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An emotional scene with superb performances as Ella farewells Nate, who is acting the shit out of playing a dead bloke.
Cut to night time and the townsfolk erect a fort out of logs and wagons. It looks like quite a lot of fun! But it would be so much better and more appropriate if they were building a pillow fort instead. Rifles mounted on the backs of arm chairs, hot water bottles for warmth, with sheets and sleeping bags stretched to form the roof. Inside they can watch movies or tell ghost stories – like the one about Old Man Barton. He was a farmer who kept a ceiling fan as a wife. One day, Barton was stroking his turnips with a croquet mallet, when he heard a strange noise coming from the barn.
Cautiously, he edged inside the barn to discover a pile of old magazines had turned a gun on itself , splattering glossy pages all over the walls. Five years later, Old Man Barton canceled his subscription to Women’s Weekly.
*Shiver. My hair would stand on end when that one was told around the campfire. Oh to be young again.
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What needs to be commended is Christopher Walken’s brilliance at playing a corpse. The rumour is that Michael Cimino killed Christopher to capture a realist performance. A medic would revive Walken between takes, before thrusting him back into cardiac arrest when the cameras rolled.
This is why Walken had severe reservations about playing a ghost in Sleepy Hollow. He still has nightmares about Cimino’s potassium injections and is suspicious of any director who wishes him to play a dead character. When Tim Burton offered him the role, Walken screamed, turned and ran straight into a tree. It was at this moment that Burton knew he was perfect to play the Headless Horseman.
Another sticking point was that Walken doesn’t like Washington Irving, author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Walken has always felt Irving’s frequent use of the word ‘pedagogue’ was confusing and contributed heavily to him becoming addicted to Coca Cola. Fortunately for Tim Burton, the Coke addiction rotted Walken’s teeth and saved the production of Sleepy Hollow from spending money on decaying teeth prosthetics.
Read the rest of Heaven’s Gate Minute by Minute here
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Jim is on the move. He saddles up and rides out onto the main street. He circles on his horse… and circles again… and again. It’s nice to see Michael Cimino inject some dressage into his film. It’s severely lacking in modern cinema. Think about it. When was the last time you saw some decent, honest dressage in a movie?
I know what you’re going to say – “Herbie Rides a Horse and Performs Dressage.” True, but that was a made for television movie, so it doesn’t count. And nor does Herbie anymore after hitting his head during a take and losing the ability to calculate basic arithmetic.
It was a very funny telemovie, I must admit. There’s this one scene where Herbie has to put down his own horse, then cut it up into horsemeat because Don Knotts is destitute. He’s crying and Don Knotts is hitting a kid… Well, it’s not as funny when you retell it. Still, if you’re into wanky upper class ‘sports’ then it’s worth finding a limited edition laser disc copy for a look.
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A reprieve from the battle. Ella rides to Nate’s cabin and finds him, well, eh… no longer in the land of the living. Well, his body is, but the spirit has departed… actually, I’m an atheist, there is no spirit, so… he’s fricken dead alright people! Completely dead! Carked it! And no amount of politeness around the fact is going to bring him back!
Well, it might. Good manners brought my aunt Rita back from the dead. The mortician asked me, “Would you care for the deluxe funeral package?”
I said, “No, thank you,” and she sprung back to life. Had I said, “No effing way,” the tart would still be dead. Seriously though, she left us with a mountain of debt and left her prized chimney collection to the other side of the family. If she wants a deluxe funeral, she can bloody pay for it.
RIP Nate. You’re next Rita.
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It’s subtly woven into the action, but I believe this minute to be an exposé of poor wagon driver safety in the nineteen hundreds. People fly out of them at the smallest bump in the road. Why isn’t anyone wearing a wagon seatbelt?
The answer, unfortunately, is due to a material shortage in Johnson County in the 1890s. There was only one seatbelt in the entire state and it had to be shared by every driver at once. The belt was enormous as it had to stretch and weave across many miles and many wagons. It made driving incredibly difficult and resulted in the strangulation of numerous drivers. Because it was too complicated to unstrap, the belt remained tied to you even if you weren’t operating your wagon and most citizens walked with a wagon attached to them at all times. As you can imagine, this made climbing stairs, playing bocce and trampolining an exhausting, laborious affair.
