Hustlers (UK - DVD R2)
Marcus joins an odd ensemble cast in an odd short story movie about hustlers.
With three intertwining tales involving drug dealers, kidnapping and an Elvis impersonator, Hustlers comes packed with an all-star cast Brendan Fraser, Elijah Wood Vincent D’Onofrio, Matt Dillon, Norman Reedus, Thomas Jane, Lukas Haas and Paul Walker and a whole lot of insanity.
This comic book style film (though the comic book style elements feel a little forced) is immediately full of famous faces playing madcap and fun filled characters. It’s an obvious low budget affair, with a focus on performance over scale and with a nice selection of well placed, though still low budget CGI work it’s initially a wonder why this flick got such a small release, given the talent involved.
Everyone is entirely committed to their madcap roles. Sure it’s mostly a series of the cliché Southern mental cases that film loves to play with but I can’t deny it’s fun even at its most insane. Some stand outs are Brendan Fraser, in an almost unrecognisable performance as small time Elvis impersonator, Elijah Wood, who seems determined to make us forget his soft Frodo past and think of him only as an odd creepy weirdo lately. Matt Dillon does his usual, slightly over the top stuff that doesn’t quite fit the mood of the segment he’s in yet somehow that works and Paul Walker actually manages to leave his pretty boy background behind him and provides quite a chaotic and off the rails performance. However don’t let the cover fool you, he’s far from the lead role in here
Despite the cast, Hustlers doesn’t take long to answer the question of why it didn’t get a bigger release. The film is largely a goof, a series of mad scenes that build to nothing much really. All of that is pretty well handled and the cast are obviously loving it all but this feels more like playing and the cast are just given the opportunity to show off a different (and usually odd) side to themselves rather than showcasing what we already like them for. The film is essentially another one of those Tarantino-Lite projects, with many of his tricks and plenty of his quirks but to no real effect and certainly lacking his ability to pull this stuff all together into being effortlessly cool.
The image here is bright and breezy, full of colour, has lots of warmth and a good example of a low budget film with a little more support behind than a true indie title. It has the general appearance of a modern TV show really and seems to be shot digitally. This makes for a good time visually, given the sunny southern backdrop making everything glow but the image is a little dark in the shadowed areas and that loses a fair bit of the detail at times, That’s a minor thing really as there’s a lot here that looks good and the DVD does a pretty okay job presenting that, even with the inbuilt softness that comes with the format.
Besides a fair bit of fuzzy dialogue here and there, especially in heated arguments, this is a standard front heavy track with a nice bit of power at times and little else. Bass levels don’t do much to track but the odd rear speaker assault adds a bit of weight to a speeding car or to the lively musical selections on the soundtrack. The odd gunshot and explosion are strong and central and usually pack a punch the they are only show off moments on the track really as the rest if all dialogue and shouting.
The only extra is a commentary with director Wayne Kramer and writer Adam Minavich. The pair talk a lot about the area the film is based in, the origins of the story and the both contributors talk pf their careers, critics and the fun and struggles offilm making. There’s a few dead spots but all in all the pair are lively and interesting enough to make this is an easy listen even if it’s not always a focused affair.
The Hustlers is a silly but watchable bit of Tarantino-wannabe fun and little else. It’s got an unexpected ensemble of familiar faces and most of them are playing to kooky extremes, so that alone makes what would probably be a bit dull with unknowns a little more interesting to watch. The disc looks good, sounds good and as a slight but enjoyable commentary track as the only extra.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 21st April 1995
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: English HoH
Easter Egg: No
Director: Wayne Kramer
Cast: Brendan Fraser, Elijah Wood Vincent D’Onofrio, Matt Dillon, Norman Reedus, Thomas Jane, Lukas Haas, Paul Walker
Genre: Comedy and Crime
Length: 118 minutes