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VINE VOICETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 26 October 2015
Growing up in a small town in which your father is a local hero is almost bound to be something of a psychological determinant in anyone’s developing sense of self: and so it is with Sheriff Sam Deeds (Chris Cooper), having to live under the weight of his late father, Buddy’s seemingly unassailable reputation as a man of honour and integrity. It was Buddy (Matthew McConaughey), when a deputy, who rid the town of the notorious Sheriff Charlie Wade (Kris Kristofferson) thereby ending his tyrannical reign.

To mark the life of such a man, the town’s mayor – also a previous deputy alongside Buddy – Hollis Pogue (Clifton James), proposes to erect a permanent memorial to his one-time colleague outside the local courthouse, which they are also going to name in Buddy’s honour.

But, as you might imagine, all is not what it seems and this is thrown into sharp relief by the discovery of the remains of a man buried in a shallow grave just outside town on a long disused army firing range.

The discovery is made by two off-duty soldiers pursuing an amateur archaeological hobby and armed, this time, with just a handy metal detector. And it throws up another important artefact in terms of what will subsequently unfold as the sands of time are blown away by Sam’s increasingly uneasy investigation into the crime and, as a corollary, his own past; the corroding remains of a sheriff’s badge in the form of a lone star.

This is a masterful film: brilliantly written, edited and directed by John Sayles and deserves a lot more attention than it probably gets. Chris Cooper, in a rare big screen lead role, imbues the character of Sam with just the right ingredients of pathos, integrity, regret and wistfulness; a kind of mature Sheriff July Johnson, his earlier role in that other elegiac western, Lonesome Dove. He is more than ably supported by Kris Kristofferson as the odious Charlie Wade, and Clifton James as the somewhat hapless Hollis Pogue, amongst a stellar cast of first rate actors.
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on 24 September 2013
I loved this little movie,it held my attention all the way with a little twist at the end,that I did not see coming,if you like me are a fan of mr mcconaughey,he ,s in only in it for a few moments,but the film was good enough for me not to mind that, a good buy sueb
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 April 2012
John Sayles is one of the my favourite American filmmakers of the last 30 years, having made a series of challenging and perceptive films over this period including the likes of Eight Men Out, Matewan, City Of Hope, Limbo, Sunshine State, Honeydripper and this offering, his 1996 film Lone Star. Sayles not only deals with serious themes in his work (as here), repeatedly addressing racism, racial identity, marital and parental breakdown, and unrequited love, but he is a master filmmaker from a technical standpoint, making use of clever intercut flashbacks and brilliant editing to drive forward his (typically) multi-strand narratives. He is, of course, also a first-rate director of actors, often eliciting career best performances from his chosen players.

Lone Star demonstrates many of the above facets. The film tells the story of sheriff Sam Deeds (an excellent performance from Sayles regular Chris Cooper) returning to his home region Rio County in Texas, near the border with Mexico. Deeds embarks on an investigation into the past of his now deceased, and widely respected, father, Buddy, who worked, forty years earlier, as subordinate to the brutal, racist sheriff Charlie Wade (an unusually convincing performance from Kris Kristofferson). Sam's digging into the past has been prompted by the discovery of human remains (together with sheriff's badge - the lone star of the film's title) which are confirmed as having belonged to sheriff Wade. In with this human interest storyline Sayles, in typical fashion, melds other narratives each with racial undertones, one featuring black 'soldier made good' Delmore Payne (Joe Morton, who was also excellent in Sayles' 1991 classic City Of Hope) who is ambivalent about re-establishing his relationship with his father Otis (Ron Canada), and another featuring Mexican/American businesswoman Mercedes Cruz (a superb performance from Miriam Colon, another City Of Hope veteran) and her partially estranged daughter Pilar (Elizabeth Penar), an old flame of Deeds, Jnr.

On the acting front, a final mention should go to veteran actor and Sayles regular, Clifton James, who plays Mayor Hollis Pogue in a typically convincing and grizzled manner. Sayles directs his cast brilliantly, drawing out many subtle and nuanced performances, but always setting his narrative within the historical context of his storyline, namely that of past racial tensions between the different cultures portrayed.

What rather surprised me about Lone Star was seeing the Warner Brothers logo as the film begins. Sayles, like many other independent filmmakers, has struggled to raise finance for many of his films, and I suspect that Warners were probably told that Sayles was about to make a 'western' - a genre with which they may have been commercially more comfortable. Indeed, Sayles most recent film Amigo, which I saw at the 2010 London Film Festival, appears to have failed to secure a UK distribution deal. And, of course, disappointingly, very few of Sayles' films are readily available on DVD.
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VINE VOICETOP 500 REVIEWERon 16 January 2010
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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on 11 February 2015
This movie is pretty much perfect. A tale of old bones dug up, and a sheriff finding out what happened, it's an examination of what it takes to be a good person. No line in the movie is wasted. Every character is rounded and complex, they all have the capacity for great good and great evil, alliances are unexpected and redemption comes in unlikely guises. Western, detective yarn,love story - this is a thoughtful movie and gets better with every viewing.
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on 1 October 2014
DVD sent prompt etc but I had mad mistake of ordering region 1 import US and it doesnt work, I had no idea that I could order a DVD in the UK for use in UK that wouldnt play in UK !!!!
My fault tho ,
US firm very good in offering to refund cost and postage to return it but decided to put it down to experience, too much faffing about, will reorder the correct DVD and put this one in a charity shop
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VINE VOICEon 29 April 2012
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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on 8 January 2014
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."
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on 17 May 2010
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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on 13 August 2015
It is an independent yet fully enjoyable film about the dark aide of america and a past made of discrimination and immigrants trying to make it. Brilliant visual feedback to switch from past to present, all made in a smart way that exploits good directing and visual ideas. The rest is good acting and a great script, that in a way gets hold of western tradition and make it explode under a criticism that goes beyond a mere neglection of official values and history, it just shows the other side and reflects on what needs to be done not to be stuck in lies or in just a fight with the past. It is like it took the sense of The Man who shot Liberty Valance and applied it to a still valid and unsolved question about finding a place in today America
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