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This film is a very dark comedy, and is definitely not for everyone, as may be apparent from the previous reviews. As with James Joyce's "Ulysses," director Wayne Kramer's "Pawn Shop Chronicles" follows several characters through their own adventures during a single day. Unlike Joyce's classic, this modern story takes place in a small, quirky southern American town rather than Dublin, Ireland. Still, for those of us with attention spans longer than that of the average house pet, the threads of the three stories that make up the chronicles can be seen slowly interweaving into an harmonious comedic tapestry. The viewer who pays meticulous attention will be rewarded, since quite literally everything in the film echoes and resonates throughout all three vignettes, and like far-off thunder slowly building to a deafening crescendo, it all comes together in the perfect ending. Well suited to repeated viewings, I feel that "Pawn Shop Chronicles" is destined to become a cult classic among truly discerning aficionados of modern comic cinema.
I literally was laughing out loud at a few of the early scenes from this movie. I sat there thinking, yeah, this is my kinda thing. The meth-heads part was brilliant and the ring part too right up until the rescue. But.... then it all just went limp. I liked the idea of things being interlinked with the pawn shop, but what the hell was going on at the end? All the early promise just seemed to dissipate. What a let down. Such a shame because this could have had cult written all over it. A smart and darkly funny little indie flick, with decent acting all the way through, but alas, it got murdered by the end. What a shame indeed. But the first half is certainly worth seeing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Just discovered this movie and decided to watch as it is listed as a
'comedy'. And a very dark comedy it is! There are some really
disturbingly funny scenes, but I found the balance of the film to be a
sarcastically allegorical comment on life in America. Why the previous
reviewers missed this is a surprise! Throughout the entire story
director Wayne Kramer has offered to the viewer symbolic remarks on
religion, politics, and economic life in the American laboring society.
First we see the pawn shop - in America everything is a commodity that can be sold and bought - nothing has real value and value is always marginalized when the seller is in 'need'.
Second Kramer offers the three rednecks who, on the surface are religious, in symbols only, and have no idea why 'they believe' because they are too consumed with destructive self indulgence. Then when Vernon is left for dead a 'savior' appears not to save him but to offer the chance for revenge. In America it's just believing that makes religion true, not understanding and living it.
Third Richard discovers 'the ring' in the pawn shop and seeks answers as to how it got there. Kramer again shows us how property is valued in the social order. Material things along with humans are gifts for capitalist overlords. Shaw represents the ownership society. And when they offer favors to the 'working class' they are to be obedient and grateful, as seen with the caged women for Shaw's pleasure and the 'number one' caged girl who refuses to leave because she gets 30 minutes of television a week in 'the house'. Richard is the liberator and freedom fighter that American's always reject and destroy.
Fourth Kramer gives us Ricky, the fourth rate Elvis impersonator, and here Kramer sums up the movie. Americans want to be 'a star' but few have that kind of talent outside of being a big fish in a small pond. And thats where Ricky finds himself. His image is compelling to the locals in that unnamed small southern town and they willing follow him around! Ricky wants a barber to even his sideburns and must choose between two identical barber shops. Kramer smartly symbolizes the American political system here as there is no real difference between the two leading parties (Democrats & Republicans). But the locals think there is a difference between the two barber shops and when Ricky picks one over the other mayhem erupts in the street. In America perception is what drives the choices. When the choice really doesn't exist! When Ricky gets to perform at the carnival he is so unprepared and untalented the locals reject him. Then when he accepts the offer made by the street preacher (Mephistopheles type character), Ricky's whole image changes when he starts singing 'Amazing Grace'. Suddenly the local towns folk see him as bright and talented because he has accepted their Christian values. Then the naked and filth covered cage women show up and wrap themselves in the American flag. The image of justice and freedom shine as long as Americans have patriotism and God. Shaw returns from the dead to claim the filth covered women and a new woman. They all follow him out. The locals are too star struck to notice what's happening right before them. Kramer shows how Americans cannot escape the capitalist system (Shaw) because society will always give into religion, patriotism and those who control the money.
The film closes with Harry (little man/big truck) entering the pawn shop to teach Alton a lesson but JJ quells him easily and then it's business as usual for Alton. Harry is the collective conscience of America and it's small and easy to overlook, but it's always there.
Pawn Shop Chronicles is a triumph for Kramer - it's perfection start to finish!
After reading a few reviews about this and seeing the cast, how could
this be a bad film? I wasn't expecting any of it. Mostly the film was
funny and had some really odd segments which break the usual viewing
experience which i found kept me watching the whole way through.
all of the acting in this film is pretty spot on with what is going on, seeing some actors well out of their usual roles really sold the characters to me. Make no mistake however, the film i found was pointless. It switches its character so many times by the half way mark you really don't know what to expect next which i found was the charm of the whole film. Stuff happens, it gets resolved and its all well done in the process. I have to say for a blind pick film this film is something you have to watch to get what i mean with its bizarre nature. Im not sure what message its supposed to be giving, what the film is actually about but all loose ends are tied up . . . what actually happened near the end? I thought it was a good film.
