A duo's surreal search for sustenance
Wayne | England | 05/31/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The film begins by showing us the grand old buildings of Liverpool, England. An old man walks in front of one of them and in the next shot enters Lime Street Station. You wouldn't think that this is relevant, but it is. In Alex Cox's Three Businessmen most things that are on view in the frame are relevant. Cox describes the film as "Buñuelian". You could say that it is something along the lines of one of the maestro's films, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeosie, because the two main protagonists have the same problem - they can't seem to find a meal and a place to eat. The two main protagonists in question are art dealers Bennie Reyes (Miguel Sandoval) and Frank King (Alex Cox). The two men meet while waiting for food in a hotel's dining room. The food doesn't arrive, and the eerie hotel is mysteriously empty, so the chaps go in search of a meal around Liverpool, which proves to be a difficult task as their search is thwarted constantly. Their crusade takes them into foreign locations, even though the men think they are in Liverpool throughout. It's a very enjoyable and inventive surreal film.The DVD picture is in widescreen and fine. The sound is in Dolby 2.0 and alright. The main menu is a static shot of the Three Businessmen and has the Debbie Harry song, "Ghost Riders in the Sky playing". There are eight chapters. The extras are just a commentary by director Alex Cox and writer/producer Tod Davies. It is an excellent commentary featuring amusing commercial interludes by Alex Cox. Tod Davies is good, too, explaining all the background on the making of the film. Funny, insightful and interesting."
A 2001 for the 21st Century
sebastian hope | Olympia WA | 07/17/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"On it's face, Three Businessmen is the story of two men looking for dinner in a strange town. But, as Hitchcock might say, that is just the MacGuffin around which this tantilizing tale of the everyman lost in a world they have no way of understanding. The two stars, Miguel "The West Wing" Sandoval and director Alex Cox, accidently travel the world by public transport without noticing. They talk and try to get something to eat; they argue; they discuss; they mesmerize.And there is a connection to 2001 in here. The commentary by Cox and writer/producer Todd Davies is funny and informative. Like being stuck in the movie theater with two intellegent hecklers.Gosh this is a good movie. I watch it more often then almost any other movie in my collection. Watch it yourself."
MR. ALEX COX'S DELIGHTFUL CHRISTMAS PARABLE AN EXCELLENT HER
C. Scanlon | among us humans | 01/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Actually an Epiphany myth.
Actually written and produced by Miss Tod, his cohort at Exterminating Angel.
Once you get the conceit it pretty much all comes clear, with lingering ambiguities which call for repeated viewings. Not as compulsively perhaps as Mr. Cox's noted messianic neutron tale Repo Man (Collector's Edition), but certainly delightfully. In fact this movie we may recommend for children and teens as a modern millenial retelling of the Three Wise Men. It is absolutely free of vulgar language and of violence beyond a momentary and possibly psychosomatic twisted ankle, and the only nudity is the public stone statue of Liverpool Resurgent.
For this Wise Men Revisited myth begins in Mr. Cox's native Liverpool, and mentions the Ferrey Across the Mersey and other cultural landmarks so well known from the early Sixties, including Mr. Sandoval's character Reyes's intriguing and unorthodox reflections on the well-known Liverpudlian "moptops."
Miquel Sandoval of course has appeared in a number of Alex Cox Films, including Repo Man (Special Edition), Sid & Nancy - Criterion Collection, Walker - Criterion Collection, etc., each with a surprisingly varying appearance and character. Here he appears more closely his well known television character supervising the psychic detective, or his appearance in Jurassic Park, or Clear and Pressent Danger.
The disk case indicates an indebtedness not only to Bunuel but also Beckett, and indeed this road show resembles the strange conversations in Waiting for Godot: A Tragicomedy in Two Acts in which a mismatched pair discuss all things while unconscious of their true predicament. So here as well, yet one might find as easily echoes of the Bob Hope/Bing Crosby Road films, if not Abbot and Costello, etc. The reflections on life and reality here nevertheless most call to Samuel Beckett, native of Dublin across the way.
