Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hobo With A Shotgun (2011)

First off, I should mention that this movie (like Machete, the realization of what had originally been a trailer for Grindhouse) manages to do the seemingly impossible: it is a low-budget feature made by a Canadian crew and shot in Canada ("with the participation of Telefilm Canada and Film Nova Scotia") that doesn't have that damning 'Canadian look' (you know what I mean). How did they manage that? I thought it came with the climate.

I'm figuring they achieved this via a two pronged process - shooting the movie in: a) Technicolor (which I hadn't realised was even still in operation) with b) Red One Mysterium X cameras (every home should have one). Frankly, half the fun of watching Hobo With A Shotgun is marveling at the saturated colour scheme - particularly evident in sequences featuring the bad guys.

And boy, are these bad guys ever bad. To wit, The Drake (Newfie Brian Downey, who you might recognize from The Beachcombers) and sons, Slick (Toronto's own Gregory Smith), the heir apparent, and Ivan (Burlington's own Nick Bateman), the dumb beefy one. Their level of violence is akin to some of the bloodier Japanese manga I've seen (the perviest action Telefilm Canada has ever funded, I'm imagining).

This trio of gents keep Hope Scum Town (aka Halifax) in thrall with public torture and executions - the film begins in fact with a beheading of the Drake's brother, just after our titular hero has arrived in town via railroad car. Some lady in a bikini and fur coat revels like a stripper in the bloodspray, the Drake berates his brother's severed head, and then impales it on the hood ornament of his fancy car. By this point, you should have a good sense of whether you will enjoy this movie or not.

The great Rutger Hauer plays Hobo, a quiet, humble man who is appalled by the bloody chaos of Scum Town (doesn't somebody call it "Fuck Town" at some point too?) and can finally take no more. Director Jason Eisener (from Dartmouth, natch) wisely shoots Hauer in close-up and lets that amazing face do the rest. Much of the first part especially is simply Hauer watching various Slick and Ivan escapades, his anger at what he sees evident, his growing frustration palpable.

Of course Hobo eventually buys a shotgun and starts wacking not only the Drake's various hoodlums around town, but assorted other lowlifes such as a Santa Claus-looking feller in a car gawping at young children. Happy for a fight, the Drake declares war on Hobo With A Shotgun, and the inevitable showdown is far funnier and better than it really has any right to be (in no small part thanks to The Plague, a duo of motorcycle-riding henchmen pleasantly reminiscent of one Leonard Smalls).

And did I mention that national disgrace George Stroumboulopoulos gets killed onscreen with an iceskate to the chest? Just one of the many beautiful images in this beautiful, beautiful film.


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