Thursday, December 01, 2005

MOVIES: The Ice Harvest

I've been pretty lax about updating since Thanksgiving. I'm not promising to correct that -- I'm just making an observation.

So, as I mentioned before, I saw The Ice Harvest this weekend. The movie is based on a novel by Scott Phillips, who is, as I discovered via Mike, the brother of fellow ACAPCWOVCCAOE member Batfatty. That affected my impression of the movie not one iota. I don't even know why I mentioned it.

The movie is good, though not the yuk-fest I had been led to believe. I mean, a trailer full of slapstickery, directed by Harold Ramis -- you think COMEDY! Mmm... not so much. It's got its comedic elements -- very dark comedic elements -- but in essence it's a traditional film noir, complete with foul murders, double crossings galore, a gorgeous femme fatale, and a hapless schmoe in over his head at the heart of it all.

John Cusack is the schmoe, who has, along with his partner Billy Bob Thorton, stolen a lot of money from a very bad man (whom we eventually find is played by a wonderfully vile and menacing Randy Quaid, though he shows up so late in the film you forget that Quaid's name was even in the opening credits). You will probably not be surprised to learn that things do not go exactly according to plan. Cusack almost ruins everything with his excessive paranoia, then, as things spiral out of control, he begins to discover he wasn't paranoid enough.

There are a number of laughs, mostly provided by the hapless Cusack and his drunken friend, played by Oliver Platt. When we were preparing to see the movie, I mentioned to Ian that Oliver Platt is always awesome. He then asked me to back that up with some examples, and I was stymied. I couldn't for the life of me come up with a list of movies to indicate why I had such a favorable impression of Platt. (Might've had something to do with all that Jack Daniels.) Even now, looking at his IMDb page, I'm hard-pressed to defend my fandom. I mean, check out this trifecta from 1999: Lake Placid, Three to Tango, and Bicentennial Man. Yikes! That is a quite the shitty trio of films. Nonetheless, I stand by my claim that Oliver Platt is always awesome. Even when the rest of the film is garbage.

Anyway. The plot of Ice Harvest is sufficiently deep and twisty that even when you know what's got to be coming, it still holds your interest. And the direction by Ramis is superb, probably the best he's ever done at creating a real style; his take on the noir genre is pitch perfect. There's a sense of fatality and despair that permeates the movie, conveyed through the direction as well as the characters, that keeps you on edge. And the setting, a frozen night in Kansas, plays a large role; I felt the cold, felt the way it can drain the life right out of a man. I don't think this is going to go down as a landmark in the careers of all those involved, but what it does, it does very well.

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