Posts Tagged ‘rutger hauer’

Oh, hell yes — now we’re talking!

Director Jason Eisener (screenplay by John Davies from a story by Eisener)’s new independent feature Hobo With A Shotgun is the second full-length feature to be extrapolated from the “fake trailers” that accompanied Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse double feature from a couple years back, and sometimes you just gotta kick back and enjoy the sheer tasteless spectacle of it all.

And tasteless is the key word here, folks. Hobo With A Shotgun is pure over-the-top cinematic mayhem that makes up for with heart what is absolutely, gloriously lacks in conscience. It’s a balls-to-the-wall splatterfest revenge flick of positively epic proportions that revels (as well it should) in its sheer, uncompromising lack of anything even remotely resembling good taste. If you’re feeling tired, this is one movie that will wake you the fuck up, and fast.

Me? I was hooked from the word go, obviously. Rutger Hauer (in a role he was positively born to play, talk about perfect casting) is an unnamed hobo who rides the rails into Hope City (more commonly referred to as “Scum City” and “Fuck City” by its residents), and quickly falls afoul of the local crime boss, a dementedly vile and sadistic little urchin who goes by the name of The Drake and who, along with his equally fucked-in-the-head sons Slick and Ivan, and the crooked cops they control, when he exhibits something remotely resembling an average human conscience. The Hobo (that’s all we ever know him as) has ever reason in the world to want to pursue revenge on the Drake clan after they fuck him up in a most undignified manner, but rather than satisfy his bloodlust, he just wants to save up 50 bucks to buy a lawnmower and get in the yard-care business.

It’s just a pipe dream, though, as The Hobo learns when he goes into a pawn shop to finally procure his lawnmower, only to have his shopping experience rudely interrupted by a couple of junkies pursuing a violent hold-up so they can get money to buy more of the drugs that The Drake has hooked them on. When the hoodlums threaten to shoot a baby in the store, The Hobo decides he’s had enough, grabs an old pump-action shotgun off the pawn shop wall, and starts blasting! Soon (after paying for his shotgun and shells, naturally) it’s all-out war as The Hobo, together with his teen-prostitute-with-a-heart-of-gold sidekick, Abby, starts taking the city back one shotgun shell at a time. nobody’s safe — pimps, pushers, hold-up artists, and in one particularly memorable sequence even a child molester in a Santa suit, all fall victim to The Hobo’s special brand of retributive justice — with interest.

Needless to say, the actions of this ultra-violent one-man clean-up crew don’t exactly sit well with The Drake and his boys, and that’s when out intrepid Hobo’s troubles really begin —

I don’t know how else to say it, people, but if you only see one movie this year, it should be Hobo With A Shotgun. While it doesn’t have the social conscience of Robert Rodriguez’s Machete, the first “real” movie to be based on a “fake” Grindhouse trailer, and certainly lacks its all-star cast (Hauer is, I guarantee, the only person in this flick you’ve ever heard of), it’s every bit as heartfelt and earnest an homage to the golden years of exploitation cinema, and maybe even more fun, precisely because it’s completely unburdened from trying to make anything like a relevant point whatsoever. Hobo With A Shotgun is here to party, and if you’ve got any sense whatsoever, you’ll join right in.

Lensed in the beautiful Halifax/Dartmouth area of Nova Scotia (a truly picturesque locale that I was fortunate enough to spend a few months in a handful of years ago and that takes a hell of a lot of work to look this shitty, believe you me — hats off to the production design team for their exemplary work here), Hobo With A Shotgun is a monumental achievement (no kidding) in the annals of Canadian independent cinema and deserves a wider audience than it’s probably going to get in limited release (Minneapolis residents take note — it opens at the Lagoon in a couple of weeks here, and we’re lucky, since it’s not getting much theatrical play beyond the two coasts) and on satellite and cable on-demand services (which is where I caught it since I couldn’t wait for it to hit town), and I can only hope that it’s eventual DVD and Blu-ray release will see this massive body-count revenge spectacular find a legion of appreciative fans. I’m proud to say that I was among the first in line. This is the real deal, folks, and if you’ve got the stomach for it, you’re sure to walk away from it wearing the most devious, shit-eating , flat-out unhinged grin you’ve had on your face in waaaaaayyyyy too long. Your friends and neighbors will question your sanity, sure, but they don’t matter and you don’t need them. You’ve got Hobo With A Shotgun. All is right with the world.

