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I’ve been wrapped up on a TV/Movie watching kick for the last few days. I wildly set my Tivo to record every show I haven’t watched in the last 6 months to catch up on where a bunch of series were headed, because if I get a last-minute audition for Ghost Whisperer or something, it’s good to know that the ghosts don’t look pretty when they talk to the main character, and the tone is different from the similarly-themed Medium. And it has a lot of excellent hair and skin πŸ™‚

With half the shows recorded, I ended up fast forwarding to the end, because it’s really hard to just jump into an episode when I don’t know where the characters are coming from. It was refreshing to catch something like Law and Order, because it’s a nice tidy story that I can immediately leap into, unlike Grey’s Anatomy where the lineage of “who’s slept with whom” is critical to understanding why one person is tiffy with another πŸ™‚ I did start to get into Bones, and the new Flash Gordon is so cheesy I can’t help like it. A little bit. Oh, and Weeds is GREAT. That went on the list of “Shows I want to watch without thinking like an actor”.

The best thing I’ve seen in my spree movie-wise is the Russian movie called “Nightwatch.” I think visually, it was the most interesting film I’ve seen in a long time. Most films seem like the director storyboarded all the cool shots in the beginning 15 minutes, and then after that, it turns into standard cinematography. This movie, even if you were like “What the hell is going on in this scene”, had breathtaking visuals that kept you wondering “how they did that?!” I was thrilled to see that the director has a big Hollywood film coming out called “The Wanted” with Angelina Jolie. Can’t wait to see if he retains his flair in English!

Lastly, I’ve watched like 6 Westerns. The best part of being a actor for me, is the part where I get to immerse myself in cultures/research that I’m not familiar with. Boy, do I have my hands full with this one πŸ™‚ I don’t want to be specific as of yet, but I am currently working on a role that has both Western and Religious themes, two of the areas which I most avoid in my daily travels. When I was a kid I ate up movies, but I tended to avoid Westerns and Military pics. I’ve rounded up a lot of DVD’s and am plowing through them, crash course in the genre. I’m starting to enjoy them! They have a set of cliches that become a little predictable, but the characters are interesting, and I try to ignore the total political incorrectness of vilifying American Indians and mowing them down like they’re James Bond henchman. πŸ™‚ If anyone could recommend any specifically with strong women characters, or religious themes I would love to add titles to my growing collection of research!

  • Cicatrixtwigs

    I love Nightwatch. A Russian friend (and *cough* guildmate) of mine is bugging me to read the books… she’s adamant they are better than the films. I still have a whole stack to get through before i get around it it though (i brought like 7 new books this month already, gah!), but i probably am going to get around to it as it seems like its going to be forever before we even get Daywatch translated onto DVD here in the UK.

    If you want good TV, watch Dexter. I know its had much more press in the US than it has over here, but if its somehow passed you by you should catch it. It’s beautiful… even if thinking that does get you strange looks off people who dont quite “get” the artistic merits of film. haha

  • Robert

    As far as westerns & women go, check out ‘Pioneer Women’ by Joanna Stratton. It has first-person accounts from women on the frontier about most aspects of life: religion, family, entertainment, school, community, and meeting cowboys & Indians. It’s still in print, and can be had through interlibrary loan. I’m using it for two of my upcoming nonfiction books. It’s a really good read. About the only movies that might fit would be the ‘Sarah Plain & Tall’ series of TV movies.

  • Dustin

    If I may make a suggestion. I just got back from seeing “No End in Sight.” Since you expressed that everyone should see “Sicko” I thought it appropriate to push others in a Documentary direction.

  • TinaTurner

    i love you… πŸ˜€

  • I so rarely get to watch much TV nowadays, even with my Tivo I sometimes only catch up with CSI:Miami reruns or Food Network shows (food pr0n!)… waiting for the new season to start, I miss NCIS…

    I remember a really good adaptation of the Joan of Arc character, was it a TV movie? Came out in 1999, had Leelee Sobieski in it. Don’t know if you can obtain it to watch.

    So far as westerns go, i have a soft spot for the Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns… so I can’t really give any “decent” recommendations, heh… But watch “Unforgiven” if you haven’t yet. One of my favorite westerns. Well, aside from “Silverado”. But I’m cheesy that way.

  • Ben

    It’s hard to find strong women characters in westerns. It pretty much goes against the entire genre. Manly men doing manly things usually doesn’t leave much room for strong women. In most westerns that I’ve seen, the women are convenient victums.

    My western movie suggestion is Unforgiven. I think Unforgiven might be the best western film of all time and Clint Eastwood is the man. If you haven’t seen it, I’d watch that before you watch Bananas. (still haven’t seen that one, eh?)

