Saturday
May012010

Handsome Harry

BY NIMA NABAVINEJAD

writer bio

Confronting the skeletons in our closet is a very scary and painful experience.   This is exactly the type of pain the characters in Handsome Harry are forced to cope with. Harry, a baby boomer and successful electrician, was a Navy man. His birthday has just passed and he senses that it is time for a change in his life. He contemplates selling his business. He contacts his son, and tries to spend quality time with him. Yet Harry’s plans are derailed when he unexpectedly receives a call from one of his closest Navy buddies, Tom Kelley. Kelley tells Harry that he is dying.

One of his dying wishes is to apologize to one of their fellow shipmates, David Kagan.  Kelley is convinced that he crushed Kagan’s hand while Kelley, Harry and three other shipmates were viciously beating Kagan in a drunken rage. Of course Kelley is bed ridden and pleas with Harry to assist him.  Harry reluctantly sets off on a journey to reconnect with his other shipmates hoping they can help him locate Kagan. Slowly the awful truth that Harry had subconsciously kept buried for so long starts to resurface.

Handsome Harry is not an entertaining film, but it is an engaging one. The cinematography is intoxicating. The natural lighting and the melodic soundtrack accentuate the overall somber tone of the film. However despite Bette Gordon’s focused direction, and the cast of veteran actors namely Steve Buscemi and Aidan Quinn, the films subject matter seems better suited for the theater.

Saturday
May012010

Samson and Delilah

Directed by Warwick Thornton

2009. Australia. 101 min.

BY ALEX CIRILLO

writer bio

I promise the beginning of this review won’t be as slow as the beginning of this film.  This review will also not make mention of religion beyond this sentence, despite the obvious biblical reference. 

To be completely truthful, I had no idea what was happening for at least the first fifteen minutes of this film.  Samson (Rowan McNamara) doesn’t talk until roughly an hour into the film and he literally says one word, “Samson”.  There is minimal dialogue throughout, instead music drives and supports the action.  The sound design is so well thought out and unique; it’s definitely the strong point.  To a nerd like me, the combination of music, ambient sound, and silence was riveting.  Silence plays a major role, especially when Samson is huffing gasoline.  When he’s high, all the ambient sound is eliminated causing the audience to feel as disconnected with reality as Samson is.

Aboriginal Australia proves to be a stunning backdrop and sharp contrast to the sad, hideous lives Samson and Delilah (Marissa Gibson) live.  The audience sees their destitute daily lives over and over (like Groundhog’s Day, but not) and each day only gets worse for them.  The first half hour of the film feels like an eternity, but once the couple heads out on their own the story really picks up in pace.  I won’t spoil it, but one part is so surprising that I literally jumped high enough to wake my boyfriend who had been sleeping soundly since the opening credit sequence.

I guess what I’m really saying is the last 45 minutes of the film make watching the first 56 worth it.  See this movie, but on DVD so you can watch the first half in double time; you’re not missing any dialogue anyway. 

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