Wednesday, July 2, 2008

One Film Review for A Friend

I’ve been told that I don’t give bad reviews to movies. I think I just try to avoid bad movies. I developed my theory to treat movies like dates. Sometimes, I try to avoid the ones that I know will be completely unrewarding. However, on any other date, regardless of how it seems to be going, I never give up in the first few minutes. I stay focused on finding something interesting to get me through it. And to that extent, I decided to take a second look at The Boondock Saints.

The Boondock Saints is a cult movie for a certain type of person who compose a large number of my friends. They are the goddamn Irish. My friends that have Gaelic tattoos, spend an inordinate amount of time in pubs, love rock music with bagpipes and root for any team from Boston. The lovable, drunken, rowdy Irish. Mexican people and Irish people actually have a lot in common from their Roman Catholic faith, their predilection to alcohol, their special holidays turned into marketing bonanzas for Seagrams, close family ties and are descended from ancient cultures with a strong sense of history. Micks and spics were made to get along.

Many of those same themes are expressed in the film from the strong bond between the brothers McManus, Connor and Murphy to their strong sense of faith and Holy Mother Church. It’s that belief in duty and devotion to God that drives them to murder mobsters, pimp, drug dealers and other malcontents in the Boston area. For the life of me, I understand the appeal, but I don’t get it either. Of course, people love vigilantes, *coughBatman and I understand people’s frustrations at watching criminals go free, while they themselves are stuck in some process of the judicial system for a traffic infraction. But, it seems like the same people who embrace the spirit of the film, don’t follow to path of the McManus’ and their simple decision of action versus inaction. Of course, you won’t find me pulling on tights and battling mugger in Robinson Park either. My friend however, decided to be pro-active with her life and when she thought it needed a new direction, she was unafraid to take it and for that, I respect her.

The movie’s violence is well choreographed and the film has obvious influences from Scorsese and DePalma’s gangster movies of the past twenty years. It’s interesting to me that it was made before The Departed and I wonder if Marty watched it before he made his movie. Not that the film is on the same level (everything bows to The Departed.), but it is remarkable for first time writer/director Troy Duffy. He clearly has a vision of what he wanted the movie to be and I think he achieved it well. Made in a pre 9/11 world, the movie is eerily foreshadowing of the religion extremism that would infect our country in a few years from people with bad intentions to those with good ones. I also like what he does with the ongoing FBI investigation and how they play the scenes out simultaneously.

This brings me to my favorite part of the movie, Willem Dafoe. Never mind the fact that Duffy had the foresight to bring in a Scorsese favorite in their Scorsese homage, Dafoe is brilliant as a gay FBI investigator who starts the movie as a consummate professional and slowly becomes unhinged as he tries to figure out the identities of the killers. Playing gay, but not fruity, sensitive and still tough, Dafoe is worth the price of admission to this movie for me. He is clearly enjoying himself, getting into the character and showing us how much the character enjoys giving into his desires as well, by joining up with the brothers to share with their type of justice.

The only thing that could have made this movie better for me would have been if Billy Connolly had been given some more time and some jokes as well. But, the film does succeed on many levels, not the least of which is making a lasting film with a devoted fan base after many obstacles in its path during production. And if you want the real story on that, I recommend checking out Overnight.

And shepherds we shall be, for Thee, my Lord, for Thee. Power hath descended forth from Thy hand, that our feet may swiftly carry out Thy command. So we shall flow a river forth to Thee, and teeming with souls shall it ever be.

This one is for you, Irish.

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