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Robert John Burke,
Socially inept garbage man Simon is befriended by Henry Fool, a witty roguish, but talent-less novelist. Henry opens a magical world of literature to Simon who turns his hand to writing the 'great American poem'. As Simon begins his controversial ascent to the dizzying heights of Nobel Prize winning poet, Henry sinks to a life of drinking in low-life bars. The two friends fall out and lose touch until Henry's criminal past catches up with him and he needs Simon's help to flee the country. Written by
Josh Mueller <firstname.lastname@example.org>
It's a shame that "Henry Fool" remains relatively overlooked and underrated. In large part because it's such a departure from his earlier films, Hal Hartley purists couldn't stomach the epic scale and thematic shift of the film, and audiences who would likely appreciate the movie never even saw it. In my opinion though, Henry Fool is a true masterpiece of American cinema and one of the best films of the 1990s. If you look at films like "Trust", "Simple Men" and "Amateur" as early, developmental works in Hal Hartley's maturation as a filmmaker, and then see "Flirt" as his attempt to identify himself more as a "director" than a "writer", then "Henry Fool" is the fruit of that labor - not only is it precisely, minimalistically and efficiently directed, but it's far and away his best writing yet. His favorite themes are expanded and blown up within a mythic frame, and his casting here of stage actors (especially the hefty presence of Thomas Jay Ryan) separates the film from Hartley's earlier work. However, it retains the philosophical tone, the inner musings of character, and the precision of their actions. This time, however, Hartley accomplishes this by expanding the frame with which he grapples with friendship, family, ambition, achievement and betrayal, and ends up with a shattering parable about who we choose to be in our lives. The film is about greatness, and thanks to Hartley's fearlessness in envisioning his characters' conceptions of greatness, it is truly great.
(Where's the DVD version?)
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