Better Late than Never blog series…goes west: Closing thoughts

Well, it looks like it’s time for the “Better Late than Never blog series…goes west” to ride off into the sunset.

It’s been a great journey, and overall I’ve really enjoyed diving deeper into a genre I once thought I didn’t like.

I’ll still always have a special place in my heart for the movie that started to really change my mind about Westerns: “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” I watched that movie for a previous blog series, and while I didn’t expect to love it, I really, really did.

Because of that movie, I decided to do an entire blog series dedicated to Westerns. “10 years ago me” would have never imagined that I’d take on a project like this, but yes, I’m proud of the fact I can now call myself a Western fan.

I used to think that Westerns were all the same, which is not a good thing to assume about any genre. While Westerns do share some similar themes and settings, there is so much variety within the genre; you just have to find what works for you.

For me, the magic word turned out to be “revisionist Western,” a subgenre that deconstructs classic Western themes and presents a darker, grittier view of the Old West. I found I really connected with this style of Western, and by searching for Westerns that fit under that label, I found quite a few movies that I was really excited to watch.

Here are the movies I ended up covering as part of this series:

My favorite of these movies was “Hell or High Water,” which actually wasn’t on my original shortlist: This movie is actually what’s classified as a neo-Western set in contemporary times. Too often Chris Pine is underappreciated as an actor, and his nuanced portrayal as one half of a pair of outlaw brothers really sells this film. I watched it two months ago, and I’m still thinking about it.

My next favorite on this list is probably “Godless,” simply because it has something that a lot of classic Westerns are lacking: a wide variety of realistic female characters.

The only Western I watched that I wasn’t super crazy about was “Young Guns” (the cast was better than the script), and even though I didn’t love “Once Upon a Time in the West” at the time I watched it, I’d like to give it a second chance someday.

There were a couple movies on my short list that I didn’t get to: “Unforgiven,” “Silverado,” and “The Searchers.” The world was a very different place when I announced this blog series three months ago, and since the pandemic quarantine, I’ve had a harder time both accessing and concentrating on content.

However, I’d still like to watch those three movies someday, and even though I’m closing out this blog series for now, I feel like I’m taking away something very special: my willingness to try something new has now opened up an entire genre for me.

Part of what this experience has taught me is that when it comes to entertainment, it really does pay to keep an open mind. If you prejudge a film or a book or a TV show and say, “I’m probably not gonna like that,” you might miss out on something wonderful.

Sci-fi is my personal favorite genre, but I believe it’s beneficial as a film fan to watch a variety of types of content: comedy, drama, thrillers, etc. And now, I’m glad I can add Westerns to that list.

Happy trails!

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