Monday, December 03, 2007

FGFC: A day late and a dollar short...well, almost

It seems like just yesterday that we gathered here to discuss the last Film Club entry; Eyes of a Stranger. What's that you say? It seems that way because I've barely posted since then? Hmm...touché. Fair enough. My week of posting everyday followed by my subsequent time away can be explained. You see, my dog ate it. I was abducted by aliens? Still not buying it? Ok, fine. I travel a lot for work and haven't had time. That's the truth of the matter. Well, mostly. I did go to Georgia for Thanksgiving just because I wanted to. Ah, but the traveling wears on the body and I returned to find myself exhausted and then sick.

Yes, sick. So sick that I did not have a chance to watch The Hand over the weekend like I'd planned. What's that? If I were sick all weekend wouldn't watching The Hand have been the perfect choice since I was lying on my couch the whole time anyway? Sure, had I remembered some time prior to 11pm Sunday night. And besides, I had done so many shots of the Quil over the weekend that it probably wouldn't have been worth it.

My plan had then become to watch and review The Hand after work. My body had a different plan though. I felt like hell when I woke up and stayed home from work. A shame, I know. So, I find myself here, Monday afternoon, still sick but not in a Quil induced daze. Therefore it is NOW that I've decided to watch the movie while drinking some tea and chowing on some soup.

Michael Caine plays John Lansdale, a comic artist. His wife kinda maybe wants to leave him to go to New York. And during a heated discussion in their car, he loses his hand in a freak accident. As his hand was not found at the time, it could not be reattached, meaning that from here on out, all of his friends would refer to him as Stumpy, Ole One Hand and John Missing Hand-dale behind his back. This is, naturally, never mentioned on screen.

Losing his hand forces John to re-access his career options. And by re-access I mean he got shit canned. These things happen. I mean no one is going to hire a comic artist who can't draw, right? Wrong-o, buddy. A college in California that may or may not be cooking the books certainly will. So, off to California John goes leaving his wife and child behind.

It was at this point that maintenance paid me a visit. One of my wall outlets got broke due to the wind last night (long boring story) so I had to turn the movie off for a while. We resume the action in California where John's wife has decided that having some time apart might be nice. As a result, John manages to cheat on his wife with one of his students and fine an obscene drawing. The kind he used to draw with his right hand (dun dun dun) only, you know, more obscene.

Stumpy thinks he's blacking out and doing the drawings. Meanwhile, the girls he's shacking up with is going to LA with another instructor for xmas. This of course makes John SUPER happy. Like, totally. So totally happy that he goes and gets drunk and stays in a motel rather than going home where she is supposed to be meeting him. Anyways, it's all okay because John's wife has been sleeping with another man. So that justifies everything, right? Of course.

Of course, none of this explains the titular hand. Somehow it's either on the loose, killing people and drawing obscenities or it's all in John's head and he's blacking out and drawing obscenities himself. Oliver Stone (yes THAT Oliver Stone) does a good job of implying that the titular hand could be a being on it's own, or it could be a product of John's subconscious. It's the ambiguity that really sells the story. Does the hand have a will of it's own? Does John control the hand? Is John acting out these murderous impulses himself while his mind believes it's a separate entity doing it? These are the mysteries we are left with.

Which, I think is a good thing. Think about it, had it been confirmed that the titular hand had a will of it's own, there would need to be some sort of reason for it. The big 'HOW?'. Now, had they shown that it's certainly all in his mind, you'd feel cheated. Kind of like the ending of High Tension. It's cheating. It's like saying it's all a dream. However, by leaving it as an unanswered question, it's up to the viewer to decide how to approach it. It's really the only way to legitimately end the movie without pissing people off.

If I were to, someday, hypothetically, rank Michael Caine's performances, I imagine that this would be up near the top with Jaws: The Revenge (I know, I'm the only person you know who liked it. Whatever). And speaking of ranking, I'm going to count to 8 out of 10 healthy fingers on BOTH of my healthy hands.


Bloody Mary said...

I can't even tell you how many times I started watching this movie and had to admit defeat 15 minutes in! I'm glad I finally stuck it out - it took a deadline!

Unknown said...

Once I start watching a movie, finishing it is the easy part. My main problem is actually convincing myself to put the DVD in the player and starting it up.

Of course, finding how I want to write about it and what I want to say...well, that's a different story altogether.