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Arts & Culture

Podcast Episode 87: 'Hell Or High Water' And The Indie Spirit

Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham) are Texas Rangers in pursuit of two brothers on a crime spree in "Hell or High Water."
CBS Films
Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham) are Texas Rangers in pursuit of two brothers on a crime spree in "Hell or High Water."

Director David Mackenzie and actor Gil Birmingham talk about social commentary and contemporary westerns

87 'Hell Or High Water' And The Indie Spirit
Episode 87: 'Hell or High Water and the Indie Spirit Director David Mackenzie and actor Gil Birmingham talk about the indie spirit and social commentary of "Hell or High Water." Subscribe to the Cinema Junkie podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcatcher.

"Hell or High Water" is a throwback to 1970s indie films. Director David Mackenzie and actor Gil Birmingham talk about making a contemporary Western that delivers social commentary.

"Hell or High Water" concerns two Texas brothers, Tanner (Ben Foster) and Toby Howard (Chris Pine), who decide to rob a string of banks.

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Their crimes attract the attention of Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges), who is about to retire. Hamilton's partner is Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham), who is half Mexican and half Native American, and worries that his partner is just searching for something to delay retirement.

As they pursue the bank-robbing brothers we see that the Howards are committing the overt crime, but the banks prove to be the real villains. That gives the film some resonance in today's social, economic and political climate.

For this podcast, I speak with "Hell or High Water" director David Mackenzie and actor Gil Birmingham (who also stars in "House of Cards"). The two came to San Diego for a preview screening of the film and fielded questions from the audience. It was a lively discussion that raised issues that made Mackenzie quite happy because it meant the film was striking a nerve.