Friday, April 1, 2011

Spare Change

There is no real way to write cleverly about Hobo With A Shotgun (2011). Filmmaker Jason Eisener packs every frame with a purpose, something truly rare in a Grindhouse movie. I mean, that's what I assume happened when I was wasn't yelping or trying to hide behind my friend who was in turn trying to hide behind me.

And this is a Grindhouse movie. Drive Angry, which I loved, is a more palatable version of Hobo. Not that one is better or worse but there were definitely moments where I had to look away. There were even a few moments where I scream, frightening myself and my friend.Out loud. In a packed theatre.

The plot is a simple one. A hobo can no longer tolerate the violence he sees in a corrupt town and fights back with a shotgun. Nothing you couldn't gleam from the title, right? Well Eisener (who also functions as the editor) wants that. He takes the simple plot and subverts and obscures most of what you think is coming.

Hobo With A Shotgun is not for everyone. It is extremely violent but Eisener again sets up the plot so the rise in violence makes sense rather than just bloodbath after bloodbath.When the Hobo fights back, the crime lord gets more violent to instill more fear. Not what I'd do, but it makes sense for the character. It's not violence for the sake of violence (ok, maybe a little bit...) The film in and of itself is impressive because it moves along and is imbued with enough plot to keep it going for just over 90 minutes.

Their best asset in the whole movie is the Hobo himself Rutger Hauer. The film never makes fun of him or being homeless. Rather we are shown an entire world view of someone who's been on the streets for a long time. It centres the film and gives it a greater weight to everything that happens because of this. It becomes a surprisingly poignant film which is perhaps why the violence is so effective. You actually like the characters because you understand their motivations. Funny that.

For a film that is so dated (I guess early 90s due to the snap bracelets) it remains relevant because it is about standing by and doing nothing only to see the world go to hell.

As my friend exited the theatre he was pretty shook up. Fair enough, me too. I remarked, isn't it nice to know that we aren't so desensitized to violence? He gave me a weary look and we decided there wasn't much to talk about in regards to the film. What more can you say? It's about social justice and responsibility and while making us squeamish it still made us laugh. I don't know what it says about us. But I do know my friend gave some shiny change to some homeless people that night. 

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