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Harry says Derick Martini's HICK is so much better than what I've seen critics say

From time to time a movie hits my DVD & Blu-Ray stacks and I look at the box, take a look online to see what the buzz was on the title - and ya know.   There are movies that never find their audiences.   They can play festivals, but never find the right eyes.  There have been a lot of instances where a film just misses at Sundance or Toronto or Cannes or...  well you know the list, but when they play SXSW or a smaller, film loving crowd...   An audience that doesn't take your filmmography to use against the new film, which doesn't necessarly seem to fit.

Back in 1999, Moriarty and I met the Martini Brothers and saw their film, SMILING FISH & GOAT ON FIRE - and we fell in love with the film.   But as the years passed...   I never really heard from the pair again.   Then in 2008, Derick Martini directed a film based upon his and his brother's younger life...   and it was produced by Martin Scorsese.   The film was called LYMELIFE.  It missed me.   I didn't not like it, it just never caught my eye.   It happens.  The sheer volume of films that are released in a year...  well it leaves you a bit breathless.

But when I saw Chloe Moretz brandishing a gun, saw that Juliette Lewis played her mother.   That Eddie Redmayne, who was just brilliant in MY WEEK WITH MARILYN and BLACK DEATH, was a major character...   That Alec Baldwin was a part of it along with Blake Lively.   Well I was interested, when I looked at the name of the director, I was like...  "NO SHIT!   GOOD FOR HIM!" and put it in, not really knowing anything other than it disappointed some critics.

In a very odd way, the film almost plays to me as a prequel to TAXI DRIVER from the perspective of Jodie Foster's oh so young working girl.   It doesn't exactly go there, but it feels like it wanted to.   It plays on your protective feelings for Chloe...  But in many ways, this is her single most emotional and powerful performance.   Not as iconic as HIT GIRL, nor as genre-friendly as LET ME IN.   

She lives with her mom in a small town, watching her mom pick up men in the honky tonk Hick bars that she frequents - and the small town joints are small town enough to be that permissive.   She watches her mom use men for drinks, she's aware that her mom trades her charms, but the kids at school call her a BARN BABY because it has gone around that she was born in a barn.   Gosh, like Jesus?  Ok, that was a manger, but there was hay and animals most likely and the name hurts.   

When she sees an ad for the glitzy life of LAS VEGAS and her Mom has hopped in a big car with some man and is gone for however long she'll be gone for, she's decided not to hang around with the alcoholic trash her mom keeps in her bed somewhat regularly.   She takes some money, packs a bag - and decides to hitch her way to Las Vegas.   Making a list of positives that includes finding a "SUGAR DADDY" and has the singular negative of, "I COULD DIE."

The first vehicle that is curious is driven by Eddie Redmayne, who plays a retired young rodeo cowboy, that didn't fare so well.   He's got a leg that got all torn up and an arm that just doesn't seem to quite do what it should at times.   He's amused by the very tough flirt of Chloe.  Gives her a ride.

Now she tries to make a judgement call about getting in, but Redmayne has charm.   His eyes can smile and they can creep you out.   But she's a girl that longs to be told she's beautiful, no man or boy has ever told her such things.   He doesn't just say it, he has that scoundrel thing that some women eat up with a spoon.  He's playful to her, but when he throws out something derogatory at her, she fires back with something, that brings a really scary side of this character.   She demands to be let out - and is.

She isn't done with him.   In fact her road introduces her to a "worldly" grifter and lady of convenience that sees exactly who Chloe is.  Teaches her some things she's gonna wanna know if she's choosing this path.   She introduces her to things, that likely most sensible and good people would find... just evil, but this is always a possibility when teenagers hit a highway looking for their dreams...  Things that might feel like a dream.   Experiences that light up the senses but lead you on a path that can...  well, we know.   

Throughout the film, we know that in Chloe's bag, she has a gun.   The poster shows her wielding it, and in an early scene before leaving home, she does pull it on a stranger she finds in her home.  But we don't know if she'll ever pull the trigger - and as most know, the gun could save her life, but more likely...  it'll just get used against her.   As Will Munny once said in another film, "It's a hell of a thing, killing a man.  Take away all he's got and all he's ever gonna have." and this Chloe isn't a pint-sized ginsu assassin.   This film, it feels more real than that 4-color fantasy.   

