SXSW consistently schedules enjoyable low-budget documentaries, and The Last Western is no exception. I confess I decided to see it because I was already planning to see a later movie at the same venue and didn't want to rush from theater to theater. Fortunately, the film turned out to be worth seeing.
The Last Western is about an odd leftover from the days of B-movie Westerns: Pioneertown, California. Investors in the late 1940s decided it would be fun and profitable to build a Western-themed town that also could be used for shooting the Old West on location. A number of Gene Autry movies and TV shows were filmed in Pioneertown until the mid-1950s, when the town started its slow decline. Pioneertown became a hub for the Hell's Angels in the 1970s, then settled back into small-town desert life. Many of the Old West-style buildings became residences; some were boarded up and neglected for decades.
The few people left in Pioneertown—250 or so—tend to have "no regard for rules," as former resident and Concrete Blonde lead singer Johnette Napolitano notes. The film focuses on a few of the more colorful residents, intercutting their stories with appropriate scenes and music from Westerns that were shot in Pioneertown.