It is time again to bring you the very best in Independent and Short Film entertainment. This time, it is yet another Short film from the Stephen King “Dollar Baby” Program. For those unfamiliar with this program, it is a decades long program that the famous writer, Stephen King, came up with where up-and-coming filmmakers buy the rights to one of King’s short stories for one dollar, make the film, and sends it off to King himself. Most of these films are on the film festival circuit and end up being very successful.
All that you love will be carried away was first published in New Yorker magazine on January 29, 2001. That next year in 2002, it was published in Stephen King‘s collection of short stories, Everything’s eventual. The story is less horror and more about … human living. It is about Alfie Zimmer (played by Joe Bob Briggs), a traveling salesman who goes from one part of the country to the other selling all sorts of things his whole life. At this point in his life, he is selling gourmet frozen foods across the mid-west. Even tho he has a home, a wife, a daughter, a dog, and a job – Zimmer had been doing the same routine of traveling, selling, going from one hotel to the next, seeing the traffic go by on American’s highways and byways day in and day out of his sad, yet routine of a lifestyle.
Somewhere in Nebraska, Zimmer pulls in a hotel knowing that he has had enough. He can’t do this same routine again so he decides to take the gun in his traveling bag and kill himself. As Zimmer put’s it: “he couldn’t go on living the way he had been living.” While Zimmer was on his travels, he kept a notebook full of … graffiti. Graffiti he saw on bathroom stalls or walls in dirty truck stops, maybe on candy machines, or even road signs as he passed them by on the Interstate. He chose this as a hobby to log these colorful notes and phrases in a notebook he kept near him. The hobby grew and was fascinated by them. Phrases like, “Save Russian Jews, collect valuable prizes“. After awhile, they became his companion, his “voices of the walls, his friends that spoke to him“. As he sit’s on the hotel room bed, he knows that a shot in the mouth with his gun would be living proof that there was something wrong with him as the cops discovered his body. He didn’t want to be remembered as that. So, he tries to figure out what to do? He wants to write a book about the graffiti he has seen and explain to people what they might mean and about his travels. As he put’s it: “telling would hurt“. So, Zimmer goes outside and see’s a farmhouse across the way. He desides that if the light in the house comes on by the time he counts down to 60, he will write the book, if it doesn’t he will go back into the hotel room and end his sad, yet bland life as a traveling salesman.
I have seen a good handful of these “Dollar Baby” films and I must say, I think this is one of the best ones yet in the sense that it’s not “horror”, but real. I, for one, have been in sales for a long time and I can tell you Renner nailed it when it comes to the details of being a salesman. He also nailed the details of the film. The way he films and describes the hotel rooms, the highways, the bathroom, everything is spot on. Joe Bob Briggs did a very good performance as Zimmer. He protrayed him the way a salesman talks and sometimes acts, perfectly. I was quite surprised to see Joe Bob in a “Dollar Baby” film, but glad because he really did a great job. For Stephen King fans, I can tell you there are “nods” to King that only a true fan will notice such as, the number “19″ and “Gilead” on the road sign among others. The graffiti phrase: “Save Russian Jews, collect valuable prizes” is also found in King’s book, It. I found the film very realistic and could relate in ways. Renner really made you want to feel for this character and more importantly hope that light came on at the end before he got to 60, but we will never know and sometimes that’s the best ending of all. I was very impressed with this “Dollar Baby” and hope you will too at a film fest near you.