Saturday, March 26, 2011

Boston Underground Film Festival Opening Night: Hobo With A Shotgun

Last year's BUFF opening night film was a bit sparsely attended, which is likely to be expected from a four-hour Japanese movie. That absolutely was not the case this year, where the opener was something that had a bit of a higher profile and would not be such a test for people who had to be at work the next day (such as myself). It also meant that it was possible to get to the opening night party close to the start if one was so inclined.

Not that I was so inclined; work the next day, can't pick out voices in large rooms, don't drink, etc. It was still a good time, though - the movie is a pretty good example of the genre/style it's homaging, and the director and producer who did a Q&A afterward were great and enthusiastic.

Strangely, the movie doesn't seem to be getting much of a release in the USA - it's got booking starting in May, but they're scattered, and the only New England location I saw was in Salem, and that will probably just be for midnights. Meanwhile, in its native Canada, it opened semi-wide (50 screens) yesterday. Those up in the Great White North could probably do much worse this weekend.

Hobo with a Shotgun

* * * (out of four)
Seen 24 March 2011 in Landmark Kendall Square #1 (Boston Underground Film Festival 2011)

Hobo with a Shotgun arrives with one of the most straightforward, descriptive titles for an action movie since Snakes on a Plane. That simplicity serves it fairly well; it's exactly the sort of 1980s exploitation pastiche the name implies, as good as a movie about a shotgun-wielding hobo can be.

Why the hobo (Rutger Hauer) gets off the train near Hopetown doesn't matter, although one might wonder why he doesn't hop the next train out when he sees that the town's name is far from accurate is unclear. As soon as he arrives, he sees local crime boss Drake (Brian Downey) and his sons Slick (Gregory Smith) and Ivan (Nick Bateman) executing Drake's brother as an example to the populace. When one of the boys tries to rape a hooker (Molly Dunsworth), he steps in to make a citizen's arrest. The whole police force is on the take, though, so he's beaten and mauled, the word "scum" carved into his chest. Soon, he snaps, and instead of getting that lawn mower he's always wanted, he gets himself a scattergun and starts rampaging.

From the opening titles on, the filmmakers create a fairly dead-on recreation of bloody action flicks from the old school. They never specifically place things in the eighties with gratuitous pop-culture references or nostalgic musical cues, but the Miami Vice fashions that the villains favor and the eight-bit games in the arcade place us in that time period, or at least its frame of mind. Many pieces will seem immediately familiar - the crowds overlooking a vacant arena, the gratuitous blood and nudity, and the goons that are one step away from being supervillains (or at least their henchmen). Blood and gore are all over the place, with main characters bleeding a lot but soldiering on while the body parts of of minor characters more or less explode when struck.

Full review at EFC.

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