Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Northwest Noir


I normally don't stoop to things like movie reviews, since Hollywood is 100% corrupt and there is no health or cleanliness in it, but this one might actually be worth checking out. I streamed it off Netflix last night. The flick is called Blackway. It's a variation on one of your basic old John Wayne-style cowboy-movie plots, but acted and shot in a modern setting in a neat, terse little 1940s film-noir style. Think one of the better Marlowes. 

The movie is set in an unnamed logging town in the Pacific Northwest, where a former cop-turned-local-drug-kingpin and general bad man named Blackway (Ray Liotta) stalks and harasses and eventually "insults the honor" of the female lead Lillian (Julia Stiles.) It's unclear to me from the scene whether he actually rapes her or not, but anyway, you get the idea. 

Lillian tries to get the local sheriff with a spine of jelly to intervene, but all this hapless fool can do is advise her to leave town. Seems the sheriff and his men are terrified of his psycho former deputy and afraid to take him on, almost like he was NVA or something. Yeah, I know, so far this sounds all very feminist and predictable, but wait for it. It's actually a subtly politically incorrect film, if you know how to read the nuances. In fact, I'm a little surprised this made it through the many content filters in Tinsel Town in this quietly subversive shape.

Anyway, what the idiot sheriff eventually does recommend is that Lillian go to the local logging camp and speak to Whizzer, the foreman, and ask him to lend her the services of one Scotty, who is supposedly the only man in town not afraid of Blackway. Lillian goes to the office of the logging camp and meets a bunch of old geezers sitting there yakking, telling Sasquatch stories and reminiscing about Back In The Day. All that's missing is a pot-bellied stove and a cracker barrel. 

This is where that subtle hint of political incorrectness begins; after all, old White men are supposed to be the cause of all evil in the world past, present, and future, always enemies trying to do down and re-enslave Modern Womyn. To depict a Modern Womyn forced to go to old White men for protection is highly sexist; she should be trying to summon Wonder Woman or decking herself out in bandana, torn T-shirt and M-60 like Ms. Rambo. But this film is actually based in the real world, to an extent the rest of Hollywood is less and less these days.

It turns out that Scotty isn't in camp, but two of the office loungers speak up and volunteer to be Lillian's White Knights (pun kind of intended.) These are Les, played by Anthony Hopkins, who was 78 when this was filmed and looks every day of it, and a younger guy named Nate [Alexander Ludwig] who is quiet and has a bit of a stutter, is home-schooled, and at first reminds you of Daryl and his other brother Daryl. You don't think he has a chance against the Bad Man, but Nate soon displays a talent for throwing down in a psycho manner equal to Blackway's, when the occasion demands.

The three of them stop by Les's house, with a lawn covered in whirligigs, to pick up his old uncle's goose gun he left to Les, and then they go off in a rusty old pickup truck to hunt down the Bad Man, working their way through assorted disreputable people and places, barroom brawls with Blackway minions, exploding meth labs, etc. All jolly good fun. I classify this movie like I classify most others I like: I won't be adding it to my permanent collection, but it's well worth watching once.

But the reason I'm recommending all of you check this flick out if you can is the cinematography.  Blackway's strongest believability comes from the terrain in which it is set.

I used to tell people that if they wanted to see what the Northwest Homeland was like, warts and all, they should check out the first Twilight movie, disregard all the vampire silliness, and look at that countryside around Forks where it was filmed, which is about 40 miles from where I sit tapping this now. Blackway is much better for that purpose. It was filmed in some small town here in the Homeland or up in B. C., in the dead of winter, and if you're seriously contemplating coming here you need to know what this part of the world is like at its worst, which is about this time of year. 

I try to warn incomers about our winters, and I get people telling me "Oh, pshaw, Harold, I'm from Wisconsin or Pennsylvania or Colorado, I know winter, your Northwest can't throw anything at me in that regard that I can't handle!" Big mistake. The Northwest winter is something I can't really make comprehensible to those who haven't been through one, the kind of endless, energy-sapping, depressing, gray and nasty-ass wet chill and dripping rain that can and does drive people to insanity, suicide and murder up here every season, even people who have lived here all their lives. 

I can't describe it, and so it's best you watch Blackway and see it. No, not trying to scare you away, just trying to prepare you. If you follow my advice and move your family to some small town in the Northwest, you won't regret it--if nothing else, the summers more than make up for the winters. Usually, anyway. There is a saying: "Every Northwest summer is different. Every Northwest winter is the same." That sameness is something you need to try and wrap your minds around, so either make your scouting trip in January, or watch Blackway.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This movie was on my list of possibly subversive films to watch.

check out Brawl in Cell Block 99 w Vince Vaughn. Racial, and subversive.

marc

5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"endless, energy-sapping, depressing, gray and nasty-ass wet chill and dripping rain"

You nailed it. I moved to Boise from Las Vegas and was struck by that immediately. I can handle snow, but dreary, gray, wet, overcast is something else. It can be depressing.

9:31 PM  
Anonymous Hammerheart said...

Disney could ruin in 1971 a 1960 story that ran in the Boy Scout magazine. I wouldn't call what they did to Strange Sea Monster of Strawberry Lake very subtle, either. I was really, really taken aback--I hadn't expected it to be perfect, but I hadn't expected a bloody simple story maybe 10-12 pages long,that is close to screenplay simplicity already, to be trashed (1971 Disney style).
The secondary effect on me was to make me reconsider all the stuff from the late 1960s-1970s that at least at the time seemed so great. That effect was even more chilling than the PNW winter.
Disney is malevolent.

I don't mean to put down Blackway which I haven't even seen: but the plot sounds very generic. Politically etc it's been a long time since 2015. I'd have to see it to see what you mean.

1:40 PM  
Blogger Luek said...

So where was the large and in charge negro in this movie? All movies have to have a strong positive role model negro in the script. I think it is movie making policy. I recently saw the movie Dunkirk for 2017 and wondered where the negro was going to appear since the real Dunkirk had whites killing white unfortunately. All the characters were white and looked like the mandatory negro would not be in the movie for historical accuracy. But alas when a group of French troops gathered on the beach to be evacuated there was the negro trooper in the middle. Oh, well that is why I prefer movies made in the time frame of 1940 to 1960.

4:33 PM  
Blogger brian boru said...

Yes, niggers were refreshingly absent from this film. Liotta plays the bad guy very well, especially as a corrupt cop. I think a very large percentage of cops have psychopathic tendencies and much of the time are difficult to distinguish from criminals. In a societal breakdown scenario I believe that cops would be a really big problem. All that weaponry would make them instant warlords. As you say Harold the North West makes great guerrilla country.

11:26 PM  

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