Sunday 31 March 2013


(Jason Reitman, 2011)

Blessed with a Diablo Cody screenplay which is sporadically breathtaking in its ferocity, Young Adult is a beautifully sustained and focused character study. The character at its centre is Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron), a 37 year old writer ("author" she insists) of a series of Young Adult novels set in High School who lives what is established is an empty and unrewarding single life in Minneapolis. Divorced and with only her dog for company as she completes the final novel in the cancelled series, Mavis becomes fixated on her high-school flame Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson in another of his series of finely shaded studies of modern masculinity), who has just had a baby with his wife. She returns to her loathed hometown of Mercury, Minneasota, planning to win Buddy back. There she runs into Matt (Patton Oswalt), a self-described "fat geek"who she ignored throughout High School. She only remembers him when she realises he is the "hatecrime guy", referring to an incident where he was beaten with crowbars by some jocks who thought he was gay, breaking his legs and mangling his penis, leaving him with a limp and a cane for life. Now, as a felow outcast, they have common ground, and she confesses her plans to him as she attempts to woo Buddy away from his wife and infant daughter.
Theron is fantastic as Mavis, a truly awful figure who sees her own life through the prism of High School, both her writing and history twisted in her psyche. We hear snatches of her narrative as she writes, its symbiotic relationship with her own life growing as everything becomes more involved and disturbed. Mavis, the "psychotic prom queen bitch" is monumentally selfish, unable to censor herself, hilariously vain, and caught up in a massive self-deception, intent on a fantasy of a life with Buddy, her one true love. She shows no vulnerability whatsoever until the last act, when reality crashes into her life at a (somewhat contrived) social gathering, in the kind of scene that provides a climax of sorts but would never ever happen in reality.
The film gets away with that because Cody and director Reitman have done such an impressive job establishing these characters and the world of Mercury in all its safe, retail-park (in)glory. Buddy is happy in his regular, small life, happy with his sports bar and job in ad sales, while Mavis lies about her own success. The opening ten minutes, following Mavis through her days in Minneapolis, are curiously, perfectly flat - the light is grey and harsh, there is no music, only the dim jabber of the reality tv she keeps on in the background. As soon as she leaves for Mercury, her teen dream reawakened, Teenage Fanclub burst onto the soundtrack, and that town, for all its dull safeness, is portrayed with a warmth and humanity absent from the scenes of the big city. The other characters feel just as well-imagined and true as Mavis and her old boyfriend. Oswalt's Matt is resigned to his life but shows flashes of bitterness, and Mavis' parents offer a glimpse into the banality of her upbringing.
Reitman's direction is nicely judged throughout, sensitive to mood and character interplay, but with a good sense of comic timing too.
But really this is Theron's show, and she makes Mavis a fascinating, flawed monster, all too aware of her own beauty but incapable of enjoying it, or anything. That would be difficult to bear if the film weren't so darkly funny, but it is full of blistering one-liners and quietly agonising social embarrassment, and Theron plays it all with a conviction which only makes it funnier.


(Bryan Singer, 2013)

Perhaps the most irritating and pointless vogue in current cinema is the adaptation of fairytales into updated forms. Goth romances, horror stories, and worst of all; wannabe epic fantasy Lord of the Rings rips-offs.
Thats where we find Jack The Giant Slayer; turning Jack and the Beanstalk into a film full of battles and sieges and swords and rolling landscapes. As such, it's hard to say why it doesn't work. The script doesn't help; the characters are familiarly cliched types we've seen all too often, the situations mostly stale and similar to others from better films. The tone is odd - lying somewhere in that zone between family film and gritty adventure film but never quite sure of which it really wants to be, this is a film where giants bite human heads off, but we never see any blood. The humour is juvenile, ensuring we know these giants are flatulent snot-eating slobs, yet the emotional arcs are adolescent, with a hero and heroine (Nicholas Hoult and Eleanor Tomlinson, both pretty and utterly boring) who virtually fall in love at first sight, both yearning for escape and adventure, neither evincing much personality.
The effects are impressive, with most of the Giant sequences suitably frightening and awesome, and I can well believe that Singer wanted to make this film just so he could put together scenes like the one where we first glimpse a giant or the one where they rampage across a plain towards a city. Its well designed - if, again, a little too familiar in conception with its gritty grimy medieval look - and well-made, with nice photography by the reliable Newton Thomas Siegel, and the story rattles along.
But its really not enough.
It fades from the mind almost as you watch it, and it makes you wonder why Singer's career has started to drift in quite the way it has.