This film takes Chloe in places that we don't want to think about a 14 year old girl being.  She's on her own.   Surrounded by really bad people.   Everyone is a stranger she shouldn't be talking with.   Everyone has crushed dreams and lousy lives.   She goes through so much, that even when she meets someone that could possibly be good...  her Pavlovian road treatment has left her unable to accept it.

This isn't a cautionary tale to show the kids...   but in a way, it kinda is.   It's shock therapy to a degree - and even as things wrap up and she's got a smile on her face...  is that really a happy ending?   Did she make the right decision?   Depends on your outlook on life.   I like to believe in the good of humanity.   But the world shows us and markets us a very different world.

I spent age 11 through 17 with an Alcoholic mother that had a string of hustlers and "cowboys".   She'd wake up with a broken jaw, because on booze, she got angry and violent and the kind of men after my father...  well they were never raised to NOT HIT A LADY.   And if she pointed it out, they'd just say she wasn't one.   There's ugliness in my "miraculous life" that I've seen in the "Hick" culture of Northern Texas that made me long for the town I first knew.   That more than anything gave me a picture of the life I did not want to be a part of.   I went through that, not as an adult, but as a kid - that just tried to do best by his sister for as long as I could, without ruining my chance at a good life.   

Watching a film like this gives me a peek at what might have been awaiting my little sister, had Mom not died in that fire.   Had she not moved to Austin with Dad & I after that.   

Things seem to happen quickly to her - but even by the end, she isn't finished with the road.   We each have to choose a road in our lives, this is one such tale.  But there's a moment in this film that destroys her to her core.  Nothing in her life prepares her for it.   It's a moment where nothing she knows makes sense and she is at a standstill.   I pray you never see a moment like this in your life...  that isn't a part of a film.   Because if that look that is on her face, is on yours.  HUG.   We know it is a big scary world out there, but it is a rare film that shows me horrors that prey upon the innocent and does so with such power.

After watching HICK, I had to see LYMELIFE.   I completely get why Scorsese produced it, in many ways I see an echo of the complicated lives behnd the facade of normalcy that I love in Douglas Sirk's work.  Having seen the two latest works from Martini, I feel with absolute certain that we'll see him raise his profile very shortly.   There's more to come from him and I for one can not wait to see it.   He gets one helluva performance out of Blake Lively in HICK - and that's not the easiest thing.   As some of you will attest.  

This is a hard film.   It isn't pretty, but I found it incredibly compelling.  Enjoyable?   Yes, in the sense that I feel stories like this must be made.   If only to scare a few kids into completing High School and try to make something of themselves.  Don't be in a rush to grow up.   I certainly will not!

Readers Talkback
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  • Aug. 8, 2012, 4:41 a.m. CST

    Suprise suprise

    by barnaby jones

    Harry likes a crap film because its all about him !

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 4:41 a.m. CST

    congrats beardo, you're a tool

    by Adam D. Kline

    "first" assholes should be bricked in their open mouths by Linda Hunt.

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 4:43 a.m. CST

    barnaby jones


    no, it's more about a possibility that could have happened to my sister had history been different. Do you really never see anything of your life in the actions of those on screen? What do you connect to?

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 5:01 a.m. CST

    Re: Headgeek

    by Delta5Qmp

    I don't think barnaby jones means it in that way at all. Rather, he speaks to the merit of critical detachment. As a professional critic, you aren't allowed to see yourself in characters on screen. Nor may you associate events in their fictional lives with events in yours, or political satire with current politics. You must sequester yourself. Deny yourself the meat of the film on which we, the general public may feast. As decided in the case of Ebert V. Kael (1977), those who would publicly analyze a film are required to "not" watch the film. Kael herself was known to see movies only once she had secured a blindfold and ear plugs. This sensory deprivation allowed her to enter the very soul of the film, the prima materia from which each film evolved. Other critics use peyote or that stuff from Altered States to venture beyond the realm of the theater, and into the realm of true transcendental critical integrity. So too must you ignore your thoughts on the film when sharing your thoughts on the film with us. Deny yourself and disassociate your own being from the review, in fact technically you should be reviewing every film anonymously under the name "Nemo". Only then will you find respect as a critic and moviegoer. (Seriously though, great review!)

