Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Now, this is what God watches right here.

It probably wasn't everywhere, but it felt like it was. 

Radio commercials, T-shirts, the occasional belt buckle, highway signs and a Hell of a lot of bumper stickers all combined forces to provide a constant reminder of how I better keep myself in line. But I didn't really understand the warning. Like, how do you start something with that many people? Or were they just talking about the giant guy at the fair? I wasn't gonna f--k with that dude, believe me. I was six years old, I didn't want any trouble. Dang, y'all. I just wanted to go to 7-Eleven with my brother and play Shinobi. Again. Maybe get a pack of Garbage Pail Kids and a Coke.

But now? Looking back? Oh, I totally get it.

Don't Mess With Texas.

And also don't mess with just about anybody in David Mackenzie's latest, Hell or High Water. Written by Taylor Sheriden (the same dude that penned Sicario [review]), this flick is equal parts heist-film, new-school western and revenge drama. Anchored by three dazzling performances, this is quietly one of the better films I've seen in quite some time. Well, at least one that didn't have people dancing across the stars, anyway...

Set in the decidedly unromantic and thoroughly dusty towns found deep in the heart of Texas, Hell or High Water jumps right in as brothers Tanner and Toby Howard are robbing a local bank. It's not quite smash-and-grab, but it's close, as this amateur duo is really only interested in the loose cash in the drawers, eschewing the safe altogether. The robbery isn't much of a success, but between you and me, these two are just getting started. 

Further down the road in another part of West Texas is Marcus Hamilton, a soon-to-be retired Texas Ranger. The Feds aren't terribly interested in two local jerks knocking off a couple of small-town banks, so Hamilton and his partner Alberto head out on what looks like their last ride together. Regardless of what side of the law any of these men find themselves on, safe to say everybody involved is getting too old for this shit.

It's been a hard day's night for Captain Kirk, lemme tell ya...
The less you know the better, obviously, but I'm not spoiling shit by telling you this sonuvabitch is storytelling at its finest. Every character that pops up in this film has a purpose, and whether they're on screen for a minute or an hour, every single one of them fulfills it. They're aren't really any dreams left in these dried-up Texas towns, but they're sure are plans. Survival plans, in fact. And even if they aren't exactly legal, I'm damn sure they're all honorable. Plus, it's easy to cheer for the bad guys, when they're so f--king good.

Not good in the least, are the Yays and Boos. These two are just like Tanner and Toby. Well outside of the fact that they're not handsome, charming or brave. Okay, fine. At least they're related.

My brother and I would also contemplate our lives while
gazing out into a vast field of bluebonnets and cowpies. Yep.
Then we'd go to the roller-rink by the mall.

  • Oh, they might be gun-toting sociopaths, sure, but damn that inviting Texas drawl gets me every time.
  • Yes, even the old man at the bank cashing in his coin collection will put a bullet in your back.
  • If you don't love what Ben Foster does playing Tanner, log off of your device, and smash it into your face. This guy f--king owns as the lovingly unpredictable older brother.
  • Sign me up for some more Jenny Ann, yessir.
  • Because you asked, little brother.
  • Even though it constantly veered in and out of hilarious and soul-crushing, I couldn't get enough of the back and forth between Alberto and Marcus (Gil Birmingham and Jeff Bridges, respectively). I'm still torn on how Alberto felt about all that 'friendly' banter.
  • Best Scene of 2016? I present to you, That f--king dude in the green Mustang. I actually covered my mouth (and almost looked away). Holy shit!
  • Only assholes drink Mr. Pibb. (I won't ruin the best response in the history of time)
  • One of my favorite scenes has Tanner and Toby chasing each other around like a couple of little kids. Turns out, you're never too old to try to tackle your brother for no f--king reason. Or, I suppose, to rob a bank and bury a car with him, either.
  • Let me just say, this movie takes a major f--king turn. I guess life in prison wasn't in the cards, was it?
  • And finally, that f--king ending was so incredibly satisfying, wasn't it? The tension is suffocating, but somehow, everyone remains totally polite.  And while the battle feels like it's over, it seems like the war has just only begun.
For like an hour, Hell, maybe even ten minutes even,
I'd love to be (half) as cool as Jeff Bridges.
  • My own brother has ruined my lunch a couple of times, too. But his only crime was eating too fast (and scraping the fork on his teeth with every bite, for f--k's sake), not, you know, robbing another bank.
  • The biggest tip I ever received was $50. And I don't care if that nice family strangled a dolphin, you ain't takin' my money as evidence.
  • Dude! Comanche Guy at the casino was waaaay fired up! 
  • Usually when I see a fine woman in a movie, it's a Yay. Not this time. I think I actually said out loud, Runnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!
  • Man, Diner Lady was f--king hardcore. Whoever ordered the trout, must have had balls of steel (so, yeah, fine, it might have been Ed Harris).
  • I wasn't really a fan of the soundtrack all that much. Hmm.
  • As a wise man once said, or sang, all throughout my freshmen year of college in fact, Mo money. Mo problems. (stick to the little banks, dammit!)
  • So, I didn't do anything wrong, right? So, why the f--k am I sweating through this damn checkpoint?
  • Near the end, this was me: Oh shit. This is escalating quickly. He's picking off- NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! (my wife, in the kitchen at the time, came in concerned...Sorry, hon).
  • And finally, for some reason, and I don't think I'll ever understand it, Ben Foster is not a f--king megastar. 

