Short Film: The Retirement of Joe Corduroy
Some retirees take up golf. But, in Mike P. Nelson’s gritty thriller The Retirement of Joe Corduroy, a mild-mannered dentist gets a new lease on life when he trades in the Novocaine for some double-barreled, ass-kicking revenge after his nephew is brutally attacked by thugs.
Just when it was about time to put the neo-grindhouse movement out to pasture, Nelson uses the pseudo-genre’s techniques to create what amounts to a complex character study. Most modern filmmakers riffing on older genre material become servants of the style and the films exist only as commentaries on the process of making films.
However, Nelson creates an authentic looking throwback to ’80s exploitation revenge thrillers, adds in modern concepts like non-linear storytelling and doesn’t leave out good “old-fashioned” character development. Resembling a thinner, subdued Joe Don Baker, Rich Reeder imbues the title character with a real weighty weariness, taking out his frustrations on those who cross him because he doesn’t have anything to lose.
We get Joe Corduroy’s story doled out through flashbacks and flash-forwards, which culminate in a totally bizarro ending that Nelson makes feel completely natural. This is a filmmaker who is not subservient to his style — but makes the style subservient to the story.
The Retirement of Joe Corduroy won the Best Short Film at the 2012 Minneapolis Underground Film Festival.