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Disappearances Reviews

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Drew S

Super Reviewer

January 28, 2008
Honestly, I only rented Disappearances because there were a bunch of old people on the DVD cover and the concept of a Western filled with senior citizens intrigued me. The film didn't really deliver on that, sadly, and what could have been Actual Country for Old Men instead was made into a generic spaghetti flick with a dash of magical realism for flair.

The best part of Disappearances by far is the teleporting aunt, because hell, it's a teleporting old woman who spouts off Shakespeare and shoots people. You can't miss the potential in that. Also, the film looks great; even though it was shot on the cheap (budgeted at 1.7 million dollars), the director does an admirable job using natural scenery to create atmosphere. Unfortunately, that's pretty much where the unique parts of Disappearances come to a halt. The plot is some hoary nonsense about smuggling whiskey that gets completely dropped in the last twenty minutes of the movie to make way for shit randomly disappearing and some ridiculous subplot about a curse. I guess these seemed like neat elements to include in a Western, but they just didn't fit here.

The kid gave probably one of the worst child performances I've ever seen. Every line he delivered took me straight out of the movie, which wasn't that hard in the first place because it's not particularly gripping. They should have just put teleporting lady in his place and the movie would have been ten times better. The rest of the acting isn't bad; I guess Kris Kristofferson is important or something, which is why he ends up doing movies like this, right?
broadwaymo
broadwaymo

Super Reviewer

July 21, 2007
I've stated in the past that you have to kiss a lot of frogs when you venture into the realm of independent films. With that said, I must admit that we've had a good run of late and seen some truly outstanding movies. That run came to a screeching halt with this flick and I take full responsibility for having chosen this dog. One has to imagine that it was very well received in whatever art house it played in, but went over with a thud in our house. The two star rating is for the cinematography, set design and with the exception of one particular character and his henchmen, for the costuming.
jam233
July 8, 2010
I liked the western influences on the era it was set in, the early 1930's. Very good score and cinematography. A real effort was made to capture the time. Good performances from everyone. Moody atmosphere. The pacing is a little too slow sometimes, but the overall effect of the movie is impressive. Good story, nicely directed.
busterp
September 8, 2009
Slightly mystical movie I ran across on a rainy day. I like Kris Kristofferson anyway so it wasn't that hard to get into. Period piece, slow at times but still worth watching.
July 23, 2007
totally not what i expected and should have n could have been a better put together movie, not worth buying but if you have time on your hands rent it
nativesunljt
August 10, 2007
Weird and a bit esoteric but not beyond the grasp of understanding if you really engage the film open minded. A good movie and a good storyline. Kristofferson was great in this film. Very worth watching.
pfbczeroordie
July 31, 2007
this was a waste of money to rent, i rented it redbox which is only a dollar and it was still a waste of money.
July 15, 2007
Call me hyper critical, but this movie has basically nothing going for it. Unless you're wowed by the Vermont landscape this movie has little to offer. The story is, of course, it's biggest dissapointment. While the initial idea of rum runners during Prohibition offers up ample opportunity for fun and excitement, and personally, I could see this easily becoming an action/comedy flick (almost with a hint of "Pirates of the Caribbean". Maybe I just associate rum with pirates... anyway...) This never happens, however, and the film wends it's way thru a slow, and boringly bizare script that leaves much to be desired. I came away thinking "Gosh, that was dull. Did I miss something?" This comes to the film's second big fault: the cinematography is far from impressive. To call this film amaturish would be completely wrong, but it offers up nothing new, or even old- but-captivating in the way of shooting. Most of the scenes use wide static shots or slow pans, and dialogue makes use of the classic back and forth cuts between characters as each speaks.
The acting is also not professional quality, but I'll cut the cast a little slack. In any case, while the film offers some beautiful shots of the Vermont countryside and is certainly on par with sets and costuming, it leaves much to be desired in scripting, shooting, and overall presentation.
July 4, 2007
I saw the screening and spoke to Jay Craven (The director) about the film. What's fascinating is how Jay turns our perception of New England into what it truly was during the Early 20th Century: Outlaw Nation. A nice take on the Western genre.
February 14, 2013
I remember three things that happen. I believe there were like seven though.
jazza923
July 8, 2010
60/100. I liked the western influences on the era it was set in, the early 1930's. Very good score and cinematography. A real effort was made to capture the time. Good performances from everyone. Moody atmosphere. The pacing is a little too slow sometimes, but the overall effect of the movie is impressive. Good story, nicely directed.
thomas78
June 21, 2010
What a delight! In a market where we excuse bad lines delivered by flat characters for a few dozen more explosions, dazzling special effects, and everything else twenty million dollars can buy, I love Disappearances for its charm, its clever script handled by a well-appointed cast, and its beautiful photography.

