I’m Nick. I’ve watched more movies than most inmates have smoked cigarettes. I love them but I also tend to rewatch them weird. To appreciate the little things or learn through osmosis how the sausage is made. In an attempt to help you through your day and to possibly remind of you of movies you need to see or see again, witness my Weird Watching column. If you like it, share the article and like it and tweet it and all that bullshit. Or discuss it here.
The Film: A History of Violence (buy it from us in one of many formats)
The People: David Cronenberg, Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, Ashton Holmes, Ed Harris, William Hurt, Stephen McHattie
The Premise: A diner owner in a small town may not be who he seems, and when some toughs from his past happen upon him it ignotes a shitstorm. People bleed and stop living. The term “broheim” is utilized. Based on a graphic novel. One of the best movies of its decade.
Warning: Spoilers and Dumb Commentary From Here Forward
0:00 – Remember when the New Line logo meant something? Well it used to mean striped sweaters and murder but you get where I’m coming from.
3:04 – Stephen McHattie is so great to look at and listen to. You need to watch Pontypool. Great movie. Weird movie.
4:36 – To murder people AND try and find loose change in a phone booth is a bridge too far.
7:00 – It takes most films a lot longer than seven minutes to shoot a little girl in her goddamn face.
8:49 – An underappreciated trait in David Cronenberg’s filmmaking is his patience. So good at building depth without showing off.
10:36 – Cute little diner scene culminates with a great anecdote about relationships. They cast great real people looking people here. The dude playing the short order cook looks like a real short order cook or hobo or Ace hardware technician or blogger.
11:17 – How is Ashton Holmes not in the Josh Hutcherson/Jessie Eisenberg/Michael Cera configuration?
12:28 – The baseball game is really poorly done. The ball’s too big (spoiler: it’s a softball), the baserunner is leading off wrong. The tough guy looks like he’s never held a bat before. They have baseball in Canada, David. Show some respect!
12:34 – I love the confrontation with the bully. If only humor and intelligence were such assets in real life. Ashton Holmes is a good young actor.
14:05 – A horny Maria Bello is a special thing indeed.
15:52 – Panties. William H. Macy’s ballsack nowhere to be seen.
18:04 – Viggo feasts on nectar. This is a man who appreciates third base and beyond and has little time for hand holding.
20:06 – Girlfriend is showing off some serious forehead.
20:48 – Homophobia and pickup trucks, common onscreen and common in reality!
22:40 – The word “coffee” is screamed. It adds a full point to this film’s score.
23:30 – This face:
23:30 – A tit is felt and the hand that touched it smelled afterwards. I don’t think it’s meant to be symbolic. Who hasn’t touched a breast and instantly wanted to make sure the stink lingered.
24:40 – No more tits ever again for this chap! Violence! His day went from teat to spiraling void in record time.
24:48 – MEDIC!
29:50 – Ed Harris appears! Have you seen him in Creepshow dancing and with wispy blonde hair? You need to.
29:51-45:22 – Threats! Shotgun! Family Discussions! This Rockwellian tryptych:
45:23 – What’s a Cronenberg film without a little knicknack and shoe shopping?
46:06 – Ed Harris in a mall! Be still my heart. That dude can act in a goddamn mall, I’m here to tell you.
28:18 – Forehead girl returns! She should sell ads on that thing. Actually, I bet Progressive Insurance has already approached her. Forehead ads are the only market they haven’t oversaturated but girlfriend’s going to fix that. Here’s how big her forehead is: I never looked at her boobs. I can’t even testify that she has them.
49:38 – Comeuppance! Bullies are treated like the dogshit they are. Great scene, and I’m a sucker for young folks saying “motherfucker”.
52:32 – Porch standoff with Ed Harris. Ed is like a force of nature in this film. He blows into town on the breeze, threatens, and then he and his shitty eye piss off. Except this force of nature has an expiration date.
55:10 – “It’d be better if you just leave now.” This is a warning from Viggo that if obeyed, there’d be no movie. It’s advice delivered with seriously ominous intent.
56:00 – Is his nose going to be ok?
56:20 – Viggo delivers a knockout of truth! A great time for the reveal.
56:22 – That’s a wrap on Ed Harris! The crew applauds. Ed bows, his blue eyes catching the last drops of magic hour. He retreats to his trailer where his karo syrup encrusted clothing is peeled from him. He relaxes while his makeup is cleared off, takes a few calls on his Motorola RAZR. Clad in jeans and a white t-shirt he is driven from set to his hotel where he packs and soon leaves for the airport. He flies in the sky reading a script and wondering if they realize they sent the script to Ed Harris and not Nick Nolte. This role is beneath him! He arrives home, fires his agent, rewatches The Right Stuff and makes an appointment with William Morris about taking his career to the next level, not as a character actor but as a potential leading man in faith-based features. Sanity resumes in the following weeks and Ed Harris is reborn.
59:54 – That can’t be the first time I’ve heard “schizoid” in a film but it may be. What a dumb word. I wonder if that word was the comeshot that morphed into Cronenberg and Viggo embracing A Dangerous Method all those years later.
1:01:00 – “You’re supposed to call me Dad.” Great little moment.
1:03:50 – Sam the cop arrives. I guess they cleaned up the bodies and shit. Dude has slaughtered several and Sam is awfully nice when it comes to one family killing half the tourists. Easily thrown off the scent too. Probably not Mindhunters Division material.
1:07:22 – Those aren’t tears of joy!
1:08:00 – One of the better stairway fucks in film history. It ranks right behind Blue Hawaii, Ernest Scared Stupid, Stairfuckers: Absolution, and Tangled.
1:08:20 – Witness Viggo‘s vestigial ass tail!
1:14:16 – The new Viggo has piss taste in beer. Cream something? Pennsylvania’s weird.
1:16:42 – Arrival at Bill Hurt’s house! Cue one of the shortest Oscar nominated turns ever to get nominated for an Oscar. Bill Hurt’s thug assistant looks like Jake Busey by way of… a different Jake Busey.
1:17:56 – Interesting facial hair decision by Bill Hurt. It’s a beard that hates mustaches.
1:18:00 – “Broheim”.
1:24:13 – I thought Philly was the city of Brotherly Love!
1:24:40 – “How do you fuck that up?” – One of the best things that’s ever happened in Philadelphia, including all that Ben Franklin shit.
Tangent: William Hurt’s performance on the audiobook for Stephen King’s Hearts in Atlantis is the best and most heartwarming performance on any audiobook in the history of audio or books. Seriously. Then halfway through Stephen King’s phlegmvoice shows up and undoes what was did.
1:28:03 – Viggo cleanses his body (and his soul?) in lake water. He gazes at his reflection. Does he see himself or the man he once was? Only pretentious assholes care.
1:32:00 – In and out in an hour and a half and with nothing left wanting. Thank you Mr. Cronenberg!
This is a great movie by any definition. Cronenberg skimping on body horror and it working in spades. Viggo playing subdued. The return of William Hurt. One-eyed Ed Harris. Violence! Sex! If you haven’t seen it, you must. I you have you still must. If you hate it you’re three pounds of shit in a six ounce bag. Or you have different taste than me.