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After a summer that largely has been disappointing in terms of movies, it was great last weekend to see Hell Or High Water, an absolutely terrific modern western that takes place in dusty, desolate west Texas, while portraying a classic battle between the law and outlaws.

Chris Pine and Ben Foster play a pair of brothers who embark on an odyssey during which they rob small Texas banks, never stealing very much money, but moving relentlessly from branch to branch. They are very different people - Pine is more thoughtful, Foster more impulsive - and have different motivations, but they also are fiercely loyal to each other. They are tracked by an aging Texas Ranger just weeks from retirement, played with laconic gusto by Jeff Bridges, who doesn't see the act of turning in his badge as a reason to stop seeking justice.

Hell Or High Water is wonderfully written and directed - by Taylor Sheridan and David Mackenzie, respectively - with insightful, beautifully detailed performances ... including those by people in smaller roles who populate the banks and cafes of the beaten up towns portrayed in the film. (One of them actually has been shown on film before - in The Last Picture Show, which Bridges made early in his career.) And one of the subtexts of the film is thought-provoking - that the banks from which the brothers are stealing may be actually bigger criminals (or at least more ethically challenged) for how they have treated their communities.

Hell Or High Water is wonderful movie-making - it is about people and ideas, not just about explosions and special effects. I really, really recommend you see it.




People who grew up loving movies are likely to have read 1966's "Hitchcock/Truffaut," which essentially was a long series of conversations with the iconic director Alfred Hitchcock conducted by French filmmaker Francois Truffaut - going through each of Hitchcock's movies, shot by shot, line by line, to talk about content, context, style and intent. Reading it is a kind of master class in moviemaking, and I can remember poring over it for hours.

Now, there is a documentary out, Hitchcock/Truffaut, currently showing on HBO, that both portrays the backstory behind the interviews and visually demonstrates some of the things discussed in the book. It doesn't have quite the depth of the original, but it is a delight, mostly because it effectively shows us two master filmmakers who were utterly in love with their craft. I loved it, and if you like movies, I think you will, too.

Ands if you're like me, you're suddenly going to have a craving for Vertigo and Rear Window.




Summer is almost over, which meant that last night was a good time to drive out to Jones Beach on Long Island to see Jimmy Buffett in concert. Buffett is almost 70, but he shows no sign of slowing down - he did almost two hours straight last night, singing almost all his favorites, doing a nice tribute to Glen Frey, and just generally keeping the crowd singing, dancing and robustly entertained. It's been a long time since he wrote "Margaritaville," but he seems to have lost none of his enthusiasm for performing and for preaching the gospel of kicking back, having a beer, and just generally having a good time.

Play on, Jimmy.

It's time to go to summerzcool
The courses are easy and there are no rules
At summerzcool
Remember what is and is not cool
You need to stay in summerzcool
This is the time and the place to act like a fool
Oh, summerzcool
Just know when to keep and to break all the rules...


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