Saturday, 27 March 2010

'It's all about what you think you're getting.'

Directed by John Landis

An admirable documentary, giving you a 'thick slice of Americana' – Dan Aykroyd's words. Landis introduced the film at the BFI and explained that the one lesson he took away from making this documentary was; a price is determined by what someone is willing to pay. America's fascination with cars, their willingness to pay over the odds is really astounding and it's captured in Slasher. The film follows Michael Bennett, a gun for hire, performance impresario who brings his act to used car dealerships to give customers the ultimate experience in purchasing a car, therefore boosting sale figures. Bennett's words, it's all about 'what you think you're getting' epitomise his philosophy in screwing over and selling as many cars as possible to the American public. In this case the cameras follow him in Memphis, 'the bankruptcy capital of America.' A lot of people scrape together what little cash they have to purchase a car from 'slasher'. This is funny and interesting and sad but the premise after a while becomes slightly cumbersome, as the film repeats itself, with customer after customer purchasing a car. The film could have worked as a short not a 90 minute feature. Bennett, a motor mouth alcoholic, is endearing, even when he's fucking people over. The most powerful scene in the documentary is near the end, when Bennett breaks down, claiming his job gave him a reason to live etc. Landis explained this emotional outpouring was due to him going ape-shit at Bennett for driving (apparently he doesn't have a licence). I would have liked to have seen Landis on film, pointing the finger. Being Landis, the music – R n' B blues is brilliant and masks the documentary's rather slow pace. Landis two seats away from me, was rocking his head throughout to the tunes and it is clear that music is his passion. A Landis documentary on blues would be great fun. Enjoyable.

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