What is “Dangerous Men,” and when can you have its sickness in your head?
This afternoon, in Austin, TX, the madmen (and madwomen) who put on Fantastic Fest each year held one of their secret screenings. The first secret screening, held a few days ago, was for Guillermo Del Toro's “Crimson Peak.” I would imagine many people walked into the second secret screening hoping for some big-budget movie, like “Cloud Atlas” from a few years ago or some intriguing arthouse title from another country, like “Goodnight Mommy” at last year's fest.
Nope. Instead, what Tim League and his accomplices did was premiere their latest acquisition title, a film they've been chasing since the day they started the company. This is along the lines of “Miami Connection” or “The Visitor” or this spring's remarkable “Roar!”, films that were released once before but that never got the right kind of support from a company that genuinely understood their appeal. In this particular case, there is no company on Earth better qualified to unleash this on an unsuspecting public than Drafthouse Films.
After all, it's Drafhouse COO James Shapiro who called the film “the Holy Grail of Holy F**king Sh#t!”, a fairly hefty claim to make in an age where people have access to things like “Fateful Findings” and “The Room.” This is the same company that last year uncovered “The Astrologer,” which I don't think they'll ever be able to release because of all the unlicensed Moody Blues music in it. That film is one of my favorite kinds of “what the hell am I looking at?” cinema, a film that was made and paid for as a vanity project by someone who genuinely had something he wanted to say, just like “Fateful Findings” or “The Room,” and that's exactly what makes “Dangerous Men” amazing as well.
John Rad was an Iranian businessman who moved to Los Angeles during the '80s, and he spent almost 20 years putting “Dangerous Men” together, so that over the course of the movie, cast members drop in and out depending on availability, leading to a movie where I'm almost sure the three cast members involved in the final climactic scenes of the film were in no way involved in the movie for the first 45 minutes or so.
It is a jaw-dropping movie on many levels, like what would happen if “Ms. 45” were remade by someone who never actually saw it, or any other movie ever, and only had it described to them by someone who was very drunk when they saw it and who kept napping so that there are just gaps in the storytelling. It's woozy. I've seen a lot of what I would describe as “outsider films,” movies made by people with no formal training, and one of the things that unites them is the almost dream-like way logic works in the films. It's hard to create and sustain the illusion that what we're watching is in any way “real,” and even experienced filmmakers can struggle with it. For someone like Rad, working with limited resources, shooting over almost 20 years, it was never even a possibility. Instead, this is as strange as any of David Lynch's worlds, filled with violent men and furious women and the threat of death or worse at every turn.
You'll get a chance to check it out for yourself very soon, and I assume at some point soon, I'll be able to formally review the movie. For now, suffice it to say this is another remarkable discovery from the Drafthouse team.
“Dangerous Men” will storm screens nationwide starting Friday, November 13th, and will hit multiple video on demand platforms in December. A home video release on Blu-ray, DVD and VHS is planned for early 2016.