Tagged E.L Katz

Hap and Leonard – Season 1, Episode 3: “The Dive”

SundanceTV’s Hap and Leonard
Season 1, Episode 3: “The Dive”
Directed by Nick Gomez
Written by E.L. Katz

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Bottoms” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Trudy” – click here
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A new chapter in the stories of Hap Collins (James Purefoy) and Leonard Pine (Michael K. Williams).
After “The Bottoms”, we now find Hap and Trudy Fawst (Christina Hendricks) still laying next to the water. A flashback shows us when Hap was getting served papers for dodging the draft. Cut to Howard (Bill Sage), Chub (Jeff Pope) and Paco (Neil Sandilands) discovering them laying there together. When Hap finally comes to things aren’t too awkward.
Meanwhile, Leonard wakes up after a night with his man, who’s busy making breakfast for them both. I fucking love Leonard. He loves hot sauce as much as I do.


Leonard: “Yeah I like spice. Cant taste unless it lights my ass on fire.”


Part of why I love Hap in particular is because he doesn’t buy into the 1960s hippy bullshit. Not after taking it hard for believing in all of that stuff when Vietnam was calling. But still, he is a rebel. Despite not digging on the peace and love and “fighting against the man“-type stuff, Hap is on the other side. He’s just a part of the middle class. He’s not, as Karl Marx might say, part of the lumpenproletariat such as somebody like Howard. Hap is all proletariat. He and Leonard come together so perfectly because of their similar situations in life, despite race. Yet Hap’s love for Trudy buys him into the current plan.
Great little conversation between Leonard and his boyfriend Raoul (Enrique Murciano). The latter talks a bit about hoping George Bush will be better than “that actor” Reagan. Even though Leonard believes him to have been a “damn good” one. Joe Lansdale’s writing shows here with the portrayal of Leonard, as the adaptation gives us a great look into the normal life of a gay couple at home. It isn’t pigeonholed and cliched. It’s simply two dudes, in love, conflicted, and all that stuff.
But it’s Hap and Leonard whose relationship shines through most. For the time being, Leonard isn’t sure about the “hippie scavenger hunt” while his partner wants answers soon. “A mull takes as long as a mull takes,” explains Leonard.
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The desperate nature of Hap is always present. Even after a phone call, he checks the money slot in case of quarters. The reality of a character is always interesting, and Hap is real. He’s a broke, and broken in senses, type of a man. Always struggling to stay afloat, like so many of us (myself including). Part of that is honourable because he makes it work, no matter the odds. Part of that also leads him down the garden path. Right now he’s following Trudy down a path Howard is breaking in. Who knows where that’s headed.
A song on the radio takes Hap back through time. We get glimpses of Hap with Trudy. “Aint a time machine, Hap,” says Leonard, warning of nostalgia. Then they have a hilarious little moment over the radio. Their comedic charm together is unreal, leaves me insatiable because they feel like such good friends.
Soon we follow a woman home from the gas station where Hap and Leonard stopped. She arrives home to find her door open, blaming it on herself. Uh oh. We know where this is headed, right? She comes across Soldier (Jimmi Simpson) and Angel (Pollyanna McIntosh) and this ends terribly; for her. These two are wildly psychopathic.


On the river, Hap and Leonard get things ready for their adventure. They set up some gator bait, as Leonard goes diving. What a wild time. “The world dont run on fairy dust,” says Leonard, as they talk about the plans of Howard and his gang of hippies.
Below the water Hap comes across some human remains, including a mask; the damn car! Then in a bit of excited fright he gets stuck. When Leonard spots a gator in the water things get tense. Meanwhile, Hap dreams of Trudy, back before he went to jail, her promises, her talk of how noble it is to do what he’s done, what he’ll do. Luckily Leonard hauls Hap out of the water and to safety.
News of the woman murdered earlier hits the news. But nobody worries, because for now Angel and Soldier do their nefarious deeds unbeknownst to Paco, who they’re apparently headed towards.
Back to the lake with gear goes the Scooby Gang along with Hap and Leonard. The two pals head under the water once again, together this time and using lots more equipment. But up above some law enforcement patrols the river, putting everyone in lock down briefly, as Howard and the others lay low. Regardless, Hap and Leonard scoop up the contents of the sunken car, and everyone leaves in high spirits. Only on the road home they find police waiting. All because of Prescott Jones (Jay Potter). So the gang recedes into the night instead of crashing at Howard’s place.


At Leonard’s house, they check out the findings from the river. Drinks and weed are broken out. A celebration. Some Nila cookies. “Crack a window,” Leonard shouts: “Smell like Woodstock in here.” Everyone has a good time, though, Leonard isn’t all that thrilled about hosting the get-together. His whiskey’s being drank, his table needs protection from the old mud caked cases from the car. Love the idiosyncrasies of his personality.
And just as much we get the personality of Hap, especially in this episode. The bits of his past come amazingly subtle with the short cuts to those flashbacks, as he goes in to jail sporting an American flag dress shirt they painted up and everything. The acting of Purefoy allows those memories to resonate in the moments we watch him in the current timeline while he connects with Trudy again. Their connection’s marred by his inability to connect with the ideology she’s about nowadays, and has always been. He’s changed, she hasn’t, and that doesn’t allow him what he wants: “I just want to be with you,” Hap tells Trudy. Not enough for her, apparently.
In the kitchen, Howard and Paco discover one of the cases of money is rotten. All the bills, or most of them, soaked and moldy. Then Hap and Leonard find themselves on the end of guns – Chub, Howard, and Paco are taking all the money left. That’s their decision now after doing little to no work. I knew something had to happen.


