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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
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Saturday, October 8

Magnificent Seven

If I added up all the people killed in all the Westerns I’ve ever seen, the number wouldn’t be even a tenth as many as were killed in the remake of The Magnificent Seven. Man, there were bodies everywhere. It would take the undertaker about a decade to get them all buried and the last dozen or so would be pretty stinky. I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that Denzel was in it, for the first time as a cowboy in a Western. We just had to see it . . . him. And, yes, he was very good—unsmiling, steely-eyed, stoic to the n-th degree. And he could twirl a revolver like a real gunslinger. I wonder how long he had to practice to do it without breaking a finger or two. The plot was simple, and pretty much the same as in the original MagSeven. In 1879, a small frontier town, Rose Creek, is being taken over by Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard), a ruthless mining tyrant, and when Bogue shoots and kills Mathew Cullen (Matt Bonner), his wife Emma (Haley Bennett) rides out to find someone who can help them. She meets Sam Chisholm (Denzel Washington), a bounty hunter, and convinces him to come to their aid. He agrees when he hears the name of the man who is trying to take over Rose Creek. Agrees because of something in his past that involved Bogue. Along their way to Rose Creek, he finds and recruits six others who are willing to take up the fight—a mixed bag of ethnic and racial gunfighters (and one who is really good with bow and arrow): Chisholm, a black man; Farraday (Chris Pratt) a drunken Irishman; Goodnight Robicheau (Ethan Hawke), a Civil War hero who’s a crack shot with a rifle; Billy Rocks (Lee Byun-hun), an Oriental equally skilled with knives as well as pistols; Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), a Mexican; Jack Home (Vincent D’Onofrio), a bear of a mountain man with a high squeaky voice; and Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier), a Comanche with nothing better to do. In maybe the best-known Western shootout in all of the Western mythology, the shootout at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, we had the Earp brothers against the Clanton brothers. That famous fight took thirty seconds and involved thirty shots, and only three men were killed. And the fight was from very close range. In The Magnificent Seven, everybody seems able to pick riders off their horses from hundreds of yards with revolvers held in both hands, and the final confrontation between the townspeople and the Seven against Bogue’s hundred or more lasted for about thirty minutes with about a hundred and fifty killed. The violence was so lengthy and so many were killed in various bloody ways that it became almost laughable. And yes, there were some very funny moments in the film, especially that old chestnut about the man who fell from a five-story building and was heard to say when he passed each floor, “So far, so good!” And most of the theatergoers got a disgusted chuckle when Red Harvest invited Chisholm to have a bite of a raw deer liver he'd just cut out. Mm mmm, good. What was best about this version of Seven? The authenticity of the town and its buildings, the beauty of the setting, the magnificent score from the original film, and, of course, Denzel.
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