Tag Archives: Will Patton

Good Intentions

Blood on Her Name

by Hope Madden

Good intentions are very mortal and perishable things.

So are people.

Leigh Tiller lets good intentions muck up what should have been an easy crime to get away with. No one would have known. No one would have suspected. Not that there wouldn’t be complications, but she’d deal with those later.

While co-writer/director Matthew Pope doesn’t reinvent the wheel with his Rust Belt noir Blood on Her Name, it is actually the refreshing simplicity of the storytelling that compels you to pay attention. That and Bethany Anne Lind’s performance.

As Tiller, Lind weaves a dotted line between upstanding and sketchy. Her compass doesn’t always point due North, or maybe it does, or at least maybe it could. Right? It could. It’s this struggle, most of it internal, that Lind characterizes with subtle anguish to give the film an aching, remorseful tenderness, a longing for what should be but what is always just out of reach.

Pope populates his low rent neighborhoods with an intriguing mix of characters, none of whom are rendered with broad strokes. Dani Wilson is especially strong as a fading white trash hottie, while Will Patton finds dimension as an old man who believes he deserves a second chance but probably does not.

Blood on Her Name is a film that should feel bleak but it rebels against its own grim fate. This is a film that knows Leigh Tiller deserved better choices, stronger options. It’s a film that doesn’t want to give up on small town, low rent, hard work. But it’s also a film that’s bracingly clear-eyed about the reality that balances that optimism.

The result is a memorably quiet eulogy.

This Isn’t Radio Clash

Radioflash

by Hope Madden

See the solution, not the problem.

That’s the mantra young Reese (Brighton Sharbino) repeats as she tries to find her way free of an ultra-realistic virtual reality exercise. Back at home, with her multiple screens in front of her, she has a tough time getting that game out of her head, even when her dad (Dominic Monaghan) calls her down for burgers on the dinner table and vinyl on the turntable .

Radioflash is the latest in a tedious line of films to point out that we—our youngsters, in particular—are dangerously reliant on technology, to the point that they barely know how to live day to day in the real world. I mean, what would Reese do if a nuclear pulse took out the power in half the country?

Let’s find out.

Being solution oriented, she heads to Grampa’s (Will Patton) shed. As luck would have it, the first book she grabs falls open to the page defining a radioflash. And though there’s no reason on earth to believe this is anything other than a garden variety black out, Reese somehow intuits 1) it is, indeed, a radioflash, and 2) how to get Grampy’s old CB radio up and running via a car battery.

Oh, the conveniences just come scattershot like that through the rest of the film, which is less a journey and more a series of “and then this happens, and then this happens, and then this happens.”

This is not a film that has a high opinion of  humanity. Sure, neither did Cormac McCarthy, but I think he saw civilization surviving more than a single day before his post-apocalyptic nightmare The Road had us eating each other. Not so, writer/director Ben McPherson. Outright cannibalism may be a few days off, but inside of 24 hours he expects to see looting, murder, kidnapping and worse.

Wait, what’s worse than  looting, murder and kidnapping?

Mountain people.

“Only two kinds of mountain people,” says wizened and doomed good Samaritan Farmer Glenn. “Those chasing a dream, and those that’s being chased.”

Guess whose hands solution-oriented Reese falls into? Here’s an actual piece of dialog, to help you decide.

“Ain’t no finer meat than bear.”

Yes, Reese finds herself with the meanest lot of white trash this side of Wrong Turn.

But Radioflash is not a horror movie. (It’s not a Clash song, either, but damn if I can get that tune out of my head.) It’s a lazy hero’s quest adventure flick where the hero learns little and isn’t given much chance to become a hero.