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Outside Circle gives inside view

The West’s cinematic allure gets a current twist with a documentary called The Outside Circle. Subtitled A Movie of the Modern West, the project focuses on people who make up today’s world of cowboys—which includes women and people who do not look like John Wayne. Focusing on the Great Basin region, filmmaker Craig Rullman finds stunning visuals in landscapes, peppering the sights with thoughts and commentary from people who work the region. Holding the view that the Great Basin Cowboy represents the elite, Rullman includes characters like Waddie Mitchell of Jiggs, Nevada. Though never mentioning Mitchell’s status as a standout poet-singer with a Warner Brothers recording contract, the project shows Mitchell as a man with pride and insight about the cowboy way of life. The project features another artist, Len Babb, a buckeroo whose paintings celebrate worlds found on the range. Coming from a different angle, rodeo champion Victoria Jackson and her Paiute Shoshone roots go back thousands of years, adapting to difficult changes but remaining true to the land. Rullman chooses subjects whose observations make narration unnecessary; the people who love their heritage appreciate the romanticism associated with the cowboy image but also emphasize some basics, noting that the job qualifies as “just hard work.” True, but work with a visual appeal that lets The Outside Circle continue the tradition of making those hats, spurs, horses, and landscapes look appealing.

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