Wrong Number (2002)

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Not sorry?
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Canada, US / 97 minutes / color / Northern Eagle/Triton, Tsunami Dir: Richard Middleton Pr: Ken Nakamura, Tim Riley Scr: Richard Middleton Story: Lorna Lambert Cine: Walter Bal Cast: Brigitte Bako, David Lipper, Kane Picoy, Barry Blake, Eric Roberts, Cas Anver (i.e., Cas Anvar), Simon Peacock, Jo Marr, Karen Cliche, Chip Chuipka.

I went into this not expecting a huge amount but found it to be one of the more engaging neonoirs I’ve seen in a while.

Starting from the opening credits, our intermittent narrator is Josh Grey (Roberts), recently murdered by person or persons unknown. As he tells us,

“They say sometimes there are three sides to every story—his side, her side, and the truth. This is one of those stories.”

And he’s right. Even though we might expect him, as someone speaking from the afterlife, to know the truth of the matter, he’s guessing as much as the rest of us are as we watch a set of narratives in which it seems just about every narrator is an unreliable one.

Eric Roberts as Josh Grey.

Brigitte Bako as Dana Demotte.

Let me qualify that “set of narratives” remark. There are plenty of movies—a classic recent example is the wonderful À LA FOLIE . . . PAS DU TOUT (2002; vt He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not) starring the equally wonderful Audrey Tautou—in which we’re presented with first one and then another account of a sequence of events, the second account forcing us to radically reappraise our initial impression. In Wrong Number the variant accounts are presented almost as if part of a single narrative: we’re never quite sure who if anyone is the false narrator.

I should add that Wrong Number has a lot of the feel of a (very good) TV movie. But pay attention to Continue reading

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Un Crime (2006)

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A tale of single-minded obsession . . . but whose?
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vt A Crime
Canada / 99 minutes / color / ARP Sélection Dir: Manuel Pradal Pr: Michèle Pétin, Laurent Pétin Scr: Tonino Benacquista, Manuel Pradal Cine: Yorgos Arvanitis Cast: Harvey Keitel, Emmanuelle Béart, Norman Reedus, Joe Grifasi, Lily Rabe, Kim Director, Brian Tarantina, Patrick Collins, Chuck Cooper, Clem Cheung, Jonathan Lam, Ted Koch, Natalie Caron, Ben Wang, Stephen Payne, Memory Lee Cook, Karen Lynn Gorney.

In Brooklyn, Alice Parker (Béart) nurtures a powerful desire for the guy in the neighboring apartment, Vincent Harris (Reedus), but it’s an unrequited desire. All her attention-seeking behavior seems to be getting her nowhere.

Vincent (Norman Reedus) comes to bail out Alice (Emmanuelle Béart) after her latest DUI exploit.

Three years ago Vincent had a good job and a comfortable home outside New York, but late one night he got back to discover his wife Ashley (Director) brutally murdered. The only clue to her killer was that, as he approached the house, he saw an NYC yellow cab coming the other way; it had a big scrape along one side and its driver was wearing a bright red jacket and, on the ring finger of the left hand, a large stone or crystal. Later we’ll learn that Ashley had gone into NYC that day to Continue reading

Rédemption (2013)

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After prison he wanted to go straight, but there was one little problem . . .
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Canada / 115 minutes / color / Desperado Dir & Scr: Joel Gauthier Pr: Claudine Garant, Roger Morin, Joel Gauthier Cine: Olivier Arends Leblanc Cast: Patrice Godin, Joel Gauthier, Isabelle O’Brien, France Pilotte, Valérie Roy, Roberto Mei, Marc Fournier, Zoé Béliveau, Mathieu Dufresne, Julien Poulin, Carina Caputo, Julien Deschamps Jolin, Francis Martineau, Victor Labelle, Elliot Miville-Deschênes, Alexandre Richard, Simon St.-Georges.

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Isabelle O’Brien as Sophie.

Montréal. Having served eight years inside for cocaine trafficking, and with the suspicion of murder hanging over his head, Alain Gagné (Godin) returns home a reformed man. To the delight of his loving mom Micheline (Pilotte), he gets himself a legitimate job at the garage owned by Gilles Mercier (Poulin) and, with some difficulty, earns the renewed affections of his old girlfriend Sophie (O’Brien). The only fly in his new life’s ointment is his younger brother Danny (Gauthier).

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Danny (Joel Gauthier) and Karine (Valérie Roy) are delighted that Alain’s home . . .

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. . . as is their daughter, Eve (Zoé Béliveau).

