Thursday, February 08, 2007

A Simple Plan

by jaydro
My plan for Tuesday night was to see Pan's Labyrinth after a dinner out, in which case I would have been searching for a photo of Guillermo del Toro on the set, preferably with at least one person in the photo pointing (these are getting harder to find as film websites love to embed publicity materials inside flash animations, ugh--for The Queen I had to go their French website). Unfortunately, I arrived at the theater short on cash and confronting a sign that said "no credit cards or debit cards accepted" despite the fact that the box office was equipped with a PC connected to the internet and a little thermal printer that looked just like the ones used for printing credit receipts. It was colder than a witch's teat that night, so I didn't feel much like hunting around for an ATM, and I went home. So much for my getting back to the cinema-going rate of a hundred films a year.

For some suitable cold-weather entertainment I pulled out my DVD of A Simple Plan instead. I first saw this film in early 1999 and enjoyed it, but it wasn't until I received the DVD as a gift a year later that I realized how much I liked it. I've probably seen it at least seven times now--it's one of those films that creeps up on me how many times I've seen it, and while I may not laud it the way I do, say, Citizen Kane, 2001, or Lawrence of Arabia, those repeated viewings mean something to me the way they do for What's Up, Doc?, The Great Waldo Pepper, Diner, and Apollo 13.

What impresses me on repeat viewings of Simple is how it continues to induce stomach-twisting tension in me for such a high percentage of the movie--and I've seen it before! The plot may not be airtight, but it's believable enough to me every time I see it, I love the performances (I always cringe when Gary Cole makes his entrance), the score, and Tuesday night I was especially noticing the cinematography, and the way so many of the outdoor scenes have this quiet stillness about them; they look like little tableaus from Andrew Wyeth.

People praise thrillers in which characters don't do the usual stupid things that serve to move plots along; in Simple a lot of stupid acts are committed, but the viewer is sucked into a feeling of dread for the protagonists as things reach their inexorable conclusion.

I think the film would have received a lot more recognition if it hadn't been orphaned by its production company. Oh, yeah, that was the year Shakespeare in Love dominated the Oscars, remember?

And now Sam Raimi is Mr. Spider-Man....

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5 Comments:

Blogger Brian said...

Interesting. I remember being very excited to watch it when it came out, and I remember watching it and thinking it was OK. What I don't remember, though, is much of anything from the movie.

I do recall that it had one of the all-time silliest gunshot scenes, which stopped the movie dead in its tracks for me. I don't remember who it even was that got shot and flew up against the wall, but it seemed like a bizarrely discordant tone shift to me.

But like I said, I don't remember much, so I may be way off.

2/08/2007 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger jaydro said...

all-time silliest gunshot scenes?
Wow, that moment made me practically jump out of my chair in the theater the first time I saw it. The sound still makes me jump a little on repeat viewings--it really breaks the tension of that scene. I was reminded of it during the appropriate moment in Match Point....

I would guess Shane would have to have the all-time silliest gunshot scene, right? *whew* (I think that's a great moment in Shane, though I don't rank that film as one of the all-time great westerns as so many seem to, because I simply can't stand the kid.)

2/08/2007 06:25:00 PM  
Blogger Jackrabbit Slim said...

I liked Simple Plan, but I had read the book first, and was thrown by plot changes. Specifically *SPOILER ALERT* in the book, the main character kills his brother much earlier on, and the brother is not asking for it like he is in the film. There's also a gut-wrenching scene where the main character has to track down some of the stolen money (his wife has used to buy wine) so he has to go back to the liquor store and steal it back, and he ends up killing a couple of people. And he's horrified the whole time. I realize they had to cut that scene in the interest of time, but it was a doozy.

2/09/2007 07:11:00 AM  
Blogger Jackrabbit Slim said...

I liked Simple Plan, but I had read the book first, and was thrown by plot changes. Specifically *SPOILER ALERT* in the book, the main character kills his brother much earlier on, and the brother is not asking for it like he is in the film. There's also a gut-wrenching scene where the main character has to track down some of the stolen money (his wife has used to buy wine) so he has to go back to the liquor store and steal it back, and he ends up killing a couple of people. And he's horrified the whole time. I realize they had to cut that scene in the interest of time, but it was a doozy.

2/09/2007 07:11:00 AM  
Blogger jaydro said...

I've seen the film enough times now that it would probably be interesting to read the book.

2/09/2007 07:37:00 AM  

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