Midnight Catch (2012)

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A cop with a heart and a brutal murderer with a conscience!
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US / 21 minutes / color / Halcyon Valor, One Forest Dir & Scr: Jamison M. LoCascio Pr: Louis J. Ambrosio, Jamison M. LoCascio, Collen Doyle Cine: Conor Shillen Cast: Tyrone Grant, Skyler Pinkerton.

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A very simple tale with a profoundly neonoir affect.

After looking furtively around him, a young man goes into a bar; we’ll learn his name is James Price (Pinkerton—an excellent surname for an actor in a noir movie to have!). He’s not long settled when another customer enters, Cole (Grant).

Cole, who’s probably about old enough to be Price’s father, starts up a conversation with him and soon succeeds in getting him to relax. It’s a fairly typical bar conversation, with the older man producing bits of homespun wisdom for the edification of his junior. Stuff like:

“I’m going to tell you something very important my daddy used to say to me all the time. In life, you have problems—some bad, some much worse. But, no matter what happens, you always have to remember there’s only two things you can do. You can either let your feet run you away or get your fists ready to stay. That determines what kind of man you are—how you deal with your problems.”

Price begins to open up. He tells Cole that he was raised without a father, that he’s come into this bar in an effort to escape his life—to escape reality, in effect. It’s when Price says, “I just don’t want to think about the past” that Cole’s amiable face briefly twists into a grimace; that’s the moment when Cole, who is a cop, suddenly twigs that, as he suspected, the man beside him at the bar is James Price, on the run after committing a quadruple homicide.

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Cole (Tyrone Grant) is genial as he befriends Price (Skyler Pinkerton), yet there’s an alertness too.

Price senses the change in him, and makes for the door. Both men are armed and yet, as Cole chases the fugitive through the darkened, deserted streets, neither man shows any willingness to take a shot at the other. It’s as if the casual camaraderie of their bar conversation is standing in for a deeper, longer-term friendship they might have had, and that that friendship—even though it exists only as a potential—is constraining them each from violence against the other.

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Price (Skyler Pinkerton) recognizes that Cole (Tyrone Grant) is onto him.

When finally Cole catches his prey he gives him the chance to hand himself over peaceably; he even puts his gun away to show Price that he’s presenting no immediate threat. Again the two men converse, but now in more depth. Price is tired of running from the crime he has committed, but at the same time

“If I go to jail I’ll be forced to think about what I’ve done until the day I die. There’s a reason I don’t look in the mirror, Cole.”

It emerges, too, that Cole has his own agenda in not wanting the confrontation to end in gunfire. He’s weary of shooting people—people of Price’s age or even younger. More and more the hurt of killing criminals is becoming intolerable; they always make him think of his own son.

The question then is: Is Price capable of thinking as far outside the box as Cole is? Or will he revert to the old, primitive pattern of behavior?

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Cole (Tyrone Grant) hopes he’s persuaded Price (Skyler Pinkerton) of the merits of nonviolence . . .

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. . . but has he?

As noted at the outset, this is—in terms of its events—a very simple tale. There’s certainly nothing wrong with simplicity of plot, and here that lack of complication helps us focus on the moral reasoning that underpins the interplay between the two characters. Of course, the situation is quite artificial—what cop in his right mind would put aside his gun when confronting an armed quadruple murderer?—but there are plenty of times in David Mamet movies, for example, when we happily accept such artificiality (of dialogue as well as plot) because it actually enhances the deeper issues that the tale’s really about.

So it is here. And director LoCascio quite cleverly exploits our expectations in this context. In the opening minute or two of the encounter at the bar, the two actors seem quite stilted in their speech and manner. Most often in indie movies this is a sign of amateur acting; but here, as Price unbends at Cole’s coaxing, not only does his own behavior become far more easy and natural, so does Cole’s. This means that later, during the confrontation where what might have been a shootout becomes instead a philosophical discussion, we have no difficulty going along with this as a depiction of reality, even at the same time as we know, obviously, that things wouldn’t go down that way in the real world.

There’s a pleasingly disconcerting little touch at the outset of the movie. We follow a walking man along a nighttime sidewalk, the camera looking over his shoulder. Naturally we assume that this is one of our central characters. Yet when someone else, walking in the opposite direction, goes past the man, the camera swivels to follow him instead. It’s this second walker who’s Price, whom we’ll follow into the bar. I grinned when I realized how LoCascio had hoodwinked me.

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Courtesy of HalcyonValor Productions, you can watch Midnight Catch on dailymotion here.

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