Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Forgotten Movies: GET SHORTY and BLOOD SIMPLE

We watched both of these films last week. I liked them both very much when they came out. I saw them both at a theater and haven't seen them since. I was surprised at the one I thought held up the best.

GET SHORTY, based on the Elmore Leonard movie seemed overly busy with sidebars of humor and a multiplicity of characters. It was hard to even say conclusively what the movie was about--making a movie, I guess. Travolta does not wear well for me. He is always Travolta. The extreme violence mixed with humor is unnerving at points. Yes, I laughed several times and stuck with it until the end, but it seemed dated and having half the characters with a sub-par IQ seemed stretching it. (1995) I know this is Leonard's specialty but was anyone other than Rene Russo playing with a full deck.

BLOOD SIMPLE (1994) seems as brilliant now as it did then. It is a simple plot with just a few characters and yet it manages to be much more compelling than GET SHORTY IMHO. The small cast is perfect in their parts. It is atmospheric and character driven. Loved it.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree. I love BLOOD SIMPLE too. Everyone raves about GET SHORTY and I thought it was good when I first saw it. After all, it has a great cast. But we agree on Travolta. He always seems way too self-satisfied.


Jeff M.

Gerard said...

I thought GET SHORTY was fantastic when I saw it in the theater. I wonder if it would feel dated and messy to me now.

Dana King said...

Get Shorty has become the family tradition for my birthday treat; The Beloved Spouse and I love it, on multiple levels. I'm not a John Travolta fan in general, but he was born to play Chili Palmer.

I re-read the book last summer (I forget how many time it is now) and liked it the way I enjoy a favorite movie, smiling in advance as I knew what was coming. Leonard's funniest book. It's worth watching or reading just for the scene where Bo Catlett explains to Chili how screenwriting works.

Blood Simple is a classic, period.

Cap'n Bob said...

I don't watch anything with a member of the Scientology Organized Crime Family in it, so to hell with Get Shorty. I saw Blood Simple a long time ago and remember being disappointed. Perhaps because I had an expectation of a different movie.

John said...

"The extreme violence mixed with humor is unnerving at points."

I have this problem with PULP FICTION now. Can't watch it and find any of the black humor funny at all. Or in any movie that tries to be like Tarantino in the same way. Someone's head getting blasted off by a powerful gun just will never be funny to me no matter what the context.

As for GET SHORTY I saw it when it first came out and enjoyed the farcical elements and most of the performances. But these days I am not a big fan of plays and movies about the movie biz. Just saw a play about 1930s moviemaking and I couldn’t' really feel anything for the characters' plight -- trying to get a part in a movie. Seemed so fluffy and inconsequential. Nothing was really at stake. ALL ABOUT EVE takes the same idea but there is so much invested in the lives of the characters you really care about their theater careers.

RE: BLOOD SIMPLE. Have you ever seen the Chinese remake called A WOMAN, A GUN, AND A NOODLE SHOP? Brilliant.

George said...

I'm not surprised that you're more partial to BLOOD SIMPLE rather than GET SHORTY. The "sequel" to GET SHORTY was dreadful.

David Cranmer said...

I very much enjoyed GET SHORTY when it first came out and remember some big chuckles. Would have to watch it again myself to see how its aged.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Interesting Barry Sonenfeld double bill you've got here! It's been way too long since I saw BLOOD SIMPLE but I like both of these in their own specialw ays - thansk Patti.

Heath Lowrance said...

I think it's the simplicity of BLOOD SIMPLE that keeps it from ever feeling dated. The Coen boys know what they're doing. It distills all the best elements of noir, boils them down to essentials, and tells a great, linear story that will probably resonate for decades to come. GET SHORTY, on the other hand, is a movie very much of its time about a very specific time and place. I still really enjoy it, but I think ultimately it will be seen as a kind of relic, especially as the world continues to change.

pattinase (abbott) said...

You nailed it, Heath. It is completely timeless. If you saw it for the first time today--other than the oddity of Dan Hedaya (sp?) being in it, you would think it was a new release.

Anders E said...

I've never been that impressed by Travolta but he was actually very funny in LUCKY NUMBERS which came out a few years after GET SHORTY.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I think he can be effective in a movie. I thought he played Clinton well in PRIMARY COLORS, for instance.

Todd Mason said...

BLOOD SIMPLE struck me as a bit Too mechanical when I first saw it (too conscious of being neo-noir), but very well-worked-out, and Frances McDormand was great. GET SHORTY struck me as heavy-handed if watchable (I was never compelled by the Look At Me routine), and Rene Russo was good in it, as well as easy to watch. So, one can do worse than either, though I preferred the elder film from jump.