'Once Upon a Time in Mexico'; 'Open Range'

"Once Upon a Time in Mexico" impresses and "Open Range" are actually pretty good in today's Foxlight.

One of my favorite thrill-rides at the movies was "Once Upon a Time in Mexico." (search) This was the other great Johnny Depp performance last year besides "Pirates of the Caribbean." This is the Robert Rodriguez movie he keeps remaking with more money. It started as "El Mariachi" and then "Desperado."

The territory is familiar, but the cast headed by Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek is a blood-filled, action-packed pinata. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution calls it, "a kinetic, overcrowded fever-dream of Mexico."

Next, an "Open Range" (search) is where I said Kevin Costner would put his head the Monday after this thing opened if it didn't make a lot of money. Well it didn't. But he's still OK and frankly, so is the movie. It went on to make a tepid $58 million. But Kevin and Robert Duvall are entertaining enough for this thing to "open" well and keep going on video and DVD.

Forget the ludicrous ending. What comes before it is a good old-fashioned new Western. The Chicago Tribune says it's "such a strange mix of the grand and the hackneyed that it never really gets its bearings." Them's fightin' words, pardner.

Finally, get ready for one of my favorite movies of the year next week.