Saturday, June 11, 2011

my thoughts on.... 'Tony' aka 'Tony: London Serial Killer'

To quote Norville 'Shaggy' Rogers, "Like, wow man." That's kind of how I felt when this ended. It was something unique and a bit of a breath of fresh air to see. Peter Ferdinando, who plays 'Tony' is spot on. He creates an extremely akward and stunted man, one that it's almost painful to watch. At the same time, I could almost relate to him no matter how strange he was. There was one scene in particular where he was chatting with his downstairs neighbor and I found myself laughing along and smiling for him since he was too akward to do it on his own. It was a strange reaction to have to a film, but it happened. That to me is a good sign of someone who completely sucks you into the role they're playing. So much that they influence you physically outside of the film. To that, I give this film a lot of credit. This film also has some amazing cinematography. Watch for the scene where Tony is about to go up in the elevator (the screencap in the poster I used above), it's quite stunning and could make an amazing framed picture to hang on the wall. As a matter of fact, the entire film is shot in such a way that it has a nice, gritty, sometimes 70's-ish feel to it.... right down to the credits sequence at the beginning and end of the film. This film is also based on a short film by the director aslo called 'Tony'. All of these things are strangely similar to the pedigre of 'Hobo With A Shotgun'. These two films are not the same as each other, but they are both made outside of the US and have a simliar backstory.

Plot synopsis from "Solitary Tony (Peter Ferdinando) lives on the line of society and of sanity: Mostly he's home alone, cultivating a taste for 1980s action flicks, and when social interaction arises, murder is his solution to an awkward moment. Director Gerard Johnson's gruesome character study observes the inscrutable figure as he goes about the business of being maladjusted, misreading the world around him while remaining a mystery even perhaps to himself." There is also a running story about a missing child that we're never quite sure if Tony killed or not. You don't find out for sure until the very end, but it just adds yet another level of tension and strangeness to the film. Tony is a man with issues.

That summary above sums this film up. Tony is a man that hasn't moved on in years. He's lived in his same apartment for "ages" (10 years or more) and nothing hasn't changed in the apartment since then. He still watches VHS tapes only and searches them out. His bread and butter are 80's action films. He talks about them a lot and watches them all the time, he even says at one point that he doesn't even have broadcast television. He also reveals that he only has cassette tapes. He's a sexually conflicted man who seems to not know what he wants. At times he gives the impression that he's heterosexual, he even goes so far as to go to visit a call girl. He also hangs out at a gay bar a lot and yet he turns down the advances of another man. He also seems interested in kinky sex acts and trannys as well.... it is just a big confusing mess. Tony doesn't seem to have a cell phone or any phone. He has a bizarre hair cut and horrible teeth. He is just all around a creepy and strange man. That cannot be expressed enough.

This is billed as a serial killer and the poster even mentions the classic 'Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer'. I can't quite say that this is on par with that film, but I can see the comparison. There isn't really much to speak of in terms of gore or blood. There is one scene of him cutting up internal organs for disposal and the occasional severed leg or foot, but that's about it. There are also not a huge amount of killings, but the ones that are shown on screen are used at the appropriate times to remind you that you're not just watching a weirdo's life, you're watching a serial killer in action. A serial killer that is slightly resembling Kip from 'Napoleon Dynamite'. Regardless of all of the ugliness that is occasionally shown here, there are some really quiet and beautiful moments in this film. One in particular involves Tony waking up asleep in his living room chair. The TV is on with nothing but static on the screen and that's all that's heard. The sun is just coming up and everything is so peaceful. What you saw the night before, was not so nice. Now, before I wrap this whole thing up.... I have to say that the ending was a bit vague and obscure or abrupt. When I was in film school, it was a rookie mistake for first time film makers to end a film in a way that they ended this film. There are rare times when it's okay to do it this way, but I feel like this could have been a much stronger film if they had worked harder on wrapping it up in a more satisfying way. Maybe they just felt like this was the way to end it and more power to them if that's the case. I am not the writer and director, I am just the viewer. Other than that, this was a great film that I'd never heard of if it wasn't for Netflix. You'll have to rent it if you want to see it, but make sure you are prepared for the ending of the film, it may or may not rub you the right way. I gave this a 4 out of 5 star rating for everything but the last 5 minutes.... that was about a 3 or so. I see great potential in the cast and crew of this film, I really hope they continue to make films as I'd love to see what else they have in store. In the meantime, pop a VHS in the videocassette player, hit the tracking button and enjoy.

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