Saturday, May 27, 2006

I saw THE ICE HARVEST last night...

... and I fucking loved it!

If that statement bothers you, then like most of the films I review, you probably should not watch it. Because this film has one thing to say about things you shouldn't say, and that's fuck ya'all! Cause it's going to say whatever the fuck it wants to and show you whatever the fuck it wants to and it's not going to give a fuck what you think about it!

I had no idea Wichita had so many strip clubs...

Get the point? It's R for a reason.

Normally that attitude does not work for me. I "got" Team America and what they were doing, and honestly... I don't give a flip. (*GASP!* He said FLIP!) I really didn't like the film. The idea that if you take a piss on everyone, then your not really pissing on anyone may have some logic to it in the strange realm of political correctness and satire, but I left that film with wet shoes that smelled funny. Not the funny that makes you laugh either. It was the funny like kitten ass and the Florida visitor center. I have enough trouble with general foot stank. I don't need that on top of it.

The Ice Harvest isn't a satire though. It's not using that safety blanket word. It's Harold Ramis cutting the shit. He's not making a warm fuzzy safe comedy like the Bedazzled remake this time out. This is Harold's dark side... and if there's any tongue in this film's cheek, it's very likely to slither out of a bullet hole in its face.

If I were going to compare Ice Harvest to two films, they would be Casablanca and Pulp Fiction. It's similar to the latter, only it's a single story, has none of the cartooney bits and made it more substance and less style. (The film does have style though.) It's a strange film that can make you laugh at situations like someone putting a bullet in a wife's head and the husband being indifferent about it.

One of the things that makes Casablanca so easy to watch over and over is the layered quality that came out of the number of very different and talented writers that worked on it. There's a bit of that in Ice Harvest as well... only... there was only one writer behind this baby, and that's Dr. Spengler himself! This is one of the best films he's written since Groundhog Day, yet like nothing he's ever done before. It goes from shockingly coarse, to tear wrenchingly hilarious, to very effectively suspenseful and gruesome to flat-out one of the best noir films since Twilight.

Everybody in this is top notch with arguably the exception of Connie Nielsen. She's the femme fatale and she's a little to blatant about it. I'll give her credit for her transformation since I didn't even recognize her in this, but it felt out of place. It would be like Darth Vader wearing a T-shirt that says "I banged a senitor, fathered Luke Skywalker, joined the darkside, fell into lava helping take over the galaxy and all I got for it was a shiny helmet and this damn shirt!" all the way through episodes IV and V and expecting the audience to gasp when he says, "Luke... I AM YOUR FATHER." The film is perfectly laid out; Connienison just needs to take off that damn shirt... uh... I mean play her character less obviously... yeah...

(What? I'm off the single wagon. The geek-sequenced leisure suit has been returned to the subterranean phone booth!)

Either way. Even if the femme fatale backstab can be seen coming a mile away... it's handled so well I'm going to put it up there with Criss Cross as one of my favorite backstab noir moments.

John Cusack does good stuff here. I'm a die hard of his bleeding heart trench-coat films. It's like The Cure, or Woody Allen: either you hate'em for doing the same thing a hundred times or you love'em for it. That said, this is more somewhere between Cusack's performances in the The Jack Bull and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. By the near end we might see Cusack give the darkest performance of his career though. However you want to tag it, I liked him in this. Everyone's a son of a bitch in this film, and he's a real lovable bastard.

Randy Quaid is back with avengence. I love him when he plays evil. I know I've said my peace already, but dag nabbit he was fantastic in Brokeback Moutain! I want more Evil Randy. (No, no. None of that watered down crap like he pulled in FLOOD a.k.a. Hard Rain a.k.a. Morgan Freeman gets to play with guns.) In the last few years he's really learned how to scare the shit out of me, and though he's hamming it up a tad in this, he's still giving a taste of the good stuff.

Old Billy Bob is still one of those guys you got to just throw your tabloids out the window, shut the heck up, and admit is a damn good artist. He's a good writer, a good actor with range, and in stuff like this, he has the good sense not to be a movie star and try to steal every scene he's in. His antics with "THE TRUNK are hilarious, but throughout the film he plays his character on its rung. For that, I've got to give him respect. Really adds depth when everyone is doing their job well without worrying about upstaging. The layered effect might make this a very re-watchable film. Time will tell though.

Last but not least... Move over Jack Black... you had your Cusack humping fun, but Olivier Platt is here to show you how a real diva plays it! If you find The Platt funny... this film will make you laugh till it hurts. If you don't find The Platt funny... this film will make you laugh even harder. This is his masterpiece. His shining moment. This is hands down the funniest shit I've ever seen him do. I had trouble breathing, and the tears have not come from my eyes so profusely thanks to a film since Shadowlands... only these were da happy ha-ha kind and Shadowlands were the "Bambi's mom is... WAHHHH!" kind. Platt is great in this. He's never been so shameless... and it's never worked so well.

What more to add? Hmmm... I really loved this film! Not much more to say. I don't want to spoil a bit of it. I just want to whore myself out to the cause and hope that this movie gets a lot of attention. It totally slipped past my radar. Walked right past it for four sweeps at the rental. Then finally I grabbed it.

I sat down with perhaps all the wrong members of my family to watch a film with this much stripper action and foul language, and by the end we were laughing, cheering, and even talking about buying it. How many movies can you say that about?

Mr. Ramis... this new direction for you... good stuff. Hope we get more. I love me some noir and this is tasty, tasty stuff.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Tim McCormack said...

Posts like this are why I subscribe to your blog.

12:42 AM  

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