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Its success prompted a rush of revisionist 90s reckonings with Native American culture from white film-makers

Martin Scorsese’s rather magnificent Killers of the Flower Moon is two weeks away from cinemas, and its marketing campaign has been fascinating to observe. What was initially pitched as a Leonardo DiCaprio-starring period crime epic has been repositioned to emphasise its story of atrocities brought against the Osage Nation. The presence of Lily Gladstone, the film’s superb Indigenous star, has been elevated. It was recently announced that she’ll campaign for the best actress Oscar, not supporting, while Scorsese has admitted that the script was rewritten during filming to centre its Native American characters: “After a certain point, I realised I was making a movie about all the white guys,” he told Time magazine. No more.

Consider it the latest step in Hollywood’s evolution regarding the representation of Native Americans on screen, a century or so after Indigenous characters mainly served as target practice for white cowboys in dime-a-dozen westerns. One need only trace John Ford’s career to see how it gradually dawned on the industry that this might not be good enough. Whereas his 1939 white settler saga Drums Along the Mohawk (unavailable to stream in the UK) made a plainly villainous obstacle of Native American warriors, 1956’s more poetically conflicted The Searchers ascribed a human motivation to their violence, while his final film, 1964’s ravishingly shot Cheyenne Autumn, was an overt mea culpa on Ford’s part – a sympathetic reflection on colonial abuses, albeit one that still put white saviours front and centre.For several decades, that would remain the industry’s default compromise on the subject, from Arthur Penn’s sprawling, semi-parodic western Little Big Man (1970), tracing more than a century in the life of a white man (Dustin Hoffman) raised by the Cheyenne Nation, to the lively but rather naive action film Billy Jack (1971; Amazon), with its half-Navajo Vietnam vet hero and oddly violent plea for peace. Windwalker (1981), a stately, heroic portrait of a veteran Cheyenne warrior, commendably features mostly Cheyenne and Crow dialogue but bizarrely casts British actor Trevor Howard in the title role.

The apex of this movement, of course, remains Kevin Costner’s Oscar-sweeping smash Dances With Wolves (1990), about a civil war soldier integrating with a Lakota tribe. It doesn’t get spoken of that much these days (and strangely, isn’t streamable in the UK), in part because its well-meaning grasps at representation now look rather dated.Its success prompted a rush of revisionist 90s reckonings with Native American culture from white film-makers, including Michael Mann’s roaring The Last of the Mohicans, with Daniel Day-Lewis as adopted Mohican hero Hawkeye; Walter Hill’s underrated historical biopic Geronimo, which went further than most by actually casting the excellent Indigenous actor Wes Studi as the eponymous Apache leader; and Michael Apted’s intriguing neo-noir Thunderheart, with Val Kilmer as a part-Sioux FBI agent investigating reservation murders. South African director Jonathan Wacks had a Sundance hit with Powwow Highway (Amazon), a vibrant, good-humoured road movie about two Cheyenne men reconnecting with their heritage. Disney got in on the act with its politically romanticised but Indigenous-positive Pocahontas; a decade later, Terrence Malick told the young woman’s story with rather more visceral beauty, and a remarkable performance by Q’orianka Kilcher, in The New World.

Hollywood has, however, been slower to embrace stories directly from Native American film-makers – one reason why Smoke Signals – a wry, gentle character study by Cheyenne-Arapaho director Chris Eyre, in which two young men spar over differing conceptions of their “Indian” identity – was hailed as something of a phenomenon in 1998. Eyre went on to produce Imprint, a compelling drama about a Lakota lawyer (a fine Tonantzin Carmelo) evaluating herself as she works a local murder case. But few have broken out since: the recent, ribald sitcom Reservation Dogs (Disney+), from Taika Waititi and indie Native American film-maker Sterlin Harjo, has filled a glaring pop-culture gap.
Outside directors have recently brought a more empathic perspective to Native American subjects. Chloé Zhao’s Songs My Brothers Taught Me (Mubi) and The Rider brought an elegiac ache to their portraits of reservation life, while Kelly Reichardt’s wonderful Certain Women introduced us to Gladstone – and, in her queer rancher character, a modern view of Indigenous femininity. Old habits endure: Taylor Sheridan’s otherwise gripping Wind River (Amazon) once again centred the perspective of white authorities in a story of Native injustice, while I have mixed feelings about Bone Tomahawk, a vastly entertaining, rip-roaring western that rests provocatively on savage Native stereotypes. Still, it increasingly feels there’s no going backwards: Scorsese speaks for many.