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 5:16 a.m. CST

    @delta5qmp: But HK is not a reviewer.

    by onezeroone

    He never been. And sooner the denizens of TBs realize the truth, better it will be for all. He never reviews, he shares his experience of watching the movie, which inevitably includes parts of his own life that the movie connects with. This maybe a news/review site, but Harry's sections have always been his personal movie blog.

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 5:17 a.m. CST

    Barnaby & delta

    by IrishJoe

    I think you guys are being unkind (although i suspect delta is doing it tongue in cheek) this was a review for a little known flick, i certainly hadnt heard of it and harry liked it because it had a personal effect on him and he saw parallels in his own life. This is a great thing to happen in a movie/tv show/play etc. It is part of the reason we devour scripted entertainment. Sure we all like giant robots & aliens & superheroes but the real personal connections have a long and lasting impact on us. FYI the last piece of media that elicited tears from me was an episode of (believe it or not) The Fresh Prince of Bel Air that i saw when i was about 15/16 and was about Will's dead beat dad. That spoke to me and I recognised it from having gone through the same thing. Fresh Prince is a minor footnote in TV history but it hit home because I had lived it or damn close to it. Harry's experience with this film was similar, give the guy a break. He gets enough shit on here.

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 5:40 a.m. CST

    by Delta5Qmp

    Re: onezeroone I suspect all your gripes are exactly what make him popular. There are no shortage of reviews on the web. It's a rare showman who can stand apart. Re: irishjoe I was being very tongue in cheek and hope my reply was taken as such if he read it. He bothered to take barnaby seriously and reply after common net trolling. I thought he deserved a good laugh for that. I'd be mortified if he thought any of that was real.

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 5:41 a.m. CST

    Available on Netflix 8/14

    by MovieManStill

    I have it in my queue, now. Sounds interesting.

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 5:41 a.m. CST


    by Delta5Qmp

    Sorry that said "no subject" I meant to title it something really pretentious.

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 6 a.m. CST

    Unfortunately, I've had "the moment".

    by MovieManStill

    Fortunately, my mind has chosen to forget it. (Random mugging, abduction and severe beating.) Interestingly enough, my sister referred to "the look" on my face, and that she never wants to see it again.

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 6:08 a.m. CST

    delta - no worries


    I giggled throughout

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 6:20 a.m. CST

    This was filmed a few miles from my house

    by KnightShift

    Looking forward to seeing it on the big, errr... small screen :-)

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 6:22 a.m. CST

    Limited release for THE HOBBIT in 48FPS.

    by justmyluck If you don't want your flick to look stagey, keep high resolution image capture off the stage. Simple. They should step print everything but the landscape shots to 24FPS and be classy about it until variable FPS projection happens. Trumbull's paper at SIGGRAPH should be interesting.

  • Grudging respect.

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 6:48 a.m. CST

    Love the SIN CITY animated GIF!

    by justmyluck

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 9:35 a.m. CST

    I don't think an ellipse means what you think it means...

    by originalmemflix

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 9:38 a.m. CST

    Sounds like Dark Knight Rises - Much Better than Harry says.

    by Smarty_Feldman

    So yeah.

  • He maintains a movie-centric blog with a very active comments section and a lot of advertising.

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 10:22 a.m. CST

    Uh... uhm... I don't think that would work.

    by ChaunceyGardiner

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 10:33 a.m. CST

    ...his and his brother's ...

    by googamooga

    Somewhere Harry's elementary English teacher is crying. Again.

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 11:02 a.m. CST

    Hit Girl is iconic?

    by kidicarus

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 11:26 a.m. CST


    by Lewis

    I don't know what movie you saw, because the film I saw was nothing but a tone-deaf, oddly disturbing, and deeply confused mess that confuses quirkiness with creepiness. I believe it is one of the very worst I've seen this year thus far.

