my Movie

Movie Details

Title:   Rolling Thunder
Director:   John Flynn
Year:   1977
Genre:   Revenge
Times Seen:   1
Last Seen:   04.28.06

Other Movies Seen By This Director (1)
- The Outfit

Notes History
Date Viewed Venue Note
04.28.06Alamo DowntownThis Screening is part of event: Best of QT Fest
The night ended with Rolling Thunder. Let me just get it out of the way and say that while I loved all three films played Wednesday, I think this is the best night of programming so far. All three of these movies fit together in such an interesting way that I really think they built on each other to make my enjoyment of the movies greater than the sum of its parts. ALl three were pretty serious in tone and much more deliberate in pace and each was also much different than what's played the fest so far. I really have to marvel at how they work together... I have no clue how to guage or think about something like that so you go, QT!

OK... so anyone that reads this that isn't actually at the fest (AKA Grant), I think it's pretty clear that a lot of these movies that play are good on completely different levels than others. Some are really cheap exploitation flicks that I basically like for small little gems hidden somewhere in the movie or because certain characters or actors are unintentionally funny or just bizarre... but every once in a while (and I really only include The Dion Brothers in this list... so far), QT plays a movie that is great no matter how you look at it. It's good in a way that you just can't deny. You can't pass it off as cheaply made or full of cheesy dialogue or a genre favorite or whatever... it's just GOOD. it's as good as any movie out in first-run theaters today, and it's as good as many award-winning movies that get written about all the time. In fact, it's so good that the overriding thought that you have after the movie's over is "why isn't this movie known!?" like in a pissed off way, like it makes you mad that this movie is not thrust on film students along with Kurosawa and Hitchcock or whatever. And I can take guesses at the reasons why they're not better known but I'll probably never know the answers. All I really know is that this movie is fucking amazing on any scale and it's a goddamn shame that all film lovers everywhere hasn't seen it.

That is the case with Rolling Thunder.

William Devane, man... OK, so it's a Paul Schrader story about a Vietnam vet who's just returned after seven years in a POW camp. He comes home to a parade and fanfare... Yay! he's home! But then he goes home. His son doesn't remember him. His wife's getting married to some other dude. The world's moved on and he can't even sleep at night because there's no one there to administer a daily beating... a daily beating that he's gotten for SEVEN YEARS and grown to sort of love in a messed up coping-mechanism way... The movie is a fantastic post-war character study that easily rivals The Deer Hunter. Devane's performance is ice cold but every so often you get a peek behind his pilot's glasses at just how messed up and tormented he is inside. It's really nuanced and great.

...And then he has his home invaded by a crew of robbers out for some War Hero loot. They think they can make him give up the location of his money stash (laughs from the audience). They grind his hand off in the garbage disposal. They kill his son and soon-to-be-ex-wife. From this point forward, the movie becomes a hardcore revenge tale that... delivers.

Devane gets a prostetic hook. There's a great sequence where it shows him practicing putting cigarettes in their pack. "Oh," you think, "he's learning to use his hook. that's cool." Then, two scenes later, you see him perfectly pick up bullets and load them into a gun with his hook. Then, as he's SHARPENING his hook on a spinning whetstone or whatever you call it, you make the bullets/cigarettes connection and realize that he is now a revenge machine. this turned into a revenge movie the second those guys came into his house and there is no going back.

Tommy Lee Jones has a supporting role in this and with the maybe 10 minutes of screentime he has you can tell he's going to become a huge star even though his neck is thicker than his head. He's trapped in a suburban hell and shows it in one quick shot of a static look. A slow death in his eyes. When Devane comes for his help in killing the poeple who killed his family, Jones doesn't even think. "I'll just get my gear... Let's clean em up."

Jones, Devane, and actress Linda Haynes all absolutely kick ass in this film. Quentin actually spent the majority of his intro talking about Linda Haynes. Aside from dedicating the screening to her, he also said that the only thing that's held him back from remaking this movie is that he could never find someone to compare to Linda Haynes. "Everyone would just be a SAG actress. Nobody could inhabit that character like Linda Haynes did." I guess he's right... I think he's a much better acting observer than I am... I mean she was good but I didn't flip out any more over her performance than Jones' or Devane's... Then again I think Tarantino has seen this movie a few more times than I have. But anyway, he really flips for her in this movie (he also mentioned that after being in this and a few other roles she quit the business. He's tried to get her for stuff several times and always gets a message saying that she's flattered that he likes her work and even remembers that she had a career but she doesn't act anymore)... and to tell you the truth I don't remember what else he said.

So even though i didn't LOVE Billy Jack, I didn't dislike it and all three movies worked so well together, plus the fact that Rolling Thunder will probably be my favorite film of a festival filled with favorites, made this night really extraordinary. Plus, after Rolling Thunder ended, the passing storm overhead let loose some rolling thunder of its own, which was pretty sweet.
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