Monday, March 28, 2011

Lone Star

John Sayles, 1996 (9.1*)

Excellent crime mystery is my favorite film of indie director John Sayles, who first came to prominence with the laid back indie reunion film The Return of the Seacaucus Seven. The strong point of this film is Sayle's terrific screenplay, which never feels contrived or manipulative. He manages to create a series of subplots and character depth that never overwhelms the main story. This film is nearly flawless in its execution.

Chris Cooper [photo below] is excellent as sheriff Sam Deeds, called in to investigate a decades old crime and corpse recently unearthed. The more he gets into the details of the crime, the more personal the story becomes. Sayles deftly shifts from the present story to the story of the past murder. Along the way Sayles manages to comment on many social issues, notably racism, politics, patriotism, inter-generational alienation, duty, and personal ethics.

The relationships seem realistic, the dialogue is concise and never strained, the messages never hammered home. Chris Cooper [photo below] became an acting star in this film, imo, and later won a supporting actor Oscar® for Adaptation (He's won 23 acting awards overall). The excellent cast also includes Elizabeth Pena, Kris Kristofferson, Matthew McConaughey and Frances McDormand. Lone Star won 12 awards overall
Note: If you like this film, it would make an excellent Texas crime trilogy with the Coen Brothers' No Country For Old Men (2007, Oscar for best picture), and Tommy Lee Jones' The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005). Another good film in the same locale is The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (1982) from director Robert M. Young


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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