I rated it so high people, I know, let me explain. I thought the movie followed a format, such as when one scene starts, it just keeps going and going.... In order of the best acting performances: #1 Matt Dillon, then Brandon Fraser, Paul Walker (different acting style for him),Vincent Denofrio, Elijah Wood (he loves those eerie roles, such as w/ Sin City he was evil), Thomas Cage (a hero in this movie), Kevin Ranklin, Ashley Simpson (I knew it was her when I 1st saw her!). One of the best and refreshing movies I've seen in a long time. This is just one pure high energy ride bcz of the actors just really got into their roles. WHoever picked this cast was an expert, this is a huge monumental achievement, in my opin. It has an intense script, drugs, violence, shootings, every scene is packed with superb actors with a plan of action. I'd like to hear what Quentin T has to say about this movie.
This is the first time I write a review for a movie, not that this
movie needs one. But it deserves it. Because the first time I heard of
Pawn Shop Chronicles, I thought the History channel made a movie about
a very bad reality series. But don't let the title fool you. This one
the best triptych i ever seen. Just watch it, I'll guarantee it, you'll
have great time.
If you are a Pulp Fiction fan, you'll definitely appreciate this movie. Excellent and out of their "usual comfort zone" performances from some of the most under-appreciated and underestimated actors in Hollywood. Watch the movie and you'll understand it.
"The Cooler" director Wayne Kramer's "Pawn Shop Chronicles" is the
latest in a string of movies about a bunch of people who don't
necessarily meet but have a connection. And it's a really crazy movie
at that. The connection here is a pawnshop in Louisiana and a ring. My
favorite segment was the first one, just because of the characters'
fun-loving attitudes. There is at least one scene that tests what
you're willing to watch.
Yes, it's a pretty weird movie, but I liked it, especially Brendan Fraser's Elvis impersonator. The graphic novel approach also gives the movie an impressive dimension. Just remember that it's NOT for the squeamish.
So yes, why are racists supposed to hate Jews?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The critics pretty much universally panned this one but I actually dug
The stories, although sometimes horrifying to witness, can be darkly amusing and, often, blasphemous (maybe that's why people hated it). The cast is great and I really enjoyed everyone (sorry ladies, Norman Reedus' part is small)--also, how often are you going to see pretty boy Paul Walker as a racist moron? There was also a lot of imagery thrown in the background and in the tone of the film that I found attention grabbing.
Yes, the movie can be disturbing and, at times, I wondered if I was a terrible person for laughing at some of the offensive jokes but there was something perversely entertaining about the film. It's like a car crash but instead of backing up traffic for miles and making you wonder in the back of your head if someone died in that hunk of twisted metal, I found myself being entertained by a group of truly despicable characters doing horribly selfish things within the strangely interesting story.
This gets a 6 out of 10 for extreme weirdness and confusion.
I laughed. I kinda cried and I still don't understand it.
What I got out of this film was confusion, humour, some sort or religious symbolism, zombie-naked women. I still don't understand what Frodo did to those naked girls. But I have always loved Elijah Wood...what are you thinking? I will never get that picture of him on the table out of my head.
I am torn. I can't say it's a bad film... I can say that it is amusing and just plain odd and kinda unique.
I like Brendan Fraser and gosh darn it I didn't think anything would make Brendan Fraser make me feel queasy. Yep - it is WEIRD!!!!
'PAWN SHOP CHRONICLES': Four Stars (Out of Five)
Wayne Kramer directed this grindhouse style comedy crime-drama telling three different (overlapping) stories involving items sold to a pawn shop. It stars an ensemble cast including Brendan Fraser, Matt Dillon, Kevin Rankin, Vincent D'Onofrio, Chi McBride, Elijah Wood, Lukas Haas, DJ Qualls, Norman Reedus, Thomas Jane and the late Paul Walker. Walker was also one of the producers on the film and previously worked with Kramer on the cult classic 'RUNNING SCARED', in 2006. It was written by Adam Minarovich and is the first movie Kramer has directed that he didn't write (or co-write). It's a really dark and twisted film (like 'RUNNING SCARED') but also bizarrely interesting and entertaining.
The movie begins and ends at a pawn shop where it's owner, Alton (D'Onofrio), spends most of his time chitchatting with his friend Johnson (McBride). Different characters come in there throughout the day all trying to pawn a different item and their stories all intersect (and overlap). One is a honeymooning couple where the groom (Dillon) finds his missing wife's wedding ring. Another is an Elvis impersonator (Fraser) doing a show at the local fair, looking for some extra cash. The third is a white supremacist (Haas) wanting to sell a shotgun so he can afford gas to meet his two partners (Walker and Rankin), who are planning to rob their meth supplier (Reedus, who is unrecognizable in a mask the entire film). All the tales (of course) take a very dark turn.
The film is funny and very violent, it's also highly disturbing. All of the actors are good and fittingly cast in their roles and Walker always seemed to do his best work in Kramer's movies. Wood is becoming one of the most creepy actors in Hollywood (after playing a psycho in this and 'MANIAC', in the same year); he's really starting to scare me! Although it is very dark and twisted it's also highly entertaining and has a really strong Tarantinoesque feel to it. It's probably what most people expect coming from Wayne Kramer (even though he didn't write it) and it's sad that he and Walker won't be able to work together again.
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