Tonight’s installment of scenic is brought to you by the CogDog, who blogged some books he had bought, in which I caught a glimpse of Walter Mosley’s name, which made me think of his novel Devil in a Blue Dress, which in turn made me think of the film adaptation of that book, which in turn made me think of director of that movie Carl Franklin, which in turn made me think of his other film One False Move, which in turn made me go to YouTube and find the above clip to write about. It’s all about the blogs, baby!
One False Move (1992) was actually one of the few movies of the so-called “indy film revolution” of the 1990s—which all too quickly became a Miramax booster campaign rather than a verifiable film movement of any worth—that actually lived up to the idea of an independent film. It was made on a shoestring budget, co-written by Billy Bob Thornton, and directed by one of the best, yet completely lost directors of the 1990s, Carl Franklin—why isn’t he directing more films? Especially after his masterpiece [[Devil in a Blue Dress (film)|Devil in a Blue Dress (1995). One False Move deals with the question of violence and race in some really powerful, problematic and disturbing ways. Making a film like Monster’s Ball (2001)—remember that terrible precursor to Crash (2004) that was all the rage for 5 seconds?—look like the cartoon that it is. And while Bill Paxton isn’t featured in the scene I included, his performance as the small town sheriff is rather amazing in this one.
But the part of this film that continually haunts me is the opening scene that may be one of the most difficult scenes I’ve ever watched. Not only does it have the low-budget aura of a snuff film a la Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, but the stabbing scene is one of the most disturbingly intimate I have ever witnessed. Not only does the assassin Pluto (Michael Beach) hug his victim, but all the while a video tape that was taken minutes before is playing behind the scene featuring the victim and her boyfriend dancing and grooving. It’s deeply unsettling, so I caution you ahead of time.
What’s more, Tarantino seems to be alluding to this scene at the end of Inglorious Basterds, though obliquely, which is why that film was so amazing. Anyway, here’s to one of the most difficult and realistic visions of violence to come out of an otherwise rather desert-like moment of independent film in the 90s.