SHERDOG MOVIE CLUB: Week 15 Discussion - Blood Simple

Discussion in 'Mayberry Lounge' started by Guestx, Aug 10, 2016.

  1. Guestx

    Guestx Guest

    NOTE to NON-MEMBERS: Confused about what's going on in here? See the following thread:

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    This week's non-bunny filled discussion comes courtesy of @gorgonon. We'll be talking about none other than the Coen brothers' first film Blood Simple.


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    Director(s) Bio


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    Blood Simple is directed by Joel and Ethen Coen. The brothers write, direct and produce their films as a team.

    The two were born and raised in a suburb of Minneapolis, where as a child Joel saved money he made mowing lawns and purchased a Vivitar Super 8 camera. After recruiting a neighborhood friend as their star, they spent many days remaking movies they saw on TV.

    Eventually the two separated briefly to attend college, with Joel spending four years in the undergraduate film program at NYU and Ethan earning a degree in philosophy from Princeton.

    Their many films include such venerated titles as Fargo, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski, Miller's Crossing and Barton Fink. They have been nominated for 13 Academy Awards.

    Both brothers currently live in New York.



    Our Stars


    Frances McDormand: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000531/?ref_=nv_sr_1


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    John Getz: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0315288/?ref_=tt_cl_t1


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    Dan Hedaya: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000445/?ref_=tt_cl_t3


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    M. Emmet Walsh: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001826/?ref_=tt_cl_t4


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    Film Oveview and YouTube Videos


    Premise: A rich but jealous man hires a private investigator to kill his cheating wife and her new man. But, when blood is involved, nothing is simple.

    Budget: $1.5 Million
    Box Office: $3.8 Million








    Trivia
    (courtesy of IMDB)​


    * On the advice of Sam Raimi, the Coens went door-to-door showing potential investors a two minute 'trailer' of the film they planned to make. They ultimately raised $750,000 in a little over a year, enough to begin production of the movie. It featured Bruce Campbell (filling in for the role later played by Dan Hedaya) bloody and crawling down the road, just like the movie.

    * The title is based on a phrase from the Dashiell Hammett novel 'Red Harvest', in which "blood simple" is a term coined to describe the addled, fearful mindset people are in after a prolonged immersion in violent situations. Blood Simple writers Joel Coen and Ethan Coen later made Miller's Crossing (1990) which is loosely based on that novel.

    * M. Emmet Walsh's part was written specifically for the actor.

    * The finished film was brought to L.A. and shown to the major studios, and all passed on the movie. Later that year it was accepted into the 1984 New York Film Festival, and then shown at the Toronto Film Festival, where a deal was made with Circle Films to distribute the movie domestically.

    * Officially, the title is spelled with a period at the end - it appears this way on screen. Most television listings and video releases leave the period off.

    * Jim Piddock provided the voice of fictional film historian "Kenneth Loring" on the DVD audio commentary track, which was scripted by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen.

    * Above Ray's bed is a copy of Mel Ellis' novel "This Mysterious River," which is about a petty crime that begins simple but eventually spirals out of control.

    * Joel Coen had trouble convincing M. Emmet Walsh to pick his hat up off the ground in the movie's climactic ending scene. Walsh had a laundry list of all the reasons his character would not do such a thing, each of which Coen tried and failed to debate. After minutes of arguing on set, Coen asked Walsh "Will you please just humor me?", to which Walsh replied "I'm humoring you by doing this whole fucking movie." (<-- LOLOL!!!)



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    Members: @shadow_priest_x @europe1 @Luke Rockhard @TheRuthlessOne @EL CORINTHIAN @mb23100 @HUNTERMANIA @iThrillhouse @Zer @DaDamn @chickenluver @gorgonon @jeicex @MusterX @Scott Parker 27 @BeardotheWeirdo @Caveat @method115
     
  2. DaDamn

    DaDamn Purple Belt

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    The character of Ray has got to be one of the stupidest characters I ever seen on film. Getz either took no liberties or the wrong liberties. Ray would have come off better as gullible or psychotic, but not fucking stupid… Abby was fuckin stupid as fuck too. The fake ass southern accents got under my skin as well, I know this happens in a lot of movies but these two hit rock bottom with this crap. Other than the fishing trip to Galveston this could have taken place anywhere. If you change the location of the fishing trip everyone can use their natural speaking voice. Thank God Dan Hedaya didn’t try to talk with a southern accent.


