Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: KILLSHOT (2008); INTELLIGENCE (2005-2007)
Killshot is an example of what happens when a decent film doesn't have any champions at its studio, which in its turn decides to trust marketing rather than the market. Based on an Elmore Leonard novel I've yet to read, and apparently approved by Leonard in a longer cut than is currently available on cable or on home video, it stars Diane Lane and Thomas Jane as rare survivors of attempts at mayhem on the part of a hitman, played by Mickey Rourke and his new sidekick (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an impetuous punk in all the worst senses. Gordon-Levitt's masochistic girlfriend is played by Rosario Dawson, and one of the targets of Rourke's hits is portrayed by Hal Holbrook...not, on balance, a money-losing cast. The director, John Madden, has done both creditable and profitable work (most obviously British tv crime drama such as Prime Suspect and Inspector Morse, and the film Shakespeare in Love) and the script, good enough certainly even in the current cut-down form, is by Hossein Amini, probably the weakest link here by CV, though this might be his best work...he captures the flavor of Leonard's fiction (again, without my having read this particular novel, the criminals are suitably unpleasantly criminal, and not just lovable wackos or losers who just happen to murder people). But this was apparently one of the aspects that kept this film, which completed shooting in 2006, from being released in any form until late 2008, after one of Harvey Weinstein's famous dithering jobs on it, cutting it over and over, announcing it would go directly to dvd, then setting up a theatrical test-run (they put it in five theaters in Arizona, iirc, for a week), all driven in large part by focus groups who found it difficult to relate to the criminal characters...
It's not, in its severely cut form, a great film, but it's a good and stylish one, which within what's left of its focus deals rather well with the marital problems between Lane and Jane's characters (mainly their pain, doncha know) as well as the continuing attraction between them...and the high price they have to pay for playing along with the authorities' attempts to protect them as witnesses, while also deftly sketching in the ways in which Rourke's hitman sees himself as rather nobler than he has any right to do, and how Gordon-Levitt's desperately inflated self-opinion also causes problems for everyone around him (many reviewers have complained about the over-the-topness of JGL's performance, but I think it a very good embodiment of the type of mean furniture Leonard enjoys offering in his stories). Dawson, as the kind of woman who falls for Bad men, is believable, as is the dialog, and even as presented there are no major threads left hanging. It's worth your attention, and deserved much better treatment than it has received.
As this week has been mostly lost to the grippe, I saw more television per se than I might've otherwise, and thus have made the acquaintance of the CBC series Intelligence, as repeated on the Canadian cable station MAV TV (an analog of the US's young-male-oriented Spike, only with more motorized racing coverage in most dayparts and more Canadian crime drama in the overnights). Producer/creator Chris Haddock, who previously offered Da Vinci's Inquest/Da Vinci City Hall, in this 25-episode, two-season series (not counting the 2005 movie that served as pilot) in 2006-2007, has a nice bit of complexly worked out intrigues, between Klea Scott's director of the British Columbia offices of the (national CSIS) Organized Crime Unit in Vancouver, and her mole and also client for two-way info passage Jimmy Reardon (Ian Tracey, also a regular in Da Vinci), high in the primary (rather improbable) pot but not so much other drugs-trade Organization in Vancouver, and their various underlings and colleagues...Matt Frewer is unsurprisingly present and good as another high-level cop. Oddly enough, despite rather good sales internationally (if not in the US), the CBC apparently wasn't too supportive of this series (which among other things casts a disapproving eye on how US government interests muck about in Canadian affairs) and so it was restricted to two short seasons. Aside from Netflix and MAV, available on Verizon and probably some other US cable systems, I'm not sure this series has been made available to USians in any form, which is a pity. Also not lifechanging, but worth the look.