Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Pawn Shop Chronicles: Don’t Hock What You Can’t Afford to Lose
did we get so pathetically starved for entertainment as a society that we made
reality TV stars out of pawn shop dudes? At least this slightly macabre anthology film
puts hock shops back in their properly sleazy place. Everyone doing business at the General Lee
Pawn Shop will be getting the shaft, but it will be fate and human nature doing
the dirty work in Wayne Kramer’s Pawn
Shop Chronicles (trailer
opens this Friday in New York.
and his crony Johnson sit about the store grunting and guffawing, pausing to
deal with the occasional pawn. Each
transaction will cause big time trouble and regret for the General Lee’s walk-ins,
like Vernon the meth head, who hocks his shotgun right before meeting up with
his white supremacist buddies, Raw Dog and Randy, to hold-up their dealer. Of course, they are rather disappointed in
paper, “The Shotgun” sounds like a cheap bit of hicksploitation, but it
features some of the wickedest dialogue in the film, which Paul Walker and
Kevin Rankin chew on with proper relish.
Gleefully embracing cartoonish violence and a bizarre redneck brand of
tolerance, PSC arguably puts its strongest
foot forward first.
Ring” also has its exploitation merits, but viewers should be warned it is the
most explicit and disturbing installment of the film. Making amends for Crash, PSC’s pretentious evil twin, Matt Dillon plays a newlywed who
chances into the General Lee, only to discover his presumably late first wife’s
custom ring in the display case.
Following the chain of wrongful ownership takes him into the lair of
Johnny Shaw, the latest serial killer to be played by Elijah Wood.
a sly riff on the crossroads legend, “The Medallion” is PSC’s weakest link.
Seriously, a little bit of Brendan Fraser shticking up the joint as Ricky
Baldoski, the low rent Elvis impersonator, goes a long, long way. Eventually, strands of the previous stories
will transect this Faustian tale, but first viewers must sit through an
extended gag involving the town’s rival barbershops that feels like it runs
longer than The Winds of War.
have long awaited the film that features Wood, Lukas Haas, and DJ Qualls, but
since they never appear here in the same scene together, we still cannot
definitely say they are not one and the same person. Vincent D’Onofrio and Chi McBride are mildly
amusing in the General Lee framing segments, but it is Walker, Rankin, and Dillon
who are the film’s overachievers.
Much like a chaotic pawn shop, the inspired and
the stupid comfortably sit side-by-side in PSC. To his credit, Kramer (in a radical departure
from his excellent more-or-less feature debut, The Cooler) helms the madness with considerable energy and absolutely
no shame. On balance, b-movie connoisseurs
will enjoy checking it out when it releases on VOD this Friday (7/12). It also opens theatrically in New York at the
AMC Empire and in Colorado at the AMC Westminster Promenade.
Labels: Anthology Films, Wayne Kramer