Re-watching the Classics: A Simple Plan

A Simple Plan is a neo noir by director Sam Raimi of Evil Dead and Spider-Man fame. This is based on a book and screen play by Scott B. Smith. The film was released in 1998 and was nominated for two Oscars. The three main characters are played by an all-star trio with Bill Paxton as our main protagonist, Bridget Fonda as his wife and Billy Bob Thornton as his socially awkward brother.

The film starts in an everyday small town in the Northern United States. It is New Years Eve and Hank, Played by Paxton, is leaving work early for a family matter. He goes home where we soon see his pregnant wife Sarah, played by Fonda. He changes and soon his brother Jacob played by Thornton, pulls up outside in his beat up truck. Hank is not happy as he sees Jacob has brought his obnoxious friend Lou played by Brent Briscoe. The threesome goes to a cemetery to put a poinsettia on a grave. As they are leaving, a fox with a chicken in its mouth runs out in front of Jacob’s truck causing him to hit a tree. Jacob, not happy, grabs his riffle and the three take off in pursuit of the fox. They soon come across a wrecked airplane. Upon investigation they find a dead pilot and a bag full of money, 4.4 million to be exact. As the group discuss what to do, they decide that Hank will take the money and the three will keep it secret until spring. They will wait to see after the wreckage is discovered if the money is mentioned. If it is not, Hank will distribute the money and all three will move away happy and wealthy. Will money ruin these people’s life? Of course it will, but how?

This is a very good noir plot with money being the root of all evil and what will the common man do to keep his ill-gotten gains. I really enjoyed how the 4 characters that know about the money change as the film goes along. All are good average people when the film starts and change to evil people in different varieties by the end. Hank does what he thinks is right through out the film, but his femme fatale of a wife controls him like a puppet. Paxton does an amazing job as our everyday hero. Fonda as our femme fatale starts out saying she would never take the money to over thinking every little detail to dastardly consequences. Thornton, who got this part do to his performance in Sling Blade, shows once again how great an actor he is. The way he must balance friendship and family and is eventually pulled apart by this choice alone makes this worth watching.  Briscoe’s performance of Lou is underrated and though he starts out as the biggest jerk, he changes the lest because of the money. Chelcie Ross plays the small town naive Sheriff to perfection and Gary Cole is also very good as the F.B.I. Agent in town to investigate the possible plane crash.

This is a great film by any measure and if you have not seen it, go do it now! If you have not seen it in a while now would be a good time to revisit this one.

Review: Cut Bank

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Cut Bank is a country noir written by Roberto Patino.  Patino has also worked on Sons of Anarchy and Prime Suspect so he has some good experience with crime and drama.  Patino looks to be also working on bringing The Carrion Birds by Urban Waite to the screen.  This book is on my to-read list and I hope to review it later on this blog.

Matt Shakman is the director, it is his first feature, but he is an accomplished television director.  Because he has worked on so many different kinds of television, he brings a little of everything to the film.  We have some black comedy, western, thriller and noir elements through out.

Liam Hemsworth and Teresa Palmer play our young couple that are desperate to leave the small town of Cut Bank, MT.  Even though they may be our lead characters, they may be the most boring ones of the film.

Billy Bob Thornton plays Palmer’s father and Hemsworth’s boss.  He doesn’t see much screen time but his interactions with Malkovich are great.

John Malkovich worked as a fire fighter in Glacier Park and actually lived in Cut Bank for a short time when he was in college.  He really wanted to do this film based on his love for the little town of Cut Bank and stayed attached to the project for over 2 years to be in it.  Malkovich plays the local sheriff, that is a fish out of water with this being his first murder case.

Michael Stuhlbarg may be the smallest name on the cast, but plays one of the most interesting parts.  He is a recluse in Cut Bank.  I don’t know if his character is based on real life serial killer Ed Gain, but if it is not, there are many similarities.  Ed Gain is also the basis for Norman Bates in Psycho, Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs and has also had his likeness appear in many other movies and documentaries.

Bruce Dern plays the mailman that everybody recognizes by sight, but not to many people really know.

Oliver Platt plays the post office official sent up from Washington D.C. to give a reward for the evidence of the crime.

I can not find who played the big mute Native American, but he was a cool character and I loved his non-verbal dialog.

So the story starts out with our lead couple in an open field, daydreaming about their future.  As Palmer practices her speech for an upcoming beauty pageant and Hemsworth films it, he notices a hooded man walk up to the mail man and shot him 2 times in the chest and gets the whole thing on film.  They take the evidence into town and turn it over to the Sheriff. The plot thickens and twists and turns as we try to figure out who’s on who’s side and who knows what.  By the way, what is in that lunch box?  This is a good story in a unique setting, worth watching for anybody looking for something new to watch in the genre.

New Movie Coming Soon: Cut Bank

This looks like an amazing country noir from my home state of Montana.  We got Liam Hemsworth and Teresa Palmer as our leads but also everything noir favorites Billy Bob Thornton, Bruce Dern , John Malkovich and Oliver Platt.  It is written by Roberto Patino who has worked on Sons of Anarchy so we should have a far amount of grit and grim in this movie.  The trailer has me excited and can’t wait to see it, how about you?