>*SPOILER ALERT!!* DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN "MAVERICK"
Patrick B. Bjork notes:
But back to the playfulness of _Maverick_. The film, the form itself, is
>clearly a poker game replete with bluffs, tricks, cheating, gameplaying,
>etc. These are enmeshed in the very nature of its presentation. It is,
>in the postmodern sense, a pastische of genres, both dramatic and
>comedic, both self-reflexive and plot-driven. This pastische succeeds in
>distancing the viewer from the text--a typical postmodern move--and
>perhaps this, more specifically, is what makes you feel uncomfortable. We
>are continually reminded by the intermingling of forms, by the breaking of
>frames, by the undercutting of genres, that this is a film--a work of art;
>not a great one, mind you, but the art of filmmaking is still apparent
Breaking of frames? Could you please give an example?
Budd Boetticher's westerns were structured like poker games. MAVERICK is
more like 52 pick-up. A pastische of genres? Sure, but that doesn't mean
it's a good pastische.
>Another example is the momentary encounter/recognition that Brett has with
>the bank robber. This contemporary, self-referential overlay is a key
>sign that the film will play out like a poker match--continually
>bluffing the viewer, playing games that distance you from the
>traditional Western genre and at the same time drawing you into its
That was one of the worst scenes in the film, with what could have been a
cute in-joke dragged out so that even the slowest member of the audience
could tell what was going on. My ribs still hurt from all of Donner's
>A final example is the poker game itself. Certainly the "First Annual
>Riverboat Poker Championship" has little to do with the traditional
>West and more to do with our contemporary association with Las
If you think that's what Las Vegas-style poker is like, don't ever try it
yourself. Poker games in films always annoy me because they are at best
cartoon versions of poker. Professional gamblers simply do play this way.
Even the cheating in the final game did not make any sense.
I suppose none of this is really to the point. I just hate to see
miserable films valorized because they fit a particular critical jargon.