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 11:36 a.m. CST


    by Jacob Underhill

    Read this out loud "There have been a lot of instances where a film just misses at Sundance or Toronto or Cannes or... well you know the list, but when they play SXSW or a smaller, film loving crowd... An audience that doesn't take your filmmography to use against the new film, which doesn't necessarly seem to fit." The watch the following. I thought Harry's logical flow was very like Hank Kimball's but at 1:39 a surprising second similarity in the way they like to tell stories manifests itself.

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 11:41 a.m. CST


    by Bradly Durant

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 12:25 p.m. CST


    by A_Banned_Apart

    She's iconic to Harry, at least. As many have noted, he's communicating solely from his perspective.

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 12:32 p.m. CST

    Why Harry is actually pretty great...

    by Andrew

    What Harry does - which makes this site something I've been reading for the last 15 years (!!!) - is to express the excitement of the anticipation and reward of the movie watching experience in such a real way that its addictive. Often times I disagree PROFOUNDLY with Harry's opinions (TDKR, most recently - and how could anyone NOT be disappointed by "Brave"?). However, I can pretty much ALWAYS relate to the excitement he has in watching a movie. When I read his reviews of things like Attack of the Clones, I completely understand where he's coming from. When you like something like AOTC (and I did), its because of the excitement of having a summer Star Wars movie to watch - even if its sort of crap. Sure, its annoying when Harry changes his opinions to suit the conform to the public (watch Harry change his opinion of the prequels over the years), but that doesn't take away from the fact that when you read Harry's excitement, disappointment, anger, and elation over some movies, its immediately relatable. Reading AICN is like going to a coffee shop with your friends after you see a movie you've been waiting for - THAT is why it is great. I agree, Harry is NOT a reviewer - he is a writer who shares the movie experience. Contrast this with, say, The Kidd, who is like the asshole at the comic shop who hates EVERYTHING because he thinks it earns him some sort of cool-cred. Keep it up, Harry!

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 1:19 p.m. CST

    Don't be in a rush to grow up. I certainly will not!

    by Mr. Pricklepants

    Tell us something we don't know. You'll still be mentally a baby when you're 80 years old.

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 1:19 p.m. CST

    >>>Don't be in a rush to grow up. I certainly will not!<<<

    by Mr. Pricklepants

    Tell us something we don't know. You'll still be mentally a baby when you're 80 years old.

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 1:43 p.m. CST

    Why should I believe any Harry review.......

    by david starling

    .......When he hasn't yet given a decent enough explanation for his 'bitch fit' 3 or so weeks ago? And come to think of it, was 3000 Miles to Graceland a better movie than the remake of Ocean's 11?

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 2:10 p.m. CST

    LymeLife is mumblecore cranked up to 11

    by Sam Lloyd

    I mean...holy shit, dramatic coming of age story set in a tiny town with like three set pieces and a bunch of established actors making "dramatic" turns to distance themselves from their well-known roles? That's the fucking definition of mumblecore if I've ever heard it.

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 3:43 p.m. CST

    I'm so disappointed.

    by Flutchy

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 4:57 p.m. CST

    Harry's reviews...

    by WavingFlagsInSpace

    ...must never, ever be taken seriously and I kinda feel sorry for some of the people on here who take the grammar-defying keyboard bashing of Harry Knowles seriously. The bloke is a geek, with epic geek sensibilities, who clearly isn't too bright sometimes - his recent 'review' of TDKR illuminates this matter perfectly: he wholly misunderstood the lead character's motivation at one point, and the called for Man-Bat and Clayface - all geek, no sense. He has given glowing reviews to absolute howlers in the past because they chime with his geek sensibilities, but that's what some people love about him - he is 100% heart, but his heart just ain't that smart. He should never be read as an arbiter of film quality, that's just naive and foolish.

