Photography: Netflix

Running the gamut from offbeat western to true-life drama to spooky ghost story.

Every few weeks, we aim to round up trailers and promotional interviews for upcoming film and TV offerings that might be of special interest to C&I readers. Jeff Daniels, Helen Mirren, and Lakota cowboy Brady Jandreau are among the notables who loom large in this batch.

 

Steven Soderbergh is executive producer of Godless, the limited-run western drama set to premiere November 22 on Netflix. Scott Frank (screenwriter of Out of Sight, Minority Report and The Wolverine) is writer and director of the series, which stars Jeff Daniels, Michelle Dockery, Jack O’Connell, Kim Coates, Scoot McNairy, and Sam Waterson.

What’s it all about? According to Netflix: “Notorious criminal Frank Griffin (Jeff Daniels) and his gang of outlaws are on a mission of revenge against Roy Goode (Jack O’Connell), a son-like protégé who betrayed the brotherhood. While on the run, Roy seeks refuge with hardened widower Alice Fletcher (Michelle Dockery), an outcast herself, in a worn-down, isolated mining town of La Belle, New Mexico — governed mainly by women. When word reaches La Belle that Griffin is headed their way, the town bands together to defend against the murderous gang in a lawless western frontier.”

 

Filmmaker Chloé Zhao artfully intertwines fact and fiction in The Rider, her award-winning drama-documentary hybrid about a rodeo competitor forced to consider the potentially fatal consequences of pursuing his career. The star of her film is Lakota cowboy Brady Jandreau, an incredibly resilient young man who was advised by doctors to never ride again after a bucking horse stomped on his head and near-fatally crushed his skull during a mishap at the 2016 PRCE rodeo in Fargo, North Dakota. Brady now has a metal plate in his head, and suffers from other health issues associated with a severe traumatic brain injury. Even so, he continues to break horses at his ranch on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

In The Rider — which Sony Pictures Classics will release on a date yet to be announced  Jandreau plays Brady Blackburn, a character modeled after himself, and he’s surrounded by real-life friends and family members Zhao has cast in supporting roles. As Kerri Craddock wrote in program notes for the 2017 Toronto Film Festival: “The ability to ride defines a man's worth in Brady's world. Though riding and horses are never far from his thoughts, Brady now spends his days working at the local supermarket and his nights drinking with his buddies. With his mother gone and with a borderline alcoholic father with a gambling problem, Brady finds himself responsible for his 15-year-old sister, Lilly. With his limited education, money and local fame may seem easiest to come by in the world of rodeo, but so are injury and even death.”

 

OK, we admit it: Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built isn’t, per se, a western. But the movie — which CBS Films will release February 2, 2018 — does feature no less a luminary than Academy Award-winner Helen Mirren in the role of Sarah Winchester, widow of gun magnate William Wirt Winchester. And the fanciful plot, said to be “inspired by true events,” deals with vengeful spirits who once found themselves on the wrong end of Winchester products.

Here’s the official CBS Films synopsis: “On an isolated stretch of land 50 miles outside of San Francisco sits the most haunted house in the world.  Built by Sarah Winchester (Helen Mirren), heiress to the Winchester fortune, it is a house that knows no end.  Constructed in an incessant twenty-four hour a day, seven day a week mania for decades, it stands seven stories tall and contains hundreds of rooms.  To the outsider it looks like a monstrous monument to a disturbed woman’s madness. But Sarah is not building for herself, for her niece (Sarah Snook) or for the brilliant Doctor Eric Price (Jason Clarke) whom she has summoned to the house.  She is building a prison, an asylum for hundreds of vengeful ghosts, and the most terrifying among them have a score to settle with the Winchesters…”

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