Tag: horses

The Mustang

April 17th, 2019 — 1:00am


The Mustang-rm

There is a program in a western U.S. maximum-security prison where inmates can learn how to train a wild mustang horse. If they succeed the horse can be sold at auction. Horses that can’t be tamed are often euthanized.

We meet Roman Coleman (Matthias Schoenaerts) a somewhat taciturn violent prisoner who becomes involved in this program. There are interesting well-photographed scenes where we see the trials and tribulations of men working with their horses. There are short but well-done supporting roles by Connie Britton a prison psychologist and Bruce Dern who plays the old guy who tells the prisoners how to train their horses.

Unfortunately, we learn very little about the previous background of the main protagonist as we are just given fleeting glimpses of what happened to him and his relationship with his adult daughter (Gideon Adlon) who visits him periodically in the prison. We learn essentially nothing about the other prisoners who are participating in the program and must have stories to tell.

Seeing a wild horse show some recognition to the human trying to train him is a touching emotional experience but is not enough to carry this film and make it worthwhile. We feel that the storyline failed and therefore the movie failed, however, well directed by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre. Even though there were some great scenes of horses running wild or even cozying up to their trainer, we just cannot recommend this movie. (2019)

Any comments are welcome in the section below 

2 comments » | 2 Stars, Drama

The Rider

April 13th, 2018 — 7:59am

Screened at the 2018 San Francisco Film Festival

Opens in U.S. April 13, 2018


The Rider


This film almost looks like a documentary, but it is actually a hybrid as the movie focuses on life crisis of a rodeo competitor Brady Blackburn. We meet him as he is recovering from a life threatening head injury, which we realized happened during his brilliant but very daring and dangerous competitive riding, which occurred on top of wild untamed horses. We come to understand his love of horses and his uncanny connection to them. He knows he is supposed to stay away from the sport as his brain and body must heal. We are given insight into his character as we see his relationship with a very good friend, who is a like brother to him and is now in a hospital brain damaged after being thrown from a horse. We also see his caring tender relationship with his younger sister who appears to have a developmental disability as well as his interactions with his caring father who had been very rough on him. The movie is directed by Chloe Zhao who met the star of the movie on an Indian Reservation while filming a 2014 movie titled Songs My Brothers Taught Me. This director certainly achieved some very interesting footage particularly as the star interacts and trains his horses.

To many people rodeo competitive riding and the heroes who participate in it is as captivating as competitive football is to many other Americans. It occurred to one of us that the movie could have very well been highlighting the dilemma of those football stars who are faced with life threatening head injuries from the sport that they also love (2018).

2 comments » | 3 Stars, Drama, Sport

War Horse

December 9th, 2011 — 9:25pm


War Horse sp –  Steven Spielberg, producer and director along with  his team may have made another classic film. The movie is based on a book by Michael Morpurgo  as well as Broadway show that had puppets for the horses. The screen play is by Lee Hall and Richard Curtis. The film has very well done elements, a music score by John Williams, photography by Janusz Kaminski and features Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Peter Mullan and Tom Hiddleston and what appeared to be a cast of thousands. The storyline  deals   with the universal appeal of the love of an animal, father-son relationship, accomplishing something against almost impossible odds, the fascination with epic war scenes, breathtaking scenery with magnificent colors and much more. The problem with this 146 minute  film is that is that it seems that Spielberg and the writers  couldn’t decide if this were to be a young person’s movie where you fall in love with the horse , root for it, cry with it and identify with the young people who befriend this lovely creature. Or is it really an adult movie which gives us the best and most realisitic  depiction of World War I  trench warfare and the battle scenes since , All Is Quiet on the Western Front ? It obviously is a combination of both which probably made it a little difficult for us to get completely lost in it since we weren’t sure if it was our child self or adult self that was into the film. At the point where we might think that it would a great film for our 10 year old granddaughter ( it is PG-13 however) , the story progresses where we are watching a fairly violent massive battle scene although no blood  is really shown. And just as we were getting into the realism of World War I we realize the German soldiers are speaking English with a German accent. ( German with subtitles may have been more realistic a la  Tarrentino’s Inglorious Basterds) . We recall reading stories where during World War I, opposing sides on Christmas Day or other occasions would emerge from their trenches and socialize and then return to their respective sides and continue to try to wipe each other out. This spirit was captured so well in the highlight of the film where two soldiers from opposites sides of the battle line meet midway between their trenches because they care about a horse. No doubt the appeal of this film will be to people from both sides of the age divide and should be enjoyed by most of them.(2011)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Family / Kids, War


June 17th, 2011 — 2:46am


Buck-sp– We came to this documentary film  knowing that we might not be the ideal audience for it since we are not big animal lovers or horse fans. Certainly the opening countryside scenery was beautiful and seeing the horses running free in the lush meadow was very attractive. Buck Brannaman, the main subject of this film is very appealing and has a commanding presence not only on the screen but in person as a guest at our screening. His sensitivity and ability to connect to horses is remarkable and has been a game changer in the approach to training them. He actually was the person about whom  Robert Redford fashioned his acclaimed movie, The Horse Whisperer . Reford appeared in this documentary and told how Brannaman is the real deal and ended up being more than the inspiration of  the script of his  movie but became a key advisor and actually was a his double in several scenes in which he did his magic with horses. The story hook of this documentary which caught our  attention was how Buck the man had started off as Buck the young kid performing in rodeos with his brother Smokey from a very young age with rope tricks and horse riding. Behind the scenes and at home their father beat them unmercifully. Ultimately Buck was placed in a foster home when outsiders discovered the whip marks on his body. Flash forward now to Buck working with a vicious angry young colt that can’t be controlled. Buck comes to understand the history of this damaged at birth horse which was treated badly by his owners and thus rather than attempting to dominate it, he tried to empathically understand it seemingly based on his own experiences. Obviously he can’t do this by psychotherapy and while we get some idea of his ability to communicate with the horse, it is something we, the audience have very little understanding of how he does it. He apparently has been very innovative with his concept of “starting” a young wild horse rather than the tradition of “ breaking” it. We wish that there had been more narration and explanation during  the somewhat repetitive scenes of working with the horses and training them. We saw many scenes with Buck holding flags in his hands and lightly touching the horses with them but we have no idea what that was all about. We also learn that Buck spends 9 months of the year driving around the country holding “clinics” and training people with his techniques while his wife during this time is raising their three kids- one of whom we meet as she is teenage horse women in the image of Buck. It would have interesting to learn more about all his kids and his wife who we briefly meet. In the Q&A period after the film in response to my questions Buck told us that Smokey his brother ended up spending 25 years in the Coast Guard certainly away from horses. The creative force behind the film and director of the documentary is  Cindy Meehl who is a horse owner and became inspired when she met Buck at one of his training sessions. She put together the private funding for her first film of any kind  as well as an experienced team that helped her make it.  The movie made it into the  Sundance Film Festival  and has been invited to film festivals throughout the US and the world. It certainly has made it out of the starting gate. (2011)

1 comment » | 3 Stars, Documentary

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