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A great actor, a vagabond in a great movie…Lee Marvin

The best of those studio directors who, more or less the same age as Orson Welles, began working in movies within a decade of “Citizen Kane” (1941) represent Hollywood’s “greatest generation.” Survivors of the Great Depression and often veterans of World War II, they fought the good war against assembly-line filmmaking. Robert Aldrich (1918-83) and Nicholas Ray (1911-79) were two.

Both men specialized in unconventional genre movies with larger-than-life antiheroes. Their vigorous melodramas and baroque action films were often self-consciously American. Like other members of the greatest generation, they were influenced by Ernest Hemingway’s emphasis on rites of midcentury existential manliness — although Aldrich’s “Emperor of the North” (1973), out on Blu-ray from Twilight Time, was inspired by the writing of and about Jack London, Hemingway’s precursor in literary swagger.

One of the strongest movies of Aldrich’s late career, “Emperor of the North” (a project originally intended for the mad macho man Sam Peckinpah) concerns the near-cosmic struggle between a laconic super-hobo known as A-No. 1 (Lee Marvin) and an implacably sadistic railroad employee (Ernest Borgnine) called simply the Shack, hobo slang for brakeman. The Shack is a killer who has never allowed a vagrant aboard his train; the ’bo who gets by him will be crowned Emperor of the North Pole, a pointedly meaningless honor that gave the movie its original title.

“The Road,” London’s memoir of riding the rails, was a tale of the 1890s; Christopher Knopf’s screenplay updates the action to 1933. The movie’s tone is post-“Bonnie and Clyde” Hollywood new wave, a scenic outlaw ballad mixing instances of extreme violence with ragtime high jinks. Lyrical passages with the sunlight streaming through the boxcar slats slam up against brawny Soviet-style montages of steel and steam. There are flickers of soft-focus period nostalgia, but the movie’s anti-authoritarianism is as resolute as the snub nose on Marvin’s fist-like face.
“Emperor of the North” opened a year after Martin Scorsese’s underappreciated “Boxcar Bertha” starred Barbara Hershey as a rail-riding union organizer. But Aldrich’s movie — a briefly glimpsed and appropriately hard-boiled young woman aside — plays out in an almost exclusively male world. Romantic interest, such as it is, is provided by a good-looking, aggressively callow aspiring hobo (Keith Carradine) named Cigaret (after London’s on-the-road nom de guerre), who functions as A-No. 1’s unwilling sidekick and pesky nemesis.
A-No. 1 is a canny operator, and so is Aldrich, who manages to spin a yarn at once discursive and streamlined. The action, filmed in and around Cottage Grove, Ore., on the same stretch of tracks as Buster Keaton’s “The General,” never leaves the sylvan Northwest. The ultimate battle, waged with chains, planks and axes between two primeval forces atop a speeding train, caps what finally comes to seem an abstract contest in time and space — a he-man illustration of the Johnny Mercer song “Something’s Gotta Give.”
“Wind Across the Everglades” (1958), directed by Ray from a screenplay by Budd Schulberg, a writer in the Hemingway mode, is another atmospheric, location-rich action film.
Set in the Florida Everglades in the early 1900s, the movie, out on DVD from Warner Archive, pivots on the mortal combat between two equally determined men. That this struggle pits Burl Ives’s brutal swamp rat, a poacher known as Cottonmouth (for the pet water moccasin in his pocket), against Christopher Plummer’s dedicated game warden, mockingly called Bird Boy, provides a backbeat of absurdity.
The movie’s tough-guy writer (brother to the producer Stuart Schulberg) and its bad-boy director were fiercely at odds. Fired before “Wind” wrapped, Ray rarely spoke of the film; Schulberg published his script but regarded the movie as a cobbled-together disaster. Yet in faraway France, the young critics of Cahiers du Cinéma saw “Wind” as additional proof of the director’s genius.
The war between Cottonmouth and Bird Boy (and perhaps Schulberg and Ray) makes for a compelling, occasionally brilliant mess. No one’s idea of an auteurist, the New York Times critic Bosley Crowther wrote that while “Wind” “happens to be one of the most disordered professional motion pictures we’ve ever seen, it also happens to be unusual, robust and picturesque.” Not to mention deeply and perhaps unintentionally idiosyncratic.
The surrealism is heightened both by inserted wildlife footage worthy of the National Geographic Channel and the lacunae left by truncated subplots. Bird Boy gets moral support and a Star of David pendant from a family of Jewish immigrants whose back story is never fully explained. Similarly, the absence of scenes identifying Cottonmouth’s teenage protégé as his son suggests that the boy may be his paramour, adding a possible subtext to the swamp rat brotherhood. Aside from a brief scene in a bordello (run by the retired stripper GypsyRose Lee), there is little preparation for the drunken face-off between Bird Boy and Cottonmouth, which ends with the all-American declaration “Here’s to livin’ free!”
Creepy reptiles share screen space with colorful supporting players. Schulberg may have been responsible for packing Cottonmouth’s gang with the circus clown Emmett Kelly, the jockey Sammy Renick and the heavyweight boxer Tony Galento, as well as casting the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer MacKinlay Kantor as a local judge, although Ray, who once programmed folk singers (including Ives) for the Voice of America, was more likely responsible for recruiting the Florida R&B artist Rufus Beacham (uncredited) as a fancy-house piano player.
Neither “Emperor of the North” nor “Wind Across the Everglades” is “Citizen Kane” (or even Welles’s last studio film, “Touch of Evil”). But both attest to a time when Hollywood often produced unheralded, offbeat, personal works of art.
‘Emperor of the North’ and ‘Wind Across the Everglades’: Fighters in Nature and Showbiz

