A Single Shot: Tribeca Film Festival 2013 adventure

Jason plays a vengeful backwoods criminal in pursuit of a hapless Sam Rockwell

Moderators: thunder, fruitbat, kjshd05, Marie, Gillian, Chari910, catloveyes, Helen8

Post Reply
User avatar
LadySekhmet
Posts: 937
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2011 8:36 pm
Location: The Jolly Roger

A Single Shot: Tribeca Film Festival 2013 adventure

Post by LadySekhmet » Tue Apr 30, 2013 6:41 pm

Beware, thar be Spoilers ahead! Arrgh...

I apologize for the length. This is version six and the shortest one. Many thanks to my friend who helped me rip out parts (you know who you are, lady), Best Friend and, of course, Himself (otherwise I wouldn't have gone to this particular film). If anyone would like the full length plot summary and comments (which I left out because I figured more Waylon, less other stuff), PM me. :ninja

Well, as we all suspected A Single Shot is quite dark. Okay, it is exceptionally dark. Best Friend and I are quite happy to watch dark, angsty, and violent movies (and are equally as happy to watch light, frothy, happy ones, too), as we are not squeamish ladies and have a high threshold of tolerance for movie quality. We do demand, however, that they entertain us. While I wouldn't say this was the most fabulous movie ever, thankfully, we were okay with it. And I was rather surprised that I was okay with it - but in a good way. It kept us entertained, although it will not go into my DVD collection. In light of recent reviews on the fanboard, perhaps I should say that my "yardstick of movies I revile" are Pitch Black (my friend and I actually stood up at one point when it turned Black because we thought the movie was over- imagine our horror to find it wasn't), Blues Brothers 2000 ('nuff said), and Troy (because I work with the Bronze Age, I know it intimately and everything was wrong with it from props to story line. The only good part was the men in tunics.)). Since I paid for Best Friend's ticket, I'm relieved that she also was okay with the film. *wipes brow*

However, if you do not like dark, violent movies that have absolutely no explicit humor to relieve the tension, then this movie will not be for you. It's along the lines of Downloading Nancy or Vinyan. If you thought that Brotherhood was dark, brooding and lacked any humor, well, this movie makes Brotherhood look like a laugh a minute. The first half of the movie seems to move rather slowly (I have to admit that a random thought floated across my mind that I might actually die from old age while watching the film at some point in the first half). It does pick up during the second half, but that simply makes the interactions at the end seem rushed (and leave you scratching your head at why they had to do that to you during the more interesting bits).

The whole movie is focused on the main character, John Moon (Sam Rockwell) and is seen entirely from John Moon's POV. (Warning: This means that there is very little of Jason). As the viewer, you are left knowing as much as Moon knows about his rapidly deteriorating situation, which, to be totally honest, is not much. It means that you do not see the other characters interacting with anyone other than Moon. This may be a great artistic device, but it left Best Friend and me feeling as if we had missed some important bits (and I've now bought the book to see if it will fill in any of the gaps and it sort of does, but not quite). It's clear that there is a set of things going on in the background that we, as the viewers, will never know. This was really irritating, because it means that the other characters will always remain somewhat one dimensional. We are curious girls and don't like feeling left out of the loop. It makes us cranky and snarky.

The movie starts with Moon setting out early one morning to go hunting. He shoots and wounds a buck, and while tracking the deer, he hears what he thinks is the wounded animal and shoots. He realizes his mistake and is horrified to learn that he accidentally killed a young woman. After some moments of panic (and vomit), he searches her pockets to find out her identity. He pulls out a wallet and finds a photo with a happy, smiley couple- the girl and Waylon (Jason- just in case we forgot J's character's name). Moon decides to hide her body, which, when you realize that he has accidentally killed someone while involved in an illegal activity (i.e., poaching), sort of makes sense.

