Thursday, July 7, 2011
Hobo with a Shotgun (Jason Eisner, 2011) -- C+
Though fronting a grindhouse-inspired veneer, Jason Eisner's Hobo with a Shotgun is actually more of a kindred spirit with Alex Cox's cinema, integrating giggle-driven extreme, cartoonish violence with socio-cultural degradation, culminating in pre-apocalyptic dread. Unfortunately, Eisner is, like all of his peers, driven by the cinematic posturing itself, rather than its underlying mechanism: thematic conviction. Content to rehash rather than reinvent, nothing is allowed to progress past circular logic, since a simple act of reverence is also self-effacing. World-weary Hobo (Rutger Hauer) strolls into a town overrun by young hooligans and headed by a silly tyrant named The Drake (Brian Downey). Cut-up, beaten, and exploited to the breaking point, Hobo snaps up a shotty during a robbery, becomes a "hero", and seeks continual vengeance. None of the exposition really matters - this is all about stylistic flourishes driving empty revenge. Neons, smoke, and harsh chiaroscuro characterize the mise-en-scene: flashy but meaningless. Moreover, Hobo with a Shotgun wholly misunderstands the vigilante ethos, rooting action in wink-wink self-awareness, instantaneously rendering itself insignificant. True vigilante narratives sprung from tradition clashing with post-Vietnam disillusionment; in other words, the place of personal justice in a milieu where governmental law fails. Though far more astute in its style and sense of humor than Robert Rodriguez's train wrecks Planet Terror and Machete, Eisner can't progress past a palpable sense of tedium, failing to provide a reason for his film to exist, other than allowing himself to enact an indulgent homage. If only his understanding of genre theory and practice were more astute.