"The Rite" Movie Poster

Okay, I admit it — I’m a sucker for exorcism flicks. Always have been, always will be. Ever since William Friedkin’s original The Exorcist burned itself indelibly into my memory as a kid, I’ve never missed a movie about some hapless schmuck in a robe trying to drive demons out of people.

And there sure have been a lot to choose from lately, haven’t there? Midway through the decade just passed it looked like this once-sort-of-mighty horror subgenre had finally run out of gas after the two different versions of The Exorcist prequel bombed at the box office, but now it’s  come roaring back with films like The Exorcism of Emily Rose, last year’s indie-horror mini-sensation The Last Exorcism, and now this latest Anthony Hopkins starring vehicle, The Rite.

Of course, you don’t go into a movie like this expecting anything new per se (or at least you shouldn’t), the only question is whether they’ll serve up a familiar dish well. I’m pleased to report that for the most part, director Mikael Hafstrom and co. get the recipe right. And eating seconds (or thirds, or fourths, or fifths, as the case may be) isn’t the end of the world if the dish itself still tastes pretty good.

I haven’t eaten yet today. Can you tell? And I probably should, but before I do let me just say a few brief words about The Rite because an in-depth cinematic analysis really isn’t all that necessary here, just a glossing-over the relevant points so you can decide whether or not this is worth a handful of your hard-earned dollars a couple hours of your life.

First off, Hopkins is solid. As Welsh exorcist (can’t be too many of those around)Father Lucas Trevant he’s pretty much mailing it in for the first two-thirds or so of the film, but once he gets demon-possessed in the final act (whoops, gave something away there) he really pulls out all the stops and delivers one of his signature blood-curdling performances. Fun stuff all around.

The other nominal lead, young (and dubious, and reluctant — of course) exorcist-in-training Michael Kovak, is handled by an actor I’m unfamiliar with named Colin O’Donoghue. He’s got all the charisma of three-day-old pizza and if you give a flying fuck about him you’re engaging in a serious bit of charity, because there’s just nothing notable about his performance whatsoever, but you’re not going to this to see him (if you’re sane) so I guess in the grand scheme of things his painful lack of acting ability hardly matters all that much.

Hafstrom, who seems to have a pretty solid visual eye as a director and keeps things stylishly bleak and mysterious without venturing too heavily into music-video territory  or anything like that, has assembled a respectable little supporting cast that includes the always-awesome Toby Jones as the headmaster (or dean, or Father Superior, or whatever they’re called) of the seminary Kovak is nominally still attending (he’s trying to quit), Ciaran Hinds (last seen around these parts in Todd Solondz’ Life During Wartime) as a second-tier Vatican priest/functionary, the rather fetching Alica Braga as Kovak’s European fellow student-exorcist (evidently the Vatican is willing to go co-ed in this field — who knew?)/sort-of love interest, and Rutger Hauer, who it’s just plain always great to see in anything,  as Kovak’s mortician father.

The plot, such as it is , concerns our intrepid young not-really-sure-he-wants-to-be-a-priest going to Rome to learn the ins and outs of exorcisms in a last-ditch attempt to, frankly, have some faith scared back into him since his meter’s running pretty low in that regard, and along the way he teams up with Father Lucas and learns that all this demonic possession shit is for real and a nasty demon entity migrates its way from a young girl into Lucas himself (I gave that away already, so no need to shout at me twice or anything). Basic stuff, supposedly “inspired by true events,” since the old standard disclaimer of “based on a true story” is probably a bit too much of a reach in this case.

Have you seen it all before? Of course. Have you seen it done better? No doubt.

And frankly, in recent years, you’ve seen it done a lot worse, too. The Rite isn’t out to shatter your view of reality or leave you with indelible nightmare images of a world you’d rather not face or anything of the sort. At least I hope that wasn’t the film’s  intention, because it sure falls well short of the mark as far as that goes. It seems more likely to me that it’s just out to do a solid, competent job of telling a story we’ve seen dozens of times over and are sure to see dozens of times again. It succeeds well enough in that regard, and since that’s the absolute most I was hoping for anyway, I’m prepared to give it my — uhhmmmm — blessing.