Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dimestore Dostoyevsky



He listens to opera. He reads fine literature. He plays blues piano. And he has a killer inside him.

The absolutely amazing Michael Winterbottom has made a masterpice with following the unleashed innocent babyface of Casey Affleck. It would have been enough if Winterbotttom had just made 24 Hour Party People (GENIUS!) or Welcome To Sarajavo or Code 46...but Winterbottom is on some kind of a roll...and we are so lucky he is.

Jim Thompson is one of my favourite writers and several of his novels have been made into movies...almost all of them very very well done. Thompson always had a story where the alienation, and restlessness of daily boring life seemed to be some kind of trigger for violence. Thompson portrayed people who lived where noone ever seemed to know who they really were except us readers...and his stories make us afraid....very afraid of the ordinary guy. that guy could be a psycho...in Thompson's world...they are all psycho. Even the kids.

Author of Hardboiled America Geoffrey O'Brien called Jim Thompson a "dimestore Dostoyevsky" which is such a perfect moniker for him. Thompson's novels are like Dostoyevsky in the way that it seemed the psychology of the characters was in rooted in their environment. For Dostoyevsky, the social and political structure of Russia molded the minds of his characters, for Thompson.....that would be America.


It is interesting to compare Stacy Keach's performance of Sheriff Lou from the 1970's to Afflleck's portrayal. They are both very good...but the soft pastel persona of Affleck, his babyface versus Keach's all-man is worth noting. Affleck is an force and he has done an amazing job with this role.


Director Winterbottom is like my generations Scorcese, attacking genre films of all kinds, and nailing them. He has made a gorgeous dangerous beautiful film. It is highly violent so I am cautious about recommending it. But if you love pulp fiction novels, if you love crime stories, this is a beaut.

The utterly tight recreation of the era is the clue to the mind of this killer. We don't get the kind of answers we may want...because Thompson never spelled it out, and Winterbottom doesn't either. Our killer hints at the opening voiceover how we don't know each other. In looking for any kind of answers to what makes a man like Sheriff Lou tick, the answers seem to be in the very landscape...incantatory attention to details of recreating the American dream town...the evil is never separate from the Americana.

Can this really be true?

As Sheriff Lou might say, god help us...

4 comments:

Greg S. said...

Oh boy, that's my kind of film. Gotta check it out.

Candy Minx said...

You will love this movie Greg. It's a 10/10 which I forgot to say. It's stunning...perfectly made. It's how you make a movie dagnabbit!

Mister Anchovy will also love this one.

And...I didn't want to say too much about it but all of the actors are fantastic. I was so happy to see Elias Koteas in it along with some other nice surprises.

Soundtrack is excellent too. Wow...it would make a sick double bill with "No Country For Old Men" ha ha ha...

S.M. Elliott said...

I've never read Jim Thompson and now I really, really want to.

Ink Casualty said...

Film hasn't even touched Toronto yet to my knowledge...loved the book. Reading SOUTH OF HEAVEN right now