Tag Archives: Peter Outerbridge

Paul McGuigan’s Lucky Number Slevin

Like Bruce Willis’s cranky hitman Goodkat assures us in the sleepy opening to Paul McGuigan’s Lucky Number Slevin, this is a story that pulls the rug out from under you big time, going left when you look right and anchoring the very glib, cavalier crime shenanigans in something solid and emotional in the eleventh hour. It’s a wild, wacky film that borrows from others and often gets sidetracked by itself, but it’s also one of the most stylish, ambitious and beautifully made crime dramas of the last few decades, and has become an all time favourite for me.

Josh Hartnett plays the mysterious Slevin, a hapless dude who is constantly mistaken for an even more hapless dude named Nick Fisher. Fisher is in a lot of trouble, owing large gambling debts to feuding NYC mobsters The Boss (Morgan Freeman) and The Rabbi (Ben Kingsley), debts which now forfeit to Slevin simply because he’s consistently in the wrong place at the wrong time. Then there’s the overzealous, shady NYPD cop (Stanley Tucci in mean mode) shadowing him, plus the bubbly girl next door (Lucy Liu) who tags along in his adventures in mistaken identity. It’s all very overelaborate, convoluted and long winded, but it’s part of what makes the thing so magical. Characters often use ten words where two will do, employ quirky anecdotes, monologue and show their pithy eccentricities, it’s an oddball script by Jason Smilovic that makes for one labyrinthine ride through New York City’s peculiar underworld dating back to the 70’s. The actors are having an absolute blast here and we get further work from Mykelti Williamson, Cory Stoll, Danny Aiello, Peter Outerbridge and more. A standout is the great Robert Forster in a cameo as a cop who delivers more exposition in one single scene than I’ve seen in some entire films, he’s a great enough actor that he fills a seemingly inconsequential role with wit and personality.

McGuigan is a stylist who throws colour and pattern into the mix even when the scene doesn’t call for it, to great effect. Why shoot in a drab warehouse or monochromatic apartment when you can douse your set in kaleidoscope design just for the sheer hell of it? It works, the offbeat production design serving to illustrate and accent a very strange, often hilarious yet ultimately human story. Much of the film is near cartoon level neo noir that doesn’t dig two deep, but there are three scenes, and I can’t be specific here without spoiling, that anchor it straight into the ground, provide an emotional core and make something heartfelt cut through the tomfoolery. Many people wrote this off as just silliness, but that’s lazy criticism 101. This is a fantastic film, full of many things to love. It’s probably Hartnett’s best work in a very eclectic career and his romantic chemistry with Liu (also superb) is patiently developed and adorable to see. Freeman and Kingsley eat up the dialogue like wisened old alligators and have a blast playing their arch villains. Willis is darkly charismatic and empathetic when he needs to be, stealing every scene. A classic for me.

-Nate Hill

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Mike Figgis’s Cold Creek Manor

Mike Figgis’s Cold Creek Manor is one of those lurid thrillers that got absolutely shit on by critics, but I’ve always enjoyed its steely, mean spirited edge and nasty central antagonist performance from Stephen Dorff. There’s also the atmospheric locales of rural Ontario that add to the vibe, as well as the high pedigree class of actors you wouldn’t normally see in something this knowingly low brow. Dennis Quaid plays Cooper Tillson, a family man forced to move to the sticks for work. He buys up an ancient house in the woods with a lot of history behind it and some psychological baggage that’s not forgotten so easily. Dorff is Dale Massie, previous inhabitant and local roughneck who hates the idea of big city boy Quaid and his clan taking up roost in his former digs, probably because it stirs up past trauma for him and induces the scary, pissed off state he spends most of the film in. Quaid’s wife (Sharon Stone) and kids including a very young Kristen Stewart, start to get routinely creeped out when Dorff shows up more and more, insinuating his way into their collective idyllic country lives, until he gets downright violent and Quaid is forced to unlock the secrets of the manor to protect his family. Christopher Plummer has a barely coherent appearance as Dorff’s bedridden, dementia addled father, a deeply unnerving cameo if I’ve ever seen one. Spunky Juliette Lewis plays