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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant - just brilliant cinema!
This is one of the best films of the last decade and ranks with the best of the last twenty-five years. Sayle's is the unsung secret of American cinema - you will have heard his dialogue in many a mainstream Hollywood movie,where he has been the script doctor the execs. turn to when they want something extra. Thankfully he still has time to produce cinema of extraordinary...
Published on 5 Mar 2001 by Prufrock

versus
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Where did this originate?
I bought this as a Christmas present. The recipient was somewhat bemused to find the entire package and packaging was in German - I hadn't noticed when I wrapped it. I played a brief clip on my laptop to check that at least the dialogue was in the original English. It is. However, I'm not sure where this version originated and to coin a phrase, "I'm not happy."
Published 7 months ago by PSR


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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant - just brilliant cinema!, 5 Mar 2001
This review is from: Lone Star [1996] [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This is one of the best films of the last decade and ranks with the best of the last twenty-five years. Sayle's is the unsung secret of American cinema - you will have heard his dialogue in many a mainstream Hollywood movie,where he has been the script doctor the execs. turn to when they want something extra. Thankfully he still has time to produce cinema of extraordinary range and ambition.
Lone Star is at heart a simple unsolved mystery - the body of a long missing but not mourned old style Texas sheriff. Cooper is the modern sheriff trying to put the pieces back together - and implicating his own father. But there is so much more here; Sayle's the scriptwriter effortlessly manages to combine family, race, history and politics into a very human, warm and at times funny story that lingers in the mind for a long time. Sayle's the director manages to produce a portrait of a border town so three dimensional and astute one cannot help but warm to the characters and their predicaments. He also gets topline performances from actors who would not normally be given such prominance by Hollywood. Standouts are Pena and Cooper but there is not a single weak link in the large cast - ensemble is always a strength in Sayle's films but this is probably the best single set of performances this side of Mamet. And don't forget Sayle's the editor, who manages with breathtaking ease to revolve the camera through 180 whilst going back or forward in time.
The travesty is this film was nominated for one Oscar only - for best script. But then again it is all Hollywood doesen't want to be - smart, intelligent, slow burning and controversial. If your not sure what I mean then you will whan you have reached the end - one of the most sublime subversive endings in modern cinema anywhere. Having recently bought the DVD from the US it is now a treasured possession. If you are looking for smart cinema look no further. Twenty years from now this will be a classic.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding and unmissable, 5 May 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Lone Star [1996] [VHS] (VHS Tape)
It's long and slow as a texas summer, and utterly compelling. The performances are intense, sustained and moving, the story is complex and based on a rich understanding of human nature, and the film plays constantly and subtly on the way memory works, the way the past influences the present and how we can take charge of the present despite the past. This film is one of the unsung greats of recent film-making. This film makes mainstream "intelligent" movies like American Beauty seem banal and jejune. I saw it on the big screen and it removed all of us viewers entirely from a rather grubby cinema in Piccadilly to another plane entirely. Buy it, watch it, and watch it again.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Skifully Woven Tapestry., 16 Jan 2010
By 
Bob Salter "Captain Spindrift" (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
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It has taken me a long time to finally watch a John Sayles film, and I am glad to say it was well worth the wait. This is one of the better films that I have seen in a long time, which somehow slipped under my malfunctioning radar. The film was written, directed and edited by Sayles, who finances his films through scriptwriting in more generic Hollywood fodder. But his own auteur's vision is as different to the staple Hollywood production line as the Parthenon is to a block of Manchester flats. Sayle's truly stamps his own hallmark deeply into the film.

The film itself is set in the 90s in the small Texas border town of Frontera. The town is situated on the Rio Grande opposite to its poor Mexican cousin Ciudad Leon. The location is ideal to explore the dynamics of people who live in an ever fluctuating multi cultural society. Part contemporary western, part love story, and part murder mystery it is like a hot spicy broth all mixed up and stirred vigorously. The body of an old sheriff gone missing in the fifties is discovered and an investigation into the suspicious circumstances of his death is commenced by the towns sheriff. Matters are further complicated by the fact that the current sheriff's father was also a former sheriff of the town, and is strongly implicated in the earlier disappearance. The plot then begins to weave a rich tapestry to bring interlocking stories together. We head to an ending with a couple of unexpected twists. Will the murderer be found nearly forty years after the crime?

The above synopsis hardly does justice to the intricacies of what is an extremely intelligent and perceptive script. Sayle's is a skilled storyteller who would no doubt be capable of writing fine books. He uses his skill to examine people from differing ethnic backgrounds tackling their own social problems. They grapple with historical identity, education and politics. This is a very ambitious undertaking that few would have pulled off, but Sayle's succeeds brilliantly. The story and language contained within in it is always totally believable and never trite. The ensemble cast, are all excellent, especially Chris Cooper as the son investigating his own fathers possible crime. Cooper has been used regularly by Sayle's, and is a fine actor in the Robert Mitchum mould. Kris Kristofferson appears in flashback to good effect, if all too briefly as the murdered racist sheriff Wade. Matthew McConaughey also makes a strong impression in the flashback scenes as Cooper's now dead father. This was before he became the doyen of the Hollywood fluffy bunny, girly films! The past looms large in the film, and is skillfully woven into the films fabric. The flashbacks are never intrusive and flow seamlessly through the film as facts and lives slowly emerge from the dark. This is a masterful film that should be seen at least twice to fully appreciate its qualities. A deserved five stars. Time to catch up on more of Mr Sayle's films!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A journey well worth taking, 21 Nov 2010
By 
B. D. Compton "Gettysburg" (Johannesburg,South Africa) - See all my reviews
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John Sayles has created a film that keeps one riveted to the screen from start to finish, with a storyline that is intriguing in its complexity of clashing cultures and underhand dealings in a Texas Border Town.

