Periscope Depth

wonder why the right words never come

Could someone spoil the ending of these two movies for me?

Appaloosa: I have no idea why this movie was made. I got maybe half an hour into it before ejecting the DVD and resealing the Netflix envelope. The movie makes no effort to invest the audience in its characters. There’s an evil land rancher (Jeremy Irons), but aside from shooting a U.S. Marshall he doesn’t seem that evil. There are the good guys who ride into town to stop him (Ed Harris; Viggo Mortensen), but they don’t seem particularly good. And before you say, “Well, maybe the point is that the line between good guys and bad guys was grayer than we think in the Wild West,” that movie has been made already. It was called Young Guns 2 and it was fantastic.

Ed Harris directed the movie, which explains the tremendous amount of Ed Harris jawing away that we see in the first thirty minutes. He’s also not good at framing shots, or hired a cinematographer who wasn’t. I know it’s easy to make fun of Renee Zellweger for looking pinched, and that’s unfair; she can be quite cute at times. But the first time we see her – the shot that’s supposed to convince us that Ed Harris’s character has been swept away by her beauty – she’s disembarking from a train with the light at her back and the wind in her face. Perhaps it was a train full of wasps where all they served were lemons and we’d know that if we read the novel on which this was based, but it’s the worst that Mrs. Z. has ever looked. I say this not to make fun of her appearance but to make fun of Harris as a director: that was the best shot you had, Ed? Seriously?

You never get a sense of what’s at stake. It’s not too much to ask that our heroes be either heroic or (if anti-heroic) interesting. Clint Eastwood wasn’t a good guy in most of his Westerns, but he at least had attitude. Viggo Mortensen sounds like he read the opening voice-over for Appaloosa with his head in his hands. I haven’t turned off a movie early since Bad Boys 2 and that was years ago.

Tequila Sunrise: Now this one was better. This is the first movie I have any clear memory of seeing a trailer for on TV. Kurt Russell plays a vice cop in L.A. County; Mel Gibson plays the mid-tier drug dealer he’s known since high school. They’re torn between their love/hate relationship with each other and by their attraction to restauranteur Michelle Pfeiffer. Robert Towne (The Last Detail, Chinatown) wrote and directed.

It’s not perfect. The melodrama’s excellent: people get soaked to the skin and make out while a saxophone solo throbs in the background. Characters stare into the distance, lit by the sun through window slats, a cigarette ashing, unacknowledged, in a limp hand. And the performances are all compelling. Russell is the cool one, with the Pat Riley haircut and the cocky retorts. Gibson is the passionate one, two inches away from crazy (as he always has been). And Pfeiffer’s got the attitude, as well as the mix of contempt and fascination at the way the two male leads play off each other.

So why didn’t I finish it? Because I was late for a date, and I was watching it on Netflix Instant Streaming, which requires Microsoft Silverlight, the worst means of displaying media since RealPlayer. I tried to resume watching it twenty-four hours later, only for Netflix to tell me that I had hit an issue common to people who try to use Silverlight on a Mac. The best solution (said Netflix) would probably be to uninstall and reinstall it. An issue common enough for the largest retailer of online streaming movies to know about it and have a Troubleshooting page ready, but apparently not common enough for Microsoft to fix it. I cannot express my hatred for Silverlight enough. I would rather uncover the story of Tequila Sunrise on Sumerian clay tablets, wiping away the dust of centuries with the finest of brushes to find that one scene where Gibson and Pfeiffer fuck in a hot tub, then reinstall this piece of shit.

Neither IMDb nor Wikipedia have a full synopsis, so could someone tell me how it ends? Along with Appaloosa? Because I can no longer be bothered to ingest movies in their conventional format, I guess.