Jasper (2010)

Sex :
Violence :
Director Nathan Hill
Writers Nathan Hill, Simon Salamon (supervising writer)
Starring Nathan Hill, Sandy Greenwood, Sally Anne Arnott, Sarah Howett, Stewart Marshall, Tania Wieclaw, Candice Day, Catherine Mack-Hancock
Genre Thriller
Tagline Glovers Are Off


“Look I'm actually getting out of the business” - Jasper Clay

A Private Detective, Jasper Clay, is retiring and is on his way home (or to a bar) after cleaning out his office. Naturally the phone rings with another call for help just as he is leaving. After initially stating he is out of the business Jasper strangely takes the case. Initially it looks like an abducted kiddie, evil boss scenario, but things are about to get a whole lot more complex as his client is also abducted.

Jasper is soon on the trail of his missing client and is confronting over sexed motel staff, bikies after some mayhem, and all manner of women on the prowl for a bit of Jasper action. When he runs into Danvers, the local crime boss, and his henchmen, things take a deadly turn for our Gumshoe. Naturally Jasper makes things worse for himself by getting involved with Danvers daughter. It gets a whole lot more complex from there.

Director/Writer Nathan Hill, here presenting his third movie, has moved away from the horror genre and is in the thriller neck of the woods while bringing some dark edges to things. If you want to view a movie that has a linear progression and is pretty easy to understand then this may not be the movie for you as Hill plays with perception, reality, and any sense of time frame you might cling to. What's worse is that Hill doesn't pander to the lowest common denominator, who would be off watching Yogi Bear anyway, and delivers the movie he wanted to make. So the question becomes whether or not Hill, via his grime determination to present his own vision, manages to carry the potential audience with him or loses them along the way.

Guess the first thing we should talk about is the time frame and just what might be taking place in reality and what might simply be taking place in Jasper's head. If you have watched any of Guy Ritchie's movies you are probably hip to the whole concept of seemingly disparrent characters being presented whose relationship to each other and the central plot only becomes apparent towards the end of the movie. Nathan Hill pulls off the same trick with some accomplishment. During the female kick boxing match I was wondering why it seemed to take an inordinate amount of screen time. Besides hot young ladies kicking the crap out of each other giving the obvious benefit to certain demographics, it seemd to be overly long. It becomes apparent why time was spent on this toward the end of the movie, in a scene that rivals something out of a James Bond epic. Just for the record Jasper looks like he doesn't give a toss whether it's shaken or stirred, as long as it's in a tall glass with bugger all mixers involved. So you have a whole bunch of characters introduced that seem to have little if any baring on the central plot, but who all prove to be pivotal to Jasper's “Pilgrim's Progress”. Either Jasper has the uncanny knack of attracting people who will eventually prove vital to finding his client, or not everything is as it first seems. There's also the taint of Jasper maybe being on a self destruct setting that adds dimension to what you are seeing.

During the course of the movie we have a couple of scenes in black and white, that appear to be flashbacks, but which would make no sense if taking in context of what we know about the plot up to that stage. Equally a number of times, scenes will cut direct to a black screen in a sort of sense deprivation approach. It could be argued that what we are seeing on screen is memories an unconscious Jasper has or scenarios his mind has come up with. That would certainly explain the number of women throwing themselves at him, and also the inordinate number of times he gets knocked out as the movie progresses. Please note I'm not talking the whole “it was all a dream” schlock some movies attempt to use, in amongst the fantasy elements there are clearly meant to be recollections of events that did take place. Of course there might be an entirely different explanation, but you got to love a movie that leaves itself open to interpretation. Full marks to Nathan Hill here for making the Audience think about what they are seeing rather than lapping it up in the braindead style favoured by Hollywood.

In terms of style the movie gets down with it's noir Private Detective heritage, adds in a lot of humour to good effect, loved Jasper walking nonchalantly out of a Gym as a major fire fight between Police and Criminals erupts behind him, and high fives the whole ozploitation thing. I was also reminded of some of those Police shows set in Miami from out of last century, all about the angles from a moving car. While clearly shot on a budget that wouldn't pay for the catering in most Hollywood productions, Nathan Hill uses his resources well to give the Audience something they just may not have seen before. For a comparison think Two Hands perhaps, though finding an exact comparison isn't easy.

For those who have previously grooved to Tomboys or The Strange Game of Hyde and Seek then you can happily get your Nathan Hill on with Jasper. If for whatever reason you haven't caught a Nathan Hill movie before then Jasper makes a good starting point. Don't expect the polished cookie cutter outings of Hollywood, this is independent movie making at it's best, raw and with no attempt being made at appeasing the lowest common denominator. If you enjoy cinema as an art-form then this is a must see film, Nathan Hill delivers once again.

Please note I'm out of room here or I could have waxed lyrical for quite a while. Since we have three Nathan Hill movies in the can so to speak, guess I'll get room in an upcoming article to revisit all three movies as well as to try and get some insight from Nathan himself.

ScaryMinds Rates this movie as ...

  You are going to get a kick out of this one.