While it is a modern western whodunnit, the film is about people and their frailties
and these are deftly handled in a film of great depth, which makes you want to immediately see it again to understand more the nuances that come across.

The cast is superb with Chris Cooper( A very underated actor) giving a performance of a lifetime( See him also in the Civil War Film "Pharoah's Army").The cinemaphotography is wonderful, the musical score perfect for the storyline and the scenery to match.

I gave this film 4 stars and not 5 only due to the poor sound quality in places. This may be due to the DVD version i have purchased, but i do not think so as i think that some poor sound editing took place.(I found it difficult at times to understand what was being said). Yes, i am used to Southern Accents.

This film will most definately stay in my library and the film is a journey well worth taking.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an excellent film, 12 Jan 2012
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This review is from: Lone Star [1996] [Region 2] [import] [DVD] (DVD)
This film is superb. I saw it several years ago and have wanted to get a copy ever since. It has an engaging story and an interesting group of both central and peripheral characters. It is never what you expect it to be. It manages to touch the heart without being mawkish or overly-sentimental. The story is however quite romantic in an extremely off-beat kind of way. Definitely not mainstream. The acting, direction, writing is great. I rank this movie as one of my favourite films.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forget the Alamo., 28 Jan 2003
By 
Jason Parkes "We're all Frankies'" (Worcester, UK) - See all my reviews
(No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Lone Star [VHS] (VHS Tape)
John Sayles has been a major force in US independent cinema for the last 25 years, working from the precedent set by John Cassavettes. Sayles has written (or co-written) scripts for films such as Apollo 13, Pirahna & The Howling in order to make his own films that blend the personal and the poltiical. These have all been distinct works, from the charming Baby It's You to the thinking man's Castaway, Limbo (1999). Sayles has even pre-empted Hollywood- The Return of the Secaucus 7 (1980) pre-empting The Big Chill & Peter's Friends, while The Brother from Another Planet (1984) along with Repo Man (also 1984) was a much more interesting take on material diluted for Men In Black (1998).
Lone Star remains Sayles most popular film to date, having a degree of commercial success and being Oscar-Nominated for Best Original Screenplay (but losing out to the Blood Simple retread/A Simple Plan rip off, Fargo). Sayles wrote, edited & directed the film- which explores American mythology as much of his work has done.
The film opens with the discovery of bones & a Texas-Star badge, Chris Cooper (American Beauty) playing the son of a legendary cop implicated in this discovery. The film most famously shifts back in time in a most original way, where we see Cooper's father as a young man (played by Matthew McConaughey) & his conflicts with the murderous Kris Kristofferson. Add to this a subplot regarding a black army officer & his family, flashbacks detailing crossings of the Mexican/US border, a surreal scene where Cooper visits his disturbed wife (Frances McDormand) & the identity of a key character, revealing a revelation that could shift this into pornographic melodrama mode (but doesn't) and Lone Star can be seen as a complex historical thriller!
Ultimately the phrase "Forget the Alamo" sums up the film at the end- everything that has surfaced from the past is ultimately seen as useless. It is time for the characters to forget, in order to go on.
Lone Star easily sits as one of the key thrillers of the 1990s, up there with A Simple Plan, One False Move & L'appartment (which similarly cuts backwards & forwards through time). I think it is an extremely rewarding experience that is great value at this budget price and it ranks alongside Sayles' earlier films Eight Men Out & Matewan and the recent Sunshine State (2002). A film that has to be seen & proof that thriller's can be more than join the dots, the approach taken in dross like Training Day & Along Came a Spider. It would be nice of Sayles works were more easily available, as I think it is as good a canon as any contemporary US director- Altman, Scorsese, Stone, whoever...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's not like there's a line between the good people and the bad people. It is not like you're one or the other., 1 Jun 2012
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Lone Star [1996] [Region 2] [import] [DVD] (DVD)
Lone Star is written and directed by John Sayles. It stars Chris Cooper, Joe Morton, Stephen J. Lang, Stephen Mendillo, Elizabeth Peña and Kris Kristofferson. Music is scored by Mason Daring and cinematography by Stuart Dryburgh.

The small Texas town of Rio County is rocked when a human skeleton is found in the sand and a Rio County Sheriff's badge found near by. The evidence points to it being the body of one time Sheriff Charlie Wade, a vile man who bullied the town for gratification and who one day just disappeared. Current Sheriff Sam Deeds begins investigating, knowing full well that there's a good chance the murderer could have be his own father, Buddy, who was known to have stood up to Wade with some hostile conviction.

