Should old cinema be forgot and never brought to mind? Of course not.
Beginning today, Midwest Film Journal writer Nick Rogers will kick off Heroes of the Zeroes: The Decade’s 365 Best Films. Each day, Nick will look back at one of the 365 best films released from 2000 through 2009 — listed in alphabetical order from numbers to Z. (Sequels and, in select cases, similar films have been grouped together as one entry.)
As a decade, The Zeroes gave us 10 years of great movies. So why not devote 10 percent of that time to reflect upon and recommend not just obvious choices but overlooked, underestimated or forgotten-about titles? There’s as much room here for buffoonish newsmen, vengeful demons, video-game kings and aging lotharios as for tenacious entrepreneurs, unstoppable assassins, cloaked superheroes and brave Hobbits.
Check back daily to see the latest addition to the list and ready your queue for a year’s worth of great movies.
Even with disarming cuts to mid-murder stabs with squishy sounds of nicked arteries, it was hard to dub 2007’s remake of 3:10 to Yuma revisionist. Like all great Westerns, it entwined history, hardship, honor, pistols and pride with the knowledge that gray get-ups are preferred to black or white.
Sure, the remake of Delmer Daves’ original beefed up in an extremely bloody manner that would’ve sent Production Code swooning five decades ago. It also was yet another surprising zigzag in a decade full of them for director James Mangold — who shares an adventuresome genre journeyman spirit with Alan Parker.
Russell Crowe plays Ben, a legendary killer finally captured, and Christian Bale is Dan, the limp-addled rancher heading a convoy to deliver Ben to justice. The two men drip so much tension into their upper-lip sweat that even a charging bull might back down.
Bale smartly underplays peaceable Dan’s honor and integrity, condensing lifelong regrets and remorse into a whispered speech. Even as chaos descends in the movie, Ben thinks over every angle to control how it affects him. Frighteningly seductive and repulsive, Crowe approaches the role like Hannibal Lecter in spurs. He should play nasty villains more often — reveling as he does in Ben’s morally thorny actions.
The action-packed finale found the two coming to an unlikely understanding about the fighting chance to go down shooting. The ensuing bloody gunplay choreography never matched the messy realism of Open Range, but it perfectly married pulp-fiction finality to hyper-modern film moves.