It’s not that he doesn’t love his kid brother—he does, very much so. It’s that Danny, under cover of co-owning a profitable nightclub, has a cocaine-dealing empire and Continue reading

Journey into Fear (1975)

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An all-star cast in an Eric Ambler adaptation!
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vt Burn Out
Canada / 95 minutes / color / New World, IFD Dir: Daniel Mann Pr & Scr: Trevor Wallace Story: Journey into Fear (1940) by Eric Ambler Cine: Harry Waxman Cast: Sam Waterston, Zero Mostel, Yvette Mimieux, Scott Marlowe, Ian McShane, Joseph Wiseman, Shelley Winters, Stanley Holloway, Donald Pleasence, Vincent Price, Alicia Ammon, Michael Collins.

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Ambler’s novel was earlier and far more famously filmed as Journey into Fear (1943) dir Norman Foster (plus uncredited directorial assistance from Orson Welles), with Joseph Cotten, Dolores del Rio, Orson Welles, Ruth Warrick, Jack Moss and Agnes Moorehead. (Also, in 1956 the TV series Climax! made an hour-long episode out of the novel, and in 1966 a single episode was produced, “Seller’s Market,” of an intended TV series, Journey into Fear, using the character of Dr. Howard Graham and some of the novel’s ideas.)

This 1975 remake shifts the time to the present—i.e., the mid-1970s—and now, rather than an engineer who’s learned Nazi armaments secrets, our hero, Howard Graham (Waterston), is a geologist who’s discovered, somewhere in the mountains neat the Turkey/Iran border, something (it’s never specified what) of use to oil companies. For some reason this makes him a target for international terrorists.

We first meet him as he and his driver are careering down a mountain dirt-track, their brakes having failed (we assume they’ve been cut). The driver shoves Howard out of the vehicle and moments later flies off a cliff.

Howard makes his way to civilization, where he catches a train to Istanbul. Aboard that train there’s another attempt to kill him. Two men in the guise of Greek Orthodox priests spot where he’s sitting, sneak into the next compartment Continue reading

Burden of Evil (2012 TVM)

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How can a cop cope with the serial killer who murdered her husband?
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Canada / 90 minutes / color / Incendo, Dir: Michel Monty Pr: Jean Bureau, Serge Denis, Josée Mauffette Scr: Tom Gates Cine: Daniel Villeneuve Cast: Natalie Zea, Ron Lea, Ricky Mabe, Graham Cuthbertson, Michael Ironside, Vincent Hoss-Desmarais, Alexandra Valassis, Andrew Johnston, Chad Connell, Éleonore Lamothe, Ellen David, Jennifer Morehouse, Mark Hauser, Tarah Schwartz, Alex Weiner, Bobby Lamont.

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Natalie Zea as Detective Caitlyn “Kate” Conner.

A couple of years ago, Detective Caitlyn “Kate” Conner (Zea) managed to identify the serial killer Kyle Randall (Mabe), whose m.o. was to kill—to “butcher”—men who’d abandoned their families; unfortunately, she was never able to nail him.

Today her husband Jamie (Connell), also a cop, is lured by Randall into a deserted warehouse, where Randall shoots him the back, killing him, then seemingly allows himself to be caught.

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From a position aloft, Kyle (Ricky Mabe) . . . Continue reading

Suddenly (2013)

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Ray Liotta and Erin Karpluk in an interesting (albeit highly flawed) remake of a noir classic!
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vt Code Black: President Down
Canada / 90 minutes / color / Odyssey, Nasser Group North, Province of British Columbia Film Incentive BC, CPTC, Insight, Cinedigm Dir: Uwe Boll Pr: Kirk Shaw Scr: Raul Inglis Story (uncredited): Suddenly (1954 screenplay) by Richard Sale Cine: B. Uegama Cast: Ray Liotta, Erin Karpluk, Dominic Purcell, Don MacKay, Cole Coker, Tyron Leitso, Michael Paré, Steve Bacic, Garry Chalk, Brendan Fletcher, Darryl Shuttleworth, Chris Shields, Haig Sutherland.

Suddenly - 0 opener

This is a remake (albeit this goes unacknowledged in the credits) of the well regarded 1954 movie SUDDENLY, dir Lewis Allen, with Frank Sinatra, Sterling Hayden, James Gleason and Nancy Gates. For obvious reasons, then, I won’t go into the plot in too much detail.

En route to his vacation, the US President is going to make a brief, hitherto unannounced stop in the remote small town of Suddenly. The secret services, led by Agent Dan Carney (Bacic), descend on the town a few hours beforehand to establish security measures in cooperation with local Police Chief Grant (Chalk) and his two deputies, Reg Anderson (Fletcher) and Tod Reed (Liotta)—the credits get the latter character’s wrong, listing him as Tod Shaw.

Suddenly - 2 It's a wonder Tod is still maintained by the PD

It’s a wonder Tod (Ray Liotta) is still maintained by the PD.

Suddenly - 2a And it's largely because of the goodwill of Chief Grant that he is

And it’s largely because of the goodwill of Chief Grant (Garry Chalk) that he is.