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JEFF BRIDGES: I was kind of surrendering to the idea that I might die,” Bridges said of his illnesses


Over three years after his lymphoma diagnosis, Jeff Bridges reflected on a harrowing set of circumstances that left him on death’s door.

“It’s amazing the way the mind can forget all that stuff,” the 74-year-old actor told Page Six. “I don’t think too much about the past.”

Bridges revealed that during one of his bouts of chemo, he ended up contracting COVID, leaving him hospitalized for five months with extreme pain and very little hope.
“I was pretty close to dying. The doctors kept telling me, ‘Jeff, you’ve got to fight. You’re not fighting,’” he told People in May 2022. “I was in surrender mode. I was ready to go. I was dancing with my mortality.”
“I had no defenses,” he added. “That’s what chemo does—it strips you of all your immune system. I had nothing to fight it. COVID made my cancer look like nothing.”
Thankfully, the chemo session before contracting COVID was his last one, and he was able to go into remission while beginning this new fight. This allowed his body to fully focus on recovering, and with help from a procedure that used blood from other patients who had already beaten the disease, Bridges was finally able to make progress.
Over three years later, the actor is now “feeling” great and fully back into the swing of things, returning to film his upcoming show THE OLD MAN. It was while he was filming this show originally that he discovered he had lymphoma.
“I was doing those fight scenes for the first episode of THE OLD MAN and didn’t know that I had a 9-by-12-inch tumor in my body,” he told AARP Magazine. “You’d think that would have hurt or something, when they were punching me and stuff. It didn’t.”
Jeff Bridges recently walked the red carpet for the premier of his FX show THE OLD MAN, and fans were overjoyed to see the actor back after a series of health struggles.
While filming the show, doctors diagnosed Bridges with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The actor underwent chemotherapy, and during treatment, contracted COVID-19.
“I was kind of surrendering to the idea that I might die,” Bridges said of his illnesses. “That this might be the end of the race kind of thing, because that’s what’s going to happen to all of us at some point and maybe this was my time to go through that and I didn’t know.”
However, Bridges began to recover. The TRUE GRIT actor said that he realized that he still wanted to fight to stay alive.

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Alba will star in the lead role of Parker, who is the Special Forces commando

Netflix, Jessica Alba Team Up For Her First Movie In Five Years

Jessica Alba is coming to Netflix five years after her last feature film.

The streamer announced in a post on X this week that Alba will star in the Netflix original film Trigger Warning, which will debut on June 21.

The official description of Trigger Warning is as follows: “When a skilled Special Forces commando returns home to take over her family’s bar, she soon finds herself at odds with a violent gang running rampant in her hometown.”
Alba will star in the lead role of Parker, who is the Special Forces commando. Netflix also announced that Mark Webber, Tone Bell, Jake Weary, Gabriel Basso and Anthony Michael Hall are also starring in the film.
Trigger Warning is directed by Mouly Surya.
Alba’s last film appearance came in the 2019 crime mystery Killers Anonymous, which also starred Tommy Flanagan, Gary Oldman and Suki Waterhouse.

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