Drunkboat (2010) Poster


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A slow take on dreams and reality
Tord S Eriksson1 December 2013
This is not a film for those who want speedy action, but the reverse. This odd movie plays entirely by its own rules, and it is not a masterpiece, but a really good try!

John Goodman, John Malkovitch, and Dena Delaney, are the pro stars in this little film about life, and dreams, while the younger kids (Jacob Zachar, and Skipp Sudduth in particular) do a great job here, too.

Slowly goes the story forward, in some ways reminding me of Kurosawa's movies about odd people, like his Dodeskaden.

A great, fresh, experience this film was, and I can't for my life understand why it has got such a low point as 5.0!
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Small quirky suspenseful movie with fine performances, great cinematography, and an excellent score
thunderfoot18129 October 2010
I recommend this movie based on excellent performances, a quirky, moody, suspenseful feel very well supported by unusual and highly effective music, and excellent cinematography.

This is a "small" movie in that it is based on clearly defined scenes, separated by time and geography, juxtaposed together to let the story unfold. The screenplay's roots in Bob Meyers's original play are clear.

The movie is also understated, leaving some of the work to your imagination. I like this in a movie, but others might find it unsatisfying. This understatement allows a delightful kind of organic humor to creep in from time to time, and allows suspense to build as well. Good job with this quirky directing style!

Several of the scenes between the John Goodman character and his business partner had the feel of two veteran actors sitting in front of a camera and improvising: "You are two sleazy hustlers that have worked together for a long time, but one of you is having second thoughts. Act!" They did a nice job with these scenes. Unfortunately, I dunno, to my mind all of those scenes after the important opening of the movie might better have been left on the cutting room floor. (Or, else at least include the other resolving scenes that would have let them actually mean something.) Certainly I would cut everything having to do with the partner's son and son's girlfriend, which added nothing, and had nothing at all to do with the rest of the movie.

John Malkovich was excellent. With him the movie is intriguing, and suspenseful. You cannot tell what is going on in his head (is he a brain-fried drunk, or is he in control, perceiving much that he is not letting on? Is he going to take action leading to violence?), but you WANT to try to figure it out. Without his stellar central performance, the movie would risk not hanging together at all. Yay to the Vietnam reminiscence scene with the chickens!

All of the performances in the movie were good (save perhaps the son's friend who had a small part and was passable). All of the acting was underplayed and subtle. Everyone was believable.

Much of the magic of the movie came from the mix of the unusual, but unusually effective, music, mixed with the brooding, darkly ethereal, cinematography. No schmaltzy rehashed formula strings with repetitive piano plonks here. Much attention was paid to instrumentation (steel drums? overtone-laden bronze prayer bowls?) and the effective use of space in the music to build suspense. The music, the sound, the camera angles, the overall mood in the camera-work did much to focus our attention on the meaning of the performances. Outstanding!

The *look* of the movie was also excellent. Even the pan-overview of a brick bungalow in Morton Grove gave us the feel something was going to happen. Be alert! The collage of old rotten boat-bottoms, mud, ancient house-trailer interiors, Southside Chicago expressways at night, rivers, power-lines, bars, and so on really captured the perfect mix between a real close-up view of Chicago, and the magical, beautiful, world of cinema.

I might have chosen a different ending, but in the interest of no spoilers, I'll not say more.

One theme about the movie stands out: "Non-judgemental." In this particular way it had echos of Van Sant's "Drugstore Cowboy" -- and I mean that association to be high praise.

In short, this is a quirky, small, suspenseful movie that leaves plenty of room for the viewer's imagination, with outstanding music, with excellent cinematography and camera-work, and with some outstanding performances. It is probably not for everyone, but well worth it for the someone wanting to see, and hear, something unusual.

NOTE: A year later I am adding this footnote. This turns out to be one of those strange and wonderful movies from which the images haunt you a long time. I am very disappointed that it has not been released in theaters. Many movies have come and gone in my mind's eye since I saw this gem, but while they have faded, the images from this movie are still with me. Good job!
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Tim Kidner17 September 2012
Sunk without a trace, as this quirky little film obviously did, what with good, respected and serious actors John Malkovich and John Goodman aboard (enough of the puns....)

I caught it on Sky Movies premier, partly as I thought it might be a serious drama concerning alcoholism. It isn't but has comedic, jaunty music and amateurish, unconnected fantasy sequences that left me in a constant state of confusion.

If one knew the source material (if you actually wanted to) then that might help and whilst Malkovich and Goodman kept it watchable, everything else is a distracting, mawkish blur that makes no sense. The only two user reviews I could find (on IMDb) were obviously fans and so loved it but I wanted an unbiased opinion. It wasn't a total waste of time, with some very good acting, especially from the alcoholic Malkovic, but I couldn't help feel that my time would have been better spent doing something else, or at least, purposeful, like the washing up!

