Saturday, October 20, 2007
The Ice Harvest
I watched the Ice Harvest this afternoon was really taken with it. None of the usual neo-noir phony toughness. John Cusak and Billy Bob Thornton play well off each other--Cusack the lawyer scared but willing to steal two million from his mobster client; Thornton eager even arrogant about doing it. I like Cusack but sometimes his spiritual detachment becomes a kind of blankness. Here it works just fine--he's capable of being surprised at just how sleazy his world really is and thus we're surprised right along with him. Thornton's a limited but effictive actor who knows what to do with the right role and this is the right role, one reminiscent of (but not as rich as) his scumbag thug in One False Move. The use of Witchita and the subtle suggestion that Kansas is an accursed state works nicely as a running gag. Lots of twists and turns all made vital and believable by the performances of the secondary players--Connie Neilsen as The Babe; Oliver Platt as the drunken Friend; and the knock-out stunning performance of Randy Quaid as the Honcho in the final act. All of this happens on the night of Christmas Eve and into the early hours of Christmas day, a nice device that lends the movie a sentimental holiday to play against. Now I'm going to read the book.