Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Broken Horses, Lame Movies
is not exactly a western, but Of Mice and
Men is certainly a novel of the American west. It clearly wasn’t conceived
as a bordertown noir—and with good reason. Vidhu Vinod Chopra will demonstrate
just how ill-conceived such a story would be. For his American directorial
debut, Chopra transfers his Bollywood mega-hit Parinda to the Southwest, but something is definitely lost in the
Spanglish translation that is Broken
which opens today in New York.
Heckum is the older brother, but Jakey is supposed to be the responsible one.
Buddy is a bit slow, but he sure can shoot a gun. When their Pa, the sheriff is
murdered, local crime lord Julius Hench tricks Buddy into thinking he is
avenging his father by killing Hench’s enemies. Soon, the elder Heckum Brother
is a full-fledged member of the gang. That must make him a Henchman. Meanwhile,
Jakey Heckum maintains his blissful ignorance pursuing his violin studies in
New York. However, with his marriage to Vittoria, a fellow struggling musician,
soon approaching, Jakey returns home to brief Buddy on his best man duties.
to his shock, he finds his brother is totally mobbed up. Afraid the younger
Heckum will challenge his hold on Buddy, Hench tries to have Jakey killed. He somehow
survives, but it is quite the wake-up call. Determined to save Buddy, Jakey
decides to take down Hench’s outfit from the inside by joining the organization.
Fortunately, Hench was looking to recruit a violinist. Actually, he wanted a
second viola player, but he will have to make do.
very notion of Alton Yelchin’s nebbish Jakey Heckum talking his way into a
ruthless border gang is seriously credibility challenged. While Yelchin can be
a hit-or-miss actor, he completely throws in the towel halfway through Horses. The whole point of the film is
to watch him belatedly accept responsibility for Buddy and save him from his
soul-sucking life of crime. Yet, he spends the entire third act setting up
house with Vittoria on Buddy’s ranch, letting the brother is supposed to
protect handle all the thriller business.
Yelchin is trying to vanish into the background. As Buddy Heckum (seriously,
why not just call him Friendly Helzapoppin?), Chris Marquette induces cringe
after cringe with a performance suggesting Lennie Small with anger management issues.
Likewise, Vincent D’Onofrio over-indulges all his annoying tics and scenery
chewing shtickery, but since he is the villain, it is somewhat forgivable.
Probably only María Valverde (seen at Sundance a few years ago in the
infinitely superior Madrid, 1987) merits
any notice for bringing some warmth to the film as Vittoria.
movie is just an absolute mess. Somehow it manages to be exploitative and boring
at the same time. The title is a reference to putting down horses that pull up
lame, which might be the only fitting aspect of the entire shooting match. Not
recommended, Broken Horses opens
today (4/10) in New York, at the AMC Empire.
Labels: Vincent D'Onofrio