The movie is thoroughly rural. Like the countryside where it was produced, Disappearances unfolds itself slowly but magnificently. Do not expect to find your heart in your throat for two hours, followed by a climactic, tidy resolution to the cosmos. Disappearances tells a story of father and son in rich symbolism, and it is rightly more of a process than an event. In that regard, the plot development is stylistically closer to eastern European cinema than it is to its American peers.

With only a couple hitches (minor characters are more prop than person), Disappearances' strong symbiosis of script and talent is the film's greatest offering. The superb synergy of Farmer and McDermott with the others, the perfect casting of Sanderson to character, and a rock solid performance by Kristofferson, have me pinching myself at times to remember this is family is fiction. Disappearances ventures further, or more believably, into the psychology of its main characters than many American films dare go.

If the fact that Jay Craven was ambitious with his budget shows at times during Disappearances, it becomes more of a mark of honor than a detractor. This film is the antithesis to the contemporary action blockbuster. It moves slowly at times, and the action is not always plausible, but the characters are enchanting. Our suspension of disbelief in the cinema is an aesthetic choice above all, and I highly appreciate the way Disappearances, in its fusion of magic realism and frontier, challenges me to look at movies anew.
chandano
June 21, 2010
A simply wonderful, magical film. Quite possibly one of the best that I have ever seen! Great storytelling! One of the best ensemble casts that I have ever seen. Great use of music. left me with a feeling of yearning
ral8
June 21, 2010
Cannot figure out the charm of his movies.

Are Mosher's novels so .... full of awkward, pretentious utterings, seems to try too hard to be deep, stiff, artificial dialogue arising from implausible, unpleasantly unreal eccentric characters?
Does Mosher also have his characters mouth the same strange epithet "Christly" as Craven's characters do in both "Rivers Run North" and "Disappearances."

I do appreciate the cinematography, and his ability to capture great landscape, but other than that, I find watching Craven's films dull, ponderous and annoying.
MattSpencer
June 21, 2010
[font=Arial][color=#000000]?Disappearances? is a film I'll show to as many friends as possible, and hopefully have many deeply stimulating conversations with others who are stirred and haunted ? in a good way ? by its magic and beauty. This has ?[i][font=Arial][i]cult classic of the best kind?[/i][/font][/i] written all over it, in the sense that it has everything you'd want from a ripping good yarn of a film, would appeal to someone who's favorite film was, say, ?[i][font=Arial][i]Raiders of the Lost Arc?[/i][/font][/i] or ?[i][font=Arial][i]Rio Bravo[/i][/font][/i]?, but plays by its own rules and those *[i][font=Arial][i]aren't*[/i][/font][/i] the rules that get a film a mega-promotional package. And that's exactly why fans looking for something new will love it, and why word of mouth on it'll spread. Writer-Director Jay Craven, working on a small budget, performs the tricky balancing act of capturing the excitement and suspense of the often over-the-top material, while maintaining a humble, understated, down-to-earth tone. Here we have bootleggers, drunken monks, drunken bootlegging monks, car and boat and train chases, a spectral witch who disappears and reappears in the damndest times and places to offer wisdom, an undead whisky-running pirate straight out of New England folklore with a gang of henchmen ? seriously, what?s not to like? - ? and as an enthusiast and former resident of Vermont, if I told you how much of this seems plausible, you wouldn?t believe me. [/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=#000000] [/color][/font]