  • i liked a lot the “nightwatch” movie, i heard somewhere theres a “daywatch” on the way but im not sure. in tv series, i heard good comments on a serie named “jericho” you should check that, and definitely check on “lost”. greetings and have a beatiful day! bye!.

  • Unforgiven is on my DVD player next in line for a watch. I really appreciate these suggestions, I’m looking everywhere for Sarah Plain and Tall, what a fab one, thanks Robert! What are you working on that makes you so specifically full of pertinent information on this topic? I’m going to the library to see if I can get it before filming starts on Thursday.

    And if the Nightwatch series is based on books I’m totally ordering them! I have a feeling it will be a little more understandable if I read it. Or not.

    Lastly, I love you too Tina Turner.

  • Day Watch got a limited US release on 1st June (it came out in Russia in January 2006) but I don’t know when it might get a bigger release. We don’t get it in the UK until 5th October (boo!) The third part, Twilight Watch is meant to be released this year in Russia.

    As for Westerns, the must sees are Sergio Leone films (The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, A Fistful of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More and Once Upon A Time In The West), High Noon, The Wild Bunch, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Outlaw Josey Wales, High Plains Drifter (or Pale Rider if you want a little religous reference). As for women in Westerns, I can only think of Cat Ballou (a comedy western) or Robert Altman’s “McCabe and Mrs Miller”.

    That should keep you going for a while! πŸ™‚

  • I was going to recommend “Unforgiven,” but it’s been years since I saw it. (In the theater, I think, was the last time.

    One you may not have seen is “Rooster Cogburn,” with John Wayne and Katherine Hepburn. It’s been years since I’ve seen that one, as well, but I remember her character being very real to my teenaged self. (Doesn’t mean much, though.)

  • Ah, also, you have to see the Magnificent Seven. It’s a classic. It’s based on an Akira Kurosawa film (Seven Samurai) that I could never bring myself to watch.

    The music itself is a great reason to watch the American one. I’ve seen it at least a dozen times.

  • antraxa

    I watched Nightwatch, and the constant “WTF?” feeling totally prevented from appreciating any good visuals.
    Anyway, I’m not much into Westerns, but the day you decide to get into really bad horror B-movies… I put all my knowledge to your service.
    Oh, and there is a Daywatch. Don’t know where you can watch it, though, but it exists.

  • William George Ferguson

    James Welborn Says:
    One you may not have seen is β€œRooster Cogburn,” with John Wayne and Katherine Hepburn.

    Before watching Rooster Cogburn, you should watch the movie (or even better, read the book) it’s a sequel to, True Grit. Maddie isn’t quite a woman yet, but I doubt you will find a stronger female character in any other western.

    Hmm, western, strong woman, religious, oh lord, you’re in a remake of Three Mules for Sister Sara! πŸ™‚

  • doctor Ferris

    Hi Felicia,
    I am surprised that nobody has mentioned “Two Mules for Sister Sara” Made in 1970 with Clint Eastwood and the prettiest redhead before you came along, Shirley Maclaine. Not a complete classic but interesting themes if you consider the context of the late sixties.

    enjoy, Carlisle Ferris

  • Joe

    Hi Felicia,

    Caught your link from, watched The Guild and lol’d.

    Anyhow, the best western I’ve seen lately is Serenity. =) (wow, strong woman characters and even some religious themes. Thank you, Joss.)

    Otherwise, I also recommend True Grit.


  • Courtney

    There’s The Quick and the Dead, with Sharon Stone being a main character. Technically it’s a western, but more contemporary and stylized as Sam Raimi does. The acting is better than the script, imo.

    Also, another vote for Firefly/Serenity to fit the strong women/western theme. I’m not a big fan of traditional westerns or sci-fi, so for me to love this, it had to be that good. Same goes for Battlestar Galactica. Starbuck has become the epitome of a strong female role to me, but all the other women on that show are strong in their own ways.

  • Bah, Sarah Plain and Tall is out of print! I’m ordering it on DVD through a used Amazon dealer, but it won’t get here before I start working Thursday, alas.
    Shirley MacLaine, awesome suggestion you guys, thanks! She used to be one of my heroes, although I haven’t revisited her work in years. I think I need to watch The Apartment again soon, used to be one of my faves.
    And of course I thought I would get a bunch of Firefly suggestions with the peeps who post here πŸ˜‰ I’m generally focusing on more period stuff though. Saw ‘The Missing’ with Cate Blanchett, which was dumb because she’s such an amazing actress I started getting intimidated πŸ™‚ High Noon, Unforgiven were great, but my faves, totally unrelated to research of course, were the Sergio Leone movies. I think I’m addicted!
    Anyway, so much great help, I really appreciate it! Let’s see if it pays off πŸ˜‰

  • Hey Felicia!

