COMEDY THE GOODS: LIVE HARD, SELL HARD (15) 89min ●●●●●
‘We’re not going to break the rules, we’re just going to bend them a little bit,’ announces ruthless car-salesman Don Ready (Jeremy Piven) as he and his crack team of ‘car mercenaries’ descend on the small Californian backwater of Temecula. Their mercenary mission is to sell every rusting heap of junk on the lot of Ben Selleck (James Brolin), while showing his motley crew of salesmen (including The Hangover’s Ken Jeong) a few things about the triumph of capitalism. There must be a recession on when unscrupulous car salesmen are
being portrayed as heroes, and The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard’s brisk running time is crammed with rude, crude and borderline offensive jibes about man’s desperate slavery to money. The underlying theme is nostalgia for the get-rich-quick immorality of Reagan’s America, with Don Ready running rings around his politically correct counterparts.
Director Neal Brennan’s comedy does provide some laughs, mainly through Ving Rhames sending up his tough-guy image as Ready’s mild-mannered sidekick Jibby, but quickly runs out of variations on its one central joke. A brief cameo from producer Will Ferrell reveals the truth about The Goods; it’s a vehicle for Ferrell that the star didn’t feel was strong enough to star in. (Eddie Harrison) ■ General release from Fri 23 Oct.
DRAMA GOODBYE SOLO (15) 91min ●●●●●
Shooting on authentic locations and working with non-professional actors, writer-director Ramin Bahrani makes films about those surviving on the margins of American society. In his debut feature Man Push Cart his protagonist was a Pakistani street vendor in New York, and in the follow-up Chop Shop it was a Dominican orphan doing odd jobs in a car repair shop in Queens. For Goodbye Solo Bahrani returns to his hometown of Winston-Salem in North Carolina and, by beginning with a conversation in a taxi, he swiftly establishes the film’s most important relationship. The passenger William (Red West), an elderly white Southerner, has an unusual request for the friendly Senegalese driver Solo (Souleymane Sy Savane). Rest assured that Goodbye Solo isn’t a drama in which an uptight Caucasian character recovers his joie de vivre thanks to the efforts of a vibrant black person, and nor, despite the echoes of A Taste of Cherry, is this a simple homage to Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami. There’s nothing flashy about Bahrani’s less-is-more approach: he creates an evocative sense of place, and respects the fact that the actions of both William and Solo retain an element of mystery. Best of all, the ending in the fog-shrouded great outdoors transcends ‘realism’, calmly accepting life, death and nature’s glory. (Tom Dawson) ■ Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 30 Oct. See profile, left.
ALSO RELEASED Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant (12A) 108min ●●●●● Mildly diverting comedy horror about a 14-year- old boy (Chris Massoglia) who breaks an ancient truce between two warring factions of vampires. Sideshow freaks and creatures of the night come to his aid. John C Reilly, Salma Hayek and Ken Watanabe save things from getting too schlocky. Paul About A Boy Weitz directs with restrained humour. General release from Fri 23 Oct. The Cove (12A) 90min ●●●●● Shocking investigative documentary about Japanese animal and sea life rights abuses. GFT, Glasgow from Fri 23 Oct. Michael Jackson’s This Is It (PG) 111min ●●●●● Compilation of interviews, rehearsals and backstage footage of Jackson as he prepared for his final tour. Unnecessary and largely tedious documentary cobbled together by Kenny Ortega, the man who gave us the High School Musical films. One for the fans. Selected release from Wed 28 Oct. National Lampoon’s Animal House (15) 108min ●●●●● John Landis’ seminal 1978 frat house comedy on new digital print. Selected release from Tue 3 Nov. An American Werewolf in London (15) 97min ●●●●● Second John Landis directed reissue to be re-released this fortnight. Still good after all these years. Selected release from Fri 30 Oct. Dead Man Running (15) 91min ●●●●● A loan shark gives an ex con 24 hours to pay his debt. Disappointing thriller from the writer/director of appalling 2004 boxing drama The Calcium Kid. The casting however which includes renta- mockney Danny Dyer, rapper turned self help guru Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson and Ramsgate’s star of stage and screen, Brenda Blethyn is inspired. General release from Fri 30 Oct. Tricks (12A) 95min ●●●●● Naturalistic but sweet natured Polish drama about one six-year- old boy’s attempt to change his family’s destiny by meditative will alone. Well observed, performed and directed by promising Kieslowski influenced filmmaker Andrzej Jakimowski, Tricks is, however, all too easy to forget. Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Mon 2–Thu 5 Nov. IP Man (15) 110min Biopic of Wing Chun, the kung fu and sifu master who taught Bruce Lee his killer moves. Released simultaneously on DVD. Reviewed in DVD next issue. Filmhouse, Edinburgh on Wed 4 and Thu 5 Nov.
22 Oct–5 Nov 2009 THE LIST 51
HORROR/THRILLER THE HORSEMAN (18) 110min ●●●●●
The template for this Australian murder-revenge drama is clearly Mike Hodges’ classic Get Carter. Writer/director Steven Kastrissios’ film features a tough-as-nails central performance from Peter Marshall as Christian, a revenge-seeking father. The religious connotation of the movie title is carried over in the Old Testament-style retribution carried out by the crusader, who goes on the rampage when his daughter is killed after appearing in a porn movie.
Anyone associated with the porno is on his target list and Christian seeks out the actors, distributors and directors in an effort to find out who is to blame for his daughter’s death. Along the way he meets young runaway Alice (Caroline Marohasy) with whom he has a surrogate father- daughter relationship; the film really comes alive at this point, veering away from Wolf Creek-style violence and concentrating on Christian’s guilt and psychological scars. Unfortunately Kastriossios’ direction ultimately buckles under the weight of horror cliché expectation as he ups the action ante to almost hysterical effect. It would have been better if he had held his horses, as it were. (Kaleem Aftab) ■ Selected release from Fri 30 Oct.