Greg Harrison’s November is one of those frustratingly opaque, reality bending sketchy thrillers where a metaphysical shudder is sent through someone’s fabric of existence, in this case that of photography professor Courtney Cox. Driving home late one night, her husband (James LeGros) runs in to a Kwik-E-Mart to grab her a snack right at the same moment a burglar (Matthew Carey) brandishes a gun, and then open fires. After he’s killed, you feel like the film is in for a run of the mill grieving process as she visits a therapist (Nora Dunn). Events take a detour down Twilight Zone alley though when a spooky photograph shows up amongst one of her student’s portfolios, a snapshot of that very night at the store, apparently zoomed in on her husband. Who took it? Is the man actually dead? Will the film provide the concrete answers that some viewers so fervently salivate for in these types of films? Not really, as a heads up. As soon as things begin to get weird, they pretty much stay that way for the duration of the exceedingly short runtime (it clocks in under eighty minutes!). Cox’s character revisits that fateful night from many different angles and impressions, either reliving it, recreating it or simply stuck in some sort of alternate time loop chain. There’s a policeman played by Nick Offerman who offers little in the way of help, and she’s left more or less on her own through this fractured looking glass of garbled mystic confusion. The tone and aesthetic of it are quite something though, a jerky, stark Polaroid style mood-board that evokes ones like The Jacket and Memento, with an art house industrial touch to the deliberately closeup, disoriented visuals. It’s a bit maddening from the perspective of someone only looking for answers, and if that’s why you came, you’ll be left wringing your hands and losing sleep. If you enjoy the secrets left unravelled, and are a viewer who revels in unlocked mysteries left that way, recognizing the potent energies distilled from unexplained ambiguity, give it a go.
People rag on What’s The Worst That Could Happen all the time. Let em, and screw em while we’re at it. Implausible? Yes. Silly? Yup. Ridiculous? Oh yes. Funny? You bet your ass. It’s one of those lighthearted Martin Lawrence comedies like Blue Streak or National Security, tripping along an alleyway of lowbrow humour and bawdy antics that you just can’t stay mad at, like a friend who does something really dumb and follows up with something that cracks a grin on your face. Lawrence also has the luck to be paired with Danny Devito here, who is funny even when he isn’t trying to be. Lawrence plays Kevin, a cocky cat burglar who bungles the wrong dude when he breaks into the not so vacant summer home of sleazy billionaire Max Fairbanks (Devito). Max catches him red handed, holds him at gunpoint and convinces the cops that a family heirloom ring on Kevin’s finger is part of the stolen goods, adding insult to arrest. That dick move launches an ego fuelled battle of wills as these two morons find more and more elaborate ways to incite each other’s wrath. They each have a little armada who back them up when they aren’t questioning their every idiotic movie. Kevin has his gorgeous girlfriend (Carmen Ejogo has sadly made a career of being underused), his partner Berger (John Leguizamo plays around with accents like you ain’t never seen) who is the Dumber to his Dumb, and his sassy handler (Bernie Mac). Max is hounded by his witchy wife (Nora Dunn), shunned by his much abused attorney (a dry, delightful Richard Schiff), pawned over by his mistress (Glenne Headly) and secretly lusted for by his chief of security (you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Larry Miller do his thang here). Max and Kevin are engaging arch enemies, with Lawrence mugging for face time a tad too much, and Devito perfectly settled into his shtick as always. I must make note of probably the best performance of the film, from William Fichtner as a flamboyantly gay police detective who hounds all parties involved. He’s one part frightening with a side of classy charm, subverting his usual weirdo tough guy image for something even weirder and totally out there. Watch for Lenny Clarke and Siobhan Hogan as as pair of squabbling fellow burglars, and work from Cam Neely, Kevin Chapman and Garry Shandling as well. It’s a screwball caper. I love it. Many don’t. They can suck it. Check ‘er out and make up your own mind.