Once you get past the civics lectures from Paul Haggis, Robert Redford, and company, this fall's movie season might be remembered as a good few months for stories from the American West. There are two straightforward Westerns that look promising - The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford, which should be worth seeing for the cast alone (any movie that finds room for Zooey Deschanel and Mary-Louise Parker deserves an audience); and 3:10 to Yuma, a remake of a 1957 classic, which stars Russell Crowe and Christian Bale and gets a glowing advance review from Aintitcoolnews' Quint here. There's also No Country For Old Men, the Coen Brothers' take on Cormac McCarthy's desert noir, which is earning good advance word, and Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood, due out at Christmas-time, with Daniel Day-Lewis as an oil prospector in Old California. Meanwhile, the Sean Penn-helmed adaptation of Into the Wild - not a gunslingers-in-cowboy-hats movie, but a "Western" film in the broader sense of the word - looks like it has a chance to be great.

I don't know whether this is quite enough to make for one of those dubious Arts and Leisure stories in which three anecdotes are claimed to betoken a major pop culture trend; on the other hand, I certainly wouldn't object to a larger revival of the Hollywood Western. It isn't my favorite genre by any means, but given that we've probably hit a creative wall - for a while, at least - where mob movies are concerned, Hollywood needs to find some mythic American stories that don't involve kryptonite or the Batmobile, and the Western is an obvious place to go looking for material.

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