Hal Hartley: indie auteur extraordinare. But his last film, No Such Thing, was never given a proper nationwide theatrical release, and abandoned to the video bins. Nevertheless, this film marks Hartley's most recent collaboration with Robert Burke who has starred in three of the director's films (in addition to currently appearing in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and playing the title character in RoboCop 3 ). Burke, who met Hartley when the two attended SUNY Purchase, is perfect for Hartley's films. Don't believe it? Check out this Hartley/Burke film fest:
• The Unbelievable Truth (1989)--Hartley's first feature film, it was produced in part through a loan Hartley and his friends took out at the local bank. Burke plays a mechanic released from prison, who meets up with an intellectual, disenchanted teenage girl obsessed with the threat of nuclear war. Naturally, the two fall in love. The film also features lots of great pushing between men. Literally, men pushing each other.
• Simple Men (1992)--Burke plays a thief who, along with his brother, tries to track down their father, an anarchist and former pro short-stop recently escaped from prison. Simple Men also contains an awesome dance scene with Sonic Youth's "Kool Thing." This is a noticeable departure from Hartley's first films, where an older man/social outcast falls in love with an intelligent and mature, but much younger woman. There's also a great shot of a cop fighting on the ground with a nun. Literally, a cop on the ground with a nun.
• No Such Thing (2001)--Easily Hartley's most unique film plot-wise, No Such Thing is about a monster living in Iceland. Burke is the monster who hates humans, and is depressed because he cannot die. Though the premise is totally bizarre, No Such Thing is a straight-up Hartley film. Take away the mask and fire breathing, and Burke's monster is not so dissimilar from his past characters. Lots of great scenes of the monster swilling whiskey and scaring the shit out of villagers. Literally! M.WILLIAM HELFRICH