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The Golden Globe winners have been announced! Head over here to check out the full list of nominees.

  • Motion Picture (Drama): Argo
  • Best Director: Ben Affleck, Argo
  • Best Actor (Drama): Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
  • Best Actress (Drama): Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
  • Motion Picture (Comedy/Musical): Les Misérables
  • Best Actor (Comedy/Musical): Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables
  • Best Actress (Comedy/Musical): Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
  • Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
  • Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
  • Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
  • Foreign Language Film: Amour (Austria)
  • Animated Feature Film: Brave
  • Original Score: Life of Pi by Mychael Danna
  • Original Song: “Skyfall” from Skyfall by Adele & Paul Epworth
  • Cecil B DeMille Award: Jodie Foster

  • TV Series (Drama): Homeland
  • TV Series (Comedy): Girls
  • Actor in a TV Series (Drama): Damian Lewis, Homeland
  • Actress in a TV Series (Drama): Claire Danes, Homeland
  • Actor in a TV Series (Comedy): Don Cheadle, House of Lies
  • Actress in a TV Series (Comedy): Lena Dunham, Girls
  • TV Movie or Miniseries: Game Change
  • Actor in a Miniseries/TV Movie: Kevin Costner, Hatfields & McCoys
  • Actress in a Miniseries/TV Movie: Julianne Moore, Game Change
  • Supporting Actor in a Series/Miniseries/TV Movie: Ed Harris, Game Change
  • Supporting Actress in a Series/Miniseries/TV Movie: Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

Appaloosa, a Western by Ed Harris

I’m a sucker for a good western. There’s something about the slow southern drawl, the sweeping desert beauty, the tough guys on horses, and the intensity of a good showdown that I find so engaging.

The Book:
Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch are two gunman who come to the town of Appaloosa to lay down order and reign in the terrible Randall Bragg who murdered the sheriff and instills terror upon the town. The two embark on lawfully bringing Bragg down, but hit a few snags along the way including a mysterious woman named Allie French. Even though Parker’s novel was written in 2005, it may as well have been written in the early 20th century in the era of silent films and John Ford westerns. Its slow and steady pace is perfectly suited for the screen and offers a visual style and well developed characters with smart dialogue. This book is a great read and a perfect western film all in one.

The Movie:
Ed Harris, who produced, co-wrote, directed and starred in the film, brings this story to life with an amazing cast and a near direct adaptation of the book. Nearly every line of dialogue comes from the pages of Parker’s novel and every action is precise to the word. Often such a direct adaptation does not result in a good film, but as westerns tend to have a slow pace about them, it translates well. It goes without saying the Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen, and Jeremy Irons turn in fantastic performances and even Renée Zellweger, who I find to be hit or miss, easily transforms into the needy, backstabbing Allie. The pacing is slow at times, and Harris does fall victim to an adaptation cliché with Everett’s unnecessary narration at the beginning and end of the film. Also, there is a stumble in the development of the relationship between Virgil and Allie when she is teasing him about his past and Virgil gets upset and beats up a belligerent drunk in the bar. This scene doesn’t play as well as it does in the book and instead makes Virgil out to be an angry man with random bursts of violence, which is not the case. However, the film preserves the source material and the actors bring a great, dry comedy to the film that is not as apparent in the novel and truly brings the characters to life.

What’s Missing:
Appaloosa by Ed HarrisNot a whole lot- the first time Virgil and Everett met, the crime that Bragg’s men commit upon arriving at Appaloosa (it’s mentioned by the sheriff Jack Bell in the first scene of the film), and some minor scenes between Virgil and Everett along the way. Most notably missing is the prostitute Katie’s wisdom and relationship with Everett. She gets but three decent scenes in the film, though it feels like there was once more that may have ended up on the cutting room floor. In the book, she helps Everett to understand Allie’s manipulative ways and develops a sweet relationship in which he is considered more than just a client to her, but in the movie she is nothing but a glorified companion. She’s not even mentioned by name, though Everett does have a touching scene with her just before the final showdown.

What’s New:
Harris’ adaptation is so precise that hardly a single detail has changed. The largest one is still rather insignificant where Whittfield is one of Bragg’s man who witnessed the murder and turns against him to testify, while in the book he is a deputy of Appaloosa who ran away once Jack Bell is shot and returns to testify against Bragg. Also, Russell, the Shelton’s cousin, does not show up until they arrive at Beauville, while in the book he’s with them throughout the encounter with the Indians.

Overall Adaptation:
It would have been easy for Harris to change the story to involve more action, more sex, and all in all make it a more acceptable Hollywood film, but he does not. This is a very respectable, direct adaptation that preserves its engaging story and transforms it into an instantly classic western.

In preperation to watch and review “Appaloosa“, I took another look at the film’s trailer. Watching this trailer leads me to believe that if you’re looking for a direct adaptation of Robert Parker’s novel, look no further.  Every line of dialogue uttered is directly from the book and I can place every shot down to the chapter.  It’s amazing how Harris seems to have captured both the quiet, classic western aspect, the amazingly visual style, and the tongue in cheek humor of the book.  I can’t wait to see the film and compare, but for now I’d say this trailer is a great start.

Appaloosa by Ed Harris This weekend Ed Harris’ adaptation of “Appaloosa” hits theaters in limited release.  The western is based on a 2005 Robert B. Parker novel.

The film is centered around Virgil Cole (Harris), a lawman, and his sidekick Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen). Cole and Hitch are hired to defend a 1880s lawless town from a murderous rancher, Randall Bragg (Irons). Their efforts are disrupted and their friendship is tested by the arrival of Allie French (Zellweger), an attractive widow.

“Appaloosa” is one of many adaptations that are being released in the fall/early winder season. We’ll be seeing the film this weekend at the ArcLight Hollywood, which will also feature a Q and A with Ed Harris, the film’s director/star. Phasekitty will be writing a book to film comparison early next week.

Appaloosa Book CoverCurrently I’m plowing through the 2005 Robert B. Parker novel which inspired the Ed Harris western due out September 17th. So far, I’m bowled over by how much this book reads like a classic western. When I settle down with this novel, I feel like I’m being transported to Monument Valley and reliving a John Ford film. I was astounded to find that this book was written just 3 years ago and not 50. It’s refreshing to see that it’s not just modern films that are reinventing the western (such as last year’s excellent 3:10 to Yuma), but novels as well.

I try not to let what I know about the film influence me while I read, but even without watching the trailer it’s sometimes hard to do. I picture Ed Harris while I read about the stoic Virgil Cole, while Everett, who tells the story, continually brings to mind Viggo Mortensen’s face. The only cast member I have yet to place is Jeremy Irons as the villain Bragg. For some reason, I can’t get the image of Lee Marvin out of my head, though I know that’s just from watching too many Ford westerns.

I’m excited to see Harris back behind the camera again, though the last film he helmed was not without its flaws. Pollock was superbly acted, but the story was inconsistent. Here Harris has great source material with a straight forward narrative and a very visual style. I can’t wait to see how he translates it to the screen.

For a full list of fall/early winter film adaptations, click here.