This week:
Road to Perdition

Filthy says:
"Pretty and empty."

Maybe you don't have a Gunther Toody's where you live, but you have something exactly like it. Gunther Toody's is a chain of faux-50s diners with lots of chrome and vinyl and the kind of music from the way-back machine that reminds you some pop music always sucked. They've got crazy crap on the walls, part of a Chevy sticking through the wall, and gum-snapping waitresses. It's the kind of place that Fonzie would drop his jeans, raise his leather jacket and shit on.

I avoid the place like getting free dental work done at the prison's vocational school because I find that phony horeseshit about as appealing as having an inmate grinding the gum down to bone because you look like a narc. But, in Arvada, Gunther Toody's is like the fucking cops: when you don't go to them, they come to you.

Last night the Tavern was set upon by greasy, overstuffed waitresses like locusts to the harvest. Actually, there were only two, but they had the mass and appetites of a destructive swarm. It was a passion play, with the soft pair of plus-sized ladies followed by a short, sweaty fry cook looking to sink his bloomin' onion in the deep fat fryer of love.

The girls were sort of like salt and pepper shakers. Salt was bigger, had bigger holes in her head, but was easier to shake something out of. Pepper was trimmer, tighter and required more work. Fry cook had a difficult choice. It was obvious from where he slouched at the bar and where his eyes roamed that he was a pepper man. Salt was offering it up for free, though. All he needed to do was say, "No, you aren't that fat" and she would have shimmied out of her funny-phrase button-covered uniform and lubed his dick with her ruby-red lipstick. Pepper played hard to get, though. She wasn't so terribly fat, her face wasn't bad and she knew that he wanted her. So he sat clutching his beer, next to the pregnant lady smoking Virginia Slims because she didn't want her baby getting all tarry. You could see in the flexing and furrowing of his eyebrows that he couldn't decide whether to have some salt or to keep grinding for the pepper.

That's a lot like the dilemma in Road to Perdition, except it's about sons and not chubby waitresses. The main difference is I actually gave a monkey's fart what happened to the fry cook and the characters in the movie were too fabricated and distant.

Tom Hanks is Mike Sullivan, the hardest-working hitman in the depression-era Midwest. He keeps his career choice a secret from his family. That's understandable. My father didn't tell us he wasn't really an astronaut until I was old enough to figure out his "uniform" was made of aluminum foil. Anyway, Hanks works for Paul Newman, a man who was a father figure as he grew up.

On one of an endless string of rainy nights, Hanks's curious son (Tyler Hoechlin) learns what his father does. He sneaks into the car and sees Hanks and Newman's son (Daniel Craig) kill a man. When Hanks and Craig catch the boy, it sets in motion a plot to kill him. Hanks's wife and other son are murdered by Craig, prompting him to hit the road with Hoechlin.

The mob chases them, even assigning a greasy, wacky-in-a-somber-sense hitman/photographer Jude Law to chase him. In a subplot that goes nowhere, Hanks and Hoechlin bond over a series of bank heists where they are trying to get even with the mob by stealing its money. But the real plot is supposed to be about the kid learning his father might be a killer, and might be amoral, but he's a great father. Not the kind of dad who buys you a baseball glove, or barges into your school Christmas pageant and says "I just got back from the moon. Who wants cheese?" but a real standup guy.

Road to Perdition is as fucking serious as a dead priest. I mean, it's got the three elements that the Academy looks for when handing out awards: it's competent, it's well lit, and it's like watching an instructional video for starting your own funeral home franchise.

The theme is choices. Newman must choose between protecting his own son, a weaselly killer, or protecting Hanks, an honorable killer. And in choosing his son he proves himself a coward. And Hanks must choose between letting the transgressions go or exacting his revenge. To root for him and understand him, you have to think that revenge is honorable. It isn't; hiding and crapping your pants in fear is, but revenge is obvious. I mean, really, that Hammurabi dude was kind of a jerk.

In Hollywood, revenge is moral because it makes for a lot of dead bodies. And those are a fuck-sight more entertaining than turning the other cheek, especially when your cheeks are as fat with stored nuts as Tom Hanks's.

And that's the big problem with this movie. It poses itself with all its polished hardwood floors and expensive 1930s cityscapes as a really IMPORTANT movie with a shitload of depth. But its substance is all on the surface and when its over you have nothing to think about but how pretty it looked. Really, it's a pretentious load of horseshit, like a guy in a turtleneck at the Starbucks who looks sort of smart, so long as he doesn't start explaining "Dune" to you.

It's dark, but really only in its lighting. Director Sam Mendes uses rainy nights like a Colfax Avenue whore uses crack; injudiciously and to excess. And if I saw another pasty-faced Irish kid emerge from the darkness I was gonna start throwing punches.

The movie is so damn desperate to let us know it's important that nobody even needs to act. Still, child-actor Hoechlin gives Jake Lloyd a run for his money in the bad actor derby. As far as I can tell, the job of a kid is to make the shit screenwriters pen sound like it would naturally come out of a kid's mouth. Hoechlin doesn't; he just looks like a kid being told what to do. The adults share a single emotion, that of being worried or constipated, or being worried about their constipation, and they tense their jaws a lot. Hanks lets his stubble do the acting for him. Anyway, it's the sort of movie where acting isn't necessary. They're just supposed to look like more nice old-timey furniture.

It's an empty experience. Sure it looks like something, but under the pretty packaging it's just like what the greasy Gunther Toody's fry cook got. I got nothing, and the fry cook walked out alone, left to go home and masturbate when he could have gone home with the salt and boned her while thinking about the pepper.

Two Fingers for Road to Perdition.

Want to tell Filthy Something?

Filthy's Reading
Robert Louis Stevenson- Treasure Island

Listening to
Talking Heads - Speaking in Tongues

This is Spinal Tap

Tony Toscano of Talking Pictures

Mr. Deeds is "The funniest film of the summer!"

Halloween Resurrection is,"Better than Halloween: H20! It brings the horror film back to its roots!"


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