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Author Topic: Ride With the Devil (1999)  (Read 2008 times)
dave jenkins
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« on: January 15, 2010, 02:59:00 PM »

Yes! Thirteen minutes of footage added back in: http://www.criterion.com/films/17282

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« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2010, 03:03:18 PM »

I didn't like it very much the first go round.  Cool

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« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2010, 03:21:30 PM »

This will be you chance to try it again.

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« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2011, 07:46:56 PM »

I enjoyed it.

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Ang Lee scores a home run with his Civil War epic Ride With the Devil (1999). This adaptation of Daniel Woodrell's Woe to Live On received middling reviews and a cold audience reception, but it's close behind Glory as one of Hollywood's best takes on the War Between the States.

Jake Roedel (Tobey Maguire) is the son of a German immigrant in 1860 Missouri, where a brutal guerilla war between pro-slavery Bushwhackers and free-soil Jayhawkers is spilling over from Kansas Territory. After Roedel's friend Jack Bull (Skeet Ulrich) loses his father to the Jayhawkers, Jake, Jack and hot-head Pitt (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) join a Bushwhacker gang led by George Clyde (Simon Baker) and his ex-slave Holt (Jeffrey Wright). The border war escalates into even further violence, as Clyde's gang joins up with the murderous William Quantrill (John Ales) in his sack of Lawrence, Kansas. Jake's German ancestry and friendship with Holt leads to a rivalry with Pitt, and a romance with widow Sue Lee (Jewel) further complicates things.

Ride With the Devil deals with a largely forgotten chapter of the Civil War. Hostilities had been raging in "Bleeding Kansas" since 1854, long before Ft. Sumter, giving rise to infamous killers like John Brown, Jim Lane, Bloody Bill Anderson and Will Quantrill. Missouri's plentiful German population sided with the Federal government, while slave-owners supported the Confederacy, and the Civil War took on a particularly brutal edge in that region. This lawless, internicine conflict generated atrocities on both sides, its legacy a generation of lingering hatred and criminals like Jesse James and Cole Younger.

A handful of films have addressed this brutal conflict. Dark Command, an early John Wayne vehicle, sees the Duke as a Jayhawker matching wits with Walter Pidgeon's Quantrill in the streets of Lawrence. Clint Eastwood's The Outlaw Josey Wales survives the conflict to continue a private war against the Unionist "Red Legs" who killed his family. And of course, there have been an slew of Jesse James films. Ride With the Devil, however, easily best these other accounts.

Ride With the Devil is a tapestry of moral ambiguity. The film's brutal brush warfare is far removed from the romanticized, heroic portrayals of Gone With the Wind and Gettysburg. There's little sense of ideology, whether states rights or slavery, in this conflict, with everyone drawn into the vortex of slaughter. Both sides commit atrocities, and those caught in the middle are subject: each of the protagonists loses a family member to the Jayhawkers, and don't bat an eye at gunning down unarmed men and boys at every opportunity. The film wonderfully humanizes its mostly-unseen Union soldiers through captured letters, providing welcome warmth that only emphasizes the war's cruelty.

Writer James Schamus's sensitive characterizations add to the complexity. Jake's dilemma is poignantly rendered: distrusted because of his German ancestry, he finds even his family isn't safe from Jayhawk depredation. The most interesting character is Holt, whose devotion to Clyde is unconditional - and who bitterly resents having his "freedom" subject to another man's whims. The film mostly avoids convention, with its mature treatment of its romance and resolving its central character conflict in an unexpected way.

Ang Lee's Hollywood work is hit or miss, but Ride With the Devil is some of his best work. The film is beautifully shot by Frederick Elmes, mixing gorgeous photography with brutally intense action scenes (and Mychael Danna's wonderful score). Curiously, what should be the film's centerpiece - Quantrill's raid on Lawrence - is a damp squib, filmed in a sterile and rushed fashion atypical of the rest of the film.

Skeet Ulrich was the biggest name at the time, but his star was ultimately outshone by co-stars Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man), James Caviezel (Wyatt Earp) and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (The Tudors). Maguire has never been better than his measured performance, mixing righteous anger with moral uncertainty. Rhys-Meyers plays a bit over-the-top but Ulrich and Caviezel score by underplaying their characters. Singer Jewel's strong performance provides the story's emotional rock. Jeffrey Wright (Quantum of Solace) gives a layered, sensitive portrayal of a truly unique character. Familiar faces like Tom Wilkinson (Valkyrie), Simon Baker (TV's The Mentalist) and Mark Ruffalo (Shutter Island) turn up in bit parts.

