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Patrick John Flueger,
Stephen Monroe Taylor
For generations, all that distinguished Eagle Pass, TX, from Piedras Negras, MX, was the Rio Grande. But when darkness descends upon these harmonious border towns, a cowboy and lawman face a new reality that threatens their way of life.
Gunfighters and cardsharps from the far reaches of the globe descend on the mining town of Religion, Arizona to compete in a legendary poker tournament. Drawn to town by the gold prize, the players come to realize that in this game their very souls are at stake. Written by
The film surprised me by starting off as a shoot 'em up, then gradually transforming into a spiritual film. Without giving too much away, the group of gunfighters, charlatans, harlots, and occult types that gather to compete in a poker tournament in an old mining town, gradually realize they are in a battle for something more profound. The movie has a peculiar fable-like feel, in that you can take what's happening on a surface level, or read more into it if you make the connections. There is a stylized aspect to it, which includes the performances, from the gunslinging madame Bess and her carpenter suitor Bobby Shea, to the Clint Eastwood like Preacher Saint John and the carnival barker Harvard Gold, who runs the town. There's some compelling mystical types, too, such as the Ben Kenobi-like Indian who guides one of the half Indian gunfighters, and a magician/trickster named Raven, who may or may not know alchemy. But the performances that drove this home for me were Anton Stice, played with creepy mystical perfection by Claude Duhamel, and the hilarious dandy Salt Peter, who had me in stitches. This is the kind of movie you can watch many times and get something different from it with each viewing.
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