Five Things You Need to Know about the Film, “Hostiles”

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Five Things You Need to Know about the Film, “Hostiles”

Five Things You Need to Know about the Film, “Hostiles”

If I’ve learned one thing over the years, it is that there are three forms of art you will never win an argument over: the painting kind, the music kind, and the movie kind. The reason is simple. What is one person’s garbage is another person’s gold. That is why there are far more movie, art, and music critics than actual movies, art, and music produced.

Hostiles is the most recent attempt by Scott Cooper to actually direct a movie. The highlight of his sparse directorial efforts is Crazy Heart which managed to get a couple of Oscar nominations. Rather than drone on about Cooper’s style and talent, which we all know is debatable, here are the 5 things you need to know about his latest effort.

1. A baby is murdered at the beginning of the movie.

No, this has really nothing to do with any major plot point or storyline. It just is inserted for effect. It violates one of the rarely broken canons of Hollywood — never kill a baby on screen. The reason for this is simple: it serves no dramatic purpose. It might get a rise from the audience, but its shock value in Hostiles is to make the bad guys look really bad. Maybe Hollywood has run out of ideas once again.

2. It is a story of forgiveness and redemption.

This is a common approach to the Western genre, and it works because Americans sees itself as “the land of second chances.” But even that idea is being buried alive in the court of public opinion with the #metoo movement’s public destruction of accused (not found guilty) men who have allegedly sexually harassed and assaulted women from 10 weeks to 40 years ago. Cooper should be given some credit here for revisiting the theme, and it may be the last time the theme is portrayed in an American historical context.

3. It is a brutal and savage movie.

Starting the movie off by murdering a baby is the foundation to what is described as a bloody and violent movie. In order for there to be forgiveness and redemption, there has to be a reason to be forgiven. The movie emphasizes the beginnings of the “culture of violence” that continues to be a popular political theme rooted in the Westward Expansion of white settlers. Any hopes of a Dances with Wolves meeting of the minds is quickly exterminated with brutal finality.

4. It combines elements from the classic Westerns Dances with Wolves and Unforgiven

Dances with Wolves takes us on an East to West journey with some panoramic views of the Great Plains and used actual buffalo for an added dimension of realism. Unforgiven was directed by Clint Eastwood who knows how to arrive at the right mix of raw violence and its relevance to the central characters. Hostiles goes on a journey from South to North instead of East to West, and focuses on the scenery and brutality rather than the characters.

5. Critics and the average viewer are conflicted over the end result.

In general, critics gave the movie milquetoast reviews, while a larger percentage of moviegoers saw more positives in the movie. The movie is 130 minutes long, an average length but critics thought the movie was too long for the story. Apparently the average person always likes a Western (the movie is only being released in the United States) and is enamored by the wide open spaces and excessive violence (maybe). There is a definite political undertone to the movie, which may also account for the attraction.

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