Monday, November 28, 2005

The Ice Harvest

Review by Devin Sullivan
Ah, Harold Ramis, director of Analyze This, Groundhog Day, and the beloved Caddyshack. The man has been putting out good films since 1980 and even after the slightly disappointing Analyze That, he can still knock one out of the park. Not only that, but with The Ice Harvest, Ramis has evolved as a director to bring us a comedy with much more serious tones. In fact, let me say right here, despite the trailers you have seen for The Ice Harvest, this film is not a comedy. This film is a crime-noir, which just happens to be funny, Sin City mixed with Groundhog Day if you will. So don’t buy into the crap that this movie is, “A dark comedy.” That’s just Hollywood trying to grab a larger audience during the holiday season.
And the holidays, are ironically, the main focus of scorn during the movie. The Ice Harvest is a bloody, humorous, and cynical yarn set on Christmas Eve. The film begins with mob-lawyer Charlie Arglist (John Cusack) and mob-run-strip-club owner Vic (Billy Bob Thornton) planning to escape with two-million-dollars that they have just stolen from their employer, mob boss Bill Guerrard (Randy Quaid). However, the duo’s perfect crime soon unravels as they wait for their chance to get out of Wichita, Kansas, the streets of which are covered in freezing rain. What follows is a dark adventure, full of bullets, cynical comments, lots of strip-clubs, and gore. It’s one hell of a cold Christmas.
The film is not for everyone, but there is something for everyone in it. For instance, you have to be impressed with Oliver Platt’s performance as Pete, the new husband of the protagonist’s ex-wife. Oliver Platt steals some serious scenery with this drunken stupor of a character. When he’s not bitching out his father-in-law at Christmas dinner, he is pondering the moral reality of what it is to be a modern man. Of course, all of the characters in this film are full of life – and also happen to be very bad people. There’s not a single worthy person in the whole film, which is really what makes it great. Cusack’s Charlie Arglist isn’t the stereo-typical mobster with a heart of gold. He isn’t struggling to get out of the mob; he just wants to screw it over for his own personal gain. The Ice Harvest is a harsh, almost sarcastic vision of organized crime. It might be too cynical for some audiences, but it’s still an excellent film if you know what you’re getting into. It’s a shame the trailers don’t help you know quite what that is.9/10

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