Firecracker (2005)

Karen Black, Mike Patton, Susan Traylor, Kathleen Wilhoite,
Firecracker is a movie starring Karen Black, Mike Patton, and Susan Traylor. A young boy who lives in a dysfunctional home went to the carnival and met a singer. Shortly after, a murder took place. The town's sheriff is seeking...
  • 5.1 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Clark Balderson, Writer:
  • Steve Balderson, Director:
  • Jennifer Dreiling, Dan Holmgren, Jerry P. Magana, Producer:
2 / 10

Watch David Lynch Instead

One review said "all style and no substance". I used the same words with my friend only 3 minutes before. Not a coincidence. This is the biggest rip-off(or pointless homage at least) of Blue Velvet(and Twin Peaks) ever created. Which really enrages me cause David Lynch is my favorite director. The acting in this is atrocious. Some of you will be allured by the indie style it's shot or the quirky/dark subject matter and I suppose you'd like David Lynch too. Or perhaps you just dig the shock value of this type of movie. I hope you see one of his films and see how it takes more than just bizarre imagery to make something brilliant. What he does is brilliant and distinctly him. Yea i know maybe i didn't do my research, it could be an homage which is a sweet gesture. Regardless, this movie is clowshoes drizzled in failsauce.

10 / 10

"they say nothing ever happens in Kansas"

I was fortunate enough to see this film twice - both the premier screening and it's subsequent showing both at the Raindance Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Jury Prize - Best Film. Unfortunately the sound was a bit problematic at the premier, due to a dodgy speaker (front left - the side I was sitting on) and so seeing it again really made a big difference to the film for me.

Karen Black (playing both religious mother called Eleanor, and a circus singer called Sandra) was wonderful in her dual roles, and Mike Patton I felt was more convincing as David (Eleanor's abusive alcoholic eldest son) than as Frank - the owner/manager of the circus.

The story centers around the disappearance and suspected murder of David, which is investigated by the Sheriff Ed (really well played by Susan Traylor), but also deals with the various unhealthy, abusive and controlling relationships that exist between the characters. The one relationship that seems to be nothing more than friendship is between Jimmy (Eleanor's youngest son) and Sandra, as they each strive for their own freedom from their abusive lives.

Eleanor tries to maintain normality in her family - despite her husbands declining health and David's abuse of Jimmy. Sandra strives for a normal life, to return home

and escape the circus, particularly the abusive Frank. The question is will they be successful?

Visually the film is quite beautiful - the opening shot of the prairie burning is just one example of the wonderful cinematography. A viewer might also recall "Pleasantville" in the film's use of B+W and Colour - the circus is always in colour, the town in black and white. It turns out to be quite a useful convention, on a number of levels, and does help to structure the story for the viewer.

I loved this film, mainly for the performance of Karen Black as Eleanor/Sandra, the visual feast of the beautiful cinematography, and the excellently plotted storyline (which is based on true events).

1 / 10

Abused young man falls Oedipally--and histrionically-- in love with abused sideshow attraction.

I forced myself to sit through the entire DVD, so it couldn't have been the very worst film I've ever seen. Still, I can't think of one that's worse.

I began to wonder if was a parody: one of those arcane, in-crowd extended jokes whose humor failed to penetrate my too-serious mind, but after reading the awards (!) and reviews, I have abandoned that theory. If it is a film-maker's joke, it has taken in a huge number of viewers.

Firecracker lacks even a shred of nuance. Every emotion is troweled on the screen melodramatically; every line emoted more on the nose than any soap opera utterance; every facial expression bulging over the top like a beer belly.

The characters and their motives are trite and utterly predictable. The fact that the story is based on real events does not excuse the miserable screenplay.

Performances range from amateurish to atrocious, excepting Susan Traylor's and Paul Sizemore's. Karen Black channels Gloria Swanson at her Sunset Boulevardian worst. Jak Kendall is all over the place, and not in a good way, particularly when he tries to portray nervousness: you will have seen many a seventh-grader act more convincingly.

The cinematography is bearable, though as overblown as the script and acting--which is to say, laughably inflated. The direction and editing give us excruciatingly long scenes that say nothing, but were evidently included because they satisfied some directorial fetish or clause in an actor's contract.

Altogether, this is a bloated, high camp, reprehensible waste of film and 112 tortured minutes of my time. I still can't quite believe it is meant to be taken seriously. What is serious, however, is this: If you haven't seen it, don't.

1 / 10

Worst movie ever

I don't ever do comments but this movie was so bad I had to. It annoyed me from the beginning with a horrible slow-mo long shot of a guy running and then never got better. I can't believe so many people made high remarks about this movie. I guess if you like incest gay rape or female castration or enjoy watching a midget strip you might like it and that wasn't even the worst part. Mike Patton and Karen Black play duel roles, I believe to save money, but the key to playing duel roles is that you have to be different characters and I don't think they got the memo. Patton is awful, Black is a little better, but it's like you're watching two crappy stories play out at the same time with the same characters. The edits seemed to be made by college students, the symbolism was poor, the character development was awful and every person in the film was one dimensional. The kicker was that the police couldn't follow the obvious in your face clues that a 4th grader could pick up on, they had to turn to a crazy lady that lived in a field next to a tree that she hung bottles on. My vote for the worst movie of the year, close to all time. There is so much more I could dissect but I don't have enough space.

10 / 10

One of the best detective noirs I've seen

As a fan of film noir and detective movies, I am too often put off by modern attempts into the genre that try to replace atmosphere and intelligence by just having gratuitous nudity and swearing; the genre managed atmosphere without these in the forties and fifties but yet modern films seem to rely on them. With Firecracker however, everything works perfectly and, as such, the noir portions look exactly like they were made in the forties and fifties. Everything down to lighting, dialogue, and even the delivery of the lines. Even if the material and tone is darker and harsher than would have been allowed back then, it's the closest film to capture accurate film noir in today's cinema. One of the best detective noirs I have seen in ages. The story development is always going to be the most important thing and Firecracker gets it spot-on throughout, doing the proper thing of starting with a simple story and continually building it more and more complex as it goes. Unlike some other "classics", Firecracker manages to do this without ever losing the audience and I found the plot to be both rewardingly complex but yet still very easy to follow.

Needless to say, things are very dark and the script is convincingly dark, leading to an ending that is as depressing as I've seen ? not so much in what actually happens but also in the wider implications for the characters that the credits prevent us from seeing. Director Steve Balderson does a great job of putting this story in a setting that produces a real strong sense of period but also manages to always be showing us the darkness coming through subtly. Of course it helps that he also has a great cast to work with. Karen Black is iconic in this role and, if I had to pick one film to act as an introduction to Black then it would be this film. She brings out her complex characters better than most actresses in the business. She's a living legend! Susan Traylor has less screen time but is just as impressive. Jak Kendall is unbelievably great for his first film. The supporting cast are all fine but really the film belongs to these three, with Karen Black being the stand out role.

Overall this is a very complex, mysterious film; it is dark and seedy without relying on swearing or nudity to set the atmosphere. The direction is great, with a real atmosphere and sense of time and place that is matched by a great collection of performances delivering a great script. A work of art.