Featured

The Highwaymen: A Review

Mrs. Greenbean was gone this weekend, so I was left home unsupervised and in complete control of the remote control.

TLKNUF777BHGVM2SZKCGF2GSLU

I watched the new Netflix movie The Highwaymen starring Kevin Costner, Woody Harrelson, and Kathy Bates. The movie was enjoyable for me on so many levels. Let’s start with viewpoint. This is the first I’ve ever seen, and perhaps only film about Bonnie and Clyde that is told from the law’s perspective. It tells it the way it was, cold blooded criminals who were as violent and mean as any terrorist today. I appreciated that view of things.

A second enjoyable part was the view of Texas in the 1930s. My home state has changed a lot, and this was a look at the Texas my father grew up in. I don’t know where they actually filmed the movie, but the drive to Lubbock from Austin looked pretty realistic to me, as did The North Texas plains.

The third enjoyable aspect was the acting of Costner and Harrelson. I was suspicious going in, but they were perfect. There were a couple of shots of Costner that reminded me of what my father looked like when he was in his 60s–a rugged and strong man who has gained a few pounds but refuses to buy a larger shirt, and thinks he can do what he used to. In fact, the best scene is where he tries to shoot bottles flung into the air, and this is when he realizes he is an old man. Harrelson has the best lines, though. Of particular interest is his reaction to wiretap and how he doesn’t really know what it is, but he uses it several times, and each time not quite in the correct way. Reminded me of George Bush saying interwebs. Bates was good as Ma Ferguson, but I think this is one area where the screenplay may have taken liberties. My reading of history (and I could be wrong here) is she was a proxy for her husband, Jim.

There are some drawbacks in the film. The language can be a little harsh, and I doubt that was historically accurate. The movie also dragged on a bit. Solid editing could have trimmed ten or fifteen minutes. There is some gore, but, in the opinion of this historian, the gore is important here, for what we are dealing with are murderers and the Texas Rangers who caught and killed them. One more flaw, and it goes back to wiretaps. Portraying Texas Rangers as technology averse or ignorant is not accurate. In fact, my understanding is the Rangers were always ready to employ new technology to get the job done.

And now for analysis. One of the themes of the movie is the historically accurate perspective that the masses of people loved Bonnie and Clyde. This is true. A careful viewer will pick up on why–America was in the midst of terrible economic problems, and the bankers and lawmen who protect them were viewed as the enemy. Make no mistake, Bonnie and Clyde were awful human beings. However, to people living in migrant squatter camps, living from day to day, and starving to death bank robbers and cop killers can look like heroes. It also shows us that tension between under-represented communities and police officers is not a new phenomenon.

DEATH, SOLAR FLARES, AND UKRAINE

This is just one of those blog posts that can’t stay focused.

 

1.  Botched Execution.  Apparently Arizona had a very “Oklahoma-like” moment this past week when it tried to execute a man guilty of murdering his girlfriend and her father.  Click here for the WSJ’s report.  It took almost 2 hours for him to die.  in April the same thing happened in Oklahoma, but it only took 45 minutes for him to die there.  Oklahoma has that effect on people–it makes them want to die quicker.

I am not a supporter of the death penalty, and have blogged about that before (click here).  However, I am a big supporter of competency.  I worry about reports like this because it highlights the growing incompetency of our society.  The inability to quickly and effectively kill someone by a state organization whose sole job is to put people to death is troubling.  I know that there are many mitigating circumstances, but it is precisely the point that competency falls apart when too many people try to command the situation.  Please note, I have no sympathy for this murderer and others like him.  Instead, I worry that we can’t even perform the most basic of civil responsibilities.

 

Fortunately, the sun was not aiming for us
Fortunately, the sun was not aiming for us

2.  Solar Flares.   The earth was almost destroyed in 2012.  No, it wasn’t the Mayan Apocalypse or the pesky rapture that never materialized.  It was solar flares.  Click here for the article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.  The newspaper says that if those would have hit earth, and they nearly did, we would still be picking up the pieces.  Apparently it would have knocked us back to the Middle Ages.

Apparently we dodged a bullet.  What overall lessons can we learn?  A) The cosmos is a dangerous place.  B.  We probably dodge a bullet every day.  C.  Everything is not predictable.  D.  You should give thanks for today, because you have electricity and Netflix and smoothies.  Tomorrow you might not.

 

3.  Ukraine.  It occurs to me that Vladimir Putin is currently playing the role of Kim Kardashian or Miley Cyrus or something.  He just can’t help but be in the headlines so he will do almost anything to stay there.  The MH17 shoot down was likely a mistake.  I can’t imagine why anyone would want to shoot down, on purpose, a civilian airliner.  What is not a mistake, though, is that the Russians are giving very powerful anti-aircraft artillery and other weaponry to people who are not really all that expert in using it, and that Russian apparently is firing into Ukraine.  Click here for news story.

I told you months ago that Putin was playing poker, not chess.  He now knows that he has all the cards, and that the West will fold.  At this juncture, it is only a matter of time before Russia annexes all of Ukraine.  I suspect it will happen before the end of 2015.  The only thing that will stop that is the deployment of NATO troops in Ukraine, and I just don’t think that will happen.  We will not call Putin, and as we fold he will rake in the winnings.

 

 

image from thedailybeast.com