The semantic links between ‘simple’, ‘basic’ and ‘stupid’ are integral to Hal Hartley’s early ’90s masterpiece Simple Men. Masculine interactions with females are explored through reduction of the characters to ‘basic’ forms, and their byproduct ‘stupidity’ is exploited for laughs; the movie is bewilderingly deadpan, and hilarious as a result. Scenes seem to exist just for the sake of it, such as the gas station clerk who spends five minutes playing ‘Greensleeves’ on his electric guitar, and a dance scene that is as brilliant as it is completely pointless. For me, the movie was a kick up the arse, a reminder of how incredible cinema can be when it balances the fine line between filmmaking integrity and sheer fucking weirdness, and it was the inspiration to include reviews of older films on The Vomitorium. Look out for more ‘Seal of Approval’ movies in the near future!
Simple Men was written and directed by Hal Hartley and stars Robert John Burke, Bill Sage, Karen Sillas and Martin Donovan. It lasts for 105 minutes and is distributed in the UK on DVD and Blu-Ray by Artificial Eye. Originally released in 1992.