Independent icon Jon Jost (ALL THE VERMEERS IN NEW YORK) extends his low-budget critique of American capitalism with the engaging SURE FIRE. Completed in 1990 on a budget of roughly $100,000, the film is the second installment of director Jost's "Tom Blair" trilogy, falling between LAST
CHANTS FOR A SLOW DANCE (1977) and THE BED YOU SLEEP IN (1993).
In the southwestern U.S. during the heyday of the Reagan administration, small farmers like Wes (Tom Blair) are struggling for survival. Nevertheless, Wes thinks he can make a bundle convincing people to leave their stressful existence in Southern California for the simpler pleasures of Utah,
where he lives with his wife and son. Soon he's driving everyone around him crazy as he hones his sales pitch; his wife is on the verge of leaving him, while his old high-school buddy, Larry (Robert Ernst), resents it when Wes tries to persuade him to sell the family farm and become his assistant.
Along with Larry and another friend, Wes sets out on an ill-fated hunting trip with his teenaged son. He presents his son with a brand new rifle and lectures him sternly on gun safety. Wes's attempts at father-son bonding are disastrous--the kid tells his father that if his mother leaves, he's
going too--and he manages thoroughly to alienate his buddies. Despairing, he takes his son's life and then his own.
In microcosm, Jost's eccentric but relatively accessible film explores the contradictions of a society that sings the praises of "family values" while ruthlessly crushing the aspirations of actual families. Frequently hilarious--Wes's kitchen-table pep talk to his wife is a gem--and ultimately
horrifying, SURE FIRE is most effective when it follows its hero's misadventures as he tries to sell off his piece of the American dream. Tom Blair is exceptionally convincing in a demanding role; the supporting players are effective. Jost, who also wrote, edited, and photographed the film, has
successfully modified his experimental approach without compromising his highly personal brand of political cinema. (Adult situations, profanity.)
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: NR
- Review: Independent icon Jon Jost (ALL THE VERMEERS IN NEW YORK) extends his low-budget critique of American capitalism with the engaging SURE FIRE. Completed in 1990 on a budget of roughly $100,000, the film is the second installment of director Jost's "Tom Blair… (more)
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