A hugely enjoyable pulpy mystery that's given a cunning make over by the talented Sayles. The who done it question at the film's core is merely one ingredient in this particular stew, this deals in themes such as violence, racism and family strife, the impact of lawmen on one small town, spread out across two generations. All the characters are interesting and well delineated, the dialogue as part of a non-linear narrative is precise and telling, while Sayles proves to be a stylistic craftsman by presenting two scenes 40 years apart within the same shot. A morality tale of some substance, with cast performances to match, it's a film sure to reward more with each viewing. 8/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Artfully excellent film-making., 29 April 2012
By 
technoguy "jack" (Rugby) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Chris Cooper,one of John Sayles' stable of actors,has given the performance of his career in Lone Star,a masterpiece of a noir thriller, set in Tex-Mex country.As Sam Deeds,he stumbles on a murder mystery that might involve his legendary father Buddy Deeds(Mathew McConaughey,played in flashback).A skeleton is found in the sand and Sam and many others may wish it had stayed buried.This is one of the skeletons in the closet of the border town of Frontera,evidence of past racism and violence centred around Charley Wade(Kristofferson).This film is one of the best of all time,for its plotting,story, character,performances and camera work.Cooper plays the honest sheriff seeking to get to the truth of what just did happen in the past,still in his father's shadow,questioning his father's associates like Hollis(James),or those who experienced the wrath of Charley Wade,like Otis(Canada),bar-owner.Was Sam's father the killer of Charley Wade?

The Charley/Buddy scenes are masterfully played by McConaughey and Kristofferson-played as they are in flashback mode,as townspeople reminisce about what happened.We also have a complex human drama centred on borderlands and racial hybridity,in the debate between Native-American,American,African-American and Hispanic townsfolk about the conflicting patrimony of these dry and dusty grasslands,as well as the love story between Sam and Pilar(Pena),who had a high-school love,broken and taken up again.Sayles elevates the mystery to a question of larger American identities,beautifully realized by Sayles expressive script and Cooper's subtle acting.Sayles' camera style is distinctive, marking transitions between past and present with a simple movement from one part of the frame to another.We see a young,scared Mexican hiding under a bridge,then the camera starts to pan up, to move along the under side of the bridge and up to the boots of a sheriff standing on the bridge looking down. And it is 30 years later and these are the boots of Sam Deeds.By finding out this story we find out the story of a whole town,how the lives and the worlds intersect.Masterly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chris and Kris....., 22 April 2012
By 
Tim Kidner "Hucklebrook Hound" (Salisbury, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Lone Star [1996] [Region 2] [import] [DVD] (DVD)
Chris Cooper and Kris Kristofferson respectively, play two Mexican border sheriffs in John Sayle's excellent movie, but one is dead and the other is very much alive.

This is a brooding, simmering and multi-layered drama of the highest order. The pacing is quite superb, unfolding like a great novel and keeps one quietly riveted for all of its two & a quarter hours. The characters are all so well rounded, their persona's so completely but subtly explored that one lives in and breathes every scene.

Watching again on BBC2, after several year's gap, it still smacks of being totally relevant and up to date. Wrapped up within its celluloid binding is a tale of every family nuance, racial bigotry and human thought and emotion that a Chekov might. The soundtrack, too, is wonderfully eclectic and fitting.

The plot is involved, but easy to follow, and never patronising in its assumptions. Other reviewers have explored it further than I'm going to - I feel rather humbled by some of the reviews on Amazon so will leave it that I'm simply reinforcing their voices and opinions and say that Lone Star is a must-see film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great storytelling and fine acting, 17 May 2010
By 
VeeB (West Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lone Star [1996] [Region 2] [import] [DVD] (DVD)
Lone Star has been one of my all-time favourites since a friend passed on to me a VHS recording. I bought this DVD to improve my viewing experience- I was a bit disappointed that the sound quality still wasn't great (it loses a rating star for me for this reason), but to my mind that's the only negative in a shedload of positive qualities of this film that I have watched a dozen times or more. On the face of it, it's a familiar enough premise: a skeleton turns up in the desert outskirts of a small town on the Texas/Mexico border, and Sheriff Sam Deeds (Chris Cooper) must start looking into the darker side of the towns's past to solve the mystery, and deal with his own troubled relationship with his late father, Buddy (Matthew McConaughey), the town's former highly esteemed Sheriff, along the way. But this film is anything but formulaic in its treatment of its subject. The ensemble acting is really satisfying, with a spine-chilling performance from Kris Kristofferson as a corrupt Sheriff, Chris Cooper's (Sam Deeds) understated approach is just right, and there's a fine cameo performance from Frances McDormand as Sam's unstable ex-wife. The film delivers on many levels- it's a murder mystery, a love story, a 'fathers and sons' tale as well as having something meaningful to say about race relations in USA border towns. Director John Sayles takes his time to develop the numerous narratives being told here, but the pace never becomes slow, and the flash-back sequences are artistically managed. It really deserves wider recognition.
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