Other films by John Sayles: The Brother from Another Planet (1984), Eight Men Out (1988), City of Hope (1991)
To be honest, I didn’t really expect much from the film. I saw its production as a little low budget and unknown and the plot somewhat shady. The reason that I wanted to watch the film was solely to admire Chris Cooper’s acting. I was fascinated with his brilliant performance in Adaptation, and was thrilled with his mysterious and strict identity in American Beauty and was attracted to watch Matewan from what I heard from imbd members. It didn’t impress, although another actor impressed me so much I had to research him, his name is William Oldham (he is more known as a musician).
Directing: I didn’t like the editing very much. It seemed a little too randomly picked and trivial. Like a clip and narrative from a vacation trip. I guess it’s just normal directing, though there were numerous separated scenes that were amazing and interesting, they didn’t budge well when united. Some films are just like that I suppose
There were a lot of scenes that were full of content and powerful but just lacked its creative directing.
Danny Radnor is some character. I really found it creative and interesting how he told through metaphor about his new found knowledge without letting the foreigners know about it, and how this language was clearly understood by the town people. Still, that kind of suspense seemed a little far off from the expected content of the film.
The POW story was very interesting and terrible to imagine happen.
Plot: The plot was simple yet momentous. Although it introduced the whole culture in the hard labor of the mining industry, the way it was narrated didn’t blend well with how the characters wore their roles and how the whole scheme of things was collectively projected.
There were a lot of important and crucial scenes that are quite memorable in the film, however. Danny’s preaches were magnificent, and the campfire scene for Kenehan’s planned murder was remarkable. You are allowed to like the story inside the story inside the film. It travels to different levels of imagery that you forget what the whole film actually is about.
The deputy scene was impressive which gave the feeling of high spirit. I think the part where Lively tried to create a false rumour via an invented accusation was a thoughtless input in the plot and it didn't feel well for me. It assumed a whole scope of things in the story and it just didn't look convincing. "Getting the female drunk" as a means is not a smart idea, nor is falling for the bait.
Characters/Acting: The acting during the church scene was really impressive and somewhat a familiar class thanks to the contrasting preaching that followed after. Will Oldham impressed me so much I’m going to watch more of his films.
Although I liked most characters, it’s sad that they didn’t really complement well the characteristics of the people in such culture. In other words, as a whole, the film didn’t seem that believable. But the acting had nothing to do with it.
Score: The early music made the video montage seemed like a passing by story. It didn’t allow the audience to be pulled in with the story within the film.