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SLING BLADE

SYNOPSIS:
Karl is to be released from a mental home after serving 25 years for murder. On the eve of his release, he is visited by a student journalist, to whom he gives a unique interview: she may ask no questions. But she needs none. He openly relates to her (in his gravel voiced murmur) his own story of how he grew up in a small community, never quite a part of anyone’s life and how he murdered his mother and her illicit lover. The next day, Karl is released and returns to his community: he is befriended by a fatherless boy, Frank, who takes him home. Frank’s mother takes him in, but her hard drinking boyfriend agitates against the "retard". Karl and Frank form a deep bond and when Frank’s happiness seems at stake, Karl’s deep and simple sense of justice is stirred.

"Compelling and moving, this is film making at its best. Billy Bob Thornton brings onto the screen and into our hearts the poignant story of a simple yet complex man who finds his own unique path to redemption. Edgy, original, unpredictable … here is a film that delivers great impact. We are fascinated by this unusual character; his stance, his mannerisms, his walk, his speech, the way he massages his hands… everything about him and the people he meets, engages us. Thornton’s performance is amazing. The pace is deliberate, and there is plenty of time throughout the film to wonder about Karl Childers, and what is going on in his mind. There are no superfluous words, and music is used to great effect. The sounds at other times are natural ones - from the sounds of the exterior to the scraping of a chair being dragged across the floor. The simplicity of Childers’ communication with the young boy, and the development of their relationship is tremendously moving; the slow realisation of events to come, supremely poignant. The success of the Academy Award winning script lies in the clear characterisations and life’s harshness and cruelty juxtapositioned against its gentle simplicity. This is a thought-provoking film that deserves to be digested and considered."
Louise Keller

"Occasionally we see on the screen the result of pure and genuine inspiration, a film that has been dictated to the writer/director rather like Salieri believed Mozart’s music to be dictation from God. Karl Childers - the name reflecting the character’s childlike qualities - came to Thornton in a moment of inspiration while shaving, and he began talking to his own reflection in the voice that he uses for Karl in the film. The character led Thornton to the story, and he made the film without any chrome-plated add-ons for the sake of commercialism. No, it is not a mainstream film: it will not do a piglet or a dino at the box office, but it will live forever in the memory of those who do see it. I urge you to be one of those."
Andrew L. Urban

"Unforgettable for its tragedy, this unique dramatic outing marks the auspicious directorial debut of screenwriter/actor Billy Bob Thornton who also plays the lead. Rarely does a film emerge these days, which can be genuinely called a masterpiece of contemporary cinema. Writer/director/Thornton emerges as a genuine poet whose flawless screenplay, combined with seamless direction and a performance as pure as the character he has brought to the screen, result in a film of extraordinary depth. Sling Blade is a film about acceptance and Thornton's creation of Karl is the flip side to the more mainstream and overacted Forrest Gump. Thornton takes his time with this character, a man who, on the surface, lives in his own world and says little, but he's an observer and his friendship with Frank reminds him of his own troubled youth, and in his own way, is determined not to allow the young boy to fall victim to violence and brutality. While there are many intense moments, Thornton has sprinkled his script with liberal doses of wry, gentle humour, including a delightful dinner party scene during which Karl is 'set up' with a slow young woman who works in Vaughan's store. Thornton's script is a richly detailed piece examining the issues but also detailing the metamorphosis of one of the most intricate and remarkable characters in recent memory. Beautifully observant, there are many sequences that are heartbreaking for what they say, including the final conversation between Karl and Vaughan (Ritter), which is truly memorable. It's unfortunate, then, that the film opens in Australia with little fanfare or an attempt at making audiences aware that, if one digs deep enough amongst the rusty thorns of American cinema, a jewel such as Sling Blade can be found."
Paul Fischer

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SLING BLADE (M)

(US)

CAST: Billy Bob Thornton, Dwight Yoakam, J.T. Walsh, John Ritter, Lucas Black, Natalie Canerday, Robert Duvall, Jim Jarmusch.

DIRECTOR: Billy Bob Thornton

PRODUCER: Brandon Rosser and David I. Bushell

SCRIPT: Billy Bob Thornton

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Barry Markowitz

EDITOR: Hughes Winborne

MUSIC: Daniel Lanois

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Clark Hunter

RUNNING TIME: 135 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Palace

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 31, 1997







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