Notes from the Back Row 

Hobo no, SuckerPunch yes

Don't blame the Village 8 for not bringing in Hobo with a Shotgun this week, it's probably not their fault. Hobo is a small Canadian film with a limited number of prints and everyone wants one. So instead of the best-reviewed film of 2011, made right here in our own country, Whistler movie fans get a kick in the groin called Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2 . Hurts, don't it?

But not as much as a shotgun blast to the face or getting beheaded by a manhole cover. Fans of gore, violence and bloodshed elevated to cartoonish levels and beyond should really drive down to Vancouver because Hobo with a Shotgun is the real deal, a way-over-the-top '80s VHS homage starring Rutger Hauer vs. some bad guys who aren't afraid to burn a busload of schoolchildren for kicks.

Directed by Jason Eisener (B-Grade Horrorfest Fans will remember Treevenge, his 2009 Christmas massacre short film ) Hobo with a Shotgun is a crime-revenge gorefest exploitation flick with Western sensibilities. The stranger, a hobo, rolls into Hopetown (Dartmouth, NS) a shithole overrun with crime where every cop is on the take. With dreams of running a simple lawn mowing business the hobo is drawn into fray while saving a gold-hearted hooker (Molly Dunsworth). A shotgun comes into play soon after and vengeance literally runs in the streets as hope is restored to Hopetown.

Bad taste and non-stop violence is the entire point but Eisener manages to slip in some commentary about terrorism and media fear mongering too, as well as some Saddam-and-his-sons parallels. Rutger Hauer plays the hobo with almost Shakespearean straightness, which only anchors the film and allows the rest of the cast/film/city to go shitballs crazy. Eisener recently described it as "He's a grizzly bear in a circus, but he's incredibly grounded so the circus can really run wild."

Hobo with a Shotgun is obnoxiously loud and dripping with garish colour. The violence is stupendously ridiculous and the plot so bonkers that when a giant octopus appears late in the film it doesn't jar at all. In other words, this is my favourite movie of the year. I'm a sucker for flicks with the plot in the title and this is one of the best.

Speaking of suckers, there is one good new flick opening at the Village 8 this week.  SuckerPunch is the latest from Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) and stars Emily Browning ( The Uninvited) as a sweet young thing locked up in an insane asylum or a really creepy prison or something (no pre-screenings for this one) who, along with a bunch of other hot chicks (including Abbie Cornish, who we discussed last week) escape into their own fantasy world to shoot guns and wear sexy outfits and fight robot ninjas and giants and serpents in their attempts to "get free." It's like Pan's Labyrinth meets Girl, Interrupted with the visuals of Sin City on DMT.

Zack Snyder is a style-over-substance master so the look of this flick should make up for any storytelling shortcomings. Plus Carla Gugino has a role and she is always golden (too bad SuckerPunch carries only a PG-13 as Gugino does incredible nude scenes.)

For the segment of the population born before 1975, those without attention deficit disorder, The King's Speech returns to the Village 8. Yes, it won best picture and is certainly a well-crafted piece of cinema, but it's by no means perfect. There was one character missing... a hobo with a shotgun.



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