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Clichés Revived

Hell or High Water
Produced by Film 44 
Directed by David Mackenzie 
Screenplay by Taylor Sheridan 
Distributed by CBS 

Pete’s Dragon
Produced and distributed by 
Walt Disney Productions 
Directed and written by David Lowery 

Hell or High Water has won extravagant praise from mainline film reviewers.  This, I suspect, has to do more with its political didacticism than with its artistry.  Writer Taylor Sheridan and director David Mackenzie disapprove of guns and banks.  On the other hand, they’re besotted with Native Americans, especially Comanches whose forerunners have bred with Mexicans.  (The film’s working title was “Comancheria.”)  All well and good, I say, as long as whites are not demeaned purely based on their pale faces.  And, surprisingly, they’re not in this liberal vision of the ornerier haunts of West Texas.  This is a region populated by folks who have been left in the dust, both figuratively and literally, by a failing economy and an elite who ignore them.  Mackenzie has even put up signposts, lest we miss the message.  Graffiti on the side of a bank says it all: “Three tours in Iraq but no bailout for people like us.”

Highway billboards reinforce the point: “Fast Cash,”...

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