A Fistful of Dollars
Directed by Sergio Leone
A Fistful of Dollars is a Spaghetti Western, and an unauthorized remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1961 film, Yojimbo. What A Fistful of Dollars lacks in originality and thoughtfulness it easily makes up for with sheer verve. Clint Eastwood is every bit as good at playing the taciturn hero as Toshiro Mifune, Ennio Moricone’s score is even better than Masaru Sato’s, and Sergio Leone shoots high-noon showdowns almost as well as Akira Kurosawa. A Fistful of Dollars is easily one of the coolest movies ever made.
Hell or High Water
Directed by David Mackenzie
Hell or High Water is a neo-western crime drama that follows two brothers who rob banks. Blending clichés of westerns, West Texas, bank robbing, and crime thrillers, some scenes work better than others. And the social commentary alternates between incisive and broad often. Hell or High Water, though, is always full of wit, life, and energy, and that, always, is enough.
The Magnificent Seven
Directed by John Sturges
The Magnificent Seven, a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, is a Western about seven gun fighters hired to protect a small Mexican village. It’s not as good as Seven Samurai, and some aspects have aged better than others, but The Magnificent Seven is well-acted and well-paced. It’s a good Western.
The Hateful Eight
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
The Hateful Eight, Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film, is a mystery Western that centers on a tense standoff between (mostly) strangers in a stagecoach stopover during in a blizzard in Wyoming some years after the Civil War. Released both in 70mm and digitally, The Hateful Eight is largely an homage to old cinema, and, like all of Tarantino’s films, is very cool. Continuing the trend from Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight has more of a political message than Tarantino’s earlier purely stylistic films. Despite its near perfect direction, acting, and pacing, The Hateful Eight is held back by its preference for style over substance and its intense nihilism.