Tommy Lee Jones and “The Homesman” (Missed Movies)

Tommy Lee Jones The odds are pretty good that you might have missed even hearing about a movie last year directed by and starring Tommy Lee Jones that also featured Hillary Swank, Meryl Streep, John Lithgow, James Spader, Tim Blake Nelson, Hailee Steinfeld, and several other stellar actors. But through the miracle of DVDs, you may now catch up on the odd but fascinating movie The Homesman (2014).

The movie is based on a book by Glendon Swarthout, who wrote several books that have been made into movies, including Bless the Beasts and the Children and The Shootist. Although the actors and crew argue about whether or not The Homesman is a Western, the film is set in the 1850s of what was the West at the time, the Nebraska Territory (although much of it is filmed in northern New Mexico). And, like many Westerns, the film features beautiful images of the open landscape with wonderful cinematography (by Rodrigo Prieto).

Much of The Homesman centers on Mary Bee Cuddy (Swank), a resourceful, intelligent, and lonely woman living on the frontier. In several disturbing scenes, the movie shows us how harsh conditions and tragedies affect the mental health of three women who live near Cuddy. As a result of their deterioration, the townspeople select Cuddy to take the mentally ill women back to civilization. As she prepares for her journey, Cuddy encounters George Briggs, who through some odd circumstances she recruits as the “homesman” of the title, a term for someone who takes immigrants back home.

Threads of mental illness, loneliness, and the harsh landscape run throughout the movie, which features haunting images throughout. Few movies present such scenes of oddness that touch on the fact that the Old West must have contained many disturbed characters, although we see flashes of it in somewhat odd movies like Missouri Breaks (1976) (with Marlon Brando in an odd portrayal of a character talking to his horse) and Dwight Yoakam’s interesting but messy South of Heaven, West of Hell (2000). Similarly, there is a standout strange scene in Dances With Wolves where Costner encounters a soldier driven crazy by his time on the frontier.

Homesman is made up of many such images but ties them together in a fascinating story that seems real and honest. None of the characters are perfect and they all have their own demons and weaknesses. Because of that, the movie strays from the traditional Western format that focuses on heroes who save the day. The movie is not predictable, and while not perfect, you will not soon forget it. Tommy Lee Jones continues to show a unique directing eye as he did in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005) and The Sunset Limited (2011).

Conclusion? If you have a taste for an unpredictable honest raw movie about unusual but real characters, and if you enjoy beautiful shots of the desolate Western United States, you might enjoy The Homesman. While it is not a great classic, it is a memorable unusual film that generally received good reviews and is worth your time.

{Missed Movies is our continuing series on good films you might have missed because they did not receive the recognition they deserved when released.}

What did you think of Homesman? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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  • Dwight Yoakam on Acting and Music
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    Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell On “The Traveling Kind”

    Emmylou Rodney

    Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell are following up their duets album Old Yellow Moon (2013) by teaming up again on The Traveling Kind. The album, which will be released May 12, is produced by Joe Henry and will feature eleven songs, with six written by Harris and Crowell.

    Below is the title track from the new album, “The Traveling Kind.” Check it out.

    The album will also include a cover of Lucinda Williams’s “I Just Wanted to See You So Bad.”

    Leave your two cents in the comments.

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  • Van Morrison: Til I Gain Control Again
  • (Some related Chimesfreedom posts.)

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    “Little Prince” Trailer (in English)

    Little Prince Movie

    An English-language trailer for the upcoming film The Little Prince has been released, following an earlier French trailer version. The much-anticipated movie, which will bring Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s novel to the big screen, intertwines the story of the prince with a story about a little girl and her mother.

    An all-star cast provides the voices in the movie, and they include Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Jeff Bridges, Benicio del Toro, Paul Giamatti, Ricky Gervais and James Franco. Check out the new trailer.

    The Little Prince – International Trailer 2 by Orangefr

    The Little Prince will premiere at Cannes.

    Leave your two cents in the comments.

  • Trailer for “The Little Prince”
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  • (Some related Chimesfreedom posts.)

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    Bane Humor

    Cat Dark Knight

    Warner Bros. recently confirmed that the scenes in The Dark Knight Rises (2012) where Bane was doing something with some type of string was a reference to Madame Defarge’s knitting in Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities. The revelation ties together several aspects of the film that connect to the Dickens book, including similarities between Defarge and Bane, Commissioner Gordon quoting A Tale of Two Cities at Bruce Wayne’s funeral, and similar endings of sacrifice. We have not thought about a movie’s connection to a great work of literature since we thought about Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan‘s connection to a famous Herman Melville whale.

    In light of this new information about Bane and Tom Hardy’s portrayal of the villain, Chimesfreedom figured it would be a good time to look back at some of the funnier videos about Bane in case you missed them the first time around. For example, in this video from Funny or Die, Chris Kattan imagines what life would be like for Bane were he in a normal job like telemarketing.

    But even before the movie was out, Pee Wee Herman gave us his own impression of Bane as well as other characters in The Dark Knight Rises trailer. Check out the Pee Wee version of the trailer done for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

    In one episode of South Park, Cartman invoked his inner Bane while using one of his own catchphrases.

    In this video, comedian Sam Beman went through the Chick-fil-A drive thru to order some food as Bane. Check it out.

    And there is my favorite, the tale of Bane Cat. Here is the original video featuring Bane Cat.

    There is a Part 2 and “Christmas with Bane Cat” which you may watch on YouTube (although I much prefer the above episode over the sequels). And do not worry, as explained in the “making of” video, Bane Cat was not harmed during the making of the video.

    What is your favorite Bane video? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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  • (Some related Chimesfreedom posts.)

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    “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Teaser Trailer 2

    As the Christmas release date of Star Wars: The Force Awakens approaches, we will keep seeing new clues about the much-anticipated film. This week, we got to see a little more, including a glimpse of several old friends. Check it out.

    What do you think? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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  • “Star Wars” Blooper Reel
  • (Some related Chimesfeedom posts.)

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