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  Searchers 2.0 Monument Or Folly?
Year: 2007
Director: Alex Cox
Stars: Del Zamora, Ed Pansullo, Sy Richardson, Jaclyn Jonet, Zahn McClarnon, Cy Carter, Roger Corman, Brandon Carlos, Alex Cox, Steve Fierberg, Leonard Maltin
Genre: Comedy, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Mel Torres (Del Zamora) is leading a group of workers in California who reject the job offer of some company man because he never paid them for the last job they did for him. What Mel really wants to do is act, a profession he has been in and out of ever since childhood, along with his friend Fred Fletcher (Ed Pansullo) - in fact, they met as kids on the set of a western, but it was not a happy experience. Fritz the screenwriter terrorised them and they have held a grudge against him ever since, so when they hear on the television that he will be at an autograph session in Monument Valley, they decide to seize their chance to get even...

This cheekily-titled modern western was clearly made with film buffs in mind, and writer-director Alex Cox (who also appeared) ensured that those buffs would feel superior to Fred at least because of all the repeated errors the characters made in their cinematic knowledge. In fact, we're encouraged to look down on these two on their futile journey across America, as amongst the kidding Cox had a serious message to relate about the justification of revenge, whether you're an aggrieved out of work thesp or a world superpower.

Neither Mel nor Fred own a car, so Mel has to persuade his volatile daughter Delilah (Jaclyn Jonet) to take them to their destination in her gas-guzzling - and frequently unreliable - people carrier. She is driven mad by their movie talk as their favourite genre, the western, holds no appeal for her and she cares not a jot whether Clint Eastwood or Charles Bronson is the better star. If there's anyone this is aimed at it would appear to be Cox himself, as not only does the script feature his film obsessions, but his political ones too as themes on the War against Terror and corporate domination emerge too.

Along the way, we see that while Mel is a decent enough chap, Fred is a weaselly buffoon who, it turns out, acted just as badly towards some of his co-stars as Fritz did to him. At a gas station they stop at the attendant Rusty (Zahn McClarnon) reveals Fred was the reason he got out of acting when he was roundly abused by him for the sake of a scene, and the question of what it is worth to secure that perfect shot or sequence arises as well - you could not accuse this film of being short of issues that preoccupy its mind as it flits about from topic to topic.

Eventually, after Delilah has grown so sick of the duo that she leaves them behind at Monument Valley and they are forced to travel to the location on foot. Now we understand that there's something pathetic in taking revenge, and justice is not, as Fred avers, worse than violent retribution; actually, you really have to let go of the past if you wish to move forward. All through the film the drama has employed low key humour, but for the last act it goes wacky, with a The Good, The Bad and The Ugly-aping face off against Fritz (Sy Richardson), not with guns, but with movie trivia. There's a satisfying integrity to Searchers 2.0, nicely played all round and if it does get too silly for its own good by the end, it's a road well worth travelling nevertheless. Music by Dan Wool.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Alex Cox  (1954 - )

Maverick British writer/director who made a huge impact with his LA-set 1984 debut, the offbeat sci-fi comedy Repo Man. Sid and Nancy was a powerful second film, detailing the life and death of Sex Pistol Sid Vicious, while Straight To Hell was a flawed but amusing punk western starring The Clash. The expensive flop Walker kept Cox away from the camera for five years - he returned in 1992 with under-rated Spanish-language Highway Patrolman.

Since then, Cox has made a series of low-budget, independent features, such as Three Businessmen, 2002's The Revenger's Tragedy, Searchers 2.0 and sort of follow up Repo Chick, plus the Akira Kurosawa documentary The Last Emperor. British viewers will know Cox as the host of BBC2's '90s cult film show Moviedrome, and he has also penned a guide to Spaghetti Westerns.

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