Friday, October 8, 2010

Terror, torture, death: AS GOOD AS DEAD has 'em all -- plus a thought-provoking plot

After coming down hard on two other films opening this week that serve up torture and murder as prime enter-tainment, here I am recom-mending a third one that does this, too. The difference is that AS GOOD AS DEAD, the new movie by Jonathan Mossek and written by Erez Mossek and Eve Pomerance, offers by far the most interesting plot of the three, as well as giving viewers the most fascinating (if unplea-sant) ideas to chew on: torture as a legitimate means of obtaining information (that's ever-timely), the uses of violence and the abuse of innocent bystanders. And the moral? How about this: "The family that slays together, stays together."

In some ways this movie reminded me of the straight-to-video exploration of torture and its uses, Unthinkable (a film very much worth seeing -- if you can withstand it. It's a hard one). The complicated plot of As Good as Dead hinges on a terrible past event that appears to have come from the ravings of a rabidly right-wing, anti-semetic (and anti-much-else) preacher and his "flock," the some-might-say equally terrible consequences of that event, and now the further consequences of those consequences.

Out of this all comes a movie that calls into question the actions of people whose philosophy we would call "liberal" or "progressive."  We're more used to seeing these kinds of actions portrayed in films about right-wing avengers or fundamentalists who feel that god has called upon them to right certain wrongs. One of the unusual and galvanizing aspects of Mossek's movie is that these actions come from the other side.  It's as if America's Democrats, in terms of how they behave, had suddenly taken over the Republicans/Fundamentalist roster of lies and dirty tricks -- and then taken these to the nth degree.

The movie offers several surprising twists, but be warned: It's violent, bloody and grotesque. First-time filmmaker Mossek managed to coral a very good cast here, and each actor delivers appropriately.  After the embarrassment of Happiness Runs, how good it is to see Andie MacDowell (above, right) is a large role and handling it well. Cary Elwes (at right, two photos above) is as commanding as he's been since the original Saw; Matt Dallas (above, left) is seething and sexy; Jess Weixler is, as usual, very fine in the small role as very ill-used neighbor; and Frank Whaley (below) all but walks away with the film as the very nasty "muscle" of the fundamentalist mob.

As Good as Dead is getting a highly limited theatrical release -- one week at NYC's Quad Cinema, starting today, Friday, October 8. Look for it very soon on DVD.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Gates and Rove and GATESS.
It's a WHIMPAR!
And it just got the WHANGOS!
And that came with COMEN and EQUARING !
And WARMAG to SESPERR just hit the BLACK SKY!
And that brought on the PHAMMEN with COMPAUVD that left only the PATEDERE to CONISO !
RUSH is WANQQ!
Ands so is EQUEJOY...Petwood- Osiris- Hydra.
" G'DAY"!

James van Maanen, said...

Why, thank you, Anonymous! And as your comment appears to be written in English, why do I not "get" it? Also, as there is no link in your comment, it also appears that you are not selling anything. Care to explain yourself, mate?