Suddenly, weird things start to happen around Moon: his faithful dog is murdered; strange phone calls begin; his nomadic and constantly inebriated friend, Simon, shows up; his lawyer utters oracular pronouncements as if he's Tiresias; dead girls who do not decompose wind up in his bed (sorry, I'm an archaeologist, I notice those things); his wife and son disappear; and, most confusingly, women seem drawn to him. (I think that was the most mysterious thing of all- somehow Moon seems to be the epitome of manliness and all that is good for the neighbor's daughter, Horse Girl, who always seems to be cantering up on Diablo the Horse at inopportune moments).

Waylon, as can be expected, does not take the news well of the loss of both his gal and his money. Waylon (along with the lawyer and Moon's ex-wife) seems to be one of the few in this movie who makes future life-plans. That, the fact that he seems to bathe with soap occasionally,the lack of clashing plaid, and the knowledge that he doesn't use Skoal every two seconds made him the most appealing man in the movie (even without the natural bias) even as he's flinging Obie the Hen up against a wall in anger.

The final confrontation is between Moon and Waylon. Waylon arrives to avenge his dead girlfriend and to collect his cash. Yes, boys and girls, the threats, the violence, and the lack of Waylon's foresight due to Little Waylon becoming the brains of the operation, all lead inevitably to Waylon's downfall. Moon, demonstrating that tragic heroes are never the winner at the very end of the movie, manages his own defeat quite neatly in yet another series of poor life decisions.

The most annoying thing about this movie was the bad West Virginia accent. It was really heavy and almost unintelligible for a duo of New England Yankee Girls (and for Best Friend, who has lots of West Virginia relatives, it was excruciating), but what made it worse was that the men also kept stuffing chew between their lips and teeth. This combination of heavy, over-exaggerated accents, HUGE wads of chewing tobacco, and the sense that the male characters seemed to exist in a constant state of inebriation meant that you could barely understand the male characters. And, while reading the book at lunch today, I kept thinking: "Really?? That's what they said??" The only ones we could understand were Slimebag Lawyer, the Women folk, and Waylon none of whom had unintelligible accents, did not seem to be totally and completely lit on regular basis, and were chew free. I could kiss Waylon just for those things alone. (Thank you, Jason!)

Also, we couldn't figure out Waylon's poor decision to allow Moon to go get the money alone. Sure, Waylon thought he "took care of the situation" by cutting off some of Moon's fingers, tying up Horse Girl and then raping her (Best Friend and I have myriad questions about the physicality of that set of gymnastics-but I won't share those here- if you're dying to know, you can PM me). But why couldn't he have tied her up to the deck or dragged her along to make sure that Moon didn't do something sneaky? For a suspicious, clever bad guy, this ability to trust Moon to keep his word seemed rather naive, but we put it down to him suddenly thinking with Little Waylon. He was clearly going to kill Moon and Horse Girl any way, so couldn't he have just had his wicked way with her after he killed Moon or after Moon took him to the cash? Waylon really should not have listened to his baser instincts before getting his hands on the goods. We attribute this poor decision making on Waylon's part to the screenwriter's need to have "good" triumph over evil.

Best Friend and I didn't find Waylon to be excessively violent for the type of man that he was: criminal, gangster, perhaps even a neo-Nazi. In fact, in reality, he was just as violent as the other men involved with the theft of the cash. I know that Jason said (somewhere on this set of threads) that Waylon makes Lucius look like Goofy, and I have to admit that I thought about those words while watching Waylon's scenes. I think he might have said that because Waylon's violence is all out in the open and in your face. Subtlety is not Waylon's strong point. Lucius' violent tendencies are all implied. We tried not to minimize the violent tendencies of Waylon's character while talking about him, because he is quite a nasty piece of work, but even when he kills off a partner, he does it in response to finding out that his girlfriend is dead (or is he simply using her as an excuse, which is very possible). This response regarding his woman sort of shocked me as I had thought that she was simply a tool to be used and discarded. He does respond with a sort of an "eye for an eye" retribution, which is also strangely understandable-especially in Appalachia where feuds and violence are rather legendary. I think that I was more shocked that he was actually upset about his woman being dead. Yes, he is angry about the money being stolen, but he keeps harping on the death of his girlfriend. It is hard to tell in his interaction with Moon whether this is simply a ploy or if he's really angry about her death (or both? Or does he exaggerate his anger to suit his purposes?). I can't say that I'd want to give Waylon a sympathetic cuddle, but perhaps I'd give him a brief, comforting pat on the back (and then back away slowly without any sudden movements). Waylon's character in the book is very dismissive of his lady-love and much more of what I was expecting in the movie (of course, I may have misunderstood some of the movie lines, while Jason's accent was clearer than the others, there were some moments where he hissed some lines in a softer tone).