    This would have been better from the start without the first two scenes. The affair could have been implied when Ray went to get his last check. Then, we wouldn’t have to deal with that phone conversation at the hotel and Ray’s stupid dead pan reaction and then the fact that he actually went and asked for his pay check. WTF? And then he made the bitch sleep on the couch. I almost shut it off right then, but knowing this was the Coen brother’s first movie I stuck with it. It showed what they do well, continuity. The gun having three bullets was cool. The first one shooting Marty, being the second one in the chamber, the second one going off on the floor somehow, still not sure what happened there, three empty chamber trigger pulls by Marty while being buried alive, Ray was one more pull away from being shot, and the third killing the PD. That’s exactly the kind of stuff I like to see in movies and the Brothers do it very well.


    There were a few things that made me scratch my head. The lighter and the fish damn near stole the movie, but, they played no part in the story. The PD knew he had to go back after he found out Marty kept the picture, he never looked for his lighter. The dog, I understand it represents Marty’s presence but WTF? It could have at least growled or something. And why the fuck doesn’t anyone have curtains? There’s other stuff but I’m gonna let it go for now.


    Over all I’m glad I watched it, I mean, who’s not a fan of the Brothers and wouldn’t want to see their first movie.
     
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  3. Guestx

    Guestx Guest

    Not sure if anyone else here is a fan of The Social Network (I fucking love that movie), but when I realized that this dude. . .


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    . . . was also Sy from TSN. . .


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    . . . it blew my fucking mind.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 10, 2016
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  4. Guestx

    Guestx Guest

    The accents weren't great, but they weren't bad enough to bother me. I thought that setting it in Texas added a certain flavor that wouldn't have been duplicated if they had set it anywhere else.


    Agreed about the lighter. They kept show it and kept showing it and in the end . . . it meant nothing.

    No clue what they were thinking there.
     
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  5. Bullitt68

    Bullitt68 Senior Moderator Staff Member Senior Moderator

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    Only watched this once and it was well over ten years ago. The Coen Brothers are very hit or miss with me, but this is the only one of their movies that didn't provoke a strong love/hate response. It was just very meh and forgettable with nothing about it that made me expect to ever want to watch it again (and so far I haven't).

    I'm looking forward to reading what you all have to say, though. Maybe I'll be inspired to give it another chance down the road.
     
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  6. MusterX

    MusterX Titanium Belt

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    Alright, first off, let me just say I liked it, I liked this film.

    There was some weird foreshadowing or archetyping going on throughout. For example, when Visser, who was the private detective, first meets Marty he says yea she's cheating on you, here are some pictures, and he laughs about it. Marty gets pissed and asks him why are you taking pictures, nobody asked you to take pictures and Visser just laughs at him and tells him he knows a place where he can get them framed. From their very first meeting its obvious that Visser is not a good guy and seems very greasy. Not only that, but Marty turns out to be almost an anti-hero. He is a rather repugnant man but he gets the sympathy card played because his wife is a cheating whore and he takes a bullet in the chest and is then buried alive.

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    The next time they meet, Marty has a broken finger and Visser tells him a story about how a guy messed up one hand and didn't learn his lesson and ended up with two messed up hands. Marty doesn't listen though and Visser even calls him an idiot for wanting to kill his wife.

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    The problem for me, early on, was determining who the film was really about, or rather, who was the winner of the film, or the loser. Is it about the wife? Is it about Marty, the spurned husband who gets revenge? I thought it was about Marty until Visser shot Marty. In the end, the cheating wife turned out to be the only survivor.

    There were parts along the way that stuck out to me, like the following clip where Ray is going to bury Marty alive. Marty has that gun that only had 3 rounds in it, with 3 empty chambers. One of the bullets was spent on Marty himself leaving 2 bullets and 4 empty chambers. Marty fires the gun 3 times and all 3 are empty. The part that really sticks out though is at the end when the car won't start.

    The score kicks in as Ray is getting into the car to leave the scene of the crime and the car won't start. As if to echo my inner thought of "oh fuck, the sun is coming up and the car won't start", the score goes silent as Ray turns the motor over repeatedly trying to get it to start and then when it does start, the score begins again. The entire sequence of Ray burying Marty alive and then his car not starting up is superb.

    Here is the entire clip or you can skip to 2:40.



    Anyway, there were other points I had to make but i'll leave it at that for now.
     
  7. BeardotheWeirdo

    BeardotheWeirdo Silver Belt

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    I don't think stupidity was necessarily their problem, though it didn't help them. What really fucked things up for everyone was love.

    Ray was in love with Abby but he only knew her from work (by the look of it) so he didn't really know her at all. I think Abby fell in love with him also, but not as much.

