2014, Movies

Cut Bank (2014, Matt Shakman)

This is a weird one: a really hilariously great cast with a pretty strange plot, with a seemingly pretty small budget, and just enough quirk to make it feel distinct.


The cast of this movie is pretty ridiculous. It includes Bruce Dern, Liam Hemsworth, John Malkovich, Michael Stuhlbarg and Billy Bob Thornton. Have you ever heard of this movie? If you ignore that it was on my list, I’d say I haven’t heard of it. It’s always weird that there are these movies with these casts full of famous actors and nobody’s heard or seen them.

The plot is a weird one and it involves SPOILERS. So there’s a fake murder in order to scam the USPS out of money. But that’s not really what the plot is about. The plot is about this insane taxidermist whose mail is stolen as a result of the fake murder who then goes on a rampage. It’s not where you would think the plot is going but it works for me because it feels much closer to real life than the elaborate plotting you often find in films like this.

The movie has some humour mostly around people dying in weird ways. I very much enjoyed aspects of this movie, especially the second act. If the film as a whole was as strong as the second act, I’d probably rate it higher.

But there are a bunch of issues. As Jenn noticed sooner than me, the dialogue often feels very stagey. It often feels like someone’s idea of rural American dialogue rather than the real thing. There are some things that just don’t make sense. Malkovich’s character claims there’s never been a murder in a “city” of 3000 people in the west. That’s hard to believe. But there are also just issues with time. Like when Malkovich’s character is visiting the antagonist’s house, seemingly first thing in the morning, at the same time as the pageant. That really didn’t make any sense. And I didn’t love the ending, though if it was handled a little more smoothly, maybe I would have. (SPOILER: Couldn’t he just keep the money because the scandal of covering up a murder is arguably far more of a danger?)

I feel like there’s a fair amount to like here but it’s just not executed well enough.


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