Still the Best Movie of 2009

Soon to be followed by 'Bordello for Pigs.'

We ventured into the fearful Simi Valley in search of the only Movie Show House in the area (one of 18 in the country) still showing the Ed Harris oatfest Appaloosa. The grand dame of this family unit had not yet seen it and those of us who had did not mind a repeat.

It held up: Even we second-timers were on the edge of our velour seats. A film as well written and tightly-directed as Appaloosa retains its suspense in subsequent viewings, even when you know who will remain standing after the gunsmoke clears. It doesn’t depend on surprise or head-banging special effects to focus your attention.

Speaking of focus, this screening — out in the foggy hinterlands of Ventura County — was the first film we’ve seen since relocating to Movieland USA that did not receive a pristine presentation. Last night’s projectionist failed in his repeated attempts to focus the image and finally succumbed to despair. The sound was mushy, the screen uneven and marred.

But that’s okay. We’re used to slack work at the Bijou from having lived in Illinois. Besides, now we know the range of influence — exactly 25 miles — of the thousands of local movie industry employees whose constant vigilance and nagging (we theorize) keep the more Hollywoodcentric theater operators on their toes. Beyond that 25 mile periphery you may expect no better screenings than if you went to the local Cinepalooza Garganutua in Naperville, IL. If you want to see Appaloosa in focus, wait until January 13 and play the DVD in the privacy of your greatroom.

Will gunslinger Hitch survive the impending duel? Hint - He's the narrator.

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