What’ll come next in the wild tales of Hap and Leonard? Find out wtih me next in the episode titled “Trudy”, which hopefully will give us more on the lady herself. Surely there’s going to be excitement either way. And hopefully, finally, Soldier and Angel will meet the gang.

CHEAP THRILLS in a Bleak Economy

Cheap Thrills. 2014.  Dir. E.L Katz.
Starring Pat Healy, Sara Paxton, Ethan Embry, and David Koechner. Pacific Northwest Pictures. Rated 14A. 88 minutes.
Comedy/Crime/Drama

★★★★1/2
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Cheap Thrills begins as Craig (Pat Healy) loses his low paying job. On top of that, he and his wife, as well as their new baby, are on the verge of being evicted from their property. After losing his job Craig heads to a bar for a few drinks. He ends up running into an old friend from high school, Vince (Ethan Embry), and the two catch up. They also come into contact with Colin (David Koechner) and his young wife Violet (Sara Paxton) who begin a friendly little game of wagers for big money. Seemingly the answer to both Craig and Vince’s problems, the two down-and-out old buddies go along with the childish little games Colin comes up with for cold, hard cash. Eventually, however, the games get darker, and more sinister. At first it begins with Craig getting knocked out by a bouncer, but soon it ends up with he and Vince breaking into houses. The evening gets crazier until the two former friends start wearing thin on one another, each of them becoming more aggressive with the other as the challenges get more intense, and they soon begin to regret what they’re willing to do just for money.

I think the two big performances here are most definitely from Ethan Embry and Pat Healy, both of whom I really enjoy in other movies. Embry plays a great character – at first you really find him fun and a bit wild, but eventually you start to see what kind of guy he really is and it is not nice. Embry really gets into it. I’ve been a fan of his since the show Brotherhood specifically, and he does very well with dark material, or at least characters who have some sort of darkness in them; great actor. Healy does a fine job, as well, playing Craig. The evolution of his character from beginning to end is wonderful. In the beginning, he is a truly meek individual, but by the end (especially the last shot which may be my favourite of the entire film) he really comes out the other side as a bad ass dude.
cheapthrills2There are a couple really laugh out loud moments in Cheap Thrills and I think one of those is absolutely when Craig has the incident with his finger. I don’t want to ruin anything more than I already have, but this is just absolutely priceless. Between the way Vince acts, how Craig reacts to the finger incident, and Colin screaming “fuck yeah motherfucker” – it’s all just way too damn funny. I laughed my ass off during that scene.

While most of the comedy is quite dark, this is the sort of comedy I really love the most personally. There’s something really great when filmmakers can capture the hilarity behind grim situations. E.L Katz really could have done this as an outright horror movie, and believe me there are a few moments worthy of horror in here (maybe this could be called a psychological horror in some respects). Instead he keeps this a real dark comedy with dramatic elements and certainly a good dose of crime. I think the driving force behind Cheap Thrills has two significant parts: the friendship between Craig and Vince, as well as the overall competition in which they engage. Everyone can probably think of someone they might have a relationship with from high school similar to Craig and Vince – maybe not as contemptuous, but definitely someone you may not have as great of a relationship with in the present as you did in the past, and one that may cause tension. This just cranks those types of relationships up another notch. Combined with the fact these guys are desperate enough in their current life situations to go in on an increasingly dangerous and twisted game, this makes for great drama.

cheapthrillsI think the whole game for money with Colin and Violet really works as a modern tale about greed. Although this is mainly meant as a great and thrilling dark comedy, it really does work on deeper levels. Similar to the recent film 13 Sins, Katz does a great job telling a story that relates to our modern society – a society filled to the absolute brim with people who will do anything they can, aside from work for an honest living, to make as much money as possible in as little amount of time as possible. The increasingly sick nature of the things Colin suggest for Craig and Vince to do is really unsettling. One part I really thought was a little funny but also sad, in regards to the game itself, is when they’re dared to eat a dead dog – they tie in the end and Vince asks Craig to open his mouth to prove his finished, to which his friend replies maniacally “I’m finished“, opening his mouth with an “ahh” noise to verify. It makes you chuckle while also feeling disgusted with these two guys. And it only gets worse.
cheapthrillsbd720_01_01_12_00006This is absolutely a 4.5 out of 5 star film. To be honest, while he wasn’t bad at all, I think David Koechner was a weak link for Cheap Thrills. If someone else had played this character I may have been more intrigued. He did not do bad whatsoever, I just didn’t really get into his performance specifically. I suppose he served his purpose well enough. The whole movie is just great, though, and his performance didn’t at all take away from it in any real significant sense. I cannot recommend this film enough. Ever since I first saw this I’ve been raving to others about how great of a movie experience this provides. A lot of fun. Albeit, a bit of sick fun along the way, but totally worth the ride. Two amazing central performances and a lot of gritty, dark laughs make this a must-see film. One of the best releases in 2014 my way. I hope others will enjoy it as much as myself.