Ned Rifle (Hal Hartley, 2014)


The third film in Hal Hartley’s lunatic epic trilogy about an ex-con with literary delusions and his relations with a garbageman from Queens and his sister opens this week at the SIFF Film Center. Released in 1997, the first film in the trilogy, Henry Fool was, as far as I can tell, Hartley’s most successful release, taking in almost one and a half million dollars at the box office. While his reputation rests on the series of films he made in the early 90s, hallmarks of that decade’s American independent film movement (Trust, The Unbelievable Truth, Amateur, Flirt), his career seems to have sputtered over the last 20 years, with only a couple of features seeing completion. The second film in the trilogy, 2006’s Fay Grim, grossed only 10% of its predecessor, and the new film was funded by Kickstarter. I believe this says more about the state of independent film production distribution and exhibition in the United States than it does about Hartley as a filmmaker.

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