Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Quiet Cool

(Clay Borris, 1986)
Don't gainsay him. Had Borris stuck with kitchen-sink autobiography instead of going pro, the formula would have run dry fast - movies like "Alligator Shoes" don't come along every year. And this is exactly the kind of film a working-class lout like the Borris of "Alligator Shoes" would be likely to come up with: simplistic, businesslike, and action-packed. This is no amateur-hour Hollywood wannabe, it's a successful assimilation of the American action-movie codes of the time, on a smaller scale perhaps but slick top to bottom, with clever and concise staging throughout. But even in kitchen-sink mode there were hints of a peculiar emotional vacancy in the guy, and even for an 80s action flick this is exceptional in its gleeful disregard for human life. The scale matters: as a Rambo's-eye view of B.C. grow-ops, this flick lays bare the willful idiocy of standard issue us-versus-them action dynamics in spite of the 'surprise' ending. However much enthusiasm and skill Borris may display as a generic craftsman, his single-minded bloodlust keeps him well on the outside of these characters and reduces the dramatics to the level of 80s TV, body count notwithstanding. The cheesy, nagging score does nothing to dispel this association. Populist ambition needn't equate to total brainlessness, you know?

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