Sunday, January 16, 2011


“You must pay for everything in this world; there is nothing free except the grace of God.” No shit, I’m broke, and oh so thirsty (“He loves to pull a cork”). I love those frontier towns in Westerns, a broad dirt road fronted by saloon, movie palace, savory pie shop. This genre—principal and full glass of which all others are but accrued interest and meniscus—is lately evolving, throwing off the laconic for every flavor of formal talk, as here we get, for starters, last-words-upon-the-gallows, horse trading, testimony, tall tales, and epitaph. (“You do not varnish your opinions.” But when did every poet up and decide that sex could only be referred to as “fucking”? Ease up, everyone, let go of each other’s hair, we’ll be plenty stony enough without abandoning the euphemisms whose rightness this enlightened cinema teaches). My own lucubrations hardly range as wide, and my concordance, sadly, falls short of the dictionary it shamefacedly courts.

Everyone knows the story: retribution. Is it totally idiosyncratic to say the girl is Death herself (Cf. The Sandman’s goth teen)? After all, she sleeps more than once among corpses, drives a hard bargain, pursues her quarry without pause, and through her particular vulnerability compels the hero to his (deferred) demise—when Bridges (Crazy Heart, Tron) rides a horse to collapse and then carries her slack, snakebit form across the starry-domed desert it essentially finishes him, he sags mortally and later, we’re told, goes into show biz. Grown hard and sexless, she collects and buries him. She is not our bride, then, but our charge, and our own sentimental solicitude serves the warrant for our spirit.

Who remembers Rooster Cogburn’s given name is Reuben—any chance he’s a, well, you know? Reins in his teeth, charging the Four Horsemen, it’s about as sweet as Albert Finney with the tommy gun in Miller’s Crossing. Who’d have thought poise so cinematic? And it doesn't preclude, we note, titanic shit-talking or getting totally, mortifyingly bombed.

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