La Cucaracha (1998) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
|You probably think Eric Roberts hasn't made a good movie in the past 15 years. Lord knows, I've had enough laughs at his expense, but this one is pretty damned good, and won "best picture" awards at several film festivals. Furthermore, Eric does a good job in an exceedingly complex role.|
|This movie is unique - offbeat, sad, and funny. A serious film, but also a blacker-than-black comedy with an undercoating of deep, deep sadness. It's a literate film, tautly directed, with some of the most inventive and poetic dialogue I've heard, from the same writer and the same director as the equally offbeat The Big Empty. In a way it is "about" the same thing as The Big Empty - men who reach the very bottom of the barrel and start to remake themselves from the ground up, often with detours along the way.||
|Eric Roberts plays
some kind of a down-on-his-luck, would-be writer who ran off to Mexico
to run away from the pain of love, and to write the great novel. After
a streak of bad luck, he finds himself drunk and isolated, living in a
ramshackle shed on the outskirts of a nowhere town. One day he's
offered a measure of redemption. A rich local man will pay him $100,000 to kill the homosexual man who raped and killed his son. Of
course, this all turns out to be a set-up. The man killed his own son
when he couldn't face the fact that the boy was a homosexual, and now
he wants the lover out of the way. They only want to hire Eric to kill
the lover because nobody will know or care when they then kill Eric
Eric can't do it, but that doesn't matter. The lover is despondent and tired of living in fear. He wants to die, takes Eric's gun, kills himself. The rich guy's henchmen then kill Eric.
Only one problem. Eric refuses to die. He is paralyzed from the waist down, and spends months in the hospital, but he lives. And now, for the first time, as he says, he has a raison d'etre. He is a mad wheelchair killer, bent on revenge.
Eric finds out that revenge isn't all its cracked up to be. At first, Eric kind of enjoys killing the henchman who had put two bullets in his spine, but then he has to come to grips with looking at the pain of the guy's family, and the reality of killing isn't very pleasant. It gets even more difficult when he goes after Mr Big. Or maybe he only wants to get involved in killing these other guys because he wants to die himself.
I can't spoil the rest for you. It's too good. Rent it and watch it.
As with The Big Empty, the director uses the visuals and music beautifully to enhance the tone, and I found my eyes misting over at a couple of scenes.
I am really becoming a big fan of the team of Jack Perez (director) and James McManus (writer/actor). Black comedies aren't easy to pull off, especially when they incorporate a bittersweet tone, semi-poetic overtones, and an underlying humanity. These two NYU film school guys are magical together, and they do it with minimal budgets and time. (The entire film was shot in 18 days). More, gentlemen!
Note: one drawback to the DVD. I guess there must be a widescreen version, because there was a brief theatrical release. So where is it?
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