Fine, underrated Buscemi film.
Robert P. Beveridge | Cleveland, OH | 07/18/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Animal Factory (Steve Buscemi, 2000)
Steve Buscemi is best known as an actor, thanks in no small part to him being a staple in Quentin Tarantino films, but you know the old line-- everyone in Hollywood wants to direct. Buscemi has actually done his share of it, but the movies that result tend to be minor affairs that get little distribution outside the arthouse scene. That's kind of depressing, especially when it comes to a movie like Animal Factory, with a wealth of acting talent and a script to back it up.
Ron Decker (American History X's Edward Furlong) gets busted for selling dope, and under the strict new laws, is sent to prison for five years on a felony rap. Once in the joint, Decker gets to know Earl Copen (Willem Dafoe), a lifer who is, as Morgan Freeman's character calls himself in The Shawshank Redemption, "the guy who knows how to get things." Decker and Copen form an odd, complex relationship that's viewed by those outside the prison walls with some alarm.
Furlong, Dafoe, and Danny Trejo, who plays Dafoe's best friend, are only the tip of the acting iceberg in this movie; a host of other fine actors have parts ranging from supporting to bit, including Buscemi himself, Mickey Rourke, John Heard, Tom Arnold, Larry Fessenden, Seymour Cassel, and a host of others; were there not so much focus on Furlong and Dafoe, this would have easily been billable as an ensemble-cast movie, and to an extent it plays like that anyway; there's too much of a main story here for a straight ensemble film, though. (Rourke, especially, is notable here, in his best performance since Angel Heart.) Either way you look at it, this is a strong movie chock full of good performances; the subject matter, and the rather jaundiced way of looking at it, may make some squeamish, but the caliber of the performances here should be enough to overcome that. Animal Factory is a good'un. You want to see it. ****
Laser Point | 02/18/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an excellent movie based on the Edward Bunker book of the same name. The plot revolves around a young man committed to prison who is taken under the wing of an older convict. The film portrays prison life in all its banality and violence as well as the values and psychology of the prisoners and the relationships, both good and evil, that form among them.
Every actor, including Edward Bunker himself, did a fine job with Steve Buscemi as both actor and director. However, the revelation here is Mickey Rourke playing a transexual inmate. His portrayal of toughness and sadness, female in a very male body was absolutely superb. His voice, his mannerisms all were totally authentic. His scenes alone made this movie worth watching. As someone who has worked with convicts, addicts, and transexuals for many years I was astounded at the accuracy of the movie and of Rourke's portrayal in particular."