Wednesday 27 March 2013


(The Wachowskis, Tom Twyker, 2012)

What Cloud Atlas does is take an "unfilmable" novel, and film it. David Mitchell's wildly ambitious epic novel is considered unfilmable not only because of its vast scale - with six storylines set in six distinct historical locations and dozens of important characters it presents a logistical nightmare - but because of its engagement with big themes of the type with which cinema traditionally struggles.
But the Wachowskis are nothing if not ambitious filmmakers, as anyone who has seen The Matrix trilogy or even their underrated flop Speed Racer will attest. Their collaborator here, German director Tom Twyker, has some history with adapting difficult novels, too, having brought Perfume to the screen in 2006.
Together they have managed to wrestle Mitchell's book into a big, wild mess of a film, replacing his russian doll structure with a more epileptic crosscutting but suggesting the interconnectedness that is one of Mitchell's implicit themes through the stunt of each cast member playing multiple roles across the various storylines. Thus Tom Hanks is the lead in the 2321 segments, playing Zachry, a goat farmer in a post-apocalyptic wilderness ("106 winters after the fall") whose encounter with Halle Berry's Meronym, a member of a society with some technology from before the fall changes both of their worlds, and he shows up in smaller parts in every other segment, as a poisoner-doctor in the 1849 segments, a hotel owner in 1936 Edinburgh, a Nuclear Scientist (who encounters and falls for another Berry character) in 1973's conspiracy thriller, an Irish gangster-author in 2012's dark comedy and an actor glimpsed in an old film in the dystopian sci-fi of 2144. In each story he is buried under make-up, bad teeth and a wig, and his accents jump across the globe, and the rest of the cast suffer exactly the same fate. Bae Doona and Jim Sturgess play a genetically-engineered clone and the underground rebel who releases her from a life of servitude in the 2144 section, and their affecting love story is mirrored by the same actors playing a couple in 1849, while Hugo Weaving and Hugh Grant play varieties of evil across the ages, from Weaving's satanic "old Georgie" whispering in Zachry's ear, and Grant's Cannibal Warrior in 2321; to a Corporate CEO and his hired assassin in 1973. Sometimes the directors time their edits with the subtlety of a plane crash to underline the connections, and yet, at others the juxtapositions and similarities are unexpectedly moving.
All of this is a little undermined by the distancing, even distracting effect of all the make-up and the wigs - especially so when there are recognisably white actors playing Asian characters and vice versa - but it works more than it has any right to. Some sections are a lot better than others, and so the two sci-fi stories, directed by the Wachowskis, are the most compelling and beautiful on show here, while Twyker's 2012 black comedy starring Jim Broadbent and 1973 thriller are by far the weakest portions.
The themes the film attempts to engage with are so big and earnest that they need to be handled precisely, but instead there is a vagueness throughout that makes much of it feel a little too fuzzy and new age to have any meaningful resonance. Freedom is important, get it? Love too, thats a good thing.
The last act is filled with climaxes, and since the filmmakers turn more or less all of them into action scenes it plays like a long series of cliches and over-familiar set-ups, no matter that some of them feature excellence on a technical level. A barroom brawl follows a car-chase through a future city follows a skirmish with cannibals in the trees follows a gunfight and pursuit, etc etc.
But there are flashes of dazzling cinema here; with the Wachowskis in particular retaining some of their eye for what really works in genre storytelling and ability to world-build on a grand scale; and the cast are generally extremely impressive throughout. Bae Doona and Ben Whishaw particularly impress, and the photography by John Toll and Frank Griebe is suitably lush and stunning.
For such a long, ambitious film, Cloud Atlas is never remotely boring. If it is never quite good, either, that is down to a variety of factors, the most important of which brings me back to the first thing I said. some books are considered "unfilmable" for a reason.

