe, some piano-playing skills and little else. Given the marked lack of piano-playing women with extensive wardrobes in Appaloosa, the two lawmen are both smitten with the newcomer, something they live to regret. Audiences will regret it, too. The widow is unconvincing as the object of multiple attractions, because she exudes that charm and seductiveness of a potato casserole. This woman is so irritating, it's difficult to focus on the rest of the film. All the pounding hoof beats in the world can't make up for that.
INSKEEP: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for Morning Edition and the Los Angeles Times. And we review a lot of movies at our website at npr.org/movies.
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