(On Cable TV, June 2012) As far as low-key low-budget dramas go, Handsome Harry is about as representative as it gets. The cinematography is washed-out, the scenes drag on, the pacing is slow and the silences are numerous. As a man sets out to re-acquaint himself with old navy buddies in a search for truth and absolution, the film is a series of staged set-pieces allowing actors to play against each other. Steve Buscemi is announced as a headliner, but he’s on-screen for less than two minutes: the real star of the film is Jamey Sheridan, turning in a great performance as the conflicted lead of the film. Surrounding him are a few other actors doing their best, which turns into a formulaic series of conversations in which things quickly turn wrong. Still, the film’s not unpleasant to watch, and even the lengthy third act isn’t enough to spoil things. Handsome Harry probably could have been a bit better, a bit snappier and a bit more memorable with a few tweaks, a bigger budget and a faster-paced third act, but what’s on-screen isn’t too bad already, and the actors all do a fine job.
(On VHS, December 1999) In retrospect, a rather promising debut by a guy named Quentin Tarantino. It’s also surprisingly theatrical, for such an obviously cinematographic film. Steadily -though blackly- amusing throughout, with great performances by Harvey Keitel and Steve Buscemi. A solid rental.
(On DVD, February 2009) This talky crime thriller has aged pretty well, all thing considered. The dialogue gets better, the lack of action isn’t as surprising, and the cut-ear scene seems positively restrained given the excesses that Tarantino and his imitators have committed ever since. The 15-year-anniversary DVD edition is filled with interesting material, from interviews with/about the fascinating personalities involved in the project, a look at the impact of the film on the indie circuit and other assorted tidbits.