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 5:02 p.m. CST

    Re: chaunceygardiner

    by Delta5Qmp

    I sat down for what I believed to be a midnight screening of Prometheus. What I got was a ride into the depths of Hollywood's hatred for a sensible plot. It wasn't the engineers that bugged me or the goblin shark at the end, but the clowns. Why did Ridley Scott think I needed a clown eating my spleen from the side of my body while dancing the Macarena through the entire second act? I had fallen into the conspiracy: The conspiracy of the Marshmellow King. And nothing, NOTHING would be the same again.

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 5:04 p.m. CST

    that cut off the joke....

    by Delta5Qmp

    That cut off everything i said outside of the quotes rendering it insensible- before it I said I hadn't even thought of Gonzo journalism, only sensory deprivation. Gonzo film reviews might be interesting though Afterwards, Great username btw. Reminded me to get Being There on Blu Ray, I only have it on VHS...

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 5:18 p.m. CST

    So, you agree with the 0% of critics. And not the 100%.

    by Garbageman33

    Say what you want about, but 0 for 19 is pretty tough to argue with.

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 9:43 p.m. CST

    Jesus Christ

    by Darklordpoopypants

    Get out of your fucking wheelchair, Harry. <p> Also, fuck you

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 9:57 p.m. CST

    I actually agree apesong

    by kidicarus

    I always feel like professional critics feel the need to overpraise a lot of indie art films because they personally feel like those are the movies the "dumb audiences" are supposed to like. Harry has that same childish giddiness that every one of us has when we watch a genre movie, which is why we all visit this site. Even if he makes some shitty recommendations sometimes, and blasts fantastic movies like TDKR, he really isn't so much a movie critic as he is an ascended fanboy.

  • Aug. 8, 2012, 11:28 p.m. CST

    Harry, Harry, Harry...

    by vezner2007

    You hated The Dark Knight Rises and loved Serbian Film. Why should I care about your opinion again? So far you're striking out dude.

  • Aug. 9, 2012, 1:04 a.m. CST

    TDKR was a terrible, dreary, boring film.

    by where_are_quints_hobbit_set_reports

    Regarldess, this movie looks like a queasy Chloe Moretz perv fest that wants to have it both ways: ogle Chloe while you root against the creepy men who threaten her. Harry may be right that it's not a BAD movie, but it still sounds like a cinematic experience I'd rather avoid.

  • Aug. 9, 2012, 3:28 a.m. CST

    From whose point of view is the headline of this article?

    by Jacob Underhill

  • Aug. 9, 2012, 5:52 a.m. CST

    Harry = the worst aspects of america

    by pedroinc

    Fat and stupid Ps This movie sucked.

  • Aug. 9, 2012, 6:58 a.m. CST

    Utter Disappointment

    by Transhuman

    utter disappointment

  • Aug. 9, 2012, 7 a.m. CST

    No, excuse me

    by Transhuman

    PROFOUND disappointment

  • Aug. 9, 2012, 7:20 a.m. CST

    Did you also pirate this one, like you did with Drive?

    by Ricardo

    It's aaaaall about the fat fuck

  • ....Harry is a moron. I mean when you think of all the shitty movies he gives a thumbs up to over the years (Green Lantern, GI Joe, Transformers 3, Ghost Rider) and now he has another notch on his belt. He's probably the only person on earth who thinks Martini will raise his profile soon (judging by literally every other review of this film, it'll be hard for him to make any film......). But apparently TDKR and Inception just dont meet his low standards. I wonder if there is any truth to Harry being upset that Nolan wont allow the likes of AICN on his sets. Im sure it must burn that non-spoilers like Empire Magazine or Jett from Batman on film get the thumbs up from Nolan and WB........

  • Aug. 9, 2012, 2:06 p.m. CST

    don't you mean "you jiggled throughout"?

    by Skankardly


  • welcome to talkback bitch.

  • Aug. 10, 2012, 3:32 p.m. CST

    That title

    by RexBanner

    Harry says Derick Martini's HICK is so much better than what I've seen critics say

  • Aug. 12, 2012, 7:43 p.m. CST

    I'm sure I will not be disappointed by "Hick"

    by James_Camera_On

    In fact, I'm going to take my mother with me to see it. She's still mad from when I took her to see "Whore," but I think she will forgive me now.