Sunday 24 March 2013


(Matteo Garrone, 2012)

One of the many things that really leaps out during Matteo Garrone's Reality is Alexandre Desplat's score. It swirls and twinkles away and generally sounds like it might have been composed for a film filled with magic and whimsy. It sounds like it belongs in a fairytale, and Garrone allows it enough prominence to make that obvious.
There is a fairytale aspect to this story - Luciano (Aniello Arena) follows a dream and for a brief instant his life seems full of possibility, transformed by a charge of glimmering glamour, acclaim from all who know him. But then, like many fairytales, a darkness enters the story, and slowly, finally overwhelms it.
The story centres on one mans obsession Italy's version of Big Brother. Luciano runs a Naples fish stall in an Italy which seems - just like the stereotypes suggest - to exist a few decades in the past, in a pre-digital world. He lives in a crumbling building and Naples is depicted as a sprawling mess of beautiful, ancient wrecks, old women in shift dresses shopping at markets and going to Mass.
In this world, Big Brother represents escape, Rome, show business, youth, fame, money. Luciano, at first shown as happy in his busy life and adored by his friends and family for his extrovert ways, is bullied into auditioning by his children.
But when he feels his audition might have been successful, something in him changes, and his relationship with the show and his own ambition twists inside him. When the show begins and he has not received a call from the producers, he becomes paranoid, feeling he is being watched by people from the television company who need to see if he is suitable.  He begins to alienate those around him; his family and friends.
Garrone shoots all this in a series of beautifully blocked, long, mobile takes, the camera orbiting Arena's amazing face as it takes in his world in all its vibrant colour. This obviously means the film pulses with verisimilitude, which gives this parable some sting. There is grit here, texture to the world Luciano inhabits, love and humour in a life which is nice, if far from perfect, before his obsession takes hold. The satire is never particularly sharp, but its does find its target, and turns painful before long. That this is an Italy in the grip of a financial crisis is never in doubt - these are people struggling for money, people hoping for an escape, and that makes Luciano's growing desperation all the more believable.
His televisual church is juxtaposed with Catholicism, and the somewhat ambiguous though disturbing ending feels just right. The cast are nicely naturalistic throughout, and Arena is particularly good; his open face is rivetingly watchable, registering his slow decline in his big, sad eyes.

Saturday 16 March 2013


(Eran Creevy, 2013)

Twenty years ago an exciting young British director set out to make a US-style crime thriller in London. That city has its own culture of crime stories, and there have been a handful of classic movies about London's gangland, and numerous successful UK TV shows about cops chasing criminals of varying quality. But that young director, named Danny Cannon, went on in promotional interviews about how his film would compete with Hollywood by looking as good as American films did, how it would be as action-packed and stylish, as slick and fast-moving, how it would have a big name US star in the lead. And it did, sort of. Young Americans, Cannon's 1993 crime thriller, does look nice, for the most part. It is well-shot, and slick. Harvey Keitel plays an American Detective who follows an a criminal (Viggo Mortensen) from the States to London. It is not a particularly good film. The script is derivative and tin-eared, and even a little dull. The American style - which isn't really American at all, but we'll get to that in a second - jars in such a British context, even as the script makes a few lame attempts to address this culture clash. But it got Cannon noticed, proved he could make a smallish budget look like a biggish one, and suggested he knew how to shoot action scenes. So a couple of years later he was directing Judge Dredd, and a few years after that he was establishing the visual template for CSI and directing many episodes of that series.
The style he was aiming for in Young Americans was a slick and glossy look, but it had been, partly, created by a generation of British directors who rose to prominence in the late '70s and early '80s - the likes of Alan Parker, Adrian Lyne and Ridley Scott. Each of these directors was able to make his films look beautiful in a particularly cold, clear fashion. They used filters and established rich, impressionistic colour schemes. The sort of heightened realism favoured by Scott in particular became popular in Hollywood, as directors like his brother Tony and the more ambitious and talented Michael Mann worked in similar registers. By the late '90s a certain sort of approach had become the house style for anything produced by uber-producers Simpson and Bruckheimer, who had younger directors like Michael Bay and Simon West produce a series of thrillers and action movies that are all beautiful in their rich colours, visceral texturing and athmospherics, and are all edited within an inch of incoherence.
Eran Creevy - and perhaps executive producer Ridley Scott - plainly wanted Welcome to the Punch to look like one of those films. More specifically he seems to have wanted it to look like Mann's Heat, perhaps the single greatest cops and robbers film of the last few decades. That film has a uniquely beautiful look: filled with aquamarine blues, rich blacks and burnished metallic textures, it captures Los Angeles in Winter, when the air looks thin and the light is a little paler than usual. It is also the work of a director who is a truly matchless visual stylist and a cinematographer (Dante Spinotti) near the top of his game.
Creevy also wants, like Cannon, to transfer the better qualities of the US thriller to a UK-set example of  the genre, to make London look like a dangerous nocturnal city, to make East End gangsters and semi-automatic weapons work well together.
So Creevy sets himself a hard task, and he mostly fails. While Welcome to the Punch generally looks nice,  it also looks like just another US cop thriller. Filmed around Canary Wharf, it is a film dominated by cold modern architecture; gleaming steel, shining glass and the flat negative spaces of concrete are layered in many of the shots. But it just looks glossy and a trifle desperate. London has a distinctive visual identity beyond the usual tourist cliches, but instead of capitalising on it,Creevy here transforms it into an anonymous modern city.
The storyline recalls Heat too in its tale of a driven detective (James McEvoy) in pursuit of a hyper-efficient criminal (Mark Strong) and the conspiracy they uncover separately before teaming up to solve it. Creevy stages a couple of decent action scenes, but the film seems to features a minimum of two cliches in every situation, and though it delivers most of them with some aplomb, its all just too familiar and routine to be all that interesting. The best scene is an unorthodox, original one, featuring some awkward rising tension in a little English living room as three men hold an old lady at gunpoint to get at her Grandson, but even here Creevy cannot help himself and has to turn it into a slow motion gunfight.
The cast help make it a mostly enjoyable if forgettable diversion. Strong is as brilliant as ever, and Peter Mullan and Johnny Harris give him excellent support, but McEvoy is badly miscast; he never convinces as a hard man cop or as a driven obsessive, unbalancing the narrative too much in Strong's direction.
In addition, there is a fatal whiff of UK TV cop show here. The photography and soundtrack and direction try supremely hard to mask it, but the actors and script cannot: this feels like just another episode in a long-running series on ITV. Tune in next week for more adventures.