    Marty was fucked because he loved Abby but she didn't love him back and slept around on him. It ate away at him so much that he wanted to kill them both. He couldn't handle the thought of her with another man.

    Ray murdered Marty because he was in love with Abby and wanted to protect her. Love made them do stupid things.

    I've never been to Texas and not too many Texans come visit Ontario so the accents fooled me just fine. I can't argue about the fact that it could've taken place anywhere though.

    Interesting note: Galveston is where the Fertita family married into the Maceo crime family and made their wealth.

    The affair scene was to set-up the phone call, which started the tension and suspense. It was really tense and suspenseful, with the dark mood, the music, the spying, and the phone calls, that scene set it all up.

    The car scene that came before that was necessary to introduce us to the characters. That's how we knew that Ray was in love with her, that they just met... It's important that we know they just met, because that's why Ray believes she's capable of murder, he doesn't really know her that well. But it's important that it's established that Ray's in love as well, because that's why he killed Marty (against all his principals)

    The reason the murder and burial scene was so dramatic and visceral (apart from the buried alive factor, which was insane) was because Ray wasn't the type of guy that would ever do something like that, it was destroying him as he did it. He pretty much let Marty kill him he was so disgusted with himself, but there were no bullets in the gun.

    Asking for the paycheck was dumb, but he was poor. He lived on his own and he worked at bar (likely) making minimum wage plus tips. He needed the money, he didn't plan on getting caught and that would've really fucked someone in his shoes.

    He made her sleep on the couch because he really loved her. That's how we know he loved her. When Marty told him that Abby sleeps around all the time and it was just a one-time thing he was heart-broken. He came back home devastated. He didn't want to sleep with her because he loved her and it was breaking his heart that it was just a one-time thing. He wasn't as much stupid as he was emotionally devastated and therefore temporarily crazy.


    It's a mystery movie, the lighter was there to throw you off, to lead you down the wrong path, probably.

    In the scene where Ray was shot through the window, those windows were absolutely massive. You'd literally have to spend $5000 getting curtains made and put up in a place like that, minimum. The way the roof arched like that makes it impossible for curtains actually, you'd have to construct some custom blind set-up that cost a small fortune.
     
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  8. BeardotheWeirdo

    BeardotheWeirdo Silver Belt

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    First off, @gorgonon gets the award for most deceptive avatar, even though he changed it. He had that sweet looking, gorgeous Japanese woman. But it turns out he's not so sweet and innocent after all, he's one dark, twisted, son of a bitch. :D

    But with that being said, this movie was pretty great. The scene where Ray buried Marty alive was truly disturbing, I actually felt a little sick...

    The pacing was a little strange, I'm not sure if it was done that way on purpose but it worked out really well. The start was the start, you need to introduce your characters. The conversation wasn't great but the way it was filmed held my attention. Every time a car passed by I would think, ok this time they're getting smoked. I don't know how they did the lighting for that scene but all you could see was the windshield (dripping with water) and their two heads, everything else was dark except for the headlights... It just highlighted the dangers of driving in those types of weather conditions... their was nothing to distract you from the rain, the two humans, and the traffic that was seemingly coming right at them. Pick-up trucks are bad in the rain and the movie was in Texas...

    Then they get a hotel room blah blah blah, but the phone call the next morning spiced things up again. At that time we didn't know who Marty was or what he was capable of. But Ray, he just got with the girl he secretly loved and then woke up to his boss calling him saying he knows what he did. Talk about a wake-up call, in more ways than one. That was one of the themes of the movie, just when you think things can't get any worse, they can, and in this movie, they do. Muster X summed up the meeting's between Marty and Visser. I talked about Ray loving Abby.

    Then Ray goes to the bar and the pace slows down even more. The tension and the suspense are still there, I found myself shifting in my seat a lot, it was just uncomfortable. When Ray goes to ask for his pay too, it added akwardness to the situation... It just put me in a weird mood, I was becoming impatient... I wanted something to happen to break the tension.

    Then Visser goes to kill Ray and Abby, the supense and anticipation build up again, but ultimately not much is shown, and we're left confused.

