Tag Archives: Michael Gaston

Peter Berg’s Spenser Confidential

I was honestly expecting a lot more from Spenser Confidential considering the creative forces of Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg, like come on dudes. It’s an update of an old PI tv show which I’ve never seen so all I have to go on is what they’ve done here, which is honestly not much more than a predictable, humdrum B movie that just happens to have A list talent on-board kicking back and not trying too hard. Wahlberg is disgraced Boston cop Spenser, incarcerated for kicking the shit out of his scumbag superior officer (Michael Gaston, the dude who shoots dogs in The Leftovers lol). Upon release he hooks up with his former friend and mentor (a nicely crotchety Alan Arkin), who is now also friend and mentor to an aspiring boxer (Winston Duke) and they all live together as roomies in one of those classic flat roofed, 3 story Southie housey things, how cute. Pretty soon Spenser is back to his corruption busting ways, sniffing out a hidden conspiracy involving his slimy former partner (Bokeem Woodbine, who I always love to see in anything), a pathetic fat-ass thug called ‘Tracksuit’ (James Dumont) and shady real estate development deals. Spenser also has a girlfriend (Iliza Schlesinger) who is one of those foul mouthed ‘BAW-STAHN’ skanks and I guess she’s meant to be charming but comes across as just fucking obnoxious. Oh yeah and that weirdo Post Malone is in it too, and isn’t half bad as a nasty Aryan Brother nazi boss, anyone out there who dislikes this dude will get a nice kick out of seeing Wahlberg not only one punch him but blackmail later by threatening to run a train on his wife. It’s a bit frustrating because all this really should have been something fun with the talent attached, like it’s a great idea for a story. Unfortunately the execution comes across as cheap, lethargic and boring. The fights are decently staged but don’t pack the bloody punch that the R rating should warrant, the profane Boston banter comes nowhere close to being a snappy and comedic as it should and it all feels lazy, tired and cheap. If you want a much better crime buddy comedy thing starring Wahlberg check out 2 Guns with him and Denzel Washington because that one really slaps. There is one scene here that does in fact slap, when Spenser drives a jet black 18 wheeler semi right through a convoy of Cherokee jeeps at full throttle, it’s a fun moment and briefly raises a pulse, but unfortunately it’s the only ten second interlude that does so in an otherwise meh film. Big meh.

-Nate Hill

Marc Forster’s Stay

Marc Forster’s Stay is billed as a psychological thriller and it’s… sort of that, but really it’s something far deeper and more metaphysical, a core concept that I can’t say much about without spoiling the whole deal and trust me this isn’t one you want ruined ahead of time, it’s that affecting. It’s easy to see why this didn’t make waves at the box office and how it left a lot of critics cold (Ebert got it, and loved it) as it’s a slow, stylish, disorientating experience that slowly reveals secrets it holds close to its chest for much of the duration.

Ewan McGregor is an NYC psychiatrist who is filling in for his colleague at a university when a distraught young art major (Ryan Gosling) wanders into his office and announces plans to kill himself a few days from then. What to do? The guy seems eerily resolute as if his fate is somehow already decided, and seems like he’s already halfway gone to the other side. McGregor’s wife (Naomi Watts) tried to end her own life once so the doctor is no stranger to these things, but something about Gosling unnerves him to his soul, especially when he tells him about voices he’s hearing, phenomena that soon leak into the doctor’s own waking perception and blur the lines between reality and… something else. Bob Hoskins is low key great as a blind colleague that he plays chess with, and watch for nice work from Mark Margolis, Kate Burton, Elizabeth Reaser, Sterling K. Brown, Amy Sedaris, Michael Gaston, Isaach De Bankolé and Janeane Garofalo too.

It’s very important that you give unwavering attention to this film if you wish to get the most out of it. Best viewed in the wee hours, all lights off and on your own, it’s a visual and auditory mood board of sounds, faces, snippets of seemingly arbitrary yet crucial dialogue and scene-to-scene transitions that are orchestrated to confuse and confound yet make sense on a cosmic level when looked back upon later. McGregor and Watts are terrific but Gosling owns the film in what is probably his great under-sung performance. We get the sense that although this guy seems lost, devastated and out of place and time that he still somehow knows exactly where and when he is, but isn’t telling anyone else a thing as it’s not their place to know… yet. The artwork for this film suggests something sketchy, scary and horror oriented but the reality, although jarring and unsettling, is something gentler, more close to the soul and spirit. Director Forster (Monster’s Ball, Stranger Than Fiction, Finding Neverland) is no stranger to deep, challenging projects and here he strives to go beyond what we’d usually see in a film like this, and make it stick. He’s helped by everyone involved including an otherworldly score composed by offbeat musical duo Asche & Spencer to make this something unique, something to Stay with you long after the credits have rolled and the sun peeks over the horizon. Haunting, dreamlike, ethereal, altogether brilliant piece of filmmaking.

-Nate Hill