Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Movie with Abe: Winter in the Blood

Winter in the Blood
Directed by Alex Smith and Andrew J. Smith
Released August 20, 2014

Some movies utilize their settings more than others. Backgrounds and landscapes can tell just as compelling a story as characters and plots, and when the two work in concert, the results can be very worthwhile. “Winter in the Blood,” the new film from twin directors Alex and Andrew J. Smith, is a film about a Native American man and his search for something – it’s not entirely clear what – that takes full advantage of its setting in rural Montana. It’s a film that boasts some intriguing moments and visually strong scene, and occasionally manages to interweave them together at the same time.

Charles Spencer stars as Virgil First Raise, who says just as much with his haunting expressions and penetrating stare as he does with his words. His beginnings aren’t inspiring – he has just been beaten up and awoken from what appears to be a brutal hangover – and he returns home to find that his wife is no longer there, nor is his gun. What ensues is a confusing, often hypnotic trip that puts Virgil on track to rediscover himself, even if it doesn’t give him all the answers he needs to get his wife or his gun back.

The most undeniably magnetic part of Virgil’s journey is Airplane Man. Portrayed by David Morse, an accomplished actor who earned Emmy nominations for his roles in “House” and “John Adams,” Airplane Man is best defined as an enigma. He’s someone who talks a lot and always leaves an impression whether or not his words make sense or lead somewhere specific. It’s hard to know what to make of Airplane Man and whether he is simply a construct of Virgil’s imagination, but his every moment onscreen is a boon for the film.

“Winter in the Blood” starts from a moment of confused uncertainty and slowly puts together a picture of its character’s motivations and who he is as a person. The journey to that point is filled with ups and downs, both for the character and for the film itself. It feels in many ways like an old Western, with Native American culture substituted in for the Old West. As with most Westerns, it’s hard to remain fully intriguing and engaging for the duration of the story, and “Winter in the Blood” manages to tell an interesting story in a fashion that’s intermittently alluring and memorable.


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