Film Review : A Single Shot (2013)

IMDB Score – 5.9
Rotten Tomato Score – 51%

Directed By – David M. Rosenthal
Starring – Sam Rockwell, Jason Isaacs, Kelly Reilly. William H. Macy, Ted Levine, Joe Anderson, and Jeffery Wright

The tragic death of a beautiful young girl starts a tense and atmospheric game of cat and mouse between hunter John Moon and the hardened backwater criminals out for his blood.

Ahh, back to my old roots of watching bleak films about backwoods crimes and the fight to survive. I rode the feeling I had from watching “The Lego Movie” for as long as I could before I got back to the more gritty cinema that I seem to find myself watching a couple times a week. I hope this isn’t a statement of my personality but light hearted comedies and children’s films just aren’t really in my interests. I’ve always gravitated towards dark drama/thrillers and my most recent film “A Single Shot” is a perfect example of the genre. It is not, however, a perfect example of a superior film of that genre.

I’ll be honest, there are just some things that peak my interest. Dark forests and Sam Rockwell are two of these things. The film centers around John Moore, played in typical magnificent fashion by Sam Rockwell. John is out hunting and accidentally pulls a Dick Cheney except instead of a mouthful of birdshot, the victim gets a shotgun blast to the chest and dies. This is in the trailer. This is in the synopsis. This is in the first two minutes of the film. The following two hours is a “wrong place in the wrong time” scenario that we have seen countless numbers of times. There isn’t anything new being presented in this film. The films director, David M. Rosenthal, is not known for many films, but is a talent behind the camera. This is a nice looking film. Most of the film has a dark, ominous color to it that only adds to the already suspenseful atmosphere of running around what I’m assuming is backwoods Kentucky. They may have stated where the film took place but I’ll be honest, I didn’t pick it up. The film reaks of similar films released in the last couple years including “Out of the Furnace” which was released at nearly the same time. The plots may be different but the feel is exactly the same. Everybody is dirty and talks like “Boomhauer” from King of the Hill. I almost turned the captions on because I couldn’t understand what the hell people were saying and it only got worse because as soon as I started to get the gist of what somebody was saying, they pop in chewing tobacco and it all turns to gibberish. Maybe this is why I don’t know where the hell this all took place.

Like I mentioned earlier, the film is nice to look at. The camera paints the bleak backwoods very well and the minimalist/dissonant score actually kept me from clocking out of the film. Sam Rockwell was also extremely good as he continues to prove he should be starring in more films instead of stealing scenes as secondary characters. In the end the bland, redundant, and sometimes unintelligible script was what did this film in for me. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before and it’s nothing we won’t see again. I suppose it’s worth a rental but don’t expect to be amazed by what you end up getting.


Related FilmsWinter’s Bone, The Hunter, Deliverance

Film Review : The Way Way Back (2013)

IMDB Score – 7.4
Rotten Tomato Score – 85%

Directed By – Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
Starring – Liam James, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Allison Janney, AnnaSophia Robb, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, Rob Corddry, Amanda Peet, and Maya Rudolph

Shy 14-year-old Duncan goes on summer vacation with his mother, her overbearing boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s daughter. Having a rough time fitting in, Duncan finds an unexpected friend in Owen, manager of the Water Wizz water park.

Oh man did the tagline nail this movie. I think most of us have been in the situation that Liam James’s character Duncan has been in. He’s 14, shy, doesn’t really know how he fits into the world and is looking for some kind of connection with anything. I know I have. I remember a vacation to Orlando, Florida when I was 14. We stayed at Universal and while my parents tried everything they could to cheer me up and get me to have fun, I was mostly running off by myself and getting lost in the park. In the film, Duncan retreats to a waterpark and tries to find his connections. My situation was a little different of course. I’m not an only child. My parents aren’t divorced. My Mom’s boyfriend isn’t a dick, but I felt that isolation that he felt in the film. It’s ultimately what made me enjoy the film. That, and the cast.

I think this is the most Sam Rockwell-ish that Sam Rockwell has ever been asked to become in a film. He is the epitome of charm and wit. It was almost to the point where his character became unreal because of how much charisma oozed out of him. He was hilarious to watch and as always, knew when to hit the emotions in just the right fashion. Steve Carell plays a different role in which he is like how I said above, just a dick. Comic relief in the form of the films writers and directors, Faxon and Rash, was also an enjoyable touch but they didn’t receive enough screen time to be honest. In fact, I would have wished for a longer film just so I could absorb all the great talent in this film.

It’s a fun movie. It’s not a game changer. I don’t know how films in the 80s or 90s that dealt with similar themes got to their cult status but I can see this being a great summer film in the upcoming years. It’s the dead of winter, snow on the ground, and all I want to do is go up to Martha’s Vineyard and have a summer. I think that feeling trumps over the large amount of sentimentality that occurred during the last ten minutes or the fact that this is basically a run of the mill coming of age story that we’ve seen a million times. The general entertainment from the cast and the overall vibe of the film are what I enjoyed most. Great summer film. Great film for teenagers. Rash and Faxon aren’t going to be winning another Oscar for this (The Descendants) but it’s a great debut for the first time directors/original screenwriters.