Sunday, August 23, 2009

“Blood Simple.”: Not So Simple

by Jason Pyles

Without question, my favorite movie scenario is the predicament of having to deal with a dead body.

It really doesn’t matter to me if the person trying to dispose of the body is innocent or guilty of the murder; it’s my vicarious experience of the absolute panic that bursts upon the character once the gravity of the situation sinks in that stirs and excites me. Bodies are very difficult to dispose of, I would assume, and getting caught and going to prison is a fate possibly worse than death. (I love the first half of “Very Bad Things” for this same reason.)

And I appreciate it when films attempt to portray how heavy a dead body would be. Think about how hurried and rushed you’d feel while trying to get rid of the incriminating evidence, but because of the “dead weight,” you’d be going very slowly trying to heft and maneuver it. That’s like those nightmares where you can’t run. It’s no wonder people start chopping them up, but then you’re stuck with lots more blood!

I know. It’s sick and morbid to think about, but if you really put yourself in the character’s position, these types of movies can be a tense experience.

In “Blood Simple,” when Ray first decides that he’s going to try to take care of Marty’s body, he tries to wipe up the blood (in the dumbest way possible). But that blood just seems impossible to ever clean up.

Obviously, “Blood Simple.” is a fine example of what’s called “neonoir,” or new film noir. Naturally, the term “film noir” means “black film,” which was the term French film critics gave the bleak, treacherous Hollywood crime films of the 1940s. Films Noirs (that’s the correct plural) have a male anti-hero, who is, as Ronald Bergan’s “Film” book puts it, “a weak man whose life is ruined when caught up in a web of passion, deceit, and murder by a ... femme fatale,” which literally means “deadly woman.”

And though Frances McDormand’s apparently sweet, dim-witted Abby character seems to be the most innocent one of the cast, she is fatal to the three men around her. She is clearly a femme fatale, and “Blood Simple.” is clearly an excellent film.

A Note of Interest About “Blood Simple.”: According to ioncinema, as of June 23, 2009, Zhang Yimou (“House of Flying Daggers,” “Curse of the Golden Flower”) is doing a remake of “Blood Simple.” But why? It doesn’t need to be redone — it was done right the first time.

An Uninteresting Note About Me: I’m tired of letting Andy show me up on this blog. He has written about nearly every film — in an intelligent and timely manner, I might add — so I’m getting back on my horse and stepping up to the bar he has raised. After all, I wouldn’t want The New York Times to come looking for a new film critic and have them pluck Andy right off this site because I was asleep at the job to give him a run for his money. So I vow to do better and catch up (much like I vowed a few months ago), but I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to wield terminology like “paramour.” That’s some fancy stuff, Andy.

1 comment:

Andy said...

Jason - I may have been more "on top of it" getting some of the posts done, but our posts are worlds apart as far as writing. And I'm not saying this to flatter you - it's just the truth - you are a writer and I am a comment-leaver. I share a thought and a quip while you write a story and an essay. I'm a bearclaw and you are an eclair.