The Johnson County seatbelt was 990 miles long and its length probably contributed to the material shortage that made it necessary for the sharing of a giant 990 mile seatbelt.
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SPOILER ALERT – my milk is out of date. Also, BANG! Billy is shot in the throat. Such relief. I thought nothing would shut that idiot up. No more mindless, quizzical quips from the class orator. Now, all the comic relief is going to have to come from Toby the 2ft tall, loveable CGI dragon.
The vintage aesthetic works very well for this scene. It’s very flattering on Toby. Sorry, I want to continue talking about the dusty, gritty look of this sequence but I’m just so happy the Billy character is dead. It’s so cathartic. I found myself fisting the air as he fell to the ground. But now I’m being sued by Nitrogen, oxygen and argon molecules.
Stop what you’re doing and enjoy the relief! Let’s all go out and buy a whole bunch of milk and pour it over ourselves. It’ll be so freeing. We need to live this moment together. Come on! Now! Go! Down to the milkbar. We’ll be milky, wet and free. Please, don’t use soy though – that’d just be weird.
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Oh no! They shot Jeff Bridges! Does this mean he can’t be in Iron Man anymore? That’ll take some editing.
The slaughter rolls on. The editing is fast and snappy as an angry gator. I had a friend who was an angry gator. His name was Mitch. We weren’t that close. He’d occasionally hang out and ride bikes with my friends and I around our court. And I’m not talking about a residential street, I’m referring to the citizen’s tribunal me and my school chums presided over. Sorry, my school chums and I. It’s that exact type of poor use of English the tribunal was fighting. If they’d read that sentence 20 years ago, I’d be facing a fine of three Red Skins, or some other form of politically incorrect confection.
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The duck shoot continues. Count Harriet ‘Billy’ Mensworth Smithe flaps about being his usual silly self. I wonder if there will be some sort of redemption for CHMS? A drunken change of heart? An act of self sacrifice? Stealing the Chancellor of the Stock Growers Association’s fluffy hat for a lark?
I’m waiting for him to call his secret legion of cows to charge forth and attack everything in their path, including trees, rocks, bugs and ornate water features.
The Count cackles that last year he was in Paris. It’s nice to vocalise a travelogue in the midst of battle. Gives everyone a bit of hope. War can be so grubby and dirty, it’s comforting to imagine picturesque Parisian scenery while slaughtering indiscriminately.
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The people of Johnson County have chosen an interesting battle strategy. The Stock Growers Association kneels, arms at the ready. Their guns are also poised. The angry mob of JC ride past them, circle and ride past again as the Association army picks them off. It’s kind of like that carnival game where you shoot rows of metal ducks as they bobble along.
I’m no military expert, well, I lecture in military strategy at West Point, but HR screwed up my last paycheque and I guess if I’m not being paid then I’m technically an amateur, but lining up to be shot doesn’t seem the most effective method to defeat your enemy.
Though, the other day I was a guest at a symposium on battle tactics and the organiser gave me a bottle of red to say thanks, so I guess I am sort of professional. Actually, it might be more accurate to call myself semi-professional. Yes, that seems appropriate. I am a semi-professional military strategist. So, if you’re planning a skirmish, give me a call on a telephone.
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Oh, surely the scenery is too pretty to have a battle. Couldn’t they crochet, or something? Mountains, tranquil water, pink sky – hold a maypole display instead. It’s how modern battles are fought. Two armies face off, put on some flowing outfits and dance around a pole. I suppose this battle was a couple of hundred years ago and I shouldn’t judge the people of Johnson County by today’s standard.
The absence of music accompanying the battle scene is very unnerving. It doesn’t glorify war very well. It needs a Kenny Loggins soundtrack or something similar. Hang on, I’ll put some on.
Ah that’s better. Now we got ourselves a proper showdown. Nothing like macho posturing and the song ‘Footloose’. Hmm, I could have chosen a better Kenny Loggins song…