    For westerns, I would suggest “The Outlaw Josey Wales”, “The Magnificent Seven” and “A Fistful of Dollars”. Now, the first is a Clint Eastwood pic that takes place after the Civil War, during the time of Reconstruction. Even though the character of Josey Wales is fictional, the movie is accurate for the times; Reconstruction, like the Civil War, was a brutal time in our past.

    Even though “The Magnificent Seven” and “A Fistful of Dollars” (speaking of Sergio Leone) are good, both are based on movies made by Akira Kurosawa, namely “Seven Samurai” and “Yojimbo”, respectively. I would highly suggest watching Kurosawa’s originals. In them, you’ll see a lot of the traits and personalities of characters that you would find in any western.

    Have a good day! πŸ™‚

  • Edgar

    I was so bummed out I missed the Daywatch release (vacationing) and now I can’t wait for the DVD or a future release in theatres… Nightwatch was a last minute movie I had just heard about and went to see it with a friend of mine, when it had its limited release.

    I loved the way the subtitles were integrated into the movie.

  • Tim


    You already watched my suggestion “The Missing” which is a great movie. I love westerns but alot of the old ones don’t have great strong roles for women. Rooster Cogburn of course comes to mind but it’s a movie made more recently (considering how many westerns get made per year or decade as it was).

    Although, Once upon a time in the west has a good female character, and it’s one of the all time greatest westerns ever. I know it was mentioned but if you haven’t seen it yet it’s pretty easy to pick up at target or quickly online and should be availble to rent at some places. Henry Fonda as one of the most evil gunfighters in cinema history is just something you have to see at least once.

    I’ll ask a friend who is as much into movies as I am if he has any suggestions and post them if he does.

  • Tim

    Oh, one more thing. I’m sure some of your blog readers already laughed about this but music from Once upon a time in the west was recently plucked note for note and is in the latest Pirates of the Caribbean flick. It’s pretty clear which scene it is.


  • Jen

    No one mentioned Lonesome Dove (the actual first miniseries in 1989, not the tv series)? The book was excellent too. The Anjelica Huston character was a pretty tough lady.

    If you can find it, I also suggest Johnny Guitar (1954). Joan Crawford is the saloon owner/boss lady and boy, is it one of the odder movies I’ve seen. Good campy fun.

  • Oh Lonesome Dove is really a good suggestion, thanks Jen. I think I even met the writer of that at some film festival in Austin when I was a volunteer. Neat connection!

  • Edgar

    Since we’re on the topic of “movies” I have a little gripe… Felicia may or may not remember the following synopsis but I just found it…

    “Edgar is unhappy with the way he looks. Hes a love-starved guy too insecure to look a woman in the eye. Edgar learns of an unorthodox cure for baldness that can give him everything hes ever wanted. However, vanity will lead Edgar down a dark path.”

    What the hell is up with every Movie or tv “Edgar” being a nerd, or loser, or Corey Feldman… I mean seriously!!! In “Men in Black” the alien cockroach kills and wears the farmer’s skin (his name is Edgar).

    I swear I am going to write and star in a movie where I (Edgar) saves the world and gets the woman…

    It kinda sucks that I DO look like a nerd, but that’s besides the point!

    Sorry… I’m too lazy to set up my own blog where I can properly gripe about it.

  • Andrew

    Speaking of Nightwatch, I had a similar response to it, like it was the first fully conceptualized visual theme I’d seen in ages. And you should read the book(s). The translation of Night Watch is pretty good, and the stories are great. It’s written a lot like Neal Stephenson, very visceral and almost always first-person narrative. The film is actually only about the first third of the book, with some of the themes of the second and third stories woven in.

    I’m reading the second book, Day Watch, which is a little less than what I’d hoped. It’s a sequel, a middle chapter, and I feel like it just drags on, like the middle parts of Empire. The film sequel, also “Daywatch,” is kind of a mash-up of the later stories in the first book and some of the stories of the second book. I haven’t seen it yet, but the American reviews don’t seem to like it so much. The second book is thoroughly Russian, even in translation.

  • Willem.

    Very late reply to this blog, but if you have not seen it yet I recommend “the quick and the dead” to you.

    It’s a movie about a cowgirl entering a shooting contest which is rather grim. Many interesting characters here as well.

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