Quick Takes: Hobo With A Shotgun, The Night Before, No Strings Attached

Hobo With A Shotgun (2011)

Starring Rutger Hauer, Gregory Smith, Molly Dunsworth, Brian Downey, Robb Wells, Nick Bateman, Peter Simas
Directed by Jason Eisener

Webster’s gonna have to put out a new dictionary, because they need to add a picture of Rutger Hauer from Hobo With A Shotgun to the entry for “trash”. Hobo With A Shotgun is the ultimate trash movie, filled with a seemingly non-stop orgy of bloody splatters and disembowelments. They try for some substance but there’s none, which is to expected, but it’s not nearly as fun as it should be. It’s enjoyable for gorehounds, but it seems more like someone trying to make a movie like the ones they love instead of focusing on the whole and making something of quality. I’m impressed that they made it though and that they got Rutger Hauer! Nice colors throughout too, and not just the reds of blood.

The Night Before (1988)

Starring Keanu Reeves, Lori Loughlin, Theresa Saldana, Trinidad Silva, Suzanne Snyder, Morgan Lofting, Gwil Richards, Chris Hebert, Michael Greene, Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister, George Clinton
Directed by Thom Eberhardt

Great in concept, but a little lackluster in execution, The Night Before tells the wild and crazy tale of how Keanu Reeves meant to take Lori Loughlin to the prom but ended up on the wrong side of the tracks in East LA. This begins a series of fuckups too numerous to list here. The interesting thing about this one is that it’s mostly told through inventive flashbacks as Reeves stumbles through alleyways trying to piece together what happened to him just a few hours ago. It gets tiring as it goes on, but it’s still a fun movie overall. Strangely enough, I saw this movie on TV a couple of times but I could never remember its name until recently when I happened upon it while doing some IMDB searching. If only I had retraced my steps like Keanu, my search wouldn’t have taken twenty years.

No Strings Attached (2011)

Starring Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Greta Gerwig, Jake M. Johnson, Cary Elwes, Mindy Kaling, Kevin Kline, Chris Bridges, Olivia Thirlby, Lake Bell, Ophelia Lovibond, Talia Balsam, Guy Branum
Directed by Ivan Reitman

No Strings Attached is an enjoyable romantic comedy, but like all romantic comedies it’s wildly predictable and its success lies completely in the hands of its leads. Thankfully both Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher perform their duties well and paint a good picture of a shallow relationship. Directed by Ivan Reitman(!) with little to no flair or style, the film fits perfectly into that tired mainstream studio mold that seems to endlessly churn out the same film over and over. It’s not as funny as it should be, nor is it as touching as it thinks it is, but it was a fun night off for my brain.

Mini-Review: Crawlspace (1986)

Starring Klaus Kinski, Talia Balsam, Barbara Whinnery, Carole Francis, Tane McClure, Sally Brown, Jack Heller, David Abbott, Kenneth Robert Shippy

Directed by David Schmoeller

Expectations: It looks like it has potential, but I’m not expecting much.

To say that Crawlspace is a weird movie is an understatement. Instead of creating characters you love and then slowly killing them off as most horror films do, Crawlspace focuses its attention almost entirely on the murderer played by Klaus Kinski. Don’t worry about spoilers, the first scene lets you in on his dirty little secret. By focusing on Kinski, I get the feeling that I’m supposed to identify with him and that later in the film he might perform some redemptive act with his dying breath. Thankfully, Crawlspace isn’t nearly so predictable and Kinski is all evil, fulfilling the premise of following his character to the bitter end.

Beyond Kinski crawling around the giant ventilation system of his apartment building spying on/killing people, there’s not much of a plot in Crawlspace. This makes the film pretty hard to enjoy and be interested in. If the FX moments were more plentiful than I could forgive the lacking plot, but there’s not nearly enough for this. In addition to being rather bare in the story department, the fact that Kinski is an ex-Nazi continuing his deranged work and fulfilling his sick desires comes off as clichéd and obvious. Of course he is, because every wild-eyed film German since WWII has been. Nazis are the ultimate on-screen villains, but they need some innovation or variation once in a while to keep it interesting. Perhaps Crawlspace was an innovator in the “crazy German who fled the war crimes rap to become a serial murderer in America” genre at the time, but if so, its magic doesn’t hold up.

With that all said, Kinski is easily the most interesting actor and character, so it only makes sense to focus on him. No one else in the film is really given anything to work with. This really hurts the film in the end, as during its climax the viewer doesn’t care about the fate of the girl in any way other than a gut primal instinct. Crawlspace is similar to an empty coloring book in this way. If I colored in her character in my head the scenes could have had an emotional impact, but without that extra work on my part the scenes are but outlines of their potential. Visually, the chase through the crawlspace was pretty awesome though, I gotta say. Technically the film is shot very well and it definitely has some great moments of terror and thrills, but overall it’s kind of boring and lacking in a lot areas.

Next week, I take on Full Moon’s sci-fi western flick from 1994, Oblivion!

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