[color=#000000][font=Arial]The film captured everything best in the rugged, feisty, often adventuresome spirit of the state of Vermont, depicting an outlaw culture that thrived on the fringes of a fading northern frontier, personified in Quebec Bill, a farmer in the Depression who must revert to his old whiskey running practices to save the farm after his barn is struck by lightning and burns down. This guy's my new movie-character hero. His dynamic with friends/partners-in-crime Rat [/font][font=Times New Roman][size=3]Kinneson (William Sanderson) [/size][/font][font=Arial]and Henry [/font][font=Times New Roman][size=3]Coville (Gary Farmer)[/size][/font][font=Arial], of how buddies together in an outrageous, sometimes dangerous situation, each surviving and making sense of things in his own way while putting up with each other - to some degree [u]surviving each other[/u] - is spot-on. Particularly that whole scene in the tavern, and the delivery of the line "Because I couldn't stand myself if I wasn't there to help you out of whatever you're about to get into." Kris [/font][font=Times New Roman][size=3]Kristofferson[/size][/font][/color][color=#003399][font=Times New Roman][size=3] is [/size][/font][/color][font=Arial][color=#000000]amazing as Quebec Bill, deepening my already considerable respect for someone who was already one of my favorite musical artists, as are Sanderson and Farmer in their respective roles. Years back, I had a chance to read the screenplay to this film before it was produced. As a fan of the TV show ?Deadwood,? when I found out Sanderson was playing Rat, I thought, "Damn, that's [i][font=Arial]perfect![/font][/i]" And it's interesting to find Farmer in both this and ?[i][font=Arial][i]Dead Man?[/i][/font][/i], as I found that film tonally and thematically similar, in its dreamlike quality and embrace of fantastical, metaphorical imagery and mystery, things that aren?t always explained, yet actively invite the audience to participate with their own imagination and come to their own conclusions. ?[i][font=Arial][i]Disappearances?[/i][/font][/i][i][font=Arial] [/font][/i]is, however, far less brutal, as well as warmer and more inviting to like and identify with its characters. Quebec Bill and crew are guys I'd like to hang out with. By the end of the film, I wished I could stay in their world with them longer. It left me longing for the things in the world that have *[i][font=Arial][i]disappeared&[/i][/font][/i][i][font=Arial] -[/font][/i]- SPOILIER WARNING -- as symbolized by Bill and Cordelia literally doing so ? END SPOILERS -- under the weight of "progress," even though only the ghosts of many such things have been around to know in my own lifetime. In that sense, I related to Wild Bill, and wanted to see where life takes him from there.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=#000000] [/color][/font]

[font=Arial][color=#000000]Also a delightful surprise is the film?s handling of its demonic villain Carcajou, particularly Lothaire Bluteau in the role. In the novel and script, he was a far less developed, more hulking ogre-like monster, though clearly with a cunning brain. Here, he becomes something far more ambiguous and complex. I don't think I've seen this actor in anything else, though he should be seen more. Any time the character's on screen, you can't take your eyes off him. Moments like when he comes snarling onto the train waving that knife around were genuinely terrifying, yet there were other times when I felt a strange sympathy for him. I really wanted to see more of that character and learn more about him, though truthfully such a character is generally most effective when actually seen only in small doses, someone who becomes an ominous off-screen ever-presence, sort of like Dracula in Bram Stoker's original novel. And like Stoker's Dracula, Carcajou is in many ways a personification of unresolved things within the good guys, things they're not comfortable with, can't yet face within themselves, things they're running from, manifested as a physical boogie-man onto whom those fears become projected... someone from whom they must literally run. Such metaphoric exploration is what's always truly wonderful about the best fantasy in film and literature, light and dark. And ?Disappearances? certainly ranks with the best! [/color][/font]
monkeyonaspring
June 21, 2010
:fresh: Again at MIFF (Maine International Film Festival) I caught another great film, this time Disappearances. The film is brilliantly cast with some amazing performances throughout and beautiful scenery of the Canadian wilderness of the 1930's. The film takes off with the desperate plight of Kris and his family as they have run out of hay to support their animals which have little chance of surviving the upcoming winter without hay. So Kris (Quebec Bill) decides to risk it all and go back to his old source of income, running alcohol across the border from Canada into the hands of prohibition suffering Americans. The film has some problems early on as many scenes seem unneeded or unfinished as they cut off early and leave themselves unresolved. Yet towards the middle as the action begins to rise the filming gets better and the cinematography becomes breathtaking with the epic shots of the Canadian border and the forests therein. The movie also keeps up the recurrence of characters and objects "disappearing" within the plot, sometimes subtely and sometimes blatentley obvious (especially when an entire train disappears). The film has a disturbing quality of leaving things unexplained and totally up to the viewer's discretion, mostly when characters begin to unexpectedly drop out of the plot and/or into thin air. A disturbingly biting masterpiece, only held back slightly by its unpolished beginnings.
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