Saturday 9 March 2013


(Taylor Hackford, 2013)

The best parts of Parker are the procedural sequences. The opening scene, for example, depicts a well-planned heist by a gang of five men. They steal the cash from the safes at a State Fair on a busy summer day through a combination of brute force, distraction and precision timing. In the aftermath, four of the men doublecross another and leave him for dead at the side of the road.
He is Parker, he is played by Jason Statham, and he is, of course, not dead when they drive away. The rest of the film depicts his execution of a plan to take revenge upon his erstwhile partners.
He follows them to Palm Beach in Florida, teams up with a desperate and cash-strapped Estate Agent (Jennifer Lopez) to discover what the job they're planning there is, and makes moves to interfere. Meanwhile, the Chicago Mob, discomfited by some of Parker's activities, have sent men after him and his loved ones.
Parker is an adaptation of the 19th Parker novel by Richard Stark, and the first adaptation of one of the post-Comeback novels (there was a 13 year gap between novels 16 and 17 in the sequence). Statham isn't quite right for the role, but he's close enough. Parker is a career criminal, relentlessly professional in his approach to his livelihood, and capable of staggeringly brutal violence, and Statham has played characters very much like this in the past. He might be too short and too British for the role, but his screen persona is so strong and well-defined, that it stops mattering a few minutes into the film. He carries the sense of danger that Parker (in the novels) exudes around with him, and has a focus, intensity and confidence that suits the character well.
However, another joy of the Parker books is the world Stark creates, filled as it is with a series of shady thieves, killers and deceitful femme fatales, all of them moving through a delirious pulp underworld ruled over by "the Outfit", a version of the Mob who Parker frequently crosses in his efforts to remain independent. Parker fudges this - the universe of some of Tarantino's crime films is closer - replacing it with a more blandly glossy realist version of the daylit noir world seen in so many modern crime films.
And yet; the film is efficient and entertaining in its telling of this familiar tale, as Statham bludgeons his way through obstacles, steals cars and makes plans. The villains are nicely cast - a sweaty Michael Chiklis presiding over a gang including Wendell Pierce and Clifton Collins Jr. - the action scenes direct and nasty, particularly a deadly Bourne-style fight with an assassin in a hotel room, and it all looks handsome in an anonymous, vaguely stately manner.
Hackford may be so comfortable with the procedural elements because he has himself always been a vaguely anonymous professional; always competent but rarely acclaimed, just like the smooth, disciplined Parker. He draws good work from Lopez here; she is the human heart of the film, funny and touching as a woman nearing middle age whose life hasn't worked out how she planned.

