It premieres at the Venice Film Festival this Friday (31st August), and going on the synopsis it’s both an homage to John Ford and a typically atypical Cox movie. Plotwise there’s a coupla fellas going to Monument Valley to catch an open-air screening of The Searchers, and, um, Coxian things happen.
I like Alex Cox. Through his tenure on Moviedrome Alex Cox opened my eyes to films and ways of seeing film I doubt I would have come across on my own. I vividly remember seeing Get Carter for the first time (memorable all the more because my dad got back from a tenpin tournament that evening and told me my team had won the handicap competition – no sniggering). I remember the Alligator/Q The Winged Serpent double bill. I remember peculiar Westerns like Il Grande Silenzio, The Beguiled and Django; I remember Westerns-in-sheep’s-clothing like Yojimbo, Coogan’s Bluff and The Road Warrior. He introduced me to Hitchcock (Rope), to Mamet (House Of Games), to Raimi (Darkman), to Romero (Knightriders), to Carpenter (Assault On Precinct 13, Halloween & Escape From New York). More importantly, he made non-English language films seem less poncey and more approachable, which in turn helped me lose some of my parochial outlook in general.
And of the films he has made, I’ve enjoyed them all. Walker is probably my favourite. If you’ve not caught it, do. It’s about a 19th century American adventurer who invaded Nicaragua, but it’s not some trad historical epic. It throws anachronistic stuff like helicopter gunships into the mix, just in case the polemic is passing you by. When it comes to US foreign policy, and South & Central America’s beholdenness to Washington, Cox lets you know where he stands, and rarely in too subtle a way. After all, he turned down the chance to direct big budget Hollywood comedy ¡Three Amigos!:
I would essentially have been a hired hand for some comedians from Saturday Night Live. It would not have been a good experience, for them or me. The script had these weird political overtones: it promoted the idea that Americans have the right to intervene in a violent way in foreign countries – for all that it was supposed to be a comedy, it was actually propaganda for the Monroe Doctrine.
Anyhoo, like I said, I’m looking forward to seeing Searchers 2.0.