Tombstone-Rashomon (2017)

Release Date: April 8, 2017

Rating: 9/10

A group of time-traveling documentarians go back in time to video the historic Gunfight at the OK Corral, but they arrive a week late and are left piecing things together with the stories from the survivors of the event.

This movie is as if Tombstone and Rashomon had a baby that was very up front about what it was. It’s a story told from multiple perspectives, telling a slightly different story every time, about a very famous gunfight that happened in the American Wild West. History is written by the winners, though, and the filmmakers present something that calls into question if what really happened is what the history books agree on. But, the answer is that, unless an actual documentary crew goes back in time and films it, we’ll never know.

I should probably mention that I haven’t seen Rashomon yet. I understand the premise, which they obviously “steal” here and apply it to an American historical event, which isn’t a big deal since if we were going to get upset about movies stealing each other’s premises then every Slasher flick goes right out the window except the first one, along with every Superhero movie etc. I like that this film is very up front about it so you know right away you’re sort of playing a “spot the differences” game as we go from one perspective to the next, but because I haven’t seen the original, I can’t comment on whether this is a “shot-for-shot remake” or how much it’s stealing from it outside of the basic plot. But, really, even if it was a remake of sorts, that’s also forgivable considering how much big budget Hollywood movies do the same thing.

Okay, here’s what I think overall, this movie was very enjoyable but I wonder what the point of it is. Maybe to shine light on how history is mostly a fiction we all kind of agree on? Or maybe just to showcase what you can do with a good location and a decent cast of actors on a limited budget? Or maybe to pay homage to two great movies? Again, I enjoyed it, it’s also a very weird movie though and I’m not sure all of it was good.

I’m going to break everything down, okay, I think the acting is pretty great. I was totally caught up in the documentary style and realistic acting (aside from maybe a line or two that was delivered a little clunkily) it let me lose myself in this world. However, the things that took me right back out of it was the anachronisms, which I’m not even sure why they were there. For example, when they went through the Gunfight again in one scene, Wyatt Earp and company got in a cop car which drove them to what would soon become the scene of the event. This would be fine if I had some kind of explanation for it outside of the people involved thought it was cool. I’m not sure if these were meant as a joke either because, if they are, they really aren’t funny.

Well, now that I’ve written that out I realize that I pretty much liked everything else. The acting was pretty good, the writing was interesting and entertaining, the last interview with the “villain” was probably the most interesting to me as well, which makes a very good point of “If I had wanted to kill Wyatt Earp that day…” and makes me wonder what really went down in 1881. I liked the cinematography and the presentation of the whole thing, the sound and music was pretty good too.

SCORING:

+9.5: Really only a few issues around the edges. I’ve never seen an Alex Cox film before but I can see why he has a cult following. This feels like an expertly crafted film, even if done on a limited budget

-1: I’m confused what the point ultimately was

-1: There might be something artistic that’s going right over my head, but the anachronistic moments just don’t work. With that in mind, the whole time travelers angle doesn’t really do anything for the film either and I feel without this angle, and instead the interviews were being conducted by a newspaper man of the time, or something similar, it wouldn’t subtract anything from the film

+1.5: Everything else in the film works, the acting, writing, cinematography, music all help to make you feel like you’re participating in this historical mystery along with these time-traveling documentarians

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