The Shooting ★★★★½

An absurdist comedy about a self-aware character who know he is riding toward doom but can do nothing but follow the script anyway. The energy exist in the humorous disconnect between the existential death march and the straightforward trek western with its emphasis on tasks and the physical realities of movinng throught the desert. So it remains at same time very practical and very self-aware as a movie. Hellman films everything in a very spare manner while very often making choices that are not how professional western are supposed to look like. There's something fascinating bu how the fout main performances clash: Perkins is very contemprary out of the western setting, Nicholson is aggressive mythic, Hutchins semi comic relief is as plain and fuctional as B oater performance gets while Oates always a pro manages to be very workman-like in his physical dedication while as a typical Oates character suggesting he actually does had an entire life before hitting a movie set. The Oates/Nicholson paring in particular fascinating in what it suggests about different takes on New Hollywood movie stardom. If the concept here ("let's impose the 60s into a 50s B western") couldn't be more clear, Hellman imagines in a very particular manner.

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