If you’ve ever wandered the aisles at the video store or surfed the DVR pay-per-view options and seen a bunch of movies that you’ve never heard of, chances are John has watched them. Why? He loves movies. All kinds of movies. Good, bad, so-bad-they’re good, even the truly unwatchable ones. He mostly loves horror and science-fiction and drive-in exploitation movies that most upstanding model citizens wouldn’t dare watch. Then he writes up his thoughts so you can decide - watch, don’t watch or avoid at all costs. Sometimes he even gets to talk to the cool folks who make some of your favorite films.
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New Releases for Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Posted Jul 14, 2012 by John Allman
Updated Jul 14, 2012 at 02:36 PM
What’s new in stores and on video shelves this week:
God Bless America
Directed by: Bobcat Goldthwait
Run time: 105 minutes
The Lowdown: Oh, the delicious irony.
At a certain point in some filmmaker’s careers, their entire creative output becomes fodder for dissection by critics seeking clues to adequately describe the potential that maybe wasn’t entirely evident early on.
For write/director/comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, that means people really, really need to revisit “Shakes the Clown,” and finally recognize it for the awesome slice of social commentary that it truly is.
Goldthwait has grown with each film that he has directed, and it’s fair to say that few fringe directors working today could deftly balance the pitch-black brew that bubbles under each film’s surface. He’s tackled complicated human emotions by focusing on one woman’s impromptu dalliance with her dog in “Sleeping Dogs Lie,” and examined the pitfalls of unbelievably dysfunctional parenting in “World’s Greatest Dad.”
But with “God Bless America,” Goldthwait’s true feelings take center stage in a furious grand guignol worthy of commentary by Howard Beale.
Goldthwait is disgusted by how far America has fallen. He froths with understandable rage at how society blindly accepts unnecessary, over-the-top marketing, feeds on biased media that pumps out uninformed, dangerous political tubthumping as news and celebrates manufactured celebrity, especially on television, which has become dominated by an increasingly bombastic array of mean-spirited, nasty people who milk fame by being the worst human beings possible.
Into this mix, he throws Frank, a terminally-ill father and divorcee stuck in a thankless office job, surrounded by loud, insensitive jerks and besieged by the nonstop, 24-7 crush of vacuous pop culture.
Instead of trying to drown out the noise, Frank decides to take action, given his condition, and he picks up a handful of weapons and sets out to scrub clean his country by eliminating one blight after another, killing those who deserve to die in his world’s view in spectacular, and often uncomfortably funny, fashion.
Frank speaks in eloquent, fiery soliloquies full of insightful, vitriolic venom. Truly, if you walk away from “God Bless America” with anything, it is an incredible appreciation for the way Goldthwait is able to capture all that is wrong about America today through a handful of furious screeds that are breathtakingly beautiful and perfectly penned.
Goldthwait takes a lot of license in “America.” He asks you to accept that Frank and a teenaged high school girl, Roxy, seeking an escape from her mother’s abusive boyfriend and a bloody outlet for her pent-up aggression, could simply set out on a cross-country killing spree with little notice from law enforcement.
It’s a journey you must choose to accept, and if you do, the film is a glorious, bloody, hysterical ride.
The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – Yes.
Nudity – No.
Gore – Yes.
Drug use – No.
Bad Guys/Killers – Society.
Buy/Rent – Buy it.
Blu-Ray Bonus Features – Audio commentary; Behind the Scenes: Killing with Kindness featurette; God Bless TV: Deleted and Extended Scenes; Outakes; Interview with Bobcat Goldthwait; HDNet: A Look at “God Bless America”; Roxy and Frank music video.
On the Web – http://www.magnetreleasing.com/godblessamerica/
Some Guy Who Kills People (Anchor Bay, 97 minutes, R, DVD): Billed as a genre-bending twist on the serial slasher flicks that were so prevalent in the 1980s, and notable for being co-produced by director John Landis, “Some Guy Who Kills People” is a fitful, but enjoyably lightweight, thriller. The best thing going for the film is star Kevin Corrigan, who gamely gives his all in a mostly undercooked lead role that fails to truly establish a fully thought out backstory.
The Hunter (Magnolia/Magnet, 102 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): Willem Dafoe remains one of the most captivating actors working today because of films like “The Hunter.”
He never fails to seek out truly unique characters, and screen stories that defy description.
Much like the largely, criminally overlooked “Antichrist,” Dafoe gives a thoughtful, intense performance in “The Hunter,” largely working on his own, with large chunks of screen time devoted solely to Dafoe and the gorgeous and desolate Australian outback.
What’s the film about? A fitting synopsis would say that Dafoe plays a mysterious contract hunter, seemingly the guy you call when other hunters fall short, who is hired by a giant corporation (think Haliburton) to track down a supposedly extinct animal in the outback, the last known Tasmanian tiger.
“The Hunter” has a lot more on its mind, though. It’s a methodical, quiet film that spends as much time examining human nature as it does the loss of the natural world.
If you’ve seen previews for the film, don’t be fooled. There is action, but it comes in limited bursts. Much like the similarly themed “The Grey,” this is a cerebral thriller more interested in who people really are than what they’re capable of.
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