Looking around for something else on NetFlix lead me to Renegade. I hadn't heard heard of it but I rarely read anything about movies until I see them so I rarely know what's coming out. It's always nice to be surprised. It's a 2004 French movie titled Blueberry and it's based on the comic book character of the same name by the recently late Moebius. If you are unfamiliar with him, I'm not surprised, he's mostly popular in Europe. None the less he's an amazing artist and I've read a lot of his stories. Marvel/Epic put out the bulk of the Blueberry series back in 1989-1991. Pretty much nono of them have been in print in the US since. It's a shame but really the American comic fan rarely seems to be interested in foreign comics. Even hugely popular series like Tintin and Asterix are read by very few US comic fans. That's a panel from a Blueberry story above. Looks all dark and moody an shit, huh. That's another scene from a Blueberry story below. The other shot is from the film. It's a pretty trippy scene.
The movie is mostly a real western, typical of it's genre, there's just a large streak of Native American shamanism twisting through the story that you don't find in many movies. When the movie starts we meet Mike Blueberry, the wild cajun son of a New Orleans man, who's been sent to the west to see if his Uncle can straighten his ass out. Mike steals some money from his sleeping uncle and heads into town to visit the local whore house. Michael Madsen plays a tough guy who comes to visit the whore and finds Mike there. Rather than leave like a sensible person Mike starts a fight. The whore is killed and the place burns. Mike's been shot but he grabs his horse and runs off. The local native americans find him lying in the desert and take him to their hidden cave in the sacred mountains. He recovers and because we are in a flashback for most of the movie we move forward several years and Mike is grown up and a deputy in the town. He tries to keep people out of the sacred area but it's hard. The rumor is there's treasure out there, mountains of gold, and Eddie Izzard and Geoffrey Lewis are interested in that. Juliette Lewis plays Geoffrey's daughter and the romantic interest to Mike. She's Geoffrey's real life daughter. Vincent Cassel plays Mike, some of you might have seen him in Crimson Rivers, The Brotherhood Of The Wolf or Oceans 12 & 13. The first two are French movies and well worth checking out. Get the long version of TBOTW if you can. Ernest Borgnine plays the Sheriff and Colm Meaney plays his other deputy. Everything comes to a head when treasure fever tips the scales and Michael Maddsen shows up in town. Lots of people die. Leaving Mike for dead Michael and Eddie head into the desert. Mike follows them to the sacred mountain where he and Michael have a psychedelic battle in their minds. It's pretty wild and a bit long. I wasn't bored for the most part, there was usually something to see, pretty scenery especially, but the movie gets off to a slow start and finishes pretty languidly. It's a Swiss guy who lives in France directing so you know right from the start that it's not going to be what we normally get in the US. He's also a big fan of the Native American shamanistic ceremonies, both North and South Am, where they take peyote and stuff like that. Like LSD the experience looses up the mind and often lets you see what's going on in your head. Replicating that visual experience on film is hard and only with the arrival of cgi can you even make an attempt at it. Mike takes the trip to learn the truth about the death of the whore. There are a lot of snakes and giant centipedes in his visions. It's cool looking and pretty unusual but it goes on a bit too long. I'd still recommend the movie as a pretty good modern western but not everyone's going to care for it.
The 1974 Japanese film School Of The Holy Beast is a nunsploitation film about a young woman named Maya. She joins the Sacred Heart Convent to find out what happened to her mother 18 years before. The mom had been a nun at the same place, gotten pregnant and hung herself. The baby fell out while she was hanging. The nuns covered everything up and now it's payback time. Maya doesn't know what she's getting into when she dons that nuns robe after a naked ceremony but she takes it all with that grim look on her face. The convent is like a torture filled prison with lots of nudity and sex. The girls are doing themselves, each other and Father K. He's a randy old bugger who knocked up Maya's mom and humps the other nuns with some regularity. Maya brings all the corruption to the surface and lots of people die. There's lots of naked torture and rape. Not a good movie for most people. Not something I'd need to see again.