Friday 8 March 2013


(Jon Turteltaub, 2010)

The makers of The Sorcerers Apprentice don't seem to know quite what they want it to be.
It's a Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Summer Blockbuster, but despite the tens of Millions of dollars lavished upon the many special effects sequences and the location shooting in New York City, somehow it never quite feels like one. It is a kid-friendly action-fantasy, but it has a strange setting, seemingly borrowed from Spider-Man comics. It's hero Dave (Jay Baruchal, whose wonky charm works surprisingly well surrounded by so much nonsense) is a geeky Science whizz at a Manhattan University, with no girlfriend or social life. That all goes back to the traumatic episode in his childhood when he encountered Balthazar (Nicolas Cage, in relatively restrained mode) a powerful, ancient sorcerer, who revealed that Dave is himself destined to be a powerful sorcerer before the appearance of Horvath (Alfred Molina doing his stock villain routine) led to a destructive magical battle and Dave's humiliation before his entire school class, including a girl he liked.
The plot resumes a decade later, with Dave engaged in mad scientist experiments (channelling his sorcery into science, you see), that girl from school, now revealed as pretty Becky (Teresa Palmer) reappearing in his life, and Horvath and Balthazar suddenly freed from the urn in which they have been sealed together for the last ten years. They both seek a Russian Doll which imprisons Morgan Le Fay, Horvath to free her and destroy the world, Balthazar to ensure she remains trapped, and Dave, of course, gets caught in the middle while Balthazar tries to teach him how to become the sorcerer he is destined to be.
That makes it sort-of-a-superhero film, since it deals with the origin of a young hero with supernatural abilities, but despite all the magical battles in the streets and skies of New York, it has no iconography, no costumes, no secret identities. Baruchal and Toby Kebbell (as Horvath's apprentice, a celebrity Magician who lives like a Rock star) both seem to play much of it for laughs, but Cage is, well, Cage, all loony intensity and odd delivery, and the tone is all over the place.
Turteltaub is an odd director, a successful hack who has made romcoms, big family blockbusters, and semi-serious dramas, all without ever evincing any particular personality or great talent beyond efficiency, and he might be the problem with the Sorcerers Apprentice. Despite a nice cast (also including Monica Bellucci and Alice Krige as Sorceresses), some interesting elements, particularly some of the clever ways magic in the modern world is manifested, and several good moments, it all feels quite anonymous and tired and the last act is a bit of a trudge to the inevitable ending.


(Steven Soderbergh, 2013)

Side Effects begins as a seemingly earnest issue drama focused on the prescription of anti-depressants and the role played in this by the pharmaceutical industry. But midway through the film, there is a twist of the sort loved by writers of thrillers in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and suddenly Soderbergh's film reveals itself to be something different entirely.
What that something is, appears to be a twisty-turny thriller of deceit and double-cross, and the silliness of the last act, in particular, may leave some viewers who enjoyed the more nuanced drama of the first half of the film feeling a little short-changed. But Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Z Burns are clever and even witty in their use of thriller devices throughout, and the rug-pull at the centre of the film is managed with real skill and subtlety.
More than that, Side Effects is a lovely movie to watch for its beguiling visceral quality. This is not unusual for Soderbergh, who acts as his own cinematographer and editor (under pseudonyms), ensuring his control over every sensory aspect of his films. He gives Side Effects a sickly green palette for much of the first act, suggesting the druggy nausea experienced by one character, then swaps that for a colder world of greys and metallic shades after the twist, as another finds his world collapsing amidst bureaucratic issues. There are numerous beautiful shots here too, and none feels ostentatious. Instead Soderbergh uses abstract shapes and focus pulls to locate or dislocate these people within or from their environments, his camera taking in Dr Banks' (Jude Law) affluent lifestyle, for instance, with a few careful shots, and he is always sensitive to body language and dress.
Banks is the psychiatrist who finds himself a witness in a murder trial when one of his patients, Emily (Rooney Mara) the depressed young wife of a stockbroker recently released from prison for insider-trading (Channing Tatum) awakens in her apartment to find her husband stabbed to death and the knife bearing her fingerprints. The drug she had been prescribed by Banks is blamed, but after his reputation is destroyed he begins to poke around in her story and that of her old Shrink (Catherine Zeta-Jones), and finds a few things don't quite add up.
While that last act is undeniably silly, Soderbergh and Burns deliver it all with a straight face, and strong performances from Law and Mara ensure it largely works. It is nicely shot, sharply written and well acted, and remains a superior, nicely stylish slice of Hollywood entertainment.
Even so, it all feels somewhat slight for something that is supposed to be Soderbergh's "Last" film.

