Qt3 Movie Podcast: Hell or High Water

How can a movie be at 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, but one of us doesn’t like it? At the 1:08 mark, this week’s 3×3 perpetrates a discussion about confidence schemes in movies.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://www.quartertothree.com/fp/2016/11/20/qt3-movie-podcast-hell-high-water/

Day-early surprise podcast post… Niiiiice!

I liked Hell or High Water a lot. I feel like it is a movie I might show somebody before I show them No Country for Old Men. To see if they’re ready.

I think it was Christien who said the movie was ham handed, and I totally agree. The worst part was when they practically looked at the camera and said, “You know who the REAL bad guy is in this movie, right? The bank!” Thanks. I think I got it. I don’t think Jeff Bridges really had the gravitas to pull off his character well, but not everybody can be Tommy Lee Jones.

My favorite part of the movie was trying to figure out the dynamic between the brothers. I kept on trying to figure out who was running the show, and who was there for moral support. Neither one of them ever seemed entirely on the same page for what their motivations were, but their individual motivations didn’t become entirely clear until close to the end. I liked at different times they both seemed to be the one with the plan, or the one with the emotional drive behind what they were doing. It was a good dynamic.

I kind of hated that Captain Kirk’s family showed up in the final scene. There was that super tense moment where they were staring each other down on the front porch, and I thought somebody was going to draw on the other one. I wish the movie had cut to black right there. I still liked the ending for what it was, but it kind of continued the running theme of the movie lacking subtlety.

That’s my ineloquent take on the movie.

Also: having lived in Texas for about ten years, the portrayal of Texas seemed like a caricature of Texas. It was what somebody living in Hollywood would think Texas is like if they only have Westerns and mainstream news media to go by. I never ran into any douche bags like those kids at the gas station, so I’ll go ahead and say Tom was wrong that there are tons of people like that in Texas. But maybe I just never went to the right part… you know, the part where some guy will take his horse to a gas station to fuel it up.

I really like that you bring this up, because I don’t recall talking about it enough, or with enough weight. Because my problem is that I just didn’t get a feel for the geography to feel satisfied with what they were going through, and the distances they were traveling, and the implications of going into Oklahoma, and the weird tension that can exist within that.

I’m not sure how you convey that though, the geography thing I’m talking about. i don’t want an Indiana Jones style map with dotted lines showing where they are driving, and where they are going next, and how the Texas Rangers are converging upon their route. But I needed more of a sense of where we were in relation to other things, and where we were in the world, besides just using the word “Texas” as some kind of shorthand.

The one time I got a sense of that was after Tanner goes off script to rob the other bank and that sets them behind in their schedule. I think Toby is talking about what this means for having to bury another car and all the driving they are going to have to do.

I disagree with what you say about Toby’s family showing up in that scene. Especially the reveal that he doesn’t live there. That he’s just there to work on the house. All is not forgiven. This is not a scene of redemption in the regular sense of his wife taking him back and his kids being totally cool with him. He has to work his way, he has to work to be their father now. It’s not like, “Woo-hoo! We’re rich! Now you’re totally cool as a dad after being absent for years and years!” And I like the character for working on this, because he wants to work on it. Not based on a personal reward, but based on breaking that cycle of the disease of poverty because he wants better for his sons. Because he doesn’t want one of them in a room in their house doing home care for their mother as she dies, alone, while the other brother is in prison. I like his character in that regard. And, as I said on the podcast, I think Chris Pine does a fine job playing that part all on his own, and is really good standing across from Jeff Bridges, going through all he is going through.

Really good post, carlton. Thank you.


“I don’t know how you’re going to survive without somebody to outsmart.”

I haven’t listened to this pod yet, but I will in the next day or so. I saw this movie twice when it was in the theater - the first time, about halfway through, I was squirming in my seat…it was filled with too much pointless chat, the script wasn’t half as clever as it thought, and I absolutely hated Jeff Bridges doing Tommy Lee Jones. (as I believe Tom has said before, it’s not a great idea for a movie to remind me of a better movie)

The last 45 minutes sort of salvaged it for me. I don’t think it’s great, and I think the reviews were overly positive, but in the end it gets a pass from me. It’s a bit like a mega lite Coen brothers, but I think a lot of the script is very weak. If Christien is down on it, I’ll look forward to hearing his thoughts…we’re probably in similar boats, if not the same boat.

Edit: Having had a chance to listen, I am firmly on team Dingus, even as in the end I was okay with the movie. His comment about the on the nose music sealed the deal, thanks for pointing that out. I almost laughed at loud at some of the lyrics.

I think this may be the best -opsis yet.

Haven’t listened yet, but which fool did not like this movie?

I don’t know. But whichever one it was, fuck that guy.


“Tell me again I’m stupid.”

My reply to that is at the 01:37:02 mark of the Nightcrawler podcast.

From the discussion about the first Hitman movie.

“Every character’s bald in this movie. Except Kurylenko. Down there.”


I’m glad you said this because I was going to weigh in based on my impressions from an eight day road trip through Texas earlier this year and I was going to qualify it by saying, “There’s probably someone on the boards who lives in Texas who can give a more authoritative opinion.” My road trip actually was mostly through rural areas (from Austin through Hill Country, up to the Davis Mountains, down to Big Bend, across the Lower Rio Grande Valley and then up to Houston with time at the cities being pretty much arrival and departure) and my impression was that the depiction of rural Texas felt fairly accurate to me. We saw a ton of really charming slices of rural Texas but we also drove through or stopped at a lot of towns that looked like hard times with not a lot of prospects for improvement and they felt very much like a lot of the towns in Hell or High Water.