We also didn't understand why, if Waylon is the main baddie, he was only in the film for such an incredibly short time. This made no sense to us. The main bad guy should be there, twirling his mustache and tying innocent girls to railroad tracks, not simply going around trying to pick fist-fights just to fluff out his part. Clearly, he must have been doing things behind the scenes (which we never see), but this singular POV of Moon's means that you will never see any other character if Moon is not with them. As a result, it left me feeling little unsatisfied with Waylon, not through any fault of Jason because he did a fabulous job as always, but because you simply weren't allowed any time to see or experience Waylon (or anything other character, like the Slimebag Lawyer) without Moon. It would have made more sense to have the scene with Waylon and Moon a little bit more drawn out (they manage to do it in horror movies, why not this one?). So the result is a very one-sided view of Moon's last antagonist.

So to sum it up, it is a dark movie. Best Friend and I have questions about the other characters that will never be answered simply because of the nature of the beast, i.e., the singular POV. Jason's part is really small (maybe about seven minutes of face time? maybe ten?), but important. And-well-all of the men folk die (except for Slimebag Lawyer). I have to say that I was not overly invested in Rockwell's character because he is sort of a schmoe, and I kept thinking that his wife had escaped to a better life. I haven't finished the book yet, but I can already tell that it's not going to end well.

Oh, and the fun bit. The director, the author/screenwriter, and Sam Rockwell all showed up at the screening and answered questions at the end. Best Friend and I didn't have any questions to ask and we skittered away when the Q & A was over. There were a few questions from the audience, although no one asked anything about Waylon.

Edit (5/3): Oops!! I just realized he said the Goofy thing about the Prophet Josiah (I think...). Please forgive the mis-"speaking." It still rings a little true, however, re: Waylon. The violence is still all up front.
Last edited by LadySekhmet on Fri May 03, 2013 7:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Marie
I dig animals--sometimes hundreds of feet down
Posts: 6254
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2005 11:37 am
Location: Indialantic, FL

Re: A Single Shot: Tribeca Film Festival 2013 adventure

Post by Marie » Tue Apr 30, 2013 7:19 pm

Wow what a great job reviewing the movie. :D

Does not sound like I will go overboard trying to see this! I appreciate a review from a JI POV, another movie with not enough Jason.

ln419

Re: A Single Shot: Tribeca Film Festival 2013 adventure

Post by ln419 » Tue Apr 30, 2013 7:29 pm

Well, now THAT'S what I call a review! You should send IT into one of those papers! Better be careful, we may send you on assignment to cover all his premiers! Great job Lady S, and thanks! Sounds like you and your friend had lots of fun :D . LN

Chari910
Multimedia Maven
Posts: 5292
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2005 2:11 pm
Contact:

Re: A Single Shot: Tribeca Film Festival 2013 adventure

Post by Chari910 » Tue Apr 30, 2013 10:00 pm

That was a very thorough review. Great job LadyS. I wish Jason was there too at the Q&A so you could get to see him. :D

User avatar
thunder
With her wheelbarrow full of surprises!
Posts: 5770
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 1:08 pm
Location: Norway

Re: A Single Shot: Tribeca Film Festival 2013 adventure

Post by thunder » Wed May 01, 2013 1:44 am

Thanks for the review. It's excellent :D

ln419

Re: A Single Shot: Tribeca Film Festival 2013 adventure

Post by ln419 » Wed May 01, 2013 8:56 am

See LadyS, I said exactly (well, more or less) what Char said... :yip LN

User avatar
laurielove
Posts: 429
Joined: Mon Feb 14, 2011 4:41 pm
Location: Probably somewhere in a ruggedly fandabydozy part of England
Contact:

