|Index||4 reviews in total|
I caught this at the Garden State Film Festival (where it won Best Feature: Drama) and really enjoyed it. It's gritty, clever and fast paced. Kurtwood Smith is Benno, a career criminal who has found a new life among the scruffy staff and customers of Alice's diner. For those who know him from That 70's Show you won't be surprised at his piercing stare or sardonic smile, but the rough edges he displays here are what makes him so fun (and a bit terrifying). Richard Edson (maybe not a household name but you've seen him all over the place) steals quite a few scenes of his own in his turn as a nobody looking for a little respect. These characters and the rest of the colorful cast lie, cheat and steal their way through their seedy world until they all get what's coming to them (or not) in the surprising climax.
I first caught David Hay's "Hard Scrambled" in its original play form in San Antonio before Mr. Hay moved to Chicago. I saw the movie on the big screen as part of a special showing in San Antonio. From his first novel to his days as a radio drama writer to writing plays and now film scripts Mr Hay has always been first and foremost a story teller. "Hard Scrambled" is a story of several lives as they intersect at very important times to many of the characters. The main character is superbly played by actor Kurtwood Smith. Despite being known for the character "Red" in that 70's show Mr Smith gets back to his bad guy roots in this movie. He plays Benno who is not quite as mean as his character in Robocop but is a rather rough ex-con who is not to be messed with. While Kurtwood Smith is the only actor to win an award for his work in "Hard Scrambled" I found the rest of the cast to have been his equal in their portrayals of the other characters in this film. Beth Grant as Alice does an outstanding job. My only complaint is her role is limited in its scope and thus limits her time on the screen. Well directed with great pacing. I do not want to spoil the movie for anyone so I will say if you love a good story then pick up this movie.
This movie was a great cinematic experience. There are twists and turns in the plot that I absolutely did not see coming. That was really refreshing in a world where so many films are so predictable. I won't spoil anything!! Intelligently crafted. The actors nailed their parts; I was watching Benno, not Red from That 70's Show! There was a distinct chemistry among the whole cast that came right out of the screen. Visually, it was extremely well done. The subtlety of the color used in the "present" vs. the saturated color in the flashbacks was a particularly nice touch, another one of those unexpected shift from the movie norm that sets this film apart. I am glad I got the chance to see this on the big screen.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I am glad I got to see this twice at Cinequest, even if I had to stand
for the second screening.
It was probably the best film I saw while I was there.
After the movie, we were discussing whether or not Benno torched the place or whether he went to meet Joe. 2 of us thought the latter. But 3 of us, the former. I like films with ambiguity. This had plenty of it.
I hope Kurtwood Smith or Richard Edson get nominated for Independent Spirit Awards. Smith hasn't dominated a movie with his presence like this since Robocop. And Edson is usually relegated to smaller roles. He was great in this though. It was like a David Mamet film as done by the Coen Brothers. Intense but quirky.
With the crap that passes as movies today, you should go rent this or see it if it ever makes it to a theater. Yes, that was a compliment.
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