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The Hunter – Ever reliable Willem Dafoe stars as a methodical, lonely, game hunter enlisted by an invisibly ominous medical corporation, is there any other kind, to head into the outback of Tanzania and locate and kill the last known specimen of the Tasmanian Tiger, a breed thought to be extinct.  Once there he takes up residence with a woman and her two children, using their home as a base of operations.  The husband has been missing for months, quite possibly in connection with the same reason he’s been sent there.  Dafoe’s character slowly becomes a surrogate protector/father figure, getting the ramshackle home and family back on its feet.

The Hunter is the kind of movie which seems admirably straightforward, perhaps too predictable in places, but made well enough to rise above that issue.  It doesn’t go in for maudlin moments and some of the more obvious emotional outcomes don’t come to pass.  The outback of Tanzania make for an endless buffet of beautiful scenery rarely caught on film.  It works for what it is and makes for decent viewing, in no small part because of Dafoe.  This aging character actor effortlessly embodies whoever he’s been tasked to portray and it’s virtually impossible for him to seem boring or disinterested as an actor.  The movie’s final moments may strike some as very grim but you have to afford a movie like this a certain amount of appreciation for not believing in or going for the nice and neat side of storytelling.  I’d also advise animal lovers to tread around it lightly.  It’s available through Nexflix on-demand.

Bernie – An idyocyncratic, psuedo comedic/psuedo documentary effort from director Richard Linklater, starring Jack Black, Shirley MacClaine, Matthew McCaughney and a whole bunch of people from the town of Carthage TX.  Based on a true story, Bernie Tiede (Jack Black) was Carthage’s assistant funeral director and by all accounts one of the greatest people within the community.  He effortlessly won over all he met, was a talented singer for the church and became a great creative presence for the theater.  Though the town tended to think Bernie may be a homosexual, a Texas no no, they generally loved the guy and were proud to have him as part of the community.  The over compassionate Bernie befriended Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacClaine), an aging town pariah with a nasty attitude and a lot of money.  They formed an unlikely friendship which soured over time.  Marjorie gradually enslaved Bernie to her everyday needs and one day Bernie shot her in the back four times and stuffed her body in the garage freezer where the unpopular spinster went undiscovered for nine months.  Over those nine months Bernie generously gave away Marjorie’s money, spending ten’s of thousands of dollars on community projects, church projects and favors for friends.  When Marjorie’s body was discovered, Bernie confessed immediately, but no one wanted to see him go to jail regardless.  He was too well liked.

Bernie’s half documentary/half dramedy re-enactment story telling scheme leaves the film in the audiences judging hands, what to make of Bernie your choice.  Is Bernie a victim who justly defended himself from a tyranical old lady who was controlling his life?  Or was he an opportunistic huxster exploiting an old widow for her money?  Linklater heavily leans towards the first explanation but doesn’t completely disregard the later.  Black’s Bernie is never given a malicious slant or implication that Majorie’s murder was anything other than the act of a man who had snapped.  For Black, it’s one of his best performances to date and shows he’s capable of something a little more than bloated tomfoolery.  It’s more interesting than most movies but all the same when it’s over a sensation of the slight seeps into it once it’s done.


One Comment

  1. Thank you for reviewing The Hunter, SpartanDog! I am sitting in my office at DISH looking for movies to watch tonight and I just came across this movie. I think it is the cryptozoological aspect of the film that intrigues me the most; I would like to see how they work that old footage in the movie. I just ordered the film and I will be ready for me to watch when I get home from work. I hope the movie explains why Dafoe has to kill the animal instead of taking it alive. It seems that it would be more valuable intact than in pieces. I think I saw Bernie available as well; I might have to check that out thanks to your review.

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