Off the Shelf: 'Open Range'

Reported by: James Eppler
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Updated: 5/30/2012 11:29 am

Too few westerns get made these days - even bad ones. So when a good one does come along, it's exceptionally rare and deserves attention.

Kevin Costner is starring in a History Channel miniseries this month called "Hatfields and McCoys," and for those who have followed his career, it's a welcome return to the genre.

I enjoyed watching him in 1985's "Silverado," and while "Dances with Wolves" is excellent, I have a hard time classifying it as a western in the traditional sense. He was also good in "Wyatt Earp," even though the movie wasn't so much.

So this week I wanted to highlight Costner's contribution to westerns that keeps bringing me back for repeat viewings.

Open Range (2003)
Director: Kevin Costner
Writers: Lauran Paine, Craig Storper
Stars: Kevin Costner, Robert Duvall, Annette Bening

What's it about?
Costner stars as a gunfighter now working as a hand for Robert Duvall, a cattleman. Their group moves their herd around "free grazing," until a corrupt lawman (Michael Gambon) makes a violent move against them.

What's good about it?
The male bonding stuff between Duvall and Costner feels authentic in a "sleeping under the stars and talk about your feelings" kinda way. It's also a beautifully shot film that builds to one helluva shoot-out in the end that is filmed with the precision of a man who has studied some classic westerns.

What's the best scene?

"You the one killed our friend?"

"That's right - I shot the boy, too and I enjoyed it."

Fun Facts:

-Costner turned down Quentin Tarantino for a role in "Kill Bill vol. 1" to do this movie.

-Costner poured a good amount of his own money into "Open Range."

EPPLER'S RATING: * * * * 1/2

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