God Bless Starkweather?

Noisy colours

In December 1957 Charles Starkweather killed a man, Robert Colvert. By the end of January 1958 he, and his girlfriend Caril Fugate had killed 11 people (and a couple of dogs). Their violent spree-killing road trip has left a quite unexpected legacy, one that sprung to mind whilst I sat watching Bobcat Goldthwaite’s latest film ‘god bless america’ (all in lower case because that’s how it is in the film and, well, I’m pretty sure it’s like that on purpose).

Goldthwaite (probably best known in this country for his turn as ‘Z’ in the Police Academy films) doesn’t pull any punches in his film. From the moment a baby is blown away with a shotgun inside the first two minutes the nihilism on display is unremitting. This isn’t a film where there is a light at the end of the tunnel, redemption or a new found appreciation for life – it’s cynical and pissed off and it doesn’t want to vote on another vacant TV ‘talent’ show parade of underachievers. In short, I recommend it. This is a work that has the courage of its convictions and they are rare beasts indeed. Check out the excellent trailer below…
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January 25th: Average Redux


34. Man on Fire (Tony Scott, 2004)


You know what you’re getting with Tony Scott don’t you? Rapid cross-cutting, sumptuous colours, filtered, bleached and… well… anything goes really. I watched the original adaptation back on January 1st and was a little under-whelmed by the pacing and style of the film. Well Tony Scott is all about a rapid pace and an abundance of style. But that’s it – there’s not much else on the go here. The story is very much the same except it’s now set in Mexico City giving the film an extra sun-bleached feel and making available whole barrios of nasty lawless Hispanic chaps. Again, and I may start sounding like a broken record about this, the film is preoccupied with torture. As Denzel Washington’s grieving bodyguard starts killing his way up the criminal fraternity there is no action save for the repeated capture/torture/kill method also recently used in Taken. Abu Ghraib hasn’t a thing on Hollywood.


Overall the performances are believable and the story is relatively uninspired. The kidnapping aside there isn’t any real sense of tension generated by the plotting and what tension there is dissipates upon the sight of the unnervingly precocious Dakota Fanning. Honestly, she doesn’t look quite real. I’m certainly not quite sure why this is tracking at 7.6 on IMDB, it seems more in line with the 39% at Rotten Tomatoes.