December 11, 2003

The Devil Made CC Do It

Cinecultist likes to play a little auteurist forensic game. Tracing back through a director's history, we can begin to think that a particular film may be a literal crime on human nature after a career of very pleasing law-abiding behaviour on screen. The match up of director Ang Lee with writer James Schamus has resulted in so many top notch flicks (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Sense and Sensibility, the Ice Storm, the Wedding Banquet, Eat Drink Man Woman) that when they made the oddly stinker-tastic the Hulk this year, we wondered what was up.

Since Ang has blocked our calls lately and we can no longer ring him up to say, "Ang, dude, what happened with the Hulk? Did you direct Nick Nolte to chew the scenery like that?" We thought we'd take a look at one of his other famously flop-alicious film, Ride With the Devil. Consensus? Ang and James have no excuse for Hulk, even Devil is a fascinating movie.

If you need refreshing, Tobey Maguire and Skeet Ulrich are good ol' Southern boys fighting for the Rebel cause during the Civil War, riding through the countryside shooting people. Skeet meets pop princess Jewel, Tobey befriends a Black Man (Jeffrey Wright currently in Angels in America on HBO rockin' a hard core beard here), they sack Lawrence, KS etc.

The intriguing thing is the way that Ang and James make these crazy, violent racists sort of likeable as the main characters even as they spout seriously un PC epithets all over the place. The brain says it makes complete sense for the context but it's still surprising and a tad shocking. Despite this, the film is worth a viewing for this one gorgeous crane shot as the rebels surge over a pale green hill into Lawrence. Also of note here, Jonathon Rhys Meyers as a the swishiest, creepiest rabble rouser ever. What exactly does he want to do to Tobey with that double barrel gun? Just don't say we didn't warn you about the 2 plus hour running time.

Posted by karen at December 11, 2003 8:08 AM