Re: A Single Shot: Tribeca Film Festival 2013 adventure

Post by laurielove » Wed May 01, 2013 11:09 am

Thanks for a very thorough and detailed account of the movie and your experience. I am exceptionally jealous that I couldn't be there. :-(

Hmm ... yes ... maybe I'll wait until I can see Jason's edited bits. (Now now) It sounds like the sort of film I would enjoy late one night when the kids are in bed and I'm wide awake for some reason and it starts on C4 at 11:30. Love that sort of film then but not necessarily as one to arrange babysitters etc for. Although nothing ever beats seeing a film with an audience in the dark in a cinema. Ho hum. We'll see. Doubt it'll make it to my neck of the woods anyway.

Great analysis of Waylon. Bet there weren't any boys at Habs called Waylon.

Thanks again for such a splendid report! x

User avatar
LadySekhmet
Posts: 937
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2011 8:36 pm
Location: The Jolly Roger

Re: A Single Shot: Tribeca Film Festival 2013 adventure

Post by LadySekhmet » Wed May 01, 2013 7:38 pm

Thanks, ladies! No problem. And if you'd like me to review more, just send me the plane tix and I'll be there. ;^) lol. Personally, I'm holding out an exceptionally slim hope that Sweetwater will make the film festival circuit to Philadelphia's film festival this fall (if it made it to Dallas, why not PHL), and if it does, I'll throw myself on that movie grenade for you all.

Well, we might have been a little irreverent during the Q&A, so it's probably good that Himself wasn't there-not that I would have been brave enough to say anything. *looks exceptionally innocent* Someone asked a question about why did all of the women resemble the dead girl and much snickering occurred in our section (apparently, we were very appropriately seated with the naughty people with a dark sense of humor). The official answer by the author/screenwriter was that Moon was "haunted" by the girl that he killed and kept seeing her everywhere.

And, to be totally, honest, the movie was so heavy that I think the audience needed a little bit of laughter. Even The Trio answering the questions were trying to keep the Q&A session somewhat light and there was a little joking around from them about how dark the movie was. The author mentioned that the movie is not as dark as the book, and he is right. The book gives Waylon an even greater tendency towards violence than we are shown in the movie.

BethMI
Posts: 313
Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:07 pm
Location: Michigan, USA

Re: A Single Shot: Tribeca Film Festival 2013 adventure

Post by BethMI » Thu May 02, 2013 12:41 am

That was an amazing and thorough review. It sounds like you had quite an experience, and I really appreciate you sharing that with us. I am thankful that you were there to give us a heads up and "bird's eye view" of what to expect. So many of the reviews out there really annoy me. It isn't because they are down on the movie. It is more because I feel like they are just spouting a bunch of rhetoric that they seem to overuse in anything that makes them think. So, I don't feel that they can be trusted to be true and accurate critics of something that is outside the status quo. I appreciate your viewpoint on all of it. Again thank you.

~Beth (Michigan)

catloveyes
Posts: 2417
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2005 2:38 pm
Location: Chicago

Re: A Single Shot: Tribeca Film Festival 2013 adventure

Post by catloveyes » Thu May 02, 2013 6:57 am

Thank you so much, Lady S...that was incredible. :D Quite wonderful indeed ...so very thorough!!

User avatar
LadySekhmet
Posts: 937
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2011 8:36 pm
Location: The Jolly Roger

Re: A Single Shot: Tribeca Film Festival 2013 adventure

Post by LadySekhmet » Sun May 12, 2013 6:01 pm

Thank you, catloveyes and BethMI! (very belatedly...I'm sorry...) Best Friend insisted on paying me back for the ticket (well, she paid for brunch in exchange), so I guess she was satisfied by the movie. (I had told her it was my treat because I was afraid that the movie was going to be horrid based on some of the reviews.)

Post Reply