Directed by Walter Hill. 98 mins.
Worth my time? Yes. (Watched on DVD)
After stumbling with Geronimo, the Hillmography stabilizes itself with a story of the original “loose-cannon cop.” Hill sets Wild Bill apart from his other Westerns (and most of the genre as a whole) by presenting a portrait of a man painted with dreams, anecdotes, and memories. This method of storytelling has a high risk potential since it omits a spinal narrative arc on which to hinge its scenes. And while The film doesn’t reach the heights of Schrader’s ephemeral Mishima, it avoids the meandering pitfalls of W. or, heaven forbid, The Iron Lady. Solid piece o’ work overall.
The ace up Wild Bill’s sleeve (playing card reference huzzah!) is its stellar cast. Jeff Bridges is great in the lead, and actors from throughout the Hillmography – Bruce Dern, Diane Lane, James Remar, and Ellen Barkin, just to name a few – are on glorious display. Even Keith Carradine shows up, albeit for a single scene, but he steals the show as outlaw-showman Buffalo Bill. David Arquette turns in a surprisingly good performance as Jack McCall, delivering a dramatic presence for which a million Scream sequels and 1-800-CALL-ATT commercials could not prepare me.
– Young David Arquette bears an uncanny resemblance to Ryan Gosling.
– If anybody understands that the Old West was filthy as Hell, it’s Walter Hil. Deadwood creator David Milch should write him a thank-you note.
Next up in the Hillmography: Last Man Standing.
(Seen and originally written on 2013-02-17)