New look spaghetti western

21 Nov, 2021 - 00:11 0 Views
New look spaghetti western

The Sunday Mail

Film Review
Tinashe Kusema

THERE is a very good chance that “The Harder They Fall” could be the quintessential spaghetti western.

A sub-genre of the traditional western movies, this 2021 release shows what the spaghetti westerns have evolved into.

I mean, it ticks all boxes.

Jonathan Majors’ Nat Love character is a true anti-hero.

Not only does he watch his parents get gunned down at the tender age of 11, but the man responsible, Rufus Buck (Idris Elba), also carves a cross on his forehead.

The cross reminds the victim of the tragic past, but the man responsible for the mark says he put it there as “an identifying mark”.

Love himself grows up a feared outlaw, albeit with ethics, as he and his gang, “The Nate Love gang”, only steal from other criminals.

However, he is still a thief and a wanted man.

Rufus Buck is the despicable villain in this story. We have another tenet of a good spaghetti western in the desert landscapes and in Redwood City.

It is Buck’s dream to build a settlement where black folks, as he calls them, can come and live free from the yoke of the white man.

However, he loses any moral ground as he kills anyone who gets in his way.

Redwood is also the scene of an all-important clash in which Love comes to revenge the death of his parents.

The subversion of traditional western tropes and commentary on politics is all self-explanatory. I am bringing up all these because I am of the firm belief that in time, scholars may use “The Harder They Fall” as a study of modern spaghetti western.

I digress.

Having listed how it ticks the boxes, I am now going to explain why it is such a great movie.

The casting and performances are all spot-on.

At the most basic of levels, two rival gangs and their leaders are set on a collision course early on. We have already established why Love and Buck have beef, but the members of their gangs are also sworn enemies.

It is a typical old versus new kind of conflict here.

Zazie Beetz — featuring as Stagecoach Mary — and RJ Cycler’s Quickdraw Jim Beckwourth represent the new, while Regina King’s ‘Trudy Smith’ and Lakeith Stanfield — acting as Cherokee Bill — represent the old.

In the case of Beckwourth and Bill, the younger outlaw wants to prove he is the fastest gunslinger in the land while the two alpha women clash.

Their performances make these conflicts all the more exciting.

The two seasoned veterans, King (Smith) and Stanfield (Bill), show their experience with stellar performances good enough to even make you temporarily forget that this is a Majors and Elba movie.

Their story (Majors and Elba) is a bit of a cliché and only gets saved by the twist at the end. Elba owns his material here.

However, it is all about the little nuances, as the menacing voice, slow speech and overall presentation are all perfect.

Honourable mention should also go to the likes of Delroy Lindo (Bass Reeves), Deon Cole (Wiley Escoe), Danielle Deadwyler (Cuffer) and Edi Gathegi (Bill Pickett).

With so much going on around them, it is easy to forget their storylines and even their presence in the movie.

However, each one of them does enough to stay relevant and keep their characters and storylines moving.

The action set pieces, the score (music) and the cinematography are other major highlights of the movie.

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