Monday, August 20, 2012

STF Critic Marcus O'Sullivan on Very Extremely Dangerous

"A bottle rocket careening from one catastrophe to the next" - Marcus O'Sullivan, IFI Stranger Than Fiction Festival Critic reviews Very Extremely Dangerous. 

Very Extremely Dangerous is two movies. One is a entertaining and humorous look at a beer-drinkin’ hellraisin’ drug-takin’ septuagenarian who never stopped living fast and loose. The other is a sad and oftentimes ugly picture of the dark side of the outlaw country lifestyle, and of a life bent on self-destruction.

Jerry McGill was friends with Elvis. He partied with Waylon Jennings. He knew Johnny Cash. He also lived a life of crime for over 30 years. Bank robbing, counterfeiting, assault, probably hundreds of drunk and disorderly charges. He was (and still is) an outlaw in the literal sense of the word, and his capacity for chaos is matched with an equal amount of charisma. The man’s just an entertaining dude, whether he’s rolling with his shotgun, chatting with his pig butcher/chiropractor ‘manager’, or inexplicably painting his nails red with shoplifted nail polish for an upcoming gig. 

He’s also a drug addict, and as Jerry’s downward spiral gets worse it becomes difficult to watch him sabotage himself and abuse the people around him. As director Paul Duane himself states, his behavior is partly due to the presence of the camera. Jerry’s an attention-seeker, a bit of a clown, and plays up to his own image. But he’s also terrified of an impending lung cancer operation, and of his last gasp chance at musical redemption. 

It’s debatable whether or not McGill’s story warranted this level of attention to begin with, but Very Extremely Dangerous does well to create an unflinching and worthwhile portrayal of such a difficult subject. Jerry’s an aged, creaky bolt of lightning, a bottle rocket careening from one catastrophe to the next, and during the good times you’re just grateful you’re along for the ride. 

Marcus O'Sullivan (@mwosullivan )
IFI Stranger Than Fiction Festival Critic

IFI Stranger Than Fiction, Dublin's Documentary Film Festival run from 16th - 19th August  - for more information visit

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