Selasa, 08 Maret 2011

The Delicate Art of the Rifle (1996) - D.W. Harper

The Delicate Art of the Rifle is a strange movie. Yes, it also has moments of great humor, drama, and pathos, but more than anything else, this movie is just plain weird. Driven by a rambling, stream-of-consciousness narration from its introverted protagonist, Stephen Grant's screenplay finds a geeky college student's dull day-to-day routine of working backstage in the campus theatre thrown into chaotic turmoil when one of his best friends, who is named, ironically enough, “Walt Whitman,” decides to continue his spiritual ancestor's legacy of fine marksmanship by camping out on the top of a tall building and randomly picking off strangers, in a darkly comic recreation of the horrifying real-life 1966 shooting spree that took place right here in Austin, Texas.

While budgetary constraints occasionally blunt the effectiveness of the action, and the script may be a little too leisurely paced and anecdotal for its own good, there's no denying that this movie is a true original. Although we're never quite sure of whether or not The Delicate Art of the Rifle is being weird simply for the sake of being weird, one thing is clear: Harper's film is unlike anything you've seen before, and if that alone isn't enough reason to check it out, rest assured that the movie does have more to offer its audience than just its infectiously bizarre world view, even if at first it seems to be the picture's most striking quality. - Joey O'Bryan, Austin Chronicle (excerpted)

The Delicate Art of the Rifle is the kind of excruciatingly smart, gorgeously shot and edited, deadpan gem that film festivals were made for. An updating of the story of Texas sniper Charles Whitman, told from the roommate’s point of view with droning voiceover of comic precision, The Delicate Art of the Rifle is a hypnogogic charm. The infernal interior monologue, drenched in crit-speak and computer talk and videogame noise, is word-drunk poetry. Daring and strange. - Ray Pride, Newcity Chicago

By any measure Delicate Art is one of the most imaginative and fascinating debut films of the year. The film is a complex interweaving of strategies--comic, dramatic, satiric, psychological, symbolic, thriller-esque. It’s the unusual mixing of these elements, especially the folding of a spooky and allusive psychodrama inside the skin of realistic action drama, that marks the movie’s vibrant originality. The film’s overall vision, including Harper’s assured and shrewdly mannered visual style, has an intelligence and exuberance of invention that represent the best instincts of American independent filmmaking. In a day when too many young filmmakers are simply angling for a market niche or aping previous indie hits, here’s one film that’s resolutely true to its own cinematic muse. - Godfrey Cheshire, NY Press

Too anecdotal for its own good? Hell no. The digressions are what make this film a personal favorite. I absolutely love it and am betting many KGers will too. From a VHS recording of an IFC airing circa 1999, with spots of irregular framing and very minor tape damage. Looks better than I remembered, though, and is amazingly watermark-free. Make it a double with The Deadly Tower. Delicate Art of the Rifle (1996).avi

no pass

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