ANY LAST WORDS?
MOVIE: ** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
The modern state of cinema isn’t great for fans of westerns. Every years, there’s a couple big-budget westerns that get some notice. This year, it’s “Django Unchained” that will bring out the fans of the genre. A couple years ago, it was “True Grit.” Previous years saw “Unforgiven,” “Open Range” and “3:10 to Yuma.”
However, westerns continue to be relegated to a place of less-than-second-class citizens of the movie world. They are a thing of a past for mass consumption. If you don’t believe me, hear the woes of the genre in the original “Toy Story,” which captures the loss of the genre from popular culture.
Usually, low-budget and microbudget films are made with a horror audience in mind. Less often, it’s just for the raunchy comedy audience. These two genres have been traditionally easy to capture because they lend themselves to low-budget filmmaking. But there’s always room for other genres.
Because “Any Last Words?” takes a passionate approach to the genre, it earned my respect. The production value looks like a lot of low-budget horror movies I’ve seen in recent years, but instead it’s given the western treatment. I can respect that from filmmaker Vaughn Taylor, and that’s an even bigger feat than her being a woman in a traditionally man’s world of western lore.
“Any Last Words?” tells the story of Bat Masterson, who lies dying in a field after a showdown between cowboys and Indians. He sees much of his life in flashback and he has to make a decision to live on or perish.
While I can respect the approach and passion for the genre, I was left cold by “Any Last Words?” Even though it’s presented in a traditional genre, the film takes a fiercely non-traditional approach. The film pulls in several different directions, attempting to be overly artistic and symbolic. The story is framed with a stream-of-consciousness approach, which could work for the written word but just gets murky and confusing as a narrative.
The acting is decent, but the cinematography could be improved. The crisp video look isn’t toned down enough in some scenes, making it feel more like a soap opera than a dusty western.
Still, this is better than another “Love Endures Whatever” sequel from the Hallmark Channel.
This DVD includes the theatrical trailer and other westerns from Lionsgate. There’s also a half-hour making-of featurette, which is more of a fly-on-the-wall production diary than a focused overview.