Please do not do as I have done. View this film first, and then with the delightful, informative and ever engaging commentary with Tod and Alex. In this way you avoid spoilers, reflect first on the conversation and action, and focus on the essential rather than the peripheral, and especially may hear what this film says to you rather than to its creators. Be this film, and then hear about it. In fact this film (or rather in the commentary) reflects upon the nature of art and an art of the horrors of war and death which permits us to distance ourselves from that horror and thus ignore it.
I do not wish to lose you in my ramblings, but highly recommend you see this film. See especially the delivery of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, here in the form of a plastic model kit of the Mir international space station, mir meaning in Russian peacful society.
This film once its conceits are understood may seem deceptively simple and yet it invites repeated and delighted viewing once more. It really is an excellent Holiday movie for the entire family, for the entire human family, to gather closely in viewing and laughter and singing and discussing, world without end. In Repo Man we famously hear of the cosmos as a Plate of Shrimp. Here we find the undeniable global unity of all peoples on the path to peace. See this gentle film. You will not be disappointed. See it with those whom you love, not so alone, like me.
One might find arguable whether we may in fact discover a street named MAtthew in Latin America, in particular the street which appeared in A Fistful of Dollars (2-Disc Collector's Edition). Nevertheless we must recall the context of this movie, and its source in the retelling of an ancient myth of wise men, astrologers, from Bagdhad worshipping first, after the shepherds, the Son of Man, and that the most poignant and powerful cinematic and traditional representation of this myth is found in The Gospel According to St. Matthew.
Thus, small clues and hints are found throughout this Alex Cox movie, as ever with Mr. Cox (notice for instance the cans of food in Repo Man and magazine covers in Walker), unnoticed but by the most careful viewer who is justly and amply rewarded. For instance those familiar with Mr. Cox's opus will note with interest the significance of that which hangs from the goose-neck lamp in the L.A. office.
The final scenes of course were shot in Spain as an ersatz Mexico, as in Straight to Hell. In that film Mr. Cox used an abandoned set form a 1970's Charles Bronson Western. In this film he employs the town where Clint Eastwood's spaghetti westerns were filmed.
Often when we see a film we afterwards meditate how how we would have filmed it, ignorant of such restraints of reality as time and space and money. This globe-trotting movie was miraculously filmed in four weeks on a shoestring, yet with great production values. Nevertheless, the movie-goer often pretentiously opines how it might have been made better, as good as it is. Thus we make the film our own.
In this case, I sincererly wish the final scenes might have been filmed in a small Spanish town playing the part of a Mexican pueblo, but right there on the border with Mexico, and I know some wonderful places and people who might have served.
The film begins in Mr. Cox's very real and native Liverpool. A full circle might have been drawn by ending it in Sandoval's character's real town in New Mexico near the border (if we trust the character's claims, which we have no reason to). Thus we would correctly have corn tortillas with our refritos, instead of a fork. Wisdom's character's observation regarding pork fat is accurate, as both refritos and torillas bear their lard; yet, Mr. Cox's character most heartily digs in to his beans. His character is clearly that which most indergoes a transformation by the end, from stiff businessman to human being (although Wisdom merely shakes his hand while hugging Sandoval at the end).
But the real pointof this additional observation is that in northern Mexico we might have discovered not Franco's grand-daughters to play Elizabeth and Mary, stiffly, reluctantly, fearfully, and as Sandoval's character remarks, "fiercely." Instead we might have found an older woman serving refritos, without a cigarette but with generous love, and a very young mother to receive the gifts of the magi as beautifully, as cautiously for her baby, as gratefully and wonderingly as Passolini's.
And the injection of the creche only drives home the story with a sledghammer and is strictly unnecessary, as if another film enters suddenly. But this is like wishing they would remain silent at the death of Jarmusch's Ghost Dog rather than driving home explicitly the meaning of the symbolism. Trust your audience!"