    Then the meeting happens... standard stuff, everything's going according to the plan, then "bang" Marty is dead. I didn't see it coming, probably because we think (even though we don't know for sure) that Ray and Abby are dead, so we expect the story to move forward with Marty and Visser, seeing as their the only two main characters left really. When the safe was open, you're thinking "he gone" then when it closes you think everything is OK, but nope, not with this movie. Those two details made the betrayal that much more shocking, despite the nature of Visser's character (as Muster X pointed out)

    From the point where Visser shot Marty until the credits rolled I was on the edge of my seat. I was hooked. I didn't find Ray's actions to be far-fetched because honestly, love makes people do crazy shit sometimes. Emotions can turn normal people crazy in seconds. They play tricks with your brain. Love is tricky business, for those who fall into it head over heels. Ray is obviously the hopeless romantic type, and Abby is also the type to fall for men quickly then soon after realize that they're not for her. Plus him quitting and the whole boss thing scared the shit out of him. He didn't know Abby enough to know if she was or wasn't capable of killing Marty, but he was madly in love with her... he offered to drive her across country knowing he would never see her again afterwards. He just had to try, it would eat away at him if he didn't. He was crazy for her.

    The scene where Ray finds Marty and finishes the job... wow. I was 100% fully captivated at this point. I though his acting was outstanding. He perfectly conveyed the mix of fear, guilt, anger, confusion, passion. When Marty pulled the gun on him... oh shit! I thought he was going to kill him, I almost wanted him to, he had become the anti-hero as Muster said.

    I can't even review the rest of the movie, I was just taken in by it. All analytical thought went out the window. I was like a child staring at their favourite cartoon, with their jaws on the floor.

    The scene where Ray broke the news to Abby. I thought Abby nailed that scene. Jumping back and forth between "love", hope, fear, confusion, terror, shock, pain, loss... She didn't say a word, she didn't have to, You could read all the emotions on her face one by one.

    I'm not sure if Abby loved Ray back or not. I think that she had strong feelings towards him, but I'm not sure if she loved him. On one hand, she hated her husband and slept around on him a lot (if what Marty told Ray was true)... so she was probably looking for that one guy that would treat her like a sweetheart, even though she isn't one. She was looking for that innocent, naive, loving, appreciative, trusting man, and she found it in Ray... But on the other hand, when Ray called her in the morning (after he killed Marty) and was acting strange, he said "I love you" to her, and she changed the subject... also she didn't stick by him when he killed Marty, and he stuck by her when he thought she killed Marty...

    My only real complaint, Why didn't Visser shoot Marty when he had the safe open? What an idiot. It would've screwed the story up because he wouldn't have had to come back, but then again he switched the picture with the sign in the bathroom. Marty could've left it in there and Visser still would've had to go back. The lighter would've still been there too.

    The slow pace of the first 30 minutes made the last hour that much more gripping. Using the principles of Buddhism the movie lulled us into a trance like state of tension, confusion and suspense... when the action hit, even though it wasn't action-movie type action, compared to the first half which was more mystery, it was a fast paced, brutally dark, thriller, and it definitely succeeded in leaving me thrilled. I quite enjoyed the experience. I felt for Ray, we've all been love-struck and stupid at one point or another. And even though I would've ran from both Abby and Marty after seeing him dead, I could still relate to Ray because he was a good honest guy, that made a horrible mistake due to love, and it just spiralled out of control.

    Several times in the movie you would think, wow, this guy is soooo fucked right now, and still things would get worse. It was really something. And it lasted right until the end when his car barely started. They should've just ended it like that, with his car broken down on top of the body... that would of been brilliant, and we'd have a lot to discuss too;)
     
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  9. BeardotheWeirdo

    BeardotheWeirdo Silver Belt

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  10. Guestx

    Guestx Guest


    I know. I was just thinking the same thing.

    I'm busy trying to get the voting thread up and then I have to get off of here so it will be tomorrow when I can really jump in.
     
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  11. DaDamn

    DaDamn Purple Belt

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    he got the gun from Abby's purse, it was a set up made to look like a crime of passion.
     
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  12. gorgonon

    gorgonon Hyeri Belt Platinum Member

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    I thought the soundtrack was good, that lingering piano motif was well done.

    Coming back to this from a long time ago watching, I was kinda disappointed it didn't have the same atmosphere, and I wonder if I got a bad cut of it. I heard through this Criterion that there is a bad edit of this they did when they re-released it and the original was far better.

    I have the Forever Young edit, does anybody have the earlier version?

    It did have that stuffy feeling, with Marty and Visser condensing like beer mugs, just perspiring and glistening there, but not as much.

    Lighting wise, the play between blue and orange was more apparent, maybe it was obvious to others, but I noticed it more this time.

    There were a few misleading herrings in this film, the lighter being one, and the incinerator being the other. It was almost too easy for Ray to pull up to that box of fire and dump Marty in there, probably better than leaving tire tracks through a field leading up to a big lump of soil and then screeching out.