When I was probably six years old, back when we lived in Irving, Texas, I remember my brothers calling me to our screen door, insisting I take a look outside. The sun was just about to set, but there right across the street from our house, was a small, white goat. We were jumping around like assholes, as the goat casually ate the grass in our neighbors front lawn.

The next day, that neighbor, a real good ol' Texas boy named Rick stopped by our house. Somebody asked him, immediately, if he had seen the goat in his yard last night. And without hesitating, and I'll never forget this as long as I live, Rick said in his broken Texan accent,

Seen him? Hell. I ate him.

Yep. Of all the states to f--k with, Don't Mess With Texas, kids

(or Rick)


  1. Wanna know my favorite line other then the Alzheimer one? "Why is it always the sweet ones that are such devil when you get them revved up?" :P

    God I just loved that script. I couldn't tell where any of this is going to go and the tension and the humour was insane. The whole back and forth with Bridges and Alberto where he is like 'I KNOW THIS BRANCH IS CLOSED!' had me in tears. Dude. You didn't like the soundtrack?! That was Nick Cave and Warren Ellis there is no way anyone else could score a flick like this!

    Oh and it was totally Ed Harris :D

    1. With you on the Cave and Ellis comment ;)

    2. Okay, you two. Break it up. Whoever the Hell Cave and Ellis are...(uh, sorry...I'm an uncultured a-hole), I'm sure they're f--king awesome...I just wasn't feeling it.

      The script was phenomenal and slowly revealed all kinds of fascinating things about the brothers and the lawmen in such a brilliant way. These were real dudes dealing with real shit, and I loved every second of it.

      F--king Ed Harris!

    3. Oh my God...Nick Cave?! Get on that! The guy is a legend! They also made absolutely beautiful soundtracks to The Road and the Assassination of Jesse James

  2. Great review! This movie was so freaking (and unexpectedly) great. I'm so glad it got Oscar attention so more people see it because it's totally one that could have gone by without much notice. The green mustang/Mr Pibb scene was the best! My only complaint would be it was a little on-the-nose with it's failing economy message, but I did appreciate that as a plot point in the movie in general. Just didn't need to see like 5 billboards about it.

    1. Thanks, Jess! I was hoping to be entertained, and assuming that with this cast it was going to be good, I too was blown away by how awesome this film was.

      I do think they sort of beat us over the head with the failing economy message, but I suppose that was the idea, right? Like everywhere you look, there's this tangible reminder of how life is over for these small towns...and some dire shit is the only way to survive.

  3. Awesome review! This was such a great movie. I never thought I would like it, but it exceeded my expectations. I wish Foster had an Oscar nomination over Bridges though. I never tire of saying that.

    "Only assholes drink Mr. Pibb" is one of my favorite movie lines of last year. My husband and I frequently say it to each other now.

    1. Thank you, Brittani. Totally with you, as usual. However, I have more than enough room on my ballot for both of those fine gentlemen. I loved what Bridges did, even if he's been doing it for years.

      Man, I gotta hang out with you and your husband. Solid individuals.

  4. Gahh, I need to watch this again asap! It was too quiet for me to start with and I kinda stopped paying attention, but then that ending was balls to the wall tense and crazy and I wish I could have just re-wound time by an hour or so and told myself to stay sharp!

    1. WHAT? You stopped paying attention? Booooo!

      Nah, that kind of stuff happens sometimes, but for me, I was HOOKED. I had to peel my face off the screen half the time, I was so in two these four characters (especially Foster!!).

      That ending! Holy cow...it turned into Heat for a stretch. You have seen Heat right?

  5. This movie was totally a slow burner. I was initially bored with the movie, but when it picked up, what a ride! It will definitely end up on my top 10 list for 2016 :) Great post!!

    1. For whatever reason, I was on board from the gate, likely because it reminded me a lot of my old hometown (though my town wasn't nearly as demoralized), but also because I a huge fan of the three leads.

      And yes, that ending? Insanity! Totally on my top 10 list, too. Loved it so much!

  6. Hahahaha, love it man. AWESOME to hear, this is easily one of my faves from last year. Almost perfect. You point out excellent points, the banter between Alberto and Bridges was great, and that 'rattlesnake' of a diner was just fucking epic!! God I laughed so much at that part

    Was it just me or did this remind you a little of a Coen bros movie, but with a little more action? Similar sense of humour I felt

    Bummer you didn't like the soundtrack. I love Nick Cave, though a lot of the songs were existing country songs, which I don't really like but I thought it matched the tone of the movie.

    With you on the ending too. So satisfying!

    Keep up the good work buddy. I need to figure out how to get an email every time you post something new, I can do it for some blog sites but not others =/

    1. Yesssss! I love this comment! That diner scene was hysterical. I typically don't f--k with any waitresses (servers, ahem), but this lady was way intense. So f--king cool.

      Excellent call on it being like a Coen brothers' movie. Seems like it shared a universe with No Country, didn't it? (I never saw the True Grit remake...if that one applies, too).

      You know I almost deleted that soundtrack comment, as my Spider-sense was telling me you know you're an asshole, right?, but I went with my gut anyway.

      Perfect ending, man. Satisfyingly bleak, if that makes sense. It's relatively happy...but also pretty f--king miserable too.

      Thanks again, man. I love that you love this nonsene. It means a lot.

    2. oh my God! Get on True Grit remake too!