Dafoe + Parker = Damn good movie
There was a time, long ago, when Billy Dafoe would take challenging roles and allow the audience to really slip into his character. I think this movie and Last Temptation of Christ are the two finest examples. Since then, he seems to only get the same crappy work that Matthew Modine gets. Too bad.
Alan Parker is one of my favorite directors. Often, I think people don't know how many films he has done. This movie seems to be a counterpoint to the style of Oliver Stone (which was very hip then). What I mean is that the topic, racial relations in the south, is already a topic that sounds preachy. Stone's approach would have been to go out to the shed and pick up a 2x4 and then beat you on the head with his 'enlightened' view. Parker has a defter hand. It's hard for this movie not to become a morality tale, but I think it foreshadows another Hackman picture, Unforgiven, in it's attempt to show that the lines between black and white, good and bad, aren't quite as clear as we would like them.
Well before the advances in computers and filmography (i.e., O Brother's digital coloring), this movie feels like it took a long time to make. It feels genuine and real. Combined with John Singleton's critical redemption, Rosewood, there may not be a better film study of the American south. Take the time to find this movie at your local store.
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