I guess that the actual narrative (what there is of one) isn't going to be what attracts you, here, so I'm not going to hurt my brain any further by racking it and trying to write it down. Apologies if that disappoints anyone. It was director Bob Meyer's first and only attempt as writer/director of a movie and it badly shows.
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Warm, pure and realistic
finriikka6 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I loved this simple, little film. Not pretentious at all, compared to most movies I've seen lately. First of all, the mice-en-scene was fantastic with a steam punk feeling: boats, rusty trails, trains. This film made even an ordinary suburban area look interesting. The indoor settings were quite ascetic, but everything was well planned yet realistic. An unknown pearl.

I didn't imagine anything with John Goodman could be great, but I got positively surprised - even though his role was to play the funny guy.The main character, Mort, played by Malcovich was very realistic, deep and unintentionally funny, and so were the two boys. If you like realistic but somewhat crazy films that tell about a slice in some people's lives, you must see this.

They are marketing this film as a "boat movie". But the funny thing is that I don't even like boats. Still I just picked it up at the DVD-store. I'm glad I did. But the film wasn't actually that muck about boats, actually, but about family relationships, about how it is to be near a drunk, to have dreams, to adjust to how things actually are.
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Rich Wright19 January 2013
Probably the most insignificant film I've seen in living memory. It's a patch of grass, a black sky at night, Tony Blair's obnoxious smile. It's just 'there'.

Here's the plot in a nutshell: A woman's drunken uncle (played by John Malkovich) turns up one day. Her son and his friend plan to get him to co-sign on a boat they plan to buy from a corrupt dealer, since their mother won't allow it. That's that. Oh, of course we have many 'meaningful' chats along the way about the alcoholic uncle's childhood, a bit of comic relief as John Goodman hams it up as the nasty boat seller, and a lovely ending where, despite all the weirdness surrounding them, everyone gets together for a GROUP HUG.

It just... doesn't amount to anything. In fact, as I sit here typing this now, I am struggling to recall a single moment. It is literally, vapour. I don't hate it, since it held my attention. I just feel like there are better ways to spend your time. Maybe, on something a bit more energetic. Like an episode of Heartbeat. 5/10
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excellent movie and acting, do not listen to the dolts that say otherwise.
A great quirky movie, just what you'd expect J.M and J.G to be involved with at this late part of their career. I does sadden me to see how many reviewers have no idea what was attempted yet had no trouble in dashing the movie to the ground.. I watch all types of flicks, from action to whatever the opposite is and there are indeed very forgettable films out there but this is not one of them. No, there's no chase or gun play, no yelling of expletives while holding someone's collar, i suppose that is that is your water, then you will be a gasping fish.

The movie is Jim Jarmusch-esque without the art film pretensions. It does deal with alcoholism and impulse-control and bitterness and subterfuge and other essential life stuff. It has great performances from it's stars and the rest. It did capture my attention from start to finish. It does convey the feel of the Northeast in the summer, the mugginess, the grey heat, the flaring tempers, thereby grounding the picture in a present and concrete reality. And there are so many con-men waiting to steal your dough with a good sleight of hand, that this movie has much relevance.
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I want my 98 minutes back
KineticSeoul6 February 2013
This has got to be one of the most boring and irrelevant movie I ever sat through. At least it felt irrelevant. It's like they literally tried to put the audiences to sleep. It has John Malkovich and John Goodman so it's probably at least a decent movie right? Wrong. That doesn't mean crap. It has really boring conversations that tries to be touching but just want to shut off. If this is a coming of age movie than it did a very poor job of it. The movie has this really old porno cinematography going for it as well. Maybe it's to add to the effect of the movie but it made the flick tiresome. There are better movie for sure, this movie is a waste of time.

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Long it is
kosmasp2 December 2014
If you want to rent or buy the German release of this, be aware that the movie is only rated "6+" and not "16+" as the cover suggests. Now why does it say so? Because the disc has trailers on it that are rated "16+", which makes the Disc itself rated that way too. Now that that is out of the way let's get to the movie.

It's as you might and should expect a very slow drama. The first ten minutes (and the rest that follows of course) will prove that to you. But it's not like this will be a waste of time. Especially if you like your movies slow like that. There are values to be found here and there is redemption that may or may not come. It's about human downfall and deception. And it has two great actors playing lead roles. It does suffer a bit from its own pace towards the end, where it could have picked up the pace a little, but other than that, this is solid
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completely lifeless
SnoopyStyle4 July 2014
Abe (Jacob Zachar) wants to sail on a boat to a fantasy island and beyond. His mother Eileen (Dana Delany) is wary of her brother drunk Mort (John Malkovich). Mr. Fletcher (John Goodman) has a trashed boat that he hopes to unload on some unsuspecting fool. Fletcher scrams naive Abe to buy the boat but they need an adult to do the deal. That's where his unsuspecting alcoholic uncle Mort comes in.

This is completely lifeless. Bob Meyer is the writer and director. He doesn't seem to have done anything other than act in a few french movies. The big mystery is how such an unknown got so many great actors to be in his film. That mystery is infinitely more interesting than watching this movie. This has no energy and no power. The dialog is lifeless and so are the performances. Jacob Zachar is very annoyingly over confident. If he was some cute young kid, his character might actually work. John Goodman almost gives something but it's drowned out by this meandering badly directed indie.
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