Bizarro Masterpiece Theatre: Hobo with a Shotgun

Film: Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)

Director: Jason Eisener

Starring: Rutger Hauer, Brian Downey, Gregory Smith

Written by: John Davies

Flat out: Hobo with a Shotgun made me feel good to be alive.  It’s the most wonderfully ridiculous film I’ve seen in ages.  A perfect mixture of dirtbag 80s vigilante cinema with the sort of bloody exploitation flick that most filmmakers totally fuck up by trying to play it cool, Hobo’s secret ingredient is its winning personality.  While there’s no shortage of tits and blood to be found here, those elements aren’t crammed down the viewer’s throat to compensate for the rest of a dull fucking movie.  Instead, the creators of this instant classic are obviously great big wonderful dorks, and it’s clear that their first and foremost goal in making Hobo with a Shotgun was to have the most fun they could possibly have.  They succeeded.

There’s something almost Road House-esque about the resulting hour and a half of cinema, featuring Rutger Hauer rambling around the urban decay as a half-crazed train-hopper.  Hauer’s unnamed vagrant hobbles into a town ruled by the razorblade fist of a murderous tyrant, and after a brief and ill-advised period of trying to get by unscathed, our hobo hero finds his trusty shotgun and trusty hooker sidekick, and he goes on a philosophy-and-pun-fueled ass kicking rampage.  Sure, Swayze’s Zen bouncer was a touch less schizophrenic than Hauer’s glass eating Hobo, but their hearts are filled with the same triumphant justice!

Our Hobo’s epic saga is fraught with awesome villainy.  The city’s genocidal dictator is a Napoleonic imp on an endless seizure of spastic screaming, and his demon enforcers, two walking suits of murder armor, are completely kickass.  The cream of the scum, however, comes in the form of the two sons of the dictator, a pair of letter jacket and sunglasses-at-night sporting yuppie bastards who wreak bloody entitlement with the greatest of glee.  These jerks are responsible for most of the film’s greatest moments, including its zenith in which they take a flamethrower to a bus full of kids while getting down to “Disco Inferno.”  It might have been a gruesome scene if it wasn’t played so silly.

In Hobo, the absurd is everywhere, and it’s hilarious.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a movie with so many fantastically bad one-liners, and the shit which comes out of these characters’ mouths is the gold which steers the ship.  The Hobo’s behavioral idiosyncrasies and violence so over the top as to be rendered slapstick only enhance the film’s sense of nonsense.  For all of its hoboeroticism, I love the shit out of Hobo with a Shotgun.

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The Designer’s Drugs: Moving Units/Yellowcard

Medium: Album

Stimulus: Moving Units – Tension War

Anno: 2011

Moving Units is at its best with the basslines turned up, and fortunately this quick burst of songs delivers some of the low end that was sorely missing from the band’s previous album, Hexes for Exes.  The highlight of this EP is “Until She Says,” a slithering bass and piano single that easily qualifies as one of Moving Units’ best tunes.  On this song’s coattails is a quite slick remix which reimagines the song as though created by a Sega Game Gear.  The collection’s other standout is “Paris, New Mexico,” which is a darker yet faster rush of bass.

The songs that rely more on synths are good, but not as good.  “Pink Redemption” is a disco remake of a song from Hexes, and both in its music and its excessive falsetto the song feels like a weak imitation.  Similarly, “Liquid X” feels like it could pass as a lesser song from Hexes.

The sum total is about half and half.  If one is inclined towards bass-funk driven dance music, there are a few tracks here which definitely merit a listen.  If not, this is going to come off to the listener as severe posturing by a group of electro-aristocrats.

Medium: Album

Stimulus: Yellowcard – When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes

Anno: 2011

The title of this album is very appropriate.  Yellowcard’s latest release is the usual pretty sounding peppy tragedy punk with an occasional infusion of strings to further accent the sense of gravity and melodrama.  It’s a series of very well crafted pop songs destined for radio play and MTV teen dramas, and if this was the intent then it succeeded.  Unfortunately, this also means that the lyrics have a suffocating sense of romanticism which will probably turn off anyone who has dated more than one person.

“For You, and Your Denial” is the album’s peak, with all that stringy gravity running in full force alongside high tempos and stiff guitars.  But beyond this song, and the almost country pop of “Hang You Up,” everything else kind of blends together.  Nothing’s bad as technique goes, but there’s only so much teenage melodrama that can congeal in one place before it all becomes redundant.  Yellowcard passed that threshold.