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4.4 out of 5 stars43
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on November 25, 2000
This 1996 John Sayles film captures the essence of the changing social conditions and history of a border Texas town. More importantly, it brings out the humanity of a large variety of characters, each struggling with a legacy of the past.
When a skeleton found in the desert turns out to be Sheriff Charlie Wade who was murdered thirty years before, the current sheriff, Sam Deeds sets out to solve the mystery. What follows is a complex human drama, with intertwining stories that ultimately reveal some startling truths.
To best tell this tale, John Sayles uses a series of flashbacks artfully woven into the modern story, which enhance the viewer's understanding of the internal and external forces which have shaped the people of the town. We see the racism, the corruption, the romantic relationships and tread the thin line between right and wrong. We are constantly led through a series multi-layered series of interpretations.
Chris Cooper plays the role of the current sheriff with amazing understatement. He struggles with the thought that it was his own father, now deceased, who was the murderer. Elizabeth Pena plays his Mexican-American former childhood sweetheart with a sensuous sadness. Ron Canada plays the African American owner of a roadhouse with wisdom and insight. In flashback, Kris Krisotofferson is cast as the evil murdered sheriff. All performances are excellent.
The sense of place is brought out by the cinematography and the human dramas raise more questions then they answer. This is filmmaking at its best which will leave you thinking long after the video is over.
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on May 8, 2000
I saw this movie when it was first released, and then again this week-end on TNT. It's one of the best films I've seen and I plan to purchase it for my library.
It doesn't have a lot of action and the plots develop slowly, but, like In the Heat of the Night, there is not one throw-away scene.
I've never seen Kristofferson so evil...his work was real enough to be very, very scary. I liked Chris Cooper and Frances McDormand is a riot in her all-too-brief scene as Cooper's strung-out ex-wife.
I live in a small town in east Texas and I know people like the Sheriff, Big O, Buddy and the others.
The plot twist at the end might be a bit off-putting for some, but, to me, it just added to the quality of the writing, directing, acting and drama.
This is a movie to be savored. Do not expect action, car crashes or surrealistice special effects. It's a film about real people facing real issues and doing their best to right some very bad wrongs.
Enjoy!
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on January 2, 2000
This is one of those films where words of praise seem to be almost always inadequate. I think LONE STAR may turn out to be a classic. It is certainly one of the best films Sayles has yet given us. The story is richly textured and wonderfully complex in it's characters, it's social themes and it's who-done-it mystery.
This film covers a potpourri of subjects: racial strife, national identity, interfamily relationships, political corruption and political correctness, among others. That Sayles is able to contain all these tumultuous matters in one film and make them work naturally within the structure of that film is nothing short of miraculuous.
The performances are uniformly excellent, with Chris Cooper and Elizabeth Pena standouts as former high school sweethearts who were torn apart by their parents. The reason for their separation is not what it at first seems to be and it is one of the "kickers" of this movie. Francis McDormand is featured as Cooper's bipolar ex-wife in a wonderful cameo. McConaughey is fine in flashbacks as Cooper's legendary lawman father. Kristofferson is all snake venom as a corrupt and murderous sheriff. Joe Morton is properly reserved as the commander of a local military installation, a man who has worked his way up in a formally structured institution, coming to terms with his estranged father, a former numbers runner and gambler who is now the owner of the only local bar that caters to the Afican American community.
This film is gorgeously shot in Super 35 by Stuart Dryburgh, who has captured the modern American Southwest in a way that few other cinematographers have. You can almost feel the sun on the back of your neck.
The DVD is light on extras but that is compensated for by the Amazon price. Grab this and settle back for an evening of challenging, adult entertainment.
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on May 30, 2001
I saw this movie when it was first released, and then again this week-end on TNT. It's one of the best films I've seen and I plan to purchase it for my library.
It doesn't have a lot of action and the plots develop slowly, but, like In the Heat of the Night, there is not one throw-away scene.
I've never seen Kristofferson so evil...his work was real enough to be very, very scary. I liked Chris Cooper and Frances McDormand is a riot in her all-too-brief scene as Cooper's strung-out ex-wife.
I live in a small town in east Texas and I know people like the Sheriff, Big O, Buddy and the others.
The plot twist at the end might be a bit off-putting for some, but, to me, it just added to the quality of the writing, directing, acting and drama.
This is a movie to be savored. Do not expect action, car crashes or surrealistice special effects. It's a film about real people facing real issues and doing their best to right some very bad wrongs.
Enjoy!