Regarding the “What don’t you want” conversation, we stopped at Marathon Texas (population 430) briefly. There were a handful of interesting looking businesses downtown, all of which were closed at 2:00 on a Thursday afternoon. The only two places that were open were a gas station and a place advertising pizza and coffee. My friend and I decided to get some coffee while our other friend was gassing up. As we were walking across the street my friend said, (half in jest I suspect) “I wonder if I can get a chai latte here.” I said, “Man, if you ask for a chai latte in there you’re likely to get shot. They’re going to have one type of coffee in there and it’s going to be the hot brown kind.” When we ordered our coffee the woman behind the counter surprised me by offering us a choice. “What kind of coffee would you like – Regular or decaf?” She pulled a jug of coffee brewed at some point earlier that week out of the fridge and proceeded to heat it up in a pan over a electric hot plate. The point of the story is not to condescend her or the town – I’d’ve been frankly disappointed if they served chai lattes. This is life in a West Texas town, population 430. The first generation Mexican American guy who ran the gas station had a lunch counter which served decent burgers and amazing burritos.

Sorry, that was a long diversion but the point was that the “What don’t you want” conversation is not one that would have surprised me in some of the places we visited.

Christien, at risk of shattering your impression that Pine and Bridges were going to form some sort of an unlikely friendship and bring each other peace through consolation over the shared experience of grief, my impression of their verbal dance was that they were speculating fatalistically over which one of them was likely to get the better of the other in the inevitable gun fight to come. Pine readily gave Bridges his address as they were equally anxious to get it over with, both feeling like men who have out-lived their usefulness. To Tom’s point, I’m also glad that the movie agreed and didn’t feel it was necessary to show us that post-script.

To another one of Tom’s points, Pine wasn’t just willing to sacrifice his brother’s life. This is a man who’d never committed a crime in his life and his willingness to go on a potentially fatal crime spree to help give his sons the life he never had seemed to be the act of a man who felt like his story was over. When he talks to his son in the backyard, he seems to take it for granted that things will end badly for him. “You’re going to hear a lot of bad things about your uncle and me.” “I won’t believe them.” “No, you should. They’re true.” (Paraphrasing.) This is the same fatalism that was underlying his conversation with Bridges. And for his brother, who felt his life had been even more worthless, it was even stronger. I loved Tom’s point that this was his opportunity to finally do something to care for the only family he cared about. (Having hated his father and never forgiven his mother.)

I’ll actually agree with you there. There are a lot of places in Texas and Oklahoma that are like that, and I do think at least THAT part of the portrayal was accurate enough.

I guess I was talking more about the horses at gas stations, random douchebags looking to pick a fight in the middle of nowhere, and entire towns itching for a gun fight on a Monday morning.

But as far as rural Texas and Oklahoma having little towns that are closed on Sunday that you can drive through in less than a minute, I think they got that part right.

I have seen some rude their bull (not horse) and hitched them to a hitching post in Canadian, TX, but there’s this thing culturally now of “cowboys” riding into town to get a burrito, which is stupid and irresponsible to ride an animal on busy streets.

NCFOM did capture the sense of place better - Hell or High Water was filmed outside of Santa Fe, NM, and it looks like some high mountain plains of Wyoming or Montana. But maybe the penultimate trans-Pecos movie of all time is Kevin Costner’s Fandango. That actually feels like what it really is out there (or used to be anyway).

Lest you think even out there is immune from the scourge of hipster coffee, fear not; http://bigbendcoffeeroasters.com

Saw this on the recommendation of my supervisor. Fantastic.

Taylor Sheridan is now on my watch list.

I like the part where Jeff Bridges calls the bank manager “Mr. Banker.”

I saw this movie last night and really enjoyed it. This is a good discussion too. I can’t remember if I listened to this podcast yet. I may have to dig it up!

I finally caught this now that it’s on Netflix. I thought it was beautifully shot, but I didn’t like that Grand Theft Auto V covered some of the same themes but more subtly. I mean, the graffiti and road signs in Hell and High Water were more on-the-nose than the OBEY billboards in They Live or the whiteboard in A Quiet Place.

On the whole, I thought it was worth watching. I just wish they hadn’t stomped their foot so far down on that particular pedal.

Watched this on Netflix with my grandma this weekend. She was born in Lubbock and still has family in parts of West Texas, and didn’t have any bones to pick with the movie’s depiction of it other than it being too hilly during the shootout sequence. (Which is probably explained by it being shot in New Mexico.) For what that’s worth.

Overall I think it’s a solid movie but yes, the message isn’t subtle and it does feel a little unoriginal overall. PS: hey Amber Midthunder (of Legion) was in this briefly!

Second time I’ve heard Lubbock mentioned in a movie related way this week.

But I’ll be talking about that later tonight.


Re-listening to some old episodes. I really enjoyed the debate you all had on this one because I found myself enthralled by this movie while being annoyed by several aspects.

Anyway, my personal fun take on this movie is that Peter Berg’s producing it, and it’s set similarly to Friday Night Lights. This means that Hell or High Water is really about the Riggins brothers in the middle of their lives. Ben Foster is Billy, after Mindy leaves him and he takes a dark path. Chris Pine is brooding Tim Riggins, trying to do the right thing to make coach proud and keep that perfect sunset-watching land he wanted to live on with Jason Street. Texas forever.

(I guess that makes Jeff Bridges Landry’s dad.)