DIRECTED BY: George Hickenlooper
FEATURING: Billy Bob Thornton, J.T. Walsh, Molly Ringwald, Jefferson Mays, Suzanne Cryer
PLOT: A peek inside an asylum for the criminally insane as a mentally retarded double
murderer chats with a diabolical fellow inmate before being interviewed by a newspaper reporter on the day of his release.
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Some Folks Call It a Sling Blade is a short film with unusual subject matter. The viewer is treated to a vignette portrait of a murderer in an insane asylum. There is a glimpse of his twisted companion, and a look at the sorts of confused, eccentric bureaucrats who run the place. All of this is presented against the backdrop of the controversy of social attitudes about the patients. The piece is strangely cemented together with the premise of a newspaper reporter trying to get an interview with the murderer on the day his sentence expires. Odd as the setting and premise are, Some Folks Call It a Sling Blade is really just a demo-clip. The idea was to get the concept of Billy Bob Thornton’s ability to portray Karl Childers out into the greater film community in order to locate backers and pitch a full-length movie. It worked, and the mainstream picture Sling Blade was the result. Most of Some Folks Call It A Sling Blade is filler, the premise with the reporter being used to make the film longer than a screen test. As such, the film lacks the substance and quality to be a truly weird movie.
COMMENTS: In this short film predecessor to Sling Blade we observe a day in the life of a criminal mental patient who is on the verge of social repatriation. Karl Childers (Thornton) chats with a fellow inmate in an institutional day-room. Meanwhile, reporter Teresa Tatum (Ringwold) is waiting to interview Childers.
Tatum, who is working on a feature exploring the controversies of releasing criminal patients back into society, pontificates frivolously at long length with a companion (Cryer), then spars with a hesitant and quirky chief hospital administrator (Mays). Eventually, we are allowed to see Thornton’s skillful performance as Childers when he explains to the reporter the circumstances of his crime. The interim would be dreadfully uninteresting time filler were it not interspersed with several astounding segments in which J.T. Walsh plays the part of a funny, congenial, but very scary psychotic killer.
The annoying Molly Ringwold, an actress of very modest proportions, puts us to sleep with a Continue reading SHORT: SOME FOLKS CALL IT A SLING BLADE (1994)