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Blackthorn

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Mon 30 Apr

Contemporary Westerns have to be pretty knowing to appeal to a modern audience; John Ford wouldn’t have got a look in today, more’s the pity.  Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven was a fine attempt to recreate the genre, with a morally ambivalent take on the notion of Hero.  Blackthorn, another stab at a revisionist Western, takes up where the light-hearted Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid left off or, to be precise, 20 years after that hail of bullets under a freeze frame shot of our two charming miscreants.  The conceit here is that Butch survived the fire fight and went to ground in a Bolivian village, living anonymously under the pseudonym James Blackthorn.  Sam Shephard takes over where Paul Newman left off, bringing great gravitas to the role.  When news reaches him that a close friend has died, he is prompted to return to the US for a final adventure. Crooks and sheriffs he finds aplenty, but the overall landscape is much changed since his Wild Bunch Gang days…