John Hawkins, aka “Hawk” has just been released from prison. Hawk used to be the Rain City Police Department’s sharpest investigator, but there’s no chance of getting his badge back. It would be easy for Hawk to take a job working for a gangster like Hilly Blue, but he’d prefer to walk the straight and narrow if he has the option.
Coop and his wife Georgia have just moved to Rain City from the countryside. Coop finds getting a legitimate job too difficult, so he teams up with a local thug named Solo and earns a living in a variety of less-than-legal ways. Unfortunately, this new line of work causes a nasty shift in Coop’s behavior, forcing Georgia to contemplate leaving him. —DVDverdict.com
The son of director Oscar Rudolph, writer-director Alan Rudolph followed in the footsteps of mentor Robert Altman, embracing a similar kind of ensemble picture while pursuing his own personal, less satiric, more human vision. Despised by mainstream Hollywood, he has managed to stay true to his idiosyncratic muse and remain in the game despite never having had a breakthrough commercial success. Rudolph’s dialogue has a snappy, flirtatious quality, and his distinctive “pan-and-zoom” style allows audiences to experience performances that are not built from cut to cut. It is not unusual for a Rudolph film to contain four or five shots that are as long as six or seven minutes, unheard of in this era of high-tech editing. Actors who like working with him because he lets them get into real-life rhythms wave their usual salaries, enabling him to adhere to ridiculously low budgets, and he frequently reteams with his talent, knowing that subsequent collaborations will only be richer.
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I need to see more Rudolph movies (and this one again) to fully get on his wavelength, since the ending left me a little colder than I'd have liked, but this is one of the better culty whatsits to emerge from the 80s, I think. A post-Blade Runner combo of everything that's good about Altman with a swoonily romantic humanism and straight-faced pomo absurdity. The way he moves the camera is just luscious.
A film about contradictions; Rain City is fictional but it's clearly Seattle, Hilly Blue is a threatening gangster but he's played by Divine, the characters are distinctly of the 80's but they're embroiled in 40's noir. But ultimately contradiction; two opposing things together, extends to choice, the film's foremost theme. An old flame or a young new lover? Criminal or family life?