DEADWOOD The Movie May 31 2019

Tino

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Wow. What a satisfying conclusion to one of the best series ever.

I thought it was an incredibly moving, powerful, tragic and ultimately immensely rewarding end to one of the best tv series ever. I actually teared up a few times.

I love these characters and kudos to Milch and company for giving us the true ending the series deserved.
 

joshEH

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Not gonna lie: it left me teary-eyed. In a good way. Jesus, that was masterful.

It was actually Olyphant who was the standout here. Nice that he got to play more notes as the older Bullock. McShane was a bit on the sidelines, I think intentionally. I can't help but feel that Milch, sensing his own mortality, gave us a diminished Al on purpose.

(Why indeed, Harry? Did you never get your fuckin' fire-hat?)

On the other hand, Jane getting to do what she did at the very end was a hell of a grace-note. I fucking yelled out loud multiple times watching that -- Jane coming the FUCK through for Bullock there was so awesome, but also major points to Alma for pulling that move at the auction (and great to see Joanie and even Tom getting in on the bidding-action to force Hearst higher, too).

And yeah, this is probably the most Al has ever been a Milch-surrogate, but the final moments we had with him were so extraordinary and beautiful -- it's a hell of a note to leave him on. And really, a hell of a note to leave everyone on...that final "Waltzing Matilda"-montage was really gorgeous.

Glad we got a few nice Doc-moments and Farnum-moments in there, too (him yelling into the phone was GLORIOUS). Plus Wu bowing up in front of Al in an attempt to get him to drink that tea.

Sure, a putative fourth season of this is a good what-might-have-been, but this was a really, really lovely, touching, funny, moving final visit to Deadwood. That final act was absolutely transcendent. Wonderful.
 

Tino

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Not gonna lie: it left me teary-eyed. In a good way. Jesus, that was masterful.

It was actually Olyphant who was the standout here. Nice that he got to play more notes as the older Bullock. McShane was a bit on the sidelines, I think intentionally. I can't help but feel that Milch, sensing his own mortality, gave us a diminished Al on purpose.

(Why indeed, Harry? Did you never get your fuckin' fire-hat?)

On the other hand, Jane getting to do what she did at the very end was a hell of a grace-note. I fucking yelled out loud multiple times watching that -- Jane coming the FUCK through for Bullock there was so awesome, but also major points to Alma for pulling that move at the auction (and great to see Joanie and even Tom getting in on the bidding-action to force Hearst higher, too).

And yeah, this is probably the most Al has ever been a Milch-surrogate, but the final moments we had with him were so extraordinary and beautiful -- it's a hell of a note to leave him on. And really, a hell of a note to leave everyone on...that final "Waltzing Matilda"-montage was really gorgeous.

Glad we got a few nice Doc-moments and Farnum-moments in there, too (him yelling into the phone was GLORIOUS). Plus Wu bowing up in front of Al in an attempt to get him to drink that tea.

Sure, a putative fourth season of this is a good what-might-have-been, but this was a really, really lovely, touching, funny, moving final visit to Deadwood. That final act was absolutely transcendent. Wonderful.
Agree 100% Josh. Great post. Much more eloquent than I could ever be!:thumbsup:
 

Tim Gerdes

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I thought this was fantastic, with two minor quibbles. The flashbacks seemed clumsy. I understand why they felt the need to do this but they disrupted the story for me.

My only other complaint, I wish they had done an entire 4th season. I wanted to see more of everyone. As it stands it was a wonderful conclusion to a fantastic show. But I could have easily spent another 10 hours immersed in this town with these characters and their stories.
 

joshEH

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Also, thought it was hilarious how absolutely no effort is made to explain why/how Con Stapleton is suddenly the new reverend. I guess it's just the standard retirement-plan for Cy's ex-employees.
 

TravisR

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Not gonna lie: it left me teary-eyed. In a good way. Jesus, that was masterful.
Utter's funeral and the montage at the end got me. Both were just beautiful.


Also, thought it was hilarious how absolutely no effort is made to explain why/how Con Stapleton is suddenly the new reverend. I guess it's just the standard retirement-plan for Cy's ex-employees.
Yeah, since Con/Peter Jason was in most of the episodes, I'm glad he got to make an appearance but my continuity obsessed brain wanted to see Andy Cramed as the reverend instead.


