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Movie Reviews: A Gray State +My Father’s Shadow +Hangman +Hobo With A Shotgun +The Skull

A Gray State (2017)
This unedifying documentary centres on David Crowley who was a not especially likeable conspiracy theorist who wanted to make a movie about government misbehaviour. He was obsessed with a government shutdown and spiralled into madness and killed his family and himself. While this documentary sounded like an intriguing notion, this tries too much for heaviness. The documentary makers leave out some unnerving information about the death scene.

Why were hard-drives daisy chained together? Some question the finding that the Crowley family deaths were murder/suicide. This documentary tells Crowley’s grim story to the bitter end. He strummed on a guitar and had bathetic lows. This documentary has no real intellectual curiosity and it is not boisterous. He was in the military and ranted about a lack of fairness and Christian decency. He seemed to lack patience and forbearance.

There is some confusion over his wife’s religion. Crowley seemed to have made some misjudged choices and forced his wife along for the ride. They had a daughter and both seemed to develop obvious mental health issues. This documentary is not a sensational achievement. People argue over the deaths but no information on the deaths or crime scene is given. There was a succession of incidents that showed Crowley seemed to have PTSD.

This is an obvious failure. People have wounded regret and appropriate their story. Why did Crowley’s wife Komel give up cake decorating when she was good at it? Crowley was obsessed with his movie which seemed to be only a concept trailer and not a real script. Crowley seemed to have regular fits of pique. Some people say he is being maligned in death. Did he have pointless ambition? Who can tell in this documentary that isn’t engaging or nuanced.

Crowley pined pathetically. This documentary is downright ridiculous. There was something maniacal and destructive and fearsome about Crowley who had a distain for authority. His 5 year old daughter said some disturbing things. The movie Crowley wanted to make had a tagline: by consent or conquest. What does that mean? Crowley seemed to be an icon of the conspiracy nutters. But his fame was bought at an enormous cost.

Crowley was erratic and stubborn and seemed incapable of reasoned thought. His movie was built on shams. Crowley claimed veterans like himself were being watched. He seemed odious. The sheer ambition of his project made him morally suspect, he seemed a repulsive obscenity and morally suspect. Crowley was unaware and unconcerned with sense. Why didn’t Komel have friends or leave the house? There is insufficient reward for watching this. Crowley seemed to have an unexpected for evil, he was deranged and rambled.

This was not engaging. Crowley thought he had genius and was unduly unassuming. Crowley appeared preposterous, had obvious black melancholy and incredible inefficiency and paralysing inertia. Was he an abuser? It seems likely. Crowley was cynical and seemed indolent and pretty smug. Crowley got upset with fans whilst his life was a spiralling horror show. Komel was passively pleasant. Crowley had an erosion of morality and was a catastrophic liability.

The family developed weird religious beliefs. This documentary was not powerful or immensely moving. And it was not sincere or persuasive. There is no winning weirdness. Crowley was not endearingly reckless. He was macho pseudiness. This was not vivid. Crowley spoke bitterly and was abhorrent. Crowley seemed to become increasingly disruptive and violent. Komel seemed trapped in a folie a deux with him. Someone says they went Sid and Nancy. This is a blunt conclusion, indifferently received.

Crowley was not the teller of truth to power he thought he was. He was actually an acutely vapid seethingly hostile man. There were dark premonitions of his end. He didn’t have sincerity or idealism. He displayed aggression and was of dubious credibility and full of grave flaws. This unexceptional documentary was not insightful. It was a clunky tale of a duplicitous man whose ending was grimly inevitable because he wasn’t open and available to criticism.

Best Lines:
“Credibility means nothing to me.”

“Who wrote the blood?”

“Wrong territory.”

“Drives 17 hours from Texas.”

“A corrupt war.”

“Involuntarily held by the military for 15 months.”

“No one killed you.”

“Improbable dream.”

“This is what she knows.”

“Morally adrift.”

“Taking an adversarial position toward us.”

“I love the bitch in you.”

“Gone into your dark place again.”

My Father’s Shadow aka Death In The Shadows (1998)
Peter Strauss and Henry Czerny star in this true story based on the Sam Sheppard case. Lindsay Frost and John Colicos co-star. The arrogant cheating doctor (Strauss) claims an intruder beat his pregnant wife to death in what seems like a completely logical sequence of events, not.  Did he kill her or did an intruder really do it? The doctor claims he is innocent and years later his son (Czerny) tries to prove his father innocent. But it is more likely that Sam Sheppard did it.

It is long claimed the Sam Sheppard case inspired ’The Fugitive’ TV show and movie. Sheppard cheated constantly and keeps on being annoying even in jail. This TV movie seems deliberately absurdist. There are no believable human emotions. Strauss does his usual wild overacting. Sheppard shrugs off the raw accusation of murder. He ignores his son who was sent to military school. Sheppard was an awful jackass who causes agonies of revulsion. And that is before his conviction is over-turned and he gets out of jail and marries his prison pen pal.

He ignores his son to party with his new wife who was Magda Goebbels half sister. No, really. He actually did that. He was despicable and guilty as sin. He ignores and emotionally abuses his son who is inexplicably devoted to him. The father can only get a job as a pro-wrestler where he invented a new submission move. One wonders what else he used that move for. This was not good. The son blames someone else for his mother’s murder. Poor deluded man.

Best Line:
“Believe the unbelievable.”

Hangman (2015)
Jeremy Sisto stars in this found footage tale of home invaders who stalk and kill families. This was not audacious. You don’t care about the family being menaced by an external force. This was dubious and the stalker shows no inclination to mercy. One is morally and personally offended by this. It glorifies violence against women.

Hobo With A Shotgun (2011)
Rutger Hauer stars in this 1970s style exploitation movie alongside Gregory Smith. Who ever would have guessed that out of the ‘Everwood’ cast; Chris Pratt would be the big star? A hobo (Hauer) comes to a city full of scum and crime and divisiveness. There is overacting and a crime lord who rules the city with his 2 thuggish sons (one of whom is Smith).

There is blood and Slick (Smith) gets battered by the hobo kicking off a series of violent retaliations. The street trash continues to do the right thing but gets no thanks. The hobo befriends a friendly hooker. Finally the hobo cracks up and grabs a shotgun that he never seems to reload. Blood flies as he shoots thieves, a pimp and a guy who organises bum fights. And he’s only getting started.

People do drugs and can’t be non-contentious. Slick incinerates a school bus full of children with a flame-thrower to the tune of Disco Inferno. A newsreader is killed live on air with an ice skate. Slick has a hostile reaction to the hobo and wilfully does bad things. Slick gets homeless people including a baby killed. There is overacting and overwrought dialogue. The hobo offers obstruction to Slick and co.

The dialogue and storyline aren’t always plausible. This was all purposeless. There is no contained anger or high-minded rhetoric. The hobo expresses fury and frustration. There is gore and guns. The baddies are extremely hostile and shouty. There are no morals or values or social conscience. This was done with fervour. There are odd moral arguments.

This movie is full of terrifying anger and resentment. The corrosive effects of crime and demonic ambition are obvious. There are defiant statements. What is an appropriate response to this movie? There is indolence all round and this was not tantalising.

Best Lines:
“Mercy ain’t my style.”

“Selling your hole.”

“Go home to someone who loves you.”

“We’ve got homeless to kill.”

“I hate hobos!”

“My legs are closed for the night.”

“Make comic books out of my hate crimes.”

“I bet there’s not one human being in this town whose life you haven’t ruined.”

The Skull (1965)
Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee star in this. A relic of the infamous Marquis de Sade shows up. This bored and made no sense.
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