Saturday, August 17, 2013

Lone Star

Downtown Eagle Pass
It's funny, I was watching this excellent John Sayles movie and wondering what town this was filmed in and then I looked up and saw the music store where I bought a harmonica, across the street from my bank. I walked on this exact sidewalk when I went to Mexico...which is two blocks over their shoulders.

The movie calls the town "Frontera"* but there's no such town. And they reference "Presidio" which is a town nowhere near Eagle Pass...on the other side of the big bend.

If you watch Lone Star it's pretty much exactly where I live. Surprisingly, this movie had a profound impact on me even though I had never lived here before I watched it as part of my Film Appreciation 101 class at Canada College in California. Sayles wrote, directed and edited it, which is very rare among professionals. Editors usually take over so the director can move on to other projects...but Sayles had a precise goal with this movie which is to overlap past and present as the 40 year old murder mystery is unraveled...and he figured out a way to seamlessly edit present and past locations/scenes without special effects...to highlight the deep history that impregnates a land, ghosts mingling with the living. Now that I live here it's like he actually filmed a parody of the real lifestyle and characters. It's too realistic. But since almost no one lives here Sayles knew his broader audience would be illuminated and entertained. To Texans of the border this movie sort of makes fun of them. I went to the liquor store recently and overheard a woman say, "All I done t'day is git old." and her humble expression and dignified resignation will be found nowhere in the world but this area of Texas.

Other filming locations are Laredo and Del Rio and I've been to all of those. It's less magical now, but still a good movie. The odd thing is that they are actually walking toward the old courthouse. Sayles was almost filming in real time. They are one block from the place where Buddy Deeds' memorial plaque is (It doesn't exist in the real world) and the next scene is them giving the speech in front of the plaque. Normally locations aren't even close to each other but cinema magic makes it seem like they are. In this case, it is.

*Chris Cooper has just finished his speech where he says, "They ought to put up a banner, 'Frontera, Texas: Gateway To Inexpensive Pussy'"
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.