I guess it was because it was used in the pilot (and another first season episode) but I was ecstatic to hear Hog Of The Forsaken play over the end credits.

My only complaint: Where was Soapy? "Soap! Soap with a prize inside!"
 

Tino

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I’ve been disoriented all day due to the enormous emotional power of this film.

My wife, who is a bit squeamish of torture violence, has agreed to binge the entire series after my constant praise of the show and the final film.

Here’s to hoping there’s a room for two again at the Gem.
 

dpippel

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WOW is right! We watched this last night and I agree with the assessments here. An extremely well done, emotionally resonant, and enthralling piece of filmmaking!! What a great way to wrap this series up. So many great character moments, and everyone just fell right back into their roles, almost as if they'd been playing them every day for the past 13 years. I teared up several times, and the last scene was utter perfection. SUPERBLY done!!!
 
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Hollywoodaholic

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And now my college grad son's on board to watch the series with me this summer (and then he gets the treat of seeing this finale right after instead of waiting 13 years).

Fun to see Garret Dillahunt make an uncredited cameo near the end in the crowd scene btw.
 

Dave Scarpa

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Not gonna lie: it left me teary-eyed. In a good way. Jesus, that was masterful.

It was actually Olyphant who was the standout here. Nice that he got to play more notes as the older Bullock. McShane was a bit on the sidelines, I think intentionally. I can't help but feel that Milch, sensing his own mortality, gave us a diminished Al on purpose.

(Why indeed, Harry? Did you never get your fuckin' fire-hat?)

On the other hand, Jane getting to do what she did at the very end was a hell of a grace-note. I fucking yelled out loud multiple times watching that -- Jane coming the FUCK through for Bullock there was so awesome, but also major points to Alma for pulling that move at the auction (and great to see Joanie and even Tom getting in on the bidding-action to force Hearst higher, too).

And yeah, this is probably the most Al has ever been a Milch-surrogate, but the final moments we had with him were so extraordinary and beautiful -- it's a hell of a note to leave him on. And really, a hell of a note to leave everyone on...that final "Waltzing Matilda"-montage was really gorgeous.

Glad we got a few nice Doc-moments and Farnum-moments in there, too (him yelling into the phone was GLORIOUS). Plus Wu bowing up in front of Al in an attempt to get him to drink that tea.

Sure, a putative fourth season of this is a good what-might-have-been, but this was a really, really lovely, touching, funny, moving final visit to Deadwood. That final act was absolutely transcendent. Wonderful.
I agree this joins the six feet under finale as a pitch perfect wrap up, I love that the characters really portrayed how the 15 years had changed them. I love it and a perfect note for al to go out on
 

Adam Lenhardt

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The first thing that struck me was that they were making an actual movie, and not just a double-length episode of television.

If they had made a movie as good as the series, it would have been disappointing -- because people wouldn't be comparing it to the show as it was, but their cherished memories of the show as they remember it from thirteen years ago. For the movie to be considered as good as the series, it had to be even better than the series. I think it mostly succeeded in this.

The state of art in television has also changed a lot in the last thirteen years. "Deadwood" aired right at the beginning of the Golden Age of television, and the medium has developed in leaps and bounds since then. Audience expectations are more sophisticated. "Deadwood" was a well-shot show, but the visual language of the movie is even more sophisticated. It reaches for a level of scope that the series never aspired to.

David Klein, Kevin Smith's longtime DP, lensed this movie. His lighting, camera movies, and framing all feel more cinematic than the series did. Some of the most compelling visual images in the entire run of "Deadwood" are in this movie.

There is only one new character of any significance in the movie: Jade Pettyjohn as Caroline Woolgarden. She is a young woman, probably in her late teens, who arrives in town at the same time as Alma and Sofia. It's an interesting performance, since she seems to have a hidden agenda that brought her to Deadwood, but we never find out what it is. Her education and comportment set her apart from the other girls in Swearengen's employ. She briefly fills the role period served by Trixie and Dolly, as Al's sounding board and literal cocksucker. Her character almost feels like the main character of in the pilot of a "Deadwood" series starting in 1889 that we'll never get to see.

