Friday, September 28, 2007
Holy Shit We Have a Winner
The Col is just back from the World Premiere of Robert Hendrickson's new film, THE MANSON MOVIE. I went because I had to... I am the Col and I know more about TLB than anyone. You'd want to hear my report first. Well the film ended less than an hour ago. How is it?
IT IS FANTASTIC !!!
And I really mean FANTASTIC. I didn't know what to expect. I mean, Hendrickson has been talking about making this film since 1999 on his site. He spent like three years pursuing ebay and amazon because somebody bootlegged his first Manson film. Which wasn't all that smart because the best way to beat bootleggers is to RELEASE THE MOVIE LEGALLY- which he STILL hasn't done. And the rhetoric on his site was always Evil Charlie BS. So I did not know what to expect, as I said.
I guess I expected overlap with the old film. There is VERY little of that. Minimal.
I guess I expected Evil Charlie bullshit. While he makes a comment or two in the first few minutes of the film leading me to think that he was heading there, he ultimately does not.
I guess I expected more sound bites (as he called the first film in the q and a afterwards). But instead you get a plot. A very unique and clever plot. I'd retitle the film MANSON- A Filmmaker's Journey. Kind of like Hearts of Darkness was the documentary about making Apocalypse Now. Except one was fiction and one was a doc. And in this case Manson I and Manson II are both docs. But plot wise, this was Hendrickson's story. His journey from drafted soldier in Vietnam to chronicler of the Manson Family.
Hendrickson skillfully creates a sense of time and place in the film, using war footage as well as footage he shot of the Ruben Salazar execution. His voiceover is riveting- he is a good storyteller.
There are some big revelations- not the least of which is Ronnie Howard's claim that she was suppose to lie to ensure a conviction then she would split the reward money 50/50 with Officers Whitely and Guenther.
There are some real howler mistakes- Shorty's name was SHEA not O'Shea, and twice Hendrickson intimates that he was in the presence of Bruce Davis the possible Zodiac Killer- but Davis is not Zodiac and no one thought that back then. It was an early 90s lie foisted by Nellie and Howard Davis. Since these are all in the voiceover they are easily fixable.
He has a POWERFUL ending with Squeaky in an outtake from the gun assembly footage in the first film. She is crying as we learn in typeface what happened to some of the people in the film. I'd want to report on all of them (TJ- Roadkill, Gypsy- Jesus) but there is no denying the power of his ending.
His music choices, from Jimmy Beaver to the Family itself, are all SPOT THE HELL on. They work.
If there is any criticism, it is simply that unless you are the Col or someone immersed at the case, so much of it flies by unexplained. Zero's suicide. Mark Ross. Judas Watkins. Hendrickson doesn't provide a scorecard. But one of my guests tonight, who knows ZIP about the case, addressed my concern by saying "I know I didn't follow it all and I am sure I need to digest it, but that was extremely powerful and the last thirty minutes or so completely disturbed me." So maybe my criticism isn't even valid.
I will probably do one or two more entries on this. This excites me. Hendrickson shows himself as a master filmmaker (what the HELL has he been doing then?). This is a powerful work. I was hoping it was just watchable. I'm ready to watch it again right now. If he is smart and hires like Cassian Elwes at William Morris to rep his film it could even end up in theatres. YES- because it is fucking riveting.
Congratulations Mr. Hendrickson. The film rocked. And I didn't think it was very likely that it would.