Ride With the Devil isn't perfect, but it's definitely one of the better Civil War films available. 8/10

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2011/08/ride-with-devil.html

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« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2017, 05:58:18 PM »


Hancock, is that you my good man?

I'll just piggyback your super review with my own.



I'd be bad meat pretty well rotted to a glob.

Ride with the Devil is directed by Ang Lee and adapted to screenplay by James Schamus (also producer) from the novel "Woe to Live On" written by Daniel Woodrell. It stars Tobey Maguire, Skeet Ulrich, Jeffrey Wright, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Simon Baker, James Caviezel and Jewel. Music is by Mychael Danna and cinematography by Frederick Elmes.

"On the Western Frontier of Missouri, the American Civil War was fought not by armies, but by neighbours. Informal gangs of local Southern Bushwhackers fought a bloody and desperate Guerrilla war against the occupying Union Army and pro-Union Jayhawkers. Allegiance to either side was dangerous. But it was more dangerous still to find oneself caught in the middle"

Made for $38 million and intended to be a sweeping epic for the summer blockbuster crowd, Ride with the Devil was a considerable financial flop. With a limited release both in America and abroad, the financial figures are hardly surprising. More so considering it was given next to no promotion by the distributors. Factor in a little controversy about the events featured in the story, some cuts made by the studio (Lee didn't have final cut) and a delay in home release formats because the distributor incredibly wanted Jeffrey Wright's presence removed from the cover art! Well you would be forgiven for thinking that the film has to be something of a stinker. Not so say I.

Part rites of passage drama, part reflective war movie, Ang Lee's film is a grand film viewing experience. Dealing as it does with the often forgotten part of the war down on the Missouri/Kansas border, where Lee also shoots on location, film manages to be both savage and lyrical in equal measure. The savagery comes with the fights, bloody, frenetic and high on potency, while the lyricism comes with the human relationships, internal conflicts and the political awareness of the men (boys) fighting for their cause. All given deft treatment by Schamus, whose screenplay contains crisp period dialogue and a narrative correctly showing that this part of the war was not just driven by racist Dixie's hell bent on revenge, violent lust and political allegiance, but often for family, land and rights. Picture is at pains to let us know the youth of the main characters, ramming home the point of boys forced to become men, killing machines, very quickly. Case in point, the culmination of the violence in the film that comes by way of the Lawrence Massacre, a tragic and upsetting slaughter that saw 180 people murdered under the leadership of a vengeful William Quantrill (John Ales). Lee and Schamus aren't interested in showing heroism in this particular war, they show it as futile, nasty and it leaves the taste of bile in the throat.

From here the film slows considerably, as the lead characters withdraw from the action of war, to awakenings and friendships forming. It's here where Lee is at his best. No great director of action, as evidenced by the previously mentioned Lawrence Massacre; which lacks the cutting edge to really grab us by the throat and never let go, but for human interest aspects and bucolic scenes with characters framed within, Lee owes film fans absolutely nothing. The latter of which he is aided considerably by Elmes' widescreen photography. Ulrich and pop star Jewel nicely handle their parts, he puts a confident swagger into Jack Bull Chiles, she is tender and unassuming in the pivotal female role of Sue Lee Shelley. Caviezel gives Black John Ambrose a brooding menace, while Jonathan Rhys-Meyers is on overdrive as sadistic loony Pitt Mackeson. But it's with Maguire and Wright that the acting plaudits go. Maguire has arguably never been better, he gives Jake Roedel an effective sensitivity as a virginal boy receives a violent initiation into manhood. Wright is sublime, said to be one of his favourite performances, Wright as freed slave Daniel Holt is the heart beat of the film. Conveying most of the good traits available to man, Holt fights not just out of loyalty to his friend George Clyde (Baker), but to gain ultimate catharsis in is life. It's a beautiful measured turn from Wright, and it deserves more appreciative attention.

The last third of it may be too talky for some, and a couple of dangling narrative threads left unanswered stop it from being a masterpiece. But it's close to being just that, a savage, beautiful and lyrical movie. The stupid studio execs had no idea: Putz's. 9/10

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cigar joe
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« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2017, 07:03:38 PM »

Yea Groggy is Hancock, but he hasn't posted in awhile.

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"When you feel that rope tighten on your neck you can feel the devil bite your ass"!
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