Lectures For Lifelong Learners!

“Copshop” is also new to Blu-Ray this week.

Cry Macho

“Cry Macho” is proof that writers don’t have to go over the top to create an original story. It’s the small choices a writer makes that can give the yarn being spun a fresh feeling.

Take the attitude of rich Mexican socialite Leta (Fernanda Urrejola). She’s the ex-wife of wealthy Texas horse ranch owner Howard Polk (Dwight Yoakam). The former couple have a thirteen-year-old son named Rafo (Eduardo Minett). Howard decides that he wants his son to live with him and sends washed up former ranch hand Mike Milo (Clint Eastwood) to retrieve the boy. The set up is that Howard will have to sneak on to the compound and essentially kidnap the kid. But when Howard is discovered and talks to Leta, he finds out that Rafo is a problem child and is at a cock fight with his prize rooster, Macho. This perked me up. I thought a lot of the first act drama would center around Leta wanting to keep Rafo and it would be a struggle for Howard to get to him, but no. It’s a refreshingly straight forward process.

Howard is interesting too. His desire to have Rafo back in his life didn’t just come on all of a sudden. Some land deals in Mexico that he and Leta made when they were still together have come to fruition and he wants Rafo with him as a bargaining chip to get his half from her. Little does he know what she really thinks of her son, but that’s a fun little subtext “Cry Macho” leaves to the audience to ponder. But even that barely matters because what I like about his character is that he really, actually, does want his son in his life—apart from the land deal. A more cynical story would have the father be heartless and just use his son as a pawn, while at the same time assaulting us with boring, worn out, half-baked grievances against corporate greed and callous business practices or whatever. This story does not go down that path. No, it’s not warm and fuzzy, but it’s not didactic and played out either, which is more important.

Where we do get the warm and fuzzy, and where “Cry Macho” truly shines, is in its second act. In a more typical story, this would have been a buddy road movie in which a mismatched pair must put their differences aside to get somewhere and overcome obstacles along the way. It starts in that direction, then stops when Mike and Rafo’s car breaks down in a small, dusty Mexican town. The two hide out in the cantina owned by an older woman named Marta (Natalia Traven), who runs it with her grandchildren. Mike and Marta take a liking to each other, and young Rafo spends time with the oldest grand daughter (Elida Munoz). Mike finds time to help out at the local horse ranch, teaches Rafo how to ride, and even develops a reputation as a great animal healer.

These are beautiful, happy times that allow us to settle in with the characters and get to know them. The best part is that I cared enough about all of these characters and was invested in the time spent. Of course, such good times must come to an end and the story must continue, which it does in a satisfying way, but the most memorable moments are the ones where the characters are simply being who they are. Rent it.

More New Releases

“Copshop,” in which a small town police station becomes the unlikely battleground between a professional hitman, a smart female rookie cop and a double crossing conman who seeks refuge behind bars with no place left to run, starring Gerard Butler, Frank Grillo, and Toby Huss; and “Werewolves Within,” an adaptation of the video game where werewolves attack a small town, starring Sam Richardson, Milana Vayntrub, and George Basil.

Andrew Hudak is a lifelong film lover and author of the novel “Takedown,” which is available on Amazon, iTunes, and more. His column on Blu-Ray new releases appears every Tuesday. He lives in Connecticut.