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on March 28, 2003
Not only does this film unfold with the richness and complexity of a very well written short story (think William Trevor in a border town), no one here seems to have mentioned that it also contains echoes of Greek tragedy (or even the biblical sins of the fathers being visited upon the children). It is so subtle and its many little subplots reflect back on each other in such surprising ways -- okay, I'll admit it: I never thought Sayles was capable of such greatness. This screenplay ranks up there with Chinatown and Sunset Boulevard. It's that great. Oh -- and once again, it is a little film graced with a terrific, throwaway cameo from the always-wonderful Frances McDormand. But it needs to be said: Chris Cooper is the calm, sure anchor of this film, playing a man who has had wisdom and insight thrust upon him perforce by things over which he had no control. A masterful performance from a great, heretofore underrated (but now Oscar-winning) actor.
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on November 18, 2000
The director,writer John Sayles,Macarthur genius fellow,has fashioned his masterpiec with this movie. It is the finest script I have seen in years,telling at least 5 stories,tying them together seamlessly,and bringing in contemporary political and cutural changes. The story surrounds a son of a legendary sherrif of a texas border town{chris Cooper in a terrific turn].himself the sheriff in a very different time and world.Tie in an army base ,the racail strife ,romance,a 30 year old murder,redemption and trying to escape from your past, and you have the barest outlines of this brilliant script. The actors uniformally excellent,from Cooper to Elizabeth Pena,Sayles staple Joe Morton to a cameo from Frances mcdourmand,to Kris Krisstoferson as a bigoted sherrif.The story not only overlaps ,but actually concludes by not having a traditional ending.simply filmaking as it can be. perhpas the best american film I have seen in years. excellent.
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on October 1, 2001
Lone Star appears on the surface to depict your typical murder mystery, but if you "dig" a little deeper, there's more to it than that. There is an underlying theme in that everyone,no matter your race, sex, or color, is all somehow related. It's all about a common ground and how "family" is not restricted to blood relatives. (Although sometimes it is, even when you least expect it.) This movie is also clever to point out that many people continue to live lives filled with lies rather than give up the comfort and security in finding out the facts. The evidence for this movie is found in reality. Pay close attention to the many symbols, from "Charlie," to "Buddy Deeds," to a flag or even a Colt 45. These symbols give meaning to give people interaction. Also, keep track of names or you will get " buried" too. And, "Remember the Alamo!"
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on August 16, 2001
Almost anything said about the plot of this movie would ruin the experience for anyone who hasn't already seen it, but anyone who likes a great ride at the fair will love it. I mean, right out of the shute, imagine Kris Kristofferson as one seriously bad S.O.B. and then imagine that he pulls it off beautifully. Riding the razor edge of almost but just not quite overplaying it, he winds up being perfect. The rest of the cast is made up of (aside from Matthew McConaughey, who actually made this movie just prior to his breakout) good character actors, people you've seen in any number of movies but who's names just won't come to your lips. But, to be honest, the scene seques are the real treat of this movie, which, again, to explain would ruin the effect of. All in all, a really satisfying film and, for the real videophile, a must see and, no doubt, must have movie.
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on July 6, 2004
...and one of my favorite films because of it's intermeshings of mood, plot and character. I have always considered that the American 'norm' is one frought with brutal people made into heroes because the history books tell us that they were heroes; also, that maybe's man truest nature is of brutality and cruelity...and history, again, washes things as clean as laundry done for Sunday morning. Anyhoo, that's what this movie speaks to, how brutality affects the Rio County area so much that many secrets have somehow bonded the folks living in this ant farm of a community. Note how there's a sub-theme of competition and struggle, man versus whatever (rattle snake skins, longhorn skulls, soldiers preparing for battle, the after hours gambling) where a 'winner' must be declared.' You will dig this one because it will have you thinking about it for a long time aferwards..
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on March 2, 2001
For a variety of reasons, I lost interest in films about a decade ago. When I tuned in about 10 minutes late on TV, I had missed the credits. But about half an hour in, one name jumped out _ John Sayles. I knew this was a Sayles film because no one else can entwine history, sociology and entertainment in one gulp.(Watch a 25-year-old film entitled, I believe, "Alligator,'' _ a horror movie that Sayles wrote for someone else and his talent jumps out even in a potboiler.)
Yes, Chris Cooper and the rest of the cast is marvelous. But put this cast and this plot in the hands of another writer and director and you get pap. Sayles is writing more than the history of one small Texas town. He's writing the history of this country _ its ethnic tensions, its corruption, its politics.
Thanks John. You've reintroduced me to the movies.
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