So Barry P. at Cinematic Catharsis had a great idea for a blogathon. Basically, it's all about man vs. nature, in some form of fashion. He invited bloggers to write about movies that depicted either "Animal Attacks" or, what he calls "I Fought Nature, and Nature Won." The first category is pretty self-explanatory. The second contains movies where nature went wild, such as The Day After Tomorrow, The Perfect Storm, or even The Wizard of Oz.
Before I go any further, I have to send an apology to our host for this blogathon. Your's truly knew about this weeks ago, but couldn't decide what to do and put it off and kinda sorta forgot about it until, voila, right now. My bad, Barry. I won't let it happen again. I hope.
So, which way am I going? I could go with any number of animal attack films, but instead, I'm going with...
I Fought Nature, and Nature Won
The film I'm going with is an underrated crime thriller/dark comedy...
The Ice Harvest
The nature is right in the title. Sorta. The titular ice harvest is an ice storm that has absolutely paralyzed the town of Wichita Falls. Most people are inconvenienced, but not in any sort of danger from this storm, since most of the good folks in town stayed home. However, the people we're following around in this film aren't good folks. We have Charlie (John Cusack), who is a mob lawyer, Vic (Billy Bob Thornton), a crooked businessman/pornographer, and mob boss Bill (Randy Quaid), whom Charlie works for. On Christmas Eve, Charlie and Vic have teamed up and stolen two million dollars from Bill. They hope to get out of town on the same night, before Bill realizes what's going on. Of course, like I said, a serious ice storm rolls through. It's so serious that the roads out of danger are too icy to travel. This leaves our (anti)heroes biding their time until they can get out of dodge. Of course, that's not so easy since it doesn't take long to notice that two million bucks are missing from your money. And Bill isn't too happy when he notices.
Charlie and Vic bounce around town, trying to make sure Bill (or Bill's goons) doesn't reach them. They're making plans, and everywhere they go they get told that Bill is looking for them. Charlie is also trying to get close to Renata (Connie Nielsen). She owns the local strip joint and Charlie has been after her for years. Vic is a little different in the love department. He's trying to distance himself from his wife. Well, he does, but I won't spoil how.
What makes the film, is that dark, dark comedy. Much of it is politically incorrect, to say the least. You know what? I will spoil the part about Vic and his wife. I feel like I have to because Vic's description of what happened is perfectly emblematic of the type of humor that courses through the veins of this movie. Vic relays it as such...
"He actually threatened to shoot Gladys if I did't tell him where the money was. But I think he was counting on a level of commitment and affection between her and me that just simply wasn't there."
|What's in the box!|
Clearly, Vic is a man with his priorities in the right order.
Delivering such biting dialogue requires strong work from the cast. This cast is more than up to the task. Billy Bob Thornton is fantastic, giving a performance that is an underrated one from his filmography. Always underrated is Randy Quaid. He gives us a wonderfully greasy mob boss. His Bill is the sort of guy who is menacing without really making a big show of things. John Cusack grounds the film as the most down-to-earth of our main characters, but he's no less slimy than either of them. Outshining them all might be Oliver Platt as Charlie's buddy Pete. He lights up the screen every time he shows up.
As you can probably tell by my enthusiasm for the dialogue of this film, all of the great work done by the actors is in service of a dynamic script. It's snappy, snarky, sharp and sly. The story rolls along, blending its twisted humor with a compelling tale. By the time we get to the end, the film has achieved a sublime level of distastefulness. It all happened because nature took over Wichita Falls.