Some Folks Call It a Sling Blade (George Hickenlooper, 1993)
[originally posted 28Mar2001]
Some Folks… is the short that inspired Billy Bob Thornton’s overblown 1996 feature-length Oscar winner. Hickenlooper’s seed is far less emotionally manipulative and has a much darker feel to it than Thornton’s continuation.
Thornton plays a mentally retarded murderer, getting ready to be released from an asylum after twenty-five years of incarceration. Molly Ringwald is a reporter, sent to the asylum to interview him for the local paper before he leaves. While there’s a semblance of setup in the first half of the film (along with some wonderful scene-stealing monologue by J. T. Walsh as a fellow inmate), the real stuff is in the last half of the film, and it’s a ten-minute monologue from Thornton about his character’s motivation. Fine stuff from an actor who certainly deserves better than he’s gotten in Hollywood since; the only role he’s had that approaches the capabilities he shows here is in A Simple Plan, and even there he was taking a decided backseat to his co-stars.
Hickenlooper keeps things dark and straightforward, not surprising given his background in documentary filmmaking. Excellent work (which makes one wonder what in the world he was thinking with his followup film, The Killing Box). Should be seen by anyone who liked Sling Blade, certainly. **** ½
Part 1 (the rest is linked in the sidebar).