I really don’t know what happened last year.
I enjoyed the movies… so I had reason to write. And I was unemployed… so I had time to write.
Somehow, in spite of all the advantages, 2014’s Revelation Film Festival was always out of reach.
Abii. Vidi. Ego non referre. (Except for Under The Skin, which featured in my premiere From Page To Screen post.)
And now here it is, 2015, and November already. Time to get my arse into gear! This year, something different: twin reviews, a movie from Rev 2014 alongside one of my 2015 selections.
The show begins with two very dark titles.
I was never a Dexter fan, so the name of Michael C. Hall didn’t mean a whole lot to me. After seeing Cold In July I tracked down a few episodes and came away rather impressed with Mr Hall’s acting abilities. After several years of Dexter the appeal of a character like Richard Dane would be hard to resist. Dane is a small town businessman; a little tubby, with a mo and a mullet. A popular but unremarkable member of the community – until he shoots a burglar. Dane was an imposing leap from the meticulous serial killer who delivered his special form of justice. But Hall makes the transition and does it well.
Sam Shepard appears presently as the father of the man Dane shot, and for a while this looks like another trip to Cape Fear. Dad’s gonna make you pay fer what you done, boy. But suddenly we’re on a new track altogether, when Dane realises the man he killed in his house is not the man the police buried. That’s when Don Johnson rolls into town as private investigator Jim Bob Luke, a man with a big white hat, a big red convertible, and no visible surname. Together the three men uncover a secret bargain that is repulsive, but entirely plausible. Richard Dane survives to go home to his family, but he’s paid a price for that piece good fortune. Next time he hears a burglar in his house, he might let the feller take what he wants and go.
The novel from which the movie was taken (yep, another p2s!) was written in 1989. The movie version of Cold in July keeps that setting, but it left the movie feeling slightly wrong – a shoe that doesn’t quite fit. VHS videotapes and war service in Korea are important points in the plot, but not so important that they couldn’t have been updated. Maybe it’s me… maybe I dislike the 1980s more than I realise.
Echoes of War has generally been belted by reviewers and audiences. Had it run for longer than 100 minutes I might have had time to agree with them. Civil War soldier, haunted by nightmares of the battlefield, brings his demons home to a tense situation between his family and the neighbours. You can see well before the end that it’s bound to go all Hamlet.
Between the scenery and the performances I found Echoes of War not too bad. James Badge Dale plays Wade, the returning warrior back home from being on the losing side in 1865. Confederate soldiers took the cattle from the McCluskeys, and they are now stealing from his brother in law and niece and nephew. Everyone is scraping to survive. But Wade, defeated on one battlefield, sees he has a new war to wage. Step by step he moves closer to a bloody confrontation with Seamus McCluskey, played with effortless style as usual by William Forsythe.
The cast includes Ethan Embry and Maika Monroe. Echoes of War, incidentally, was directed and co-written by Australian film maker Kane Senes. His short movie from 2010, A Relative Stranger, appears to have been the foundation of Echoes of War.