Wednesday, January 18, 2012

In short: Hobo With A Shotgun (2011)

It looks like movies based on the fake trailers in Grindhouse have truly arrived and become their own little genre now. Jason Eisener's film about a Rutger Hauer's titular hobo (soon enough to be outfitted with a shotgun, obviously) doing the vigilante thing in a city full of freaks also has a lot in common with the school of self-conscious Japanese exploitation films following The Machine Girl in that it manages to make up for its low budget and the usual problems that come with it by dedicating itself to a feverish interpretation of what's most entertaining in exploitation films. Which it then proceeds to heighten to the absurd to at times awesome and exhilarating effect. Often, the film is even as funny as it thinks it is.

Alas, there are a few other times when the film's hysteria comes over as phony, the winking and nudging taking away some of the fun Hobo's crassness and violence generally bring. I'm also a bit disappointed about how little imagination the film shows when it comes to the treatment of its female lead Molly Dunsworth. I'm not going to complain about her being a prostitute - for the stories of prostitutes are worth telling as much as (let's be honest, more than) those of vacuous New York media people - but I was quite disappointed that the film chose to let her sudden moment of kicking some ass end in a whimper that's only there so that Hauer can die a more heroic death - especially compared to the Japanese school of these movies where objectification of girls in school uniforms and having a female lead with actual agency mingle in classic exploitation style. Not that I expected much from a movie from North America in this regard. Keep in mind that Dunsworth still gets to stab someone with her arm bone splinter.

This doesn't mean I didn't enjoy myself for most of Hobo's running time. As I said, large parts of the film are exhilarating and/or imaginative in that special blood-spattering way and/or crassly funny - what's not to enjoy about that?

Plus, Rutger Hauer imbues his on paper utterly ridiculous character with surprising amounts of humanity, putting the "man" back in homicidal maniac. Not a bad achievement for an actor often described with the cruel words "limited range". Clearly, it's not the range, but what one does with it.


Pauline said...

I've always been a fan of Rutger Hauer so, even with its flaws, I enjoyed this one quite a bit. I did feel like I needed a shower after it was over, though...

houseinrlyeh aka Denis said...

I think Hauer did a very fine job here.