Film noir, Hommage, Comedy, self depreciating little Masterpiece
I watched "Who is Cletis Tout" on one of those alcohol fueled 27 hour trips between Christchurch and London that I seem to be making far too often. Getting comfy in my nice Singapore Airline skybed, I popped my first Oban (Singapore has very nice Single Malt Whiskeys in business) and surveyed the movie list, which unfortunately was abysmal, even though there was a plethora of about 20 features to chose from. This one I'd never heard of, and they sold it under the "arthouse" label (or whatever they call their movies that only people see who hate The Matrix: Revolutions). But a movie featuring Tim Allen, Christian Slater, Billy Connolly, Richard Dreyfuss and Ru Paul? How could one not be intrigued to see this bizarrely casted piece of celluloid?
I will not give away too much of the story, as it would significantly reduce enjoyment if you, dear noder, would decide to watch it, but let me tell you so much: Christian Slater plays an escaped prisoner/con-man who, trying to take on a different identity, gets entangled in a mafia bosses attempt to cover up a murder and falls in the hands of movie - obsessed hitman "Critical Jim" (Allen) who, in a filthy hotelroom, forces him to tell the convoluted story how he got where he is: in a killer's hands.
Movie buff Jim is fascinated by his victim's story and compares each episode to his favourite films from the forties and fifties, to actually analyze and criticize the film we're currently watching. With other words, the film's writer is taking his film apart in front of our eyes. Via flashbacks and flashbacks-within-flashbacks, the movie finally catches up with his own narrative after about 70 minutes and the endgame starts.
I don't know about you, but I'd never heard of writer/director Chris Ver Wiel before, but this is a great first foray into Hollywood: Light as a sorbet with a great cast, plenty of nods to famous classics, a delightful plot (alas with plot holes as big as the Rocky Mountains) and a beautiful love story, this movie surprises and entertains.
I'd probably call it a underrated post-modern crime caper taking the micky of Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and The Usual Suspects, but you will probably disagree.