But a domestic terrorist group, the Committee, has got wind of the whistlestop visit and sent in a trio of fake agents, Baron (Purcell), Wheeler (Leitso) and Conklin (Paré). These three take over, with her permission, the home of Continue reading

Collectionneur, Le (2002)

Canada / 125 minutes / color / Christal Dir: Jean Beaudin Pr: Christian Larouche, Ginette Petit Scr: Jean Beaudin, Chantal Cadieux Story: Le Collectionneur (1995) by Chrystine Brouillet Cine: Daniel Jobin Cast: Maude Guérin, Luc Picard, Lawrence Arcouette, Charles-André Bourassa, Yves Jacques, Julie Ménard, Yvan Ponton, Christian Bégin, Alexis Martin, François Papineau, Michel Deschênes, Ève Duranceau, Yves Corbeil, Nathalie Trépanier, Louis Wiriot.

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I haven’t read any of French-Canadian author Chrystine Brouillet’s crime novels, but I must say that watching this movie made me quite keen to do so. Unfortunately, so far as I can see, the only novels of hers to have been translated into English are for children. Hopefully some enterprising publisher will rectify this situation soon.

Le Collectionneur (“The Collector”) is not for children, although it has children at its heart. Based on Brouillet’s third novel about cop Maud Graham, the movie sees the intrepid investigator on the trail of a serial killer.

Twenty-five years ago, 12-year-old Michel Rochon (Deschênes) had a strange relationship with his narcissistic, bodybuilding-crazy mother (Trépanier). There was hatred for her, certainly, but there was also a distinct erotic undercurrent: she kept showing off her muscular, scantily clad body to him while at the same time treating as taboo his sexual curiosity. He took out his frustration and confusion Continue reading

Eroticide (2013)

Canada / 38 minutes / color / East Empire, Juventus, Sinema Saliba Dir & Pr & Scr: Matthew Saliba Cine: Kamel Khalifa Cast: Jocelin Haas, Stephanie van Rijn, Lisa Di Capa

Eroticide - 0 opener

A strange and really quite perverted psychological drama. Yan (Haas) and Elise (van Rijn) met nine months ago when he knocked her down with his car. They’re now living lovingly together, even though Continue reading

Whiteout (2009)

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USA, France, Canada / 101 minutes / color with some bw and some limited color / Warner, Dark Castle Dir: Dominic Sena Pr: Joel Silver, Susan Downey, David Gambino Scr: Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber, Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes Story: Whiteout (1998 graphic novel) by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber Cine: Chris Soos Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Gabriel Macht, Tom Skerritt, Columbus Short, Alex O’Loughlin, Shawn Doyle, Joel Keller, Jesse Todd, Arthur Holden, Erin Hickock, Steve Lucescu, Patrick Sabongui.

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A warm haven in an implacably cold, hostile landscape.

A neonoir set in Antarctica. U.S. Marshal Carrie Stetko (Beckinsale) has been posted to the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station these past two years, a post she sought in the aftermath of being forced to kill her crooked partner, Jack (Keller), in self-defense during a drugs operation in Miami. After two years of policing not much more than the occasional misdemeanor, she’s about ready to turn in her badge at the end of the current tour of duty in a few days’ time. Her old buddy Dr. John “Doc” Fury (Skerritt) is on a similar trajectory, telling her Continue reading

Marked Man (1996)

vt Le Guet-Apens
Canada / 95 minutes / color / Image Dir: Marc Voizard Pr: Pierre David, Stefan Wodoslawsky Scr: Thomas Ritz Cine: Stephen Reizes Cast: Roddy Piper, Jane Wheeler, Alina Thompson, Tyrone Benskin, Christopher Bolton, Miles O’Keeffe, Dennis O’Connor, Richard Zeman, Clare Sims, David Nichols, Claudia Besso, Vlasta Vrana, Mark Camacho.

Marked Man - 1 The murdered Elkins breathes his last

The murdered Elkins (David Nichols) breathes his last.

Massachusetts auto mechanic Frank Gibson (Piper) is looking forward to his imminent marriage to Janet “Jan” Atkinson (Besso), only to see a drunk driver (Camacho) mow her down. As the drunk offers to “pay for any damage” a furious Frank punches him on the jaw. The man falls, hits his head, and dies . . . with the result that Frank is consigned for three years to a minimum-security prison.

One day he witnesses the two guards Pappas (O’Connor) and Watters (Zeman) murder Harvey Elkins (Nichols), a financier serving time for corrupt dealings. As the guards try to kill Frank in turn, he goes on the run; Watters in fact catches him but, as he prepares to murder Frank, they struggle over the gun and the usual happens. So now Frank is wanted for two murders, because obviously he’s being framed for Elkins’s death ‑‑ and, Continue reading