snapshot: Proud Mary (2018)

US / 89 minutes / color / Screen Gems Dir: Babak Najafi Pr: Tai Duncan, Mark Anthony Little, Paul Schiff Scr: John Stuart Newman, Christian Swegal, Steven Antin Story: John Stuart Newman, Christian Swegal Cine: Dan Laustsen Cast: Taraji P. Henson, Billy Brown, Jahi Di’Allo Winston, Danny Glover, Xander Berkeley, Neal McDonough, Margaret Avery, Rade Serbedzija, Erik LaRay Harvey, Owen Burke, Bo Cleary, James Milord, Alex Portenko, Gene Ravvin, Airon Armstrong, Jose Gonsalves, Kevin O’Peterson, Vladimir Orlov, Al’Jaleel McGhee.

Taraji P. Henson as Mary.

“Taraji P. Henson Like You’ve Never Seen Her Before” the DVD box proclaimed, so for at least a weekend we were incapable of referring to anyone by name without adding the words “Like You’ve Never Seen Her/Him Before”; things, minds, simple, etc.

Boston hitwoman Mary (Henson Like You’ve Never Seen Her Before) spares the young son of a bookie she murders, and thereafter feels responsible for the child, keeping an eye on him from a distance. When she discovers he’s being knocked around by the criminal he’s fallen in with, Uncle (Berkeley), she Continue reading

Mysteria (2011)

US / 94 minutes / color / Arramis, Mysteria, Gruntworks, Omnicomm, ITN Dir & Scr: Lucius C. Kuert Pr: Rafael Primorac, Robert Miano, Lucius C. Kuert, Marlon Parry Cine: Keith Smith Cast: Robert Miano, Danny Glover, Billy Zane, Martin Landau, Meadow Williams, Michael Rooker, Silvia Spross, Gretchen Becker, Alan Wooley, Carlucci Weyant, Peter Mark Richman, Cassandra Gava, Gary A. Kauffman, Katarzyna Wolejnio.

Mysteria - 0 openerMysteria - 0a second opener

A strange and challenging piece of neonoir that’s as enigmatic as something by David Lynch (although it’s not at all in his style) that I’ve had to watch twice just to get my head around . . . and I may at some time feel the need to give it a third whirl.

Once upon a time Aleister Bain (Miano) was one of the most sought-after scriptwriters in Hollywood. Now he’s crouched over his portable typewriter in a crummy motel room fighting a losing fight with writers’ block. He’s three months overdue with his latest script for producer Finelli (Zane) and he’s out of money for the rent although not, it seems, for whiskey and cigarettes, both of which he consumes interminably.

At the start of the movie we don’t know this, because in the opening sequence someone comes into Aleister’s room and puts a bullet through his head.

And then the phone rings.

And then Aleister moves to answer it.

And then Continue reading

Red Wind (1995 TVM)

|
A fine, and often overlooked, Philip Marlowe incarnation
|

US / 60 minutes / color with bw credits / Mirage, Propaganda, Showtime Dir: Agnieszka Holland Pr: Stuart Cornfeld, William Horberg Scr: Alan Trustman Story: “Red Wind” (1938 Dime Detective) by Raymond Chandler Cine: Robert Brinkmann Cast: Danny Glover, Kelly Lynch, Dan Hedaya, Ron Rifkin, Miguel Sandoval, Nick Sadler, Ralph Ahn, Bennet Guillory, Tyrin Turner, Valeria Golino.

Red Wind 1995 - 0 opener

This was the final episode of the HBO/Showtime series Fallen Angels (retitled Perfect Crimes when shown in the UK), created by William Horberg, which ran for two seasons, in 1993 (six episodes) and 1995 (nine episodes). The stories were based on works by classic or, in a couple of cases, modern masters of the hardboiled. Most of the episodes were about a half-hour long; this series envoi runs for double that.

The Santa Ana—the Red Wind—is covering everything and everyone in Southern California with dust, not least PI Philip Marlowe (Glover). Seeking relief in a beer in a near-deserted bar across the street from the hotel where he lives, he has his evening ruined when the drunk at the end of the bar, Al (Sadler), suddenly stands up and puts a bullet through the head of a guy called Waldo Ratigan (Guillory), who has just stormed in looking for a blonde in a bolero jacket.

Red Wind 1995 - 1 Lew Petrolle welcomes Marlowe to his bar

Lew Petrolle (Tyrin Turner) welcomes Marlowe to his bar.

The bar owner, Lew Petrolle (Turner), calls the cops, who arrive in the form of the savage, corrupt, bigoted Detective-Lieutenant Sam Copernik (Hedaya) and his good-cop counterpart Detective Ybarra (Sandoval). Copernik’s a bull whom it’s easy to dislike; not only does he rob Waldo’s corpse of all the money and valuables he can find on it, he has strong opinions, as he tells Ybarra: “What is this town coming to? A spic cop and a nig private detective.”

Red Wind 1995 - 2 Copernik examines Marlowe's credentials

Copernik (Dan Hedaya) examines Marlowe’s credentials.

Having told the cops all he knows, Marlowe is on the way back to his hotel room when he runs into the blonde with the bolero jacket, Lola Barsaly (Lynch). He advises her to keep out of things, and she takes refuge in his room. She’s there when Continue reading

Night Train (2009 DTV)

US, Germany, Romania / 91 minutes / color / A-Mark, Rifkin/Eberts, FilmTiger Dir & Scr: M. Brian King Pr: Brian Etting, Wendy Park, Bruce McNall, Steve Markoff, Arnold Rifkin, Christopher Eberts, Michael Philip Cine: Christopher Popp Cast: Danny Glover, Leelee Sobieski, Steve Zahn, Matthias Schweighoefer, Geoff Bell, Constantine Gregory, Richard O’Brien, Takatsuna Mukai, Togo Igawa, Jo Marr.

A highly effective black comedy, done with lashings of CGI (the exteriors seem to be almost entirely CGI; the interiors often seem, especially in the earlier parts of the movie, to be done as CGI-enhanced live action). There are also plenty of hat-tips, via the character names, to earlier noir/crime movies—the names Mr. Gutman and Mr. Cairo obviously referring to The MALTESE FALCON (1941) and Mrs. Froy to The Lady Vanishes (1938)—although besides these hat-tips there aren’t really any further resemblances (except, perhaps, in that the plot role of this movie’s MacGuffin could be compared to that of the Maltese Falcon). Other movie influences might seem to be Hellraiser (1987), Murder on the Orient Express (1974) and even, in terms of visual style, The Polar Express (2004).

Night Train - CGI fest (do as opener, query)

A movie of great visual style.

Senior guard Miles (Glover; “I know everything about this train except its favorite color”) and his far junior colleague Frankie (Schweighoefer) run a night train called Continue reading