It's a real shame that Powers Boothe passed away before he had the opportunity to participate in this. The movie lucked out, however, in that Tom Miller (the real life equivilent of Cy Tolliver) went bankrupt and lost the Bella Union shortly after the period covered by the series.

Holy crap, just spotted Jeffrey Jones in the crowd during Hearst's arrival-speech. Didn't think that guy'd be allowed within a thousand feet of children ever again.
He had already pled no contest to a felony charge for soliciting a minor in connection to the child pornography allegations against him when the series shot the pilot. As I watched the original run of the show over the last few weeks, it blew my mind that they'd cast him. But given that it didn't stop them the first time around, it stands to reason that it wouldn't stop them this time around either.

Also, digging all the ten-years-later upgrades to the town, here.
I thought the production design on this was phenomenal. So many of the recent revivals of old shows, they've recreated the sets exactly, as if no time had transpired at all since the last episode of the original run had aired. In this case, the original "Deadwood" town was repurposed for "Westworld". It would have been easy (and cheaper) to just redress all of the buildings and interiors to match how they looked in the third season finale.

But there was a major fire in "Deadwood" in 1879 that burned down over 300 structures. It makes sense that a lot of the buildings would be different, and given that we're ten years further along in the civilizing of Deadwood, it makes sense that the wooden buildings would be replaced with more elaborate buildings of stone and brick.

Back in August 2018, the Black Hills Pioneer (the same paper founded in Deadwood by A.W. Merrick) reported that the movie's production had requested photographs from Deadwood History, Inc. of the town circa 1889.

“I think this is very interesting,” said DHI Marketing and Communications Director Rose Speirs. “A lot of people thought they would pick back up with the fire of 1879, but they’ve requested materials from 1889, so I have a feeling it’s not going to be what we expect.”

They were particularly interested in photos with lots of people on the thoroughfare, so they could get an idea of what hairstyles and clothing styles looked like at that particular point in time.

Maria Caso returned as production designer for the movie, and I think she did a great job capturing the feel and texture of the real circa-1889 Deadwood while applying it to the geography and layout of the fictionalized Deadwood from the show. It was particularly effective how some buildings (like the Gem Saloon and the Bullock house) looked exactly the same while others (like the Grand Central Hotel) were completely new structures with completely new furnishings.

“...Let Him fucking stay there.”
Definitely in the upper echelon of greatest final lines ever.

Yes, Swegen
I thought the way they handled Wu in this was one of the more effective ways they conveyed the passage of time. The back and forth between Wu and Swearengen in the original series was fun, but bordered on being racist (rather than simply depicting racism). Having the communications difficulties rectified with Wu's grandson serving as translator was a nice way to inject some nuance in that portrayal, in a way that speaks honestly to the immigrant experience. Even in 2019, there are a lot of American-born children who finds themselves translating for foreign-born parents and grandparents.

It was actually Olyphant who was the standout here. Nice that he got to play more notes as the older Bullock.
All of these characters had spent a decade becoming more civilized members of American society. The brilliant thing about this story is that it provided an inciting event for their more feral natures to reassert themselves. Bullock has moments in this that are as quintessentially Bullock as anything in the original three seasons. But he also has a whole life in Deadwood, and as soon as the heightened moments pass, his mind returns to them.

I particularly liked that the movie gave him two daughters and a son: Margaret, Florence, and Stanley. These were the real real Seth Bullock's children, and in that same order. In reality, Margaret would have been born around when William was in the original series; she was the child that Martha brought with her from Michigan. And Martha did not meet William's tragic fate.

In the original run, Bullock and Alma were definitely the central romantic pairing. While Bullock and his wife softened to each other over time, it was a relationship of obligation. When Alma reappears here, Bullock still feels a gravitational pull toward her. But it's clear that his marriage to Martha is a real marriage now, and that he adores their three children.

McShane was a bit on the sidelines, I think intentionally. I can't help but feel that Milch, sensing his own mortality, gave us a diminished Al on purpose.
It's also the historical difference; in 1899, the real Seth Bullock had another three robust decades ahead of him, including adventures with Teddy Roosevelt. By contrast, the real Al Swearengen would lose the Gem to fire before the turn of the century and be driven out of Deadwood, later being found murdered on the streets of Denver.

