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Old March 8th, 2004, 12:17 AM   #1
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Last Year's Other Western: The Missing

Because of the trailers and previews, I skipped this one at the theaters. Mea culpa. Thought it would be sappy, with Ron Howard directing. But he did a good job with the story, and so did his cinematographer, Salvatore Totino. Lovely shots of the southwest US, and it appears most of it was done on location (New Mexico). The dvd looks strikingly good. You can call me a sucker for liking action movies with real dialog and strongly developed characters. Is this as good as The Searchers? No, but that film is a classic. It takes several decades to assess where a film stands, historically speaking.

There is a bonus disc with interviews and a making-of featurette, but I'll probably watch it in the next few weeks. Too much to catch up on, including the very interesting Walk on the Wild Side (1962), with Laurence Harvey and Jane Fonda. This is a fascinating B&W film, and you'll be impressed with the look and feel the moment you start watching. The black cat fighting another alley cat, and the cool music. Great shadow lighting. It makes you long for the great days of B&W film, and the film noir look.
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Old March 8th, 2004, 09:31 AM   #2
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With respect to your opinion, Marc, I thought "The Missing" was one of the top-ten "dogs-of-the-year." I would be surprised if it made it's money back in release.

You know, it all comes down to a matter of personal taste.

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Old March 8th, 2004, 10:22 AM   #3
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I actually liked "The Missing" very much. Although I usually don't care much for Tommy Lee Jones, I thought he did a great job of playing the white-man-turned-native role very well. Funny how the marketing campaign rolled out trailers painting it as a horror movie. It ain't. It's a western.

Critics panned the Penn-directed "The Pledge" with Nicholson a couple of years ago; I thought it was highly underrated and consider it to be one of the best movies of that season. As Wayne Orr notes above, it's strictly a subjective thing. Everybody raved about "Chicago," for instance. The music and dancing were great, but in my view there wasn't one redeeming character in the whole story.

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Old March 8th, 2004, 10:23 AM   #4
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I am one that liked The Missing and also like Ron Howard.

I think Cate Blancheet is superb in the film (as all films she does). Tommy's performance seemed a bit forced, but overall, I really enjoyed this film. Reminded me somewhat of The Searchers and that is okay. This film was not your typical modern day western. I reccomend it.
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Old March 8th, 2004, 11:58 AM   #5
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I wanted to like The Missing, but overall just couldn't. I do think the young girl (the one who goes along with Tommy Lee and Kate) gave the third-best child performance of the year.* (That's a compliment. It was a competitive year.)

I thought The Missing had a couple of places of lazy writing that I couldn't forgive. (I won't blame the writer for the lazy writing until I've read the script.)


1. The younger girl gives away their position on the ridge when she look through binoculars.

2. The fight at the end. We're supposed to think that Tommy Lee is dead, but, surprise, he's not. He can now defeat the villian and die nobly.

*Tied for first are the boy who lost his arm in Master and Commander and the girl who starred in The Whale Rider.
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