Sunday 3 March 2013


(Walter Hill, 1981)

Southern Comfort may just be Walter Hill's most acute and perfect film.
By the time he directed it, he had enjoyed a lot of critical and commercial success. Indeed, he was on a run of high quality few directors get to experience in an entire career - from The Streetfighter/Hard Times in 1975, through The Driver and The Warriors in '78 and '79, to the beautiful The Long Riders in 1980. That last film, Hill's first Western, indicated that he had perfected his voice; it is a little arty in its use of genre, elliptical plotting and Hill's embrace of slow-motion as an almost abstract method for filming action. And yet it is accessible - full of action set-pieces, funny, and with a little romance too. Hill made films which could appeal to a mainstream audience and a cineaste at the same time, which explains his enduring popularity with critics.
That success may explain how audacious Southern Comfort is. Hill had the confidence to make it perhaps his starkest film, with a stripped-down approach taken to the setting and characterisation. The back story is dealt with in the fantastically economical opening scene, which also establishes every character in five minutes or so. We are following a troop of Louisiana National Guardsmen on a training exercise in the Bayou. They are a disparate group of personalities, including a few quiet, suburban middle-class types with respectable jobs, a couple of gung ho hillbillies, some ex-Army men who take it all more seriously than the others, and a few loners, only there because they absolutely have to be. In the early stages of a long march through the swamp they steal (they assure themselves its borrowing) some boats they come across. When the men they presume to be the owners of the boats appear on the shore, one of the men shoots at them. The men on the shore - cajun hunters - dive for cover, and then return fire, not understanding that these National Guardsmen are armed only with blanks. A bullet kills the commanding Officer of the National Guard, and the others flee terrified into the bayou. Thus begins a long slow hunt as the group is whittled down by the hunters, by nature and by internal conflict until only a handful remain, desperately clinging to life as they attempt to escape the swampland.
Placing his characters in such an extreme situation allows Hill to test and define them the way he likes - through action. Some panic, a few wilt and one or two snap. The genuine heroes are the ones who keep thinking, who keep their heads. All of this is demonstrated in tight, convincingly fraught dialogue exchanges and some intense action sequences. The heroes who emerge are Spencer (Keith Carradine) a cynical, urban wiseass, and Hardin (Powers Boothe), a new Texan transfer into the squad who is disgusted by the arrogance and stupidity of his comrades even before their ordeal begins. Among the weak links are a terrific Fred Ward as Reece, an aggressive hillbilly who relishes the opportunity for violence the situation provides him, and Alun Autry as Bowden, an uptight High School football Coach who is seemingly driven mad by events.
The way the men turn on one another, the way the chain of command proves ineffective in such a situation, and the way their characters reveal themselves are all neatly executed by Hill and a cast filled with great character actor faces. Action films with such solid characterisation and tight plotting have always been rare, and Hill allies that with his customary action filmmaking - the attacks and fights here are brutal yet elegantly composed, the logic behind each shot and cut clear and beautifully crisp.
Boothe and Carradine offer one of the most interesting buddy-relationships ever seen in this genre; they barely like one another, yet the gradual growth of respect between them is tellingly, convincingly played, and each is excellent in his role.
Southern Comfort offers more than all I have described; Hill's film presents an obvious (though never overstated) allegory for Vietnam, artfully underlined in the final freeze-frame. It is also, for long stretches, a beautiful piece of pure cinema. Andrew Laszlo's cinematography offers a rich symphony of browns and greens throughout, and plays with the light thrown by the murky swamp water and the dulled skies glimpsed through the branches above. Through this the men, themselves in dull green, trudge, making the sudden appearance of civilization in the form of a Cajun village in the last act feel like a moment of alien contact in a sci-fi film. This is all soundtracked by Hill's most frequent collaborator, Ry Cooder, whose atmospheric slide guitar score could not be better.