In some ways, Milch's Swearengen is the inverse of himself; Milch is physically intact as his mental faculties ebb. Swearengen in the movie is mentally intact as his physical faculties ebb. The vulnerability inherent in that circumstance allowed Swearengen to indulge in certain sentimentalities that were immensely satisfying to witness, but would have been out of character for a Swearengen who didn't believe his demise was imminent.

(Why indeed, Harry? Did you never get your fuckin' fire-hat?)
Harry as a character basically existed to be the less-deserving candidate in the county sheriff's race, the man who deserved to lose but who would win. And after Brent Sexton's turn in Titus Welliver's other series, "Bosch", I was predisposed to distrust the guy.

On the other hand, Jane getting to do what she did at the very end was a hell of a grace-note. I fucking yelled out loud multiple times watching that -- Jane coming the FUCK through for Bullock there was so awesome, but also major points to Alma for pulling that move at the auction (and great to see Joanie and even Tom getting in on the bidding-action to force Hearst higher, too).
One of my favorite things in this movie was how in the intervening decade the legend of Calamity Jane had grown. The third season had laid the groundwork for that, and the movie paid it off beautifully. At the start of the series, Wild Bill Hickok was the person who was known and spoken of. Now, at the start of the movie, Calamity Jane finds herself in a roughly analogous position to the man she idolized more than any other in this world.

Joanie and Jane hooking up was something that just sort of happened in the series, but the movie did a great job of capturing two lovers with a long history together, not all of it smooth sailing. The way Kim Dickens and Robin Weigert played their scenes together was different, and really sold all of the experiences they'd shared together in the intervening years we didn't get to see.

Glad we got a few nice Doc-moments and Farnum-moments in there, too
Doc Cochran was probably my favorite character during the original run, and he got a few great moments to shine here. Rolling right into the movie from the third season finale, it's amazing how Brad Dourif dialed exactly into the character all of these years later. More than any of the actors, he feels like he's giving the exact same performance. Given the nature of the doctor's traumas, and given the nature of his responsibilities, it makes a certain amount of sense that he's one of the characters who's the most static in terms of evolution and development.

Farnum is another one very much the same after all of these years, though I missed his back and forth with Richardson. Unfortunately, Ralph Richeson passed away a few years ago.

Sure, a putative fourth season of this is a good what-might-have-been, but this was a really, really lovely, touching, funny, moving final visit to Deadwood. That final act was absolutely transcendent. Wonderful.
Even setting aside the financial and logistical obstacles to a forth season, given that Milch is racing his disease here, I'm glad he focused his efforts on one really great two hour story with the time spent on draft after draft to make it as good as it could possibly.

A fourth season wouldn't have received this much attention on each scene, and each bit of dialog. And Milch isn't in a condition to serve as the hands-on showrunner that he was during the original run. Over time, he would have been less and less involved, and it's highly doubtful that whoever picked up the slack as Milch withdrew wouldn't be at Milch's caliber.

This way, Milch got to still leave his authorial stamp on it, tell the story he wanted to tell in exactly the manner he wanted to tell it, and take the time he needed to get it right. I'd rather have two great hours straight from Milch's skull than a dozen fairly good hours fleshed out by committee from Milch's broad outline.

I thought this was fantastic, with two minor quibbles. The flashbacks seemed clumsy. I understand why they felt the need to do this but they disrupted the story for me.
I thought the flashbacks were really well done; especially since they really were flashes -- like a sudden memory -- rather than extended scenes.

It was interesting to see them, too, having just watched the episodes they were taken from. The original show was made for 1080p, looks good and holds up well. But seeing the same footage in flashbacks, opened up slightly at the sides and cropped slightly at the top and bottom for the movie's wider aspect ratio, it was noticeable how far the industry has come with high-definition telecine and color grading. The footage is the same, but looks better here than it did in the episodes.

Also, thought it was hilarious how absolutely no effort is made to explain why/how Con Stapleton is suddenly the new reverend. I guess it's just the standard retirement-plan for Cy's ex-employees.
I'm thinking there was another disease outbreak, and Cy Tolliver had him abandoned out in the woods. Someone came and nursed him back to health, and in the aftermath of his recovery he had a religious conversion.

