South Of Heaven, West Of Hell
DVD + DVD Audio
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Dwight Yoakam, Bridget Fonda. A U.S. Marshal tracks a destructive clan of outlaws, while a government man claims that the Marshal is actually a ghost of his deceased self. 2000/color/104 min/R/widescreen.
If you've never heard of South of Heaven, West of Hell, there's an excellent reason. If you have heard of it, it's probably because you stumbled upon the information that it marks the directorial debut of singer-actor Dwight Yoakam, who managed to sweet-talk a spectacularly quirky cast into abetting the enterprise: current girlfriend Bridget Fonda and her papa Peter; indie-world luminaries Vince Vaughn and Billy Bob Thornton (for whom Yoakam made a memorably loathsome villain in Sling Blade); character-acting stalwarts Bo Hopkins, Matt Clark, Luke Askew, and Scott Wilson; and such icons of the florid fringe as Bud Cort, Paul Reubens, and Michael Jeter. All should file for workman's comp and alienation of audience affection because they got themselves mired in one of the dumbest, most inept, most tediously self-indulgent messes in the history of showbiz hubris.
Yoakam stars (you guessed?) as a U.S. marshal whose tiny Arizona town is literally annihilated by a clan of outlaws from his past. He and they used to be family. Now he has to track them down, even as they go on making life hell on earth for anyone in their path. That includes a hapless government man (B. Cort) whom they're keeping alive for sport, and a traveling lady (B. Fonda) who ... well, who's blonde and is mostly photographed in slow motion because she's the director's girlfriend (see above). It is beyond the scope of mortal man to describe how primitive are Yoakam's notions of dramaturgy (mostly there is just shouting and hair), how any coherent grasp of time or geography eludes him, how little difference it makes whether these gargoyles start killing each other in any given scene. It's just awful. And while we're at it, offal. --Richard T. Jameson
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Vince Vaughan, the main antagonist is pretty funny but for me my favorite character was Nogales, played by Joe Unger. He is very crude and the parts he is in are hilarious. It's actually why I bought the movie. The movie also features Paul Reubens, aka, Pee Wee Herman, Terry McIlvain, as Dwight's sidekick, known to me as the goofy brother in Pure Country. His character wears a dress. Bigger stars Peter Fonda, Bridget Fonda and Billy Bob Thorton make brief appearances.
As far as a western it is unlike any western you have ever seen. Unlike the Man with No Name, every one is a terrible shot. It's probably actually pretty realistic, I mean who can shoot a man in the gut in an elevated position at 100 yards shooting a pistol from the hip.
If you are a fan of Dwight Yoakam or just like seeing strange stuff in movies then I would recommend. If you like Westerns where the hero shoots with the accuracy of RoboCop and kills everyone in one shot and never fires a stray bullet, then watch the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.