DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP
Australian director David Michod joins up with Robert Pattinson as a slow-minded young man named Rey in The Rover, their second movie together after Animal Kingdom.
Pattinson now has the power to do the movies of his choice, and he is choosing to become a fascinating actor.
It’s ten years after the collapse of civilization and, once again, we find ourselves in the desert with dusty cars and dirty dogs. Guy Pearce is another actor who seems to blend into the chameleon required of roles. They are futuristic Of Mice and Men.
Bad guys steal Pearce’s car, and worse, they leave their brother for dead. Pattinson is slow to grasp the fate of being abandoned when the two men become lost foundlings.
The world is homoerotic in this apocalypse for no reason that is discernible. All the men have paired off as if the ark of survival has inverted the score. So, Pattinson and Pearce also bond as they pursue the car thieves.
You might wonder why a man would be obsessed with his car when he is left a Range Rover in its stead. You might be justified in wondering because you’ve been had by a clever writer and director. As in his Animal Kingdom, Michod knows how to play simple but effective cinema on his audience.
We were hooked on this movie from its opening shot of a near-catatonic Guy Pearce and a near-overly sensitive Robert Pattinson. They don’t make buddy movies like this anymore.
It is all so simple and direct that you realize the effort is called hopelessness. We love movies that use metaphor and setting to wring out philosophic depths to a coat of dust.
DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP
Back in 1999 a little appreciated film came out with two of the most chameleon actors in the business: Guy Pearce and Robert Carlyle in Ravenous.
The ersatz Western took place in a remote outpost of the Sierra Nevada after the Mexican War in 1850. A captain suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome is sent there where he meets a ragtag, but dedicated little band at Fort Spencer.
He is no sooner there than a stranger shows up with a hideous tale of cannibalism and survival in the desolate winter mountains. Jeffrey Jones, always an underrated character actor, leads his troop over hill and dale with the survivor in tow looking into the unsettling mystery.
Some familiar faces make one play the game of “where did I see him last?” You may be hard pressed to name where Jeremy Davies or Neal McDonough starred, but you will know them instantly.
Of course, there are dietary complications on the rescue mission to save the party that has been devoured by a deranged super-human cannibal.
Since historical cases center on this region at this time in the Old West, we know the echo of horror is real enough. Yet, the notion that one can develop super senses from becoming a cannibal (and enhanced virility) makes the unpleasantness even more revolting than chocolate covered ants.
Antonia Bird directs the film, one of a handful under her guidance, but her untimely death in 2013 will rob us of any others.
If you find your taste runs toward gruesome thrillers in a Western setting, you cannot find much better potluck than Ravenous. You will not look at stew again quite the same way.