26 January 2015

The Best Of A Bad Situation

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Like Kellogg's Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes, they say that revenge is a dish best served cold… but maybe revenge isn't the end of the situation? I went to court once because I'd heard it was free to watch and what else is a young boy to do with his days off? So, after asking the man at the desk what the best thing he had on that day was, I went and sat in on a murder trial. To cut a long story short, the guy we saw had been driving one car and managed to shoot a bloke in another car square between the eyes. He was claiming he'd only meant to scare the guy and not actually kill him with his defence being that it was such a brilliant shot that he couldn't possibly have meant it. Got to love it when your reason not to go to jail is actually you bragging about the exact reason you definitely should be going to jail for. Anyway, the shooting was some gang related thing which had been going on for fucking years. Person after person would kill and then be killed like a lethal domino effect of falling twats and it's obviously not going to stop anytime soon. The judge obviously called bullshit on the defendants excuse and so sent him down for twelve years. Justice was served, the victim’s family breathed a sigh of relief and I had a bloody good day out!

Anyway, so I mention all this because last night I saw the film Blue Ruin and I fucking loved it. I'm writing a film blog so you can probably guess two things about me... Firstly I'm a geek and secondly I have a lot of time on my hands. Masturbating and crying obviously takes up a lot of the day but I still have a few hours to fill and so it's rare for me to find a film that I know almost nothing about. I knew Blue Ruin had been really well reviewed but in regards to the story I didn't even know what genre it was, let alone what it was about. As a result I'll try to avoid talking about what happens in any real detail but still express how much I enjoyed it by over-using the phrase, “It was fucking amazing”. Anyway so it begins with some trampy looking guy being told that his parents’ killer is being released from prison and he decides to get revenge on him. He then gets revenge on him. The End... or is it? Whereas most films would take their entire duration to tell that story, Blue Ruin gets it out of the way in about ten minutes or so. Basically, if you want to watch a less indulgent version of Kill Bill but during a coffee break instead of over the course of a fucking weekend than you could do a lot worse than this film’s opening. So basically Blue Ruin takes a clichéd story and simply asks, what happens next? Do we really think that violence can solve problems? Well, I won't ruin it or explain what goes on except to say that “it was fucking amazing”.

In many ways the revenge genre is kind of one of the most hypocritical films that there is. You spend the whole thing enjoying the blood-splatter and anus bombs only for the movie to conclude that a violent retribution should be frowned upon. It's like watching a porno in which some sexy European is massively exploited and then just as you spaff, the video cuts to footage of your Mum looking at a picture of you as a child and crying with disappointment. As well as focusing more on the aftermath however, Blue Ruin also differs from your bog-standard revenge movie by making sure that any and all violence is cringingly uncomfortable to watch. We don't focus on the sadistic funsies that somebody can have with their garden tools, a biro, and some bastard’s soon-to-be-mangled penis but rather the anguish of a character who’s taking no pleasure in his actions. In fact, the main character is remarkably sympathetic considering it's his inability to deal with things in a rational way. If somebody killed my parents, would I go after them as soon as they were released from jail? Probably not. Although, as responses to this tragedy go, I suppose his is a little more conventional than spending billions of dollars on a bat-themed gimp suit and kicking petty criminals in the testicles.

The main character is played by a guy called Macon Blair who I'd never heard of however his performance here is truly brilliant. He has one of those faces too which is like a Rorschach test of other famous people... Sometimes he looks like Paul Giamatti and other times he looks like Rowan Atkinson. Usually when somebody is described as looking like an everyman, it's not meant quite so literally. He doesn't however look like Mickey Rourke, Stallone or any of those other ham-faced meat-heads that we usually see hitting people in the faces with a hammer. I guess this is why the main guy feels so sympathetic and relatable whilst doing the kind of things that are strictly forbidden in 'The Beginners Guide To Not Being A Mad Bastard'. We see him struggling to recover from wounds, struggling to get hold of a weapon, struggling to inflict damage and struggling to keep his own bulbous-Mr Bean-eyes from popping out of his face.

One of the things he doesn't do however is miss opportunities like some clichéd blonde bitch in a run of the mill slasher film. Have you seen a film called Switchblade Romance? I saw it the other day and although I did enjoy it, the main woman missed so many opportunities to escape from a murderer that it almost played out like some sort of elaborate fucking suicide attempt. At one point she had the police on the phone but because they didn't instantly know where she was calling from, she hung up on them like an arsey little bitch. I dunno about you but if I was being chased by a psycho with an axe, I probably wouldn't respond to a phone call with the police in the same way that I do when some cunt phones me up about my “mis-sold PPI'. Anyway, the point is that a thriller only works if you don't want the protagonist to die for being a dopey fucking gizoid and certainly not the case here. I don't agree with the character’s initial attempt at revenge but I understand it and I don't think he mishandles the consequences during the following ninety minutes. As a result, it has to be one of the most tense movies I've seen in a long time as I spent most of it quite literally on the edge of my seat. It's rare for a film to have a plot that's as tight as its audience’s nerve-wracked anus but this is definitely one... It really was fucking amazing.

All of this however is obviously as a result of the talent from its writer and director, Jeremy Saulnier. The reason I've never heard of him is probably because that, like his lead actor, the two had never really done anything before. Having now witnessed what the two are capable of though, I think that this pairing has all the potential that we all saw in both Blomkamp and Copley after laying eyes on District 9. In both cases, a genre film has been rejuvenated by a couple of nobodies with a lowish budget, although whereas District 9 had the backing of New Zealand's Overlord Peter Jackson, this one relied hugely on the help of Kickstarter and public donations. I always think that you should detach all surrounding knowledge about a film from the final product but I dare you to not watch the ‘making of’ and end up loving Blue Ruin even more. The people involved in this violent tale of revenge and consequence all seem like the nicest people you'd ever want to meet and they clearly had a tough ride making this film. They may have enjoyed making it but getting it released was apparently a harder job due to the money-men’s reluctance to distribute anything that doesn't feature a couple of explosions and a flash of at least one famous person’s titties. At one point, the director begins crying during the DVD ‘making of’ because he thought his film had become a failure with everybody returning to their day jobs. Not wanting to seem like a failure, he told his dying father that everything had worked out fine and that Blue Ruin had indeed made him his fame and fortune. Two weeks after his Dad died, it did. When you watch something as good as this and then hear something as touching as that, it's hard not to stick even more pins in my voodoo doll of Michael Bay and cursed whichever demon has gifted him with a career.

So, yeah... I hope I've firstly encouraged you to see this film if you haven't already, secondly, not given away too much of the story and thirdly, kind of explained why I loved it so much. I should also say that unlike your average revenge film, it's got an anti-gun message below the surface that I feel was lacking in something as classy as Dolph Lundgren's justifiably forgotten Punisher film. If you want a better idea of what this film is like beyond simply watching it then I'd probably point you to such noir-ish, low budget thrillers as Winters Bone, Blood Simple and Dead Man's Shoes. Instead of being the last splat on the curtain from the initial explosion of things such as Death Wish, Blue Ruin really is more than another slightly fascistic jizz-dribble of modern cinema. To close, an eye for an eye would make the whole world blind which is a shame because it achieves nothing and also, you need eyes to watch something as fucking amazing as this film. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers and see you next time! 

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