Sam Elliott already is earning accolades for his performance as a faded western star.
Welcome to a new kind of Cowboys & Indians preview. Every few weeks, we aim to round up trailers for upcoming movies that might be of special interest to C&I readers. Sam Elliott, Trace Adkins, Kris Kristofferson, Luke Hemsworth, Matthew McConaughey, and Idris Elba are among the luminaries who loom large in this first batch.
After impressing audiences at Sundance, SXSW, and the Dallas International Film Festival, director Bret Haley’s The Hero — the acclaimed indie drama that’s already generating awards buzz for lead player Sam Elliott — is scheduled to open June 9 in limited theatrical release.
Elliott, who previous worked with Haley on the 2015 film I’ll See You in My Dreams, plays Lee Hayden, a former western movie icon who’s living a comfortable life decades after his Hollywood heyday while dividing his time between doing voiceover gigs, hanging out with his best buddy (Nick Offerman), and smoking copious amounts of weed. When he receives a cancer diagnosis, however, Lee is driven to re-examine his past, even as he avoids sharing news about his medical condition with his ex-wife (played by Elliott’s real-life wife, Katharine Ross) and estranged daughter (Krysten Ritter of the Marvel Comics TV series Jessica Jones). Further complications arise when he becomes involved with a salty and sassy stand-up comic (Laura Prepon of Orange is the New Black) on her own journey of self-discovery.
Luke Hemsworth, recently seen in the HBO series Westworld, plays the title role in Hickok, a period western drama directed by Timothy Woodward Jr. (Traded). According to the official plot synopsis, the movie finds the notorious gunslinger Wild Bill Hickok “in 1870s Abilene, Kansas, seeking to start a new life. Captivated by Wild Bill’s unparalleled gun skills, the mayor, George Knox (Kris Kristofferson), quickly ropes him in as the town marshal. Recognizing the need to clamp down on the wildest cow-town in the west, Hickok soon finds himself at the center of a controversial ordinance while dispensing his own brand of frontier justice. His attempts to protect Abilene, however, are quickly challenged by a band of outlaws led by powerful saloon owner Phil Poe (Trace Adkins).”
Hickok opens theatrically in 10 markets — including Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, Denver, Seattle, Orlando, Tampa-St. Petersburg, and Kansas City — July 7, the same day it becomes available on digital video platforms.
The wait is finally over for fans of The Dark Tower, Stephen King’s enormously popular series of fantasy-adventure novels: After years of false starts and thwarted plans, the saga of straight-shooter Roland Deschain and his battles against the forces of darkness has finally reached the big screen. But be forewarned — the movie iteration of The Dark Tower, set to open August 4, isn’t a conventional adaptation of any single novel in the franchise. Rather, it’s an ambitious amalgamation of western, sci-fi, and phantasmagorical elements from at least three different Dark Tower books. As Gilbert Cruz of The New York Times explained this week:
“It is an epic tale about Roland Deschain, a ‘gunslinger’ (think a medieval knight, but with the outward trappings of an American cowboy) who lives in a place called Mid-World, which runs parallel to our own. In that world is a giant black tower that serves as the center of all universes, including our own. But Mid-World has begun to fall apart and, in an effort to save it, Roland must pursue both a bad guy who dresses all in black and the Tower itself. In the film, [Idris Elba] plays Roland and [Matthew McConaughey] plays Walter O’Dim, aka the Man in Black. They are able to cross back and forth between their world and modern-day Earth, where they encounter Jake Chambers (the newcomer Tom Taylor), a boy who has been having visions of Mid-World.”