Osio debuts a Hobo With a Shotgun and Forks Over Knives.


This Hobo started life as one of the faux trailers in the underloved Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez mash-up Grindhouse, and it’s to be commended for truth in advertising, since the bluntly accurate title pretty much says it all. 

But Hobo With a Shotgun is more than just another movie about a deranged drifter with vengeance on the brain and a 12-gauge in his mitts. It’s an ode, of sorts, to ’70s grindhouse cinema, curdled and gooey and tailor-made for midnight showings (preferably intoxicated). Think Bukowski. 

The former Roy Batty himself, Rutger Hauer, plays the fragrant vagrant in question, and he looks every bit the creepy codger. It’s disconcerting to view, as I did, the Hauer of Paul Verhoeven’s perverse 1973 landmark, Turkish Delight, back-to-back with the Hauer of Hobo. 

The years have not been kind to the actor’s stormy Dutch mug, but his face is still one of the most expressive in film history (his near wordless performance in The Hitchhiker for proof). Director Jason Eisener knows his ’70s scum-films well enough, but the digitally lensed Hobo is more akin to the gloriously gross Street Trash and early Troma gorefests like The Toxic Avenger than a purist’s recollection of ’70s exploitation films. 

Frankly too polished in its griminess to be an actual first cousin to 42nd Street fare, the ambitious Hobo never seems to settle on whether it’s a parody, satire, knowing wink, or clever riposte to the low-budget, lower-morals glory daze of NYC’s legendary epicenter of cinematic sleaze and urine-soaked balconies. 

Eisener has front-loaded his movie with guns, guts (or viscera), and, yes, Rutger Hauer the hobo painting the town with both, but it’s still less misanthropically hypnotic than, say, Roberta Findlay’s 1985 flashback, Tenement.

“Eat your greens or die of cancer” is the sage, if pedantic, advice given in the tightly constructed, thoroughly convincing, and dull-as-dirt documentary Forks Over Knives. It’s ostensibly aimed at everyone, and in particular Westerners raised on a so-called “diet of affluence,” i.e., meat, fish, fowl and good, old-fashioned milk. 

There’s nothing remotely modest (or humorous) about the overwhelming evidence laid out over the course of Forks. Director Lee Fulkerson focuses chiefly on the findings of two researchers: Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., a surgeon (and Olympic gold medalist) at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, and T. Colin Campbell, professor emeritus of nutritional biochemisty at Cornell University. 

Working independently of each other, these two affable, informative researchers have come to the conclusion that the traditional Western diet is the main cause of heart disease and all manner of cancers. Their findings, which have arrived after the better part of 40 years of research, have been peer-reviewed, double – and triple-verified, and later buoyed by a truly massive mapping of all cancer deaths and their correlation to diet in China – a study that ran from 1973 to 1978, and provided literally thousands of pages of hard data. 

Most people know that they’re killing themselves and their future selves, but as a species we seem helpless to corral our self-destructive tendencies. Why? Because corporate agribusiness and Big Pharma consistently help assemble the guidelines for nutritional standards in America and, for them, there are tremendous amounts of net profit at stake. 

Forks’ solution is to move from the “traditional” American diet to a “whole-foods diet,” which means eliminating from your diet anything that had eyes or legs, ran or swam. 

The startling news in Forks Over Knives is that new research points to the conclusion that a whole-foods diet can not only prevent the triple specters of cancer, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes, but actually reverse those ailments. (As an added bonus, the film implies, Viagra will no longer be necessary on a whole-foods diet.) 

That’s amazing news, to be sure, but did it have to come in the form of a documentary that plays like a late-night infomercial minus the manic British guy? Frankly, Mr. Shankly, I’ve seen Morrissey videos that are more life-changing than this well-intentioned but yawn-inducing barrage of factoids. 

HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN (2) Directed by Jason Eisener • Starring Rutger Hauer, Gregory Smith, Robb Wells, Brian Downey • NR •86 min • At Osio Cinemas.

FORKS OVER KNIVES (2) Directed by Lee Fulkerson • Starring Joey Aucoin, Neil Barnard, Gene Baur • Rated PG • 90 min • At Osio Cinemas.

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