  • Aug. 13, 2012, 10:26 a.m. CST

    Guilt Boner Alert!

    by pr1c3y

  • Aug. 13, 2012, 4:27 p.m. CST

    HICK was awful

    by applescruff

    Tonally brain-dead, poorly staged and acted, and just plain boring. I am sympathetic to those who say it made them uncomfortable to watch it because of some of the themes and situations, but it was nothing I hadn't seen before in many other movies. The closest comparison I could make is HOUNDDOG, otherwise known as the "Dakota Fanning Rape Movie". This is the "Chloe Moretz Rape Movie", and in both cases the subject matter is treated as reductively as those nicknames would suggest. The difference is that HOUNDDOG was directed by a woman who clearly has some traumatic incidents in her past that she deals with in every one of her movies. I don't know the director of HICK, but judging on what I saw I wouldn't be surprised if this guy was just a sick fuck who just made this movie as an excuse to get fap footage of Hit Girl in her underwear. Obviously I know the implications of that statement and, were it true, this guy should thrown in jail. But I had that notion nagging at me in the back of my mind the whole time while watching the movie. All of the themes are glossed over in favor of surface level, cliched "iconography" and the camera consistenly has the man gaze fixed on our very young protagonist. It felt like the director truly didn't give a fuck about the story he was telling. So why, then, did he make it? The potential answers to this question are almost all creepy.

  • Aug. 14, 2012, 9:50 p.m. CST

    Harry give it up man the game has clearly passed you by

    by raptorman

  • Aug. 15, 2012, 4:15 p.m. CST

    Of course Knowles Hick

    by Mike J

    He has always been an... erm...admirer of Chloe Moretz. Know what I mean, nudge nudge? Thats whey he like Hugo so much. Of course he likes to make it look like he is a life-long Scorsese fan whereas the reality is he has probably never even watched a film by Scorsese. But of course Hugo had Chloe..... You watch, Knolwes probably won't like the Carrie remake, released next year. By then Chloe will be 16..... nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more.

  • The whole point of Mumblecore doesn't have established actors. It isn't "coming of age stories in small towns" but movies that are aimless and plotless. Mumblecore is much, much, much worse than you think it is.

  • Aug. 28, 2012, 6:16 p.m. CST

    Knowles likes this movie because He likes little girls

    by shawn_h

    True story.

  • Aug. 28, 2012, 6:45 p.m. CST

    A definition of Harry Knowles from

    by shawn_h

    "A semi-famous, very fat corrupt internet movie reviewer who is nowhere near as famous or powerful as he once was. He still gets to live a dream life of being paid to endorse things, being sent comp DVDs and God knows what else, and being flown around the world to visit sets in order to entice him to review things positively so that nerds may spend money on them. His resume includes such hits as turning a blind eye to a contributor selling bootleg Disney movies (who was later busted), praising a script that was actually written by another contributor, and posting (wrong) Oscar nominees hacked from a home computer. Married an Asian chick 15 years younger than him presumably both blessed and cursed by vision problems and a unique condition enabling her to support two tuns of lust whenever the mood strikes the corpulent Casanova. Also is blessed with outspoken opinions on politics, despite having no idea on how the real world works having lived/living with his dad way past an acceptable age and not having an actual job or a degree. Studio Exec: So, what do you think about Godzilla? Harry Knowles: It kinda sucked. Studio Exec: How would you like a visit to our movie shoot in Maui and for us to throw your boy Moriarty a bone? Harry Knowles: Did I say sucked? I mean it was like drinking chocolate-coated pussy juice! Studio Exec: ...right."

  • Sept. 13, 2012, 6:58 p.m. CST

    You Were Right With This One Harry: Damn Good Film

    by ass clown

  • Vin Diesel has been wanting to film Hannibal The Conqueror for a decade

  • Yeah TDKR has plot-holes like everything does, I think we get it already! Just because Harry didn't like it but he liked whatever this is doesn't mean what you're trying to imply.