“Hostiles” is a bloody depiction of the American frontier


“HOSTILES”, a bleak and bloody western, opens with a horrific act of violence. In New Mexico in 1892, a homesteader is cutting wood while his wife gives their two daughters a grammar lesson and cradles their newborn baby. Four Comanches ride towards the house, guns and bows drawn, to steal their horses. The wife is able to run to safety, but not before seeing her husband scalped and her children, including her baby, shot to death.

When François Truffaut, a French film director, stated that “there is no such thing as an anti-war film”, he was implying that the tragic realities of conflict are sanitised by the screen. His insight applies equally to the Old West. The trappings of the genre—gunfights, horse riding and damsels in distress—end up indulging the fantasies of young men even when a more nuanced comment is intended. Yet “Hostiles”, Scott Cooper’s new film, has succeeded in robbing the genre of its frivolities. Mr Cooper has form: he previously erased any sense of giddiness from the crime genre in “Out of the…Continue reading

Powered by WPeMatico

Redeeming Mary Magdalene

EVERY generation of artists has brought its own sensibilities and experiences to the depiction of canonical Christian stories. Giotto, an Italian painter, set Bible scenes in medieval Tuscany. Rembrandt gave his a hint of mercantile 17th-century Amsterdam. “Mary Magdalene” is similarly a retelling of some of the faith’s main events …

The mysterious reggaeton bangers of Mexico’s election

FOR evidence that modern democracy has lost its pep, look back to the age of cheery campaign jingles. The art form dominated elections from America to the Philippines after the second world war. Australian political parties used them well into the 1980s. It is tempting to believe that melodious campaigns …

The maddest March: at last, a 16-seed upsets a number one

THE line separating the improbable from the impossible is hard to pin down. The annual single-elimination tournament to crown the champion of North America’s National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in men’s basketball is known as “March Madness”, thanks to the steady diet of upsets it produces. Every year, a few …