    I don't know if Abby was cheating on Marty before she left, though. The poison pill that Marty slipped Ray, with the "I don't know what you're talking about" line he said Abby'd give him, I think that really did Ray in.

    There were some great shots that I liked and remembered as good from my drunken viewings of yonder year:


    • Maurice shuffling his converse on the bar as he walks over it
    • Abby noticing the dog before Marty got to her, and her toes dragging out the door while being held by Marty
    • That first time after Visser shoots Marty and the camera lowers in on the lighter
    • Ray dragging that shovel
    • The closeup of Marty shooting blanks with Abby's gun and Ray slowly taking the gun away
    • The 'breathing' grave that palpitated as the soil enveloped Marty
    • Abby falling to the pillow from the bar office
    • The yellow blanket in the back of Ray's car blossoming with blood
    • That goddamn ending with the drop

    My overall impression is that I romanticized this film from long ago, and now seeing it, I was kinda disappointed. Sure, it had great shots, and the atmosphere was ok, but it wasn't the same as my initial viewings. I left it back then impressed and sure of the greatness of this niche film.

    This film qualifies as a film noir. Guys are ruined by the fairer sex in these types of film.

    Frances McDowell was truly a femme fatale, too. She was a bit unknowing of her powers and circumstance, but she was for better or worse, going to survive in spite of the men, and sometimes because of them (Ray helping out in the end, but she ends up doing him wrong, too).

    I give this film a 7/10, mostly because I remembered it fondly, but now, going back... well you can't go back home again, can you?
     
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  13. HUNTERMANIA

    HUNTERMANIA Always Striving. Platinum Member

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    I have it downloaded! Will try to watch tonight. Not reading anyone's posts until after I've watched it.
     
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  14. gorgonon

    gorgonon Hyeri Belt Platinum Member

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    Yet another example of a Femme Fatale getting between and deceiving men to turn against each other -- so I blame the great Korean actress/singer Hyeri for your misunderstanding, Beard!!

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    Also, she has deadly aegyo, aka cuteness factor:

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    If any of you feel sentimental for the 80's and like the Olympics as much as I do, there's a korean drama that I really like with her in it, and it made me a big fan of her talent, it's called Reply 1988, and if you watch the first few episodes, the feels, you will be hooked!

    https://www.viki.com/tv/26576c-reply-1988
     
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  15. BeardotheWeirdo

    BeardotheWeirdo Silver Belt

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    True, but passionate people need money too.

    I suppose when the cops didn't find the money on Abby, they might have looked elsewhere, but with the gun being there, they'd probably just charge her and move on.
     
  16. Guestx

    Guestx Guest

    The bit with the car REALLY stuck out to me because, if the car hadn't actually started, it just would've seemed contrived as fuck. Almost like a deus ex machina.

    If the car wasn't going to start they would've needed to foreshadow that with some scene early on that shows that the car has been having problems. Since they didn't do that, if it just randomly hadn't started, it would've come off as a pretty fucking convenient plot device. So I was glad it started and the movie didn't sink to those levels, because it was about to seem like amateur hour.
     
  17. chickenluver

    chickenluver Bookmobile Driver

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    I think you've got the wrong idea about that movie man. It's a serious movie based on a classic novel. There's a reason it almost won the poll. I originally thought you were so against it because you were a bleeding heart who couldn't stand seeing rabbits get killed in horrible ways (yes that happens in the film.)
     
  18. Guestx

    Guestx Guest

    Oh, I'm aware of it's pedigree. I don't know much about the story, but I'm aware the book is highly regarded.

    I didn't want to watch it for two reasons: 1) we just did an animated film in American Pop and I'm only good for animation once every so often, and 2) I had been wanting to re-watch Blood Simple for a while.

    Besides, Water Ship down wasn't even at the bottom of my list. That was The Road.
     
  19. Zer

    Zer Gold Belt

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    I wasn't keen on The Road either. I tried reading the book once and I didn't get into it at all. I love bleak and depressing films but the post-apocalyptic gimmick has been done to death

    I haven't re-watched Blood Simple yet but I'm looking forward to it. I'm mainly excited about M. Emmet Walsh. It's such a classic performance and character. You can't take your eyes off him. Chubby, old white folk are an underrated commodity in cinema. It always brought to mind the legendary Touch of Evil and Orson Welles

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    I never really considered it for some reason but I guess Visser could be a tributes to Welles' Quinlan?
     
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  20. chickenluver

    chickenluver Bookmobile Driver

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    ...go on
     

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