Forced to smuggle whiskey in an attempt to save his family, Quebec Bill (Kris Kristofferson) and his son will embark on an unforgettable trip. This wild journey through vast reaches of the wilderness will lead them to disc... more »over a haunted and elusive past. Disappearances features Kris Kristofferson's greatest performance to date in this beautifully shot western adventure.« less
I have seen better Kris Kristofferson movies but my husband enjoyed it since it was a western and he would give it a 4.
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Disappearances worth sticking around for
Thomas | Little Rock | 09/26/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"What a delight! In a market where we excuse bad lines delivered by flat characters for a few dozen more explosions, dazzling special effects, and everything else twenty million dollars can buy, I love Disappearances for its charm, its clever script handled by a well-appointed cast, and its beautiful photography.
The movie is thoroughly rural. Like the countryside where it was produced, Disappearances unfolds itself slowly but magnificently. Do not expect to find your heart in your throat for two hours, followed by a climactic, tidy resolution to the cosmos. Disappearances tells a story of father and son, and it is rightly more of a process than a particular event. In that regard, the plot development is stylistically closer to eastern European cinema than it is to its American peers.
With only a couple hitches (a couple characters are more prop than talent), Disappearances' strong symbiosis of script and talent is the film's greatest offering. The superb synergy of Farmer and McDermott with the others, the perfect casting of Sanderson to character, and an excellent performance by Kristofferson, have me pinching myself at times to remember these people aren't actually family. Disappearances ventures further, or more believably, into the psychology of its main characters than many American films dare go.
If the fact that Jay Craven was ambitious with his budget shows at times during Disappearances, it becomes more of a mark of honor than a detractor. This film is the antithesis to the contemporary action blockbuster. The film moves slowly at times, and the action is not always plausible, but the characters are enchanting. Besides, our suspension of disbelief in the cinema is an aesthetic choice above all, and I appreciate the way Disappearances, in its fusion of magic realism and frontier, challenges me to look at movies anew."
Proof or Poof!
Rocky Raccoon | Boise, ID | 07/09/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"`Disappearances' is an enigma. Taking place during the Great Depression in Vermont, we get an outlaw caper and a tale of the supernatural. The movie is more worthy than not, but when it relies on the former, we get captivating adventure; when it relies on the latter we get more mood than substance. Kris Kristopherson, featuring one of his best performances in memory, leads an assorted cast through peril during the Prohibition.
Quebec's the name and making ends meet is the game. As his family farm loses collaterol and the money to buy hay for the animals, Quebec's stubbornness makes things even harder on the rest of family. After he runs out of honest means, he decides to go back to smuggling whiskey from across the border. The women folk don't like him much, but his son "Wild Bill" is the apple of his eye. Just like his own father, Quebec looks to his next of kin to be as much of a rascal as he is. For schooling, "Wild Bill" has elder Aunt Cordelia (Genevieve Bluteau) to rely upon at the school house. She tries to rear him as far away from his father and always warns him, "Always determine what your father would do in a situation. Then do the opposite." 'Paradise Lost' is a staple piece of literature she uses, but her actual presence seems to draw more from Uncle Henry (Gary Farmer), a Native American who runs a car dealership in town. As reluctant as everyone else, Henry agrees to come along and let him use his own precious vehicle. Along the way we first get a load of ponderous conversation that's meant to rationalize the whole deal, but the sets and costumes transport us nicely enough in a beautiful bar scene. Before we can judge the prize, we have to get a taste first afterall. And so does Bill. After they reach the border, the tension and ominous atmosphere rises as we go through the woods in the dark. They soon come across French Canadians, mounted police, and a group of monks who have their own angle on the whiskey trade.
`Disappearances' is an enjoyable trek to Vermont in 1932. It has the whole Western feel that isn't overdone or stale, but the causality of the supernatural doesn't seem to be planted well enough. Early on we get a cemetery scene where Aunt Cordelia explains to Bill that men just disappear. She whispers it, but we don't get much of an explanation. Later, at key moments she shows up to Bill along the trail. Is she a ghost? Is she a vision? We're not sure, except she gives Bill good advice. She's not all that different than Obi-Wan Kenobi, except at one point she brings a shotgun and becomes someone to be reckoned with. The effect is nicely done. We have a Native American feel as a white owl shows up as a foreboding of ill fortune, but it's not that consistent. At one point they have a train adventure; the next it disappears. Something Quebec acknowledges as well as Bill. Now it becomes puzzling. Is the movie a mood piece? Or is it a real cult adventure? If so what are the rules?
`Disappearances' is a well crafted Western (okay, Eastern) adventure that has enough elements to please, but it leaves all too many questions and inconsistencies to leave with the audience. When it's real, writer/director Jay Craven gives us a beautifully crafted film. When it's not, it's everyone for him(her)self. "
Whiskey running and mysticism
OAKSHAMAN | Algoma, WI United States | 05/23/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Kingdom County is still a place of wonders.
Do not expect a straightforward story here. Different realities fade in and out of this movie. People come and go- and death isn't necessarily an end. It is alot like life, or at least life naturally perceived. You have an interwoven fabric of hard natural practicalities and of mystical insights. This is the way native Americans saw life, so too could some of european descent before the mass-brainwashing of the media- and this film is set in 1932 in the north woods before total brainwashing took hold. Kingdom county was disappearing, yet it was still a place of wonders.
This could be a mythic hero tale with William, his father, and their companions travelling North for adventure as much as whiskey- and finding much more than they originally bargained for. In the end some answers are found, some mystery remains, and some things melt away into the beyond.
The character of Cordelia sums up the movie when she instructs young William to never perceive the ordinary without also perceiving the extra-ordinary in it. Many realities exist around us- all of which are ultimately an illusion. And what is life without some mystery to it... "
Stunningly Beautiful and Unique
Robert Paterson | New York, NY, USA | 01/02/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an example of American independent film making at it's finest. This is a real independent film, not one put out by a big studio with a fake Indie title. Directed by veteran director Jay Craven, this is one of a trilogy of films based on novels by Howard Frank Mosher. Craven excels at celebrating unique sides of American culture through compelling story-telling and gorgeous cinematography. His trademark style is full of colorful landscapes and fascinating characters.
The story here is based on whisky-runners, brilliantly portrayed be Kris Kristofferson and the rest of the excellent cast. There is even a hilarious role played by Luis Guzmán, of Boogie Nights fame. The story is surreal and full of depth, and not a typical watered-down Hollywood tale. You actually have to think when following the story line here.
If you are looking for something truly unique and interesting in Indie filmmaking and something that is fun for the whole family to watch, this is it.
On a final note, also check out Stranger in the Kingdom, Where the Rivers Flow North and his other films, which are also excellent."