Saturday, 29 March 2014

"Blackthorn" on BLU RAY – A Review Of The 2011 Film Starring Sam Sheppard

Here is a link to Amazon UK to get this BLU RAY at the best price:

"…Sometimes It's Beautiful…" - Blackthorn on BLU RAY

Heroic leaders of the Wild Bunch and The Train Robbers Syndicate – Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid were eventually hounded into South America where both died in a shoot out with the military at San Vicente in 1908. But recent excavations for their bones have revealed that neither set of remains is there. Enter Director MATEO GIL and Writer MIGUEL BAROS and their superb 2011 film "Blackthorn" - 'reinterpreting' the lives of those men of folklore and Wild West legends. 

It’s now 1927 and James Blackthorn (the older Butch Cassidy played to grizzly perfection by the hugely watchable Sam Sheppard) lives a simple life as a horse-breeder in a tiny farmstead in the Bolivian Mountains - occasionally visited by his local lover/maid Yana (great work by Magaly Solier). He writes letters to his nephew Ryan in America signed by Uncle Butch telling the lad they will soon be joined at last and live out a good life together.

But on the way back from a horse trade/card game in a nearby town – a desperate Spaniard called Eduardo Apodaca robs him of $6000. The man from Madrid claims he only shot at Blackthorn’s horse because he himself is being hunted – but not for fame to prove the legend still lives – but for $50,000 hidden in a mine – the fruits of a greedy land boss who’s fleeced the locals of everything. The charming Eduardo promises he’ll pay back Blackthorn everything he’s lost – and the two outlaws form a wary and unlikely alliance out of necessity as they try to evade a posse of 12 Chilean horsemen who know the terrain and seem relentless in their pursuit.

Cleverly flashing back to the younger Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid between 1900 and 1908 - what happened to them and their feisty lady in tow Etta Place - slowly begins to unfold. The young Butch and Sundance are played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Games Of Thrones) and Padraic Delaney with Etta portrayed by the exquisitely beautiful Dominique McElligott (the camera adores this woman – the stunning looks of Olivia Wilde meets the playfulness of Taylor Schilling).  Thrown into this heady mix is Stephen Rea as Irishman MacKinley who once had the famous duo in his custodial grasp only to be made a fool of for the rest of his life (fabulous work by Rea as the older drunk and embittered version). And on it goes to a gun-battle with desperados in the scorching white arid expanse of the Salt Flats where Eduardo may not have been entirely honest with Blackthorn…

Handsome male and female leads in Frontier garb, horses galloping across grassy plains, campfires in the moonlight, water dripping onto gravel mountain paths, dirty faces in dusty shacks, women wearing Pollera pleated-skirts, Manta woollen shawls and round bowlers hats while they holster guns in rot-gut Chicha bars along railway tracks… As you can imagine "Blackthorn" is a looker on BLU RAY. Defaulted to 16 x 9 – it also fills the full screen beautifully - grittily realistic and as the Spaniard says looking out over canyons - "Sometimes it's beautiful…" Audio is 5.1 English DTS-HD, there are no subtitles and disappointingly there are no extras either.

Rewatching it on BLU RAY for a second time "Blackthorn" proves a far more rewarding Western fix than I'd first thought and in some ways is better than the more vaunted "True Grit". Mount up your mule, fix your rimmed hat, stick a cigar in your mouth, scratch your whiskers, get your ukulele out and start singing "Damn your eyes…" out loud all the way home to your ye-ha ranch.

Hell - you know you want to 'pardner'…

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