I've always been big on supporting the local arts, from artists to bands to performers. So when local filmmaker Will Moore gave me the chance to screen his new movie "Cowboy Smoke," I jumped at the chance.
The movie follows the story of Joe, a lowly convenience store clerk who dreams of becoming a real cowboy. Eventually, after getting fired for spending too much time playing a cowboy "shoot 'em up" game at work, Joe heads to South Texas to make his dream come true. Joe's idyllic cowboy dreams are quickly shattered, however, when he learns that his first job consists of killing Mexican immigrants who are trespassing on private property.
Eventually, Joe finds himself embroiled in an illegal immigrant smuggling ring and along with the help of a Texas Ranger, has to figure out a way to stop it.
Filmed mainly in Victoria, McFaddin and Tivoli, Moore has truly captured the beauty of South Texas. Call me bias because I happen to live in South Texas, but Moore has an eye for scenery and as a final flourish, has added a realistic background noise of cicadas and crickets in full bloom.
Does the movie look like it was made in Hollywood? No. And that could be a good or bad thing depending on your perception. But the one thing this movie has captured is the very real issue and plight of all those involved in illegal immigration, from law enforcement to landowners to the immigrants themselves.
Moore doesn't hold back from, to use a Western term, the good, the bad and the ugly of what happens in towns close to the border. In fact, my favorite line in the movie is when Joe and his newfound Texas Ranger friend help a bunch of immigrants escape from the back of an 18-wheeler and one immigrant turns to them and says, "What do we do now?"
What are they supposed to do? Regardless of where you stand on the issue of illegal immigration, the reality is that people die in the battle of the border and Moore doesn't shy away from showing that. He also doesn't shy away from showing that the blame for the illegal immigrant mess our country is in today rests on more than one group's shoulders.
All in all, "Cowboy Smoke" may lack some of the niceties that movies with bigger budgets have, but it's succeeded in telling a modern-day Western story and touching on a relevant yet sensitive topic that deserves more attention.
And I applaud Moore's grassroots effort to create films outside the normal circles of Hollywood, Austin and the other places where the film industry elites gather.
For more information about the movie, click here.
To read Will Moore's blog he kept throughout the entire production of the movie, click here.
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