Either that, or Zach Grenier wasn't available.

Utter's funeral and the montage at the end got me. Both were just beautiful.
Dayton Callie brought so much to his performance as Charlie Utter. Over the course of the series, viewers really grow to respect Charlie. His small handful of scenes in the early part of the movie really remind you of that. So you completely buy it when our series regulars and the nameless townspeople do too.

The Waltzing Matilda ending was breathtaking, and couldn't help remind me of how effectively that song was used in another of my favorites, On the Beach. Bravo.
Geri Jewell has had a lot of health struggles in recent years, and it was a real physical challenge for her to participate in this film. But I'm so glad she persevered and made it happen. That moment between Al and Jewel on the bed is wonderful, especially with Trixie in the room witnessing it as we are.

Speaking of Trixie, I loved how the love triangle was handled in this film. She has deep but very different relationships with Sol and Al, and both relationships and honored with all of their specificity and complexity. I loved that Al was the one to walk her down the aisle and give her away, and I loved that he sacrificed a considerable portion of his remaining stamina in order to do so.

For a series that was always anything but, this was gloriously and beautifully sentimental.
When you think of it in terms of telling a story, not really a lot happens; George Hearst comes to town, alienates all of the locals, earns himself a beating, has one of his smaller business ventures temporarily frustrated, and then moves on. A few key characters die, but the status quo isn't really affected.

But in terms of character work, it's superb. Everything is on point, and not a single moment is wasted.

Fun to see Garret Dillahunt make an uncredited cameo near the end in the crowd scene btw.
Larry Cedar (Cy's dope fiend underling Leon in the original run), also had a small cameo:
Deadwood_Movie_007.jpg
 

Cameron Yee

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I squeezed this in before my subscription to HBONow expired, so I feel like I need to revisit it when it comes out on BD, and really give it the attention it deserves. As it is, I watched it on my phone over four or five moments I had to myself (life as a parent).

My memory of where things left off in Season 3 is fuzzy, but it seemed like things were going to come to a head with Hearst much sooner than 10 years. So while it was interesting to catch up/get reacquainted with the characters, I also couldn't help feeling that some things had spent the last 10 years in suspended animation, leaving me to wonder what some characters had been doing for the last decade (seemingly, not much) or why some story developments didn't happen sooner. I guess that is reflective of real life at times, where not a lot truly happens in 10 years time, it's just the day-in and day-out of existence and the next thing you know, it's been 28 years since you graduated from high school. :)
 

TravisR

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My memory of where things left off in Season 3 is fuzzy, but it seemed like things were going to come to a head with Hearst much sooner than 10 years.
It's not specifically stated but I just assumed that Hearst himself hadn't been back to Deadwood since the end of the third season or at least not for years. Swearengen's first reaction to Hearst didn't seem to me like he had been looking at him from his balcony daily for the past decade.
 
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Adam Lenhardt

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It's not specifically stated but I just assumed that Hearst himself hadn't been back to Deadwood since the end of the third season or at least not for years. Swearengen's first reaction to Hearst didn't seem to me like he had been looking at him from his balcony daily for the past decade.
That was my read as well; Hearst had been running the mining operation through intermediaries during the intervening decade, but this is the first time he's been back in person in years, maybe since the third season finale.

Plot-wise, the movie was pretty much a redo of the third season, only with smaller stakes: instead of the fate of the town being up for grabs, it was just Charlie Utter's small piece of land (in the path of Hearst's telephone line) that was up for grabs. The murder of Charlie Utter mirrors the murder of Whitney Ellsworth.

I believe this is deliberate on Milch's part; by having the same characters confront the same conflicts, we can see how the past decades has changed them, how they respond differently (or don't).

But big picture, by the time the movie takes place, Hearst has already won. The most our protagonists are able to achieve is to scare and embarrass Hearst. And the price they pay for even that is pretty steep.

The most consequential events in the movie are personal: Charlie Utter's death, Al's declining health, the rekindling of love between Calamity Jane and Joanie Stubbs, the birth of Sol and Trixie's son, Jane overcoming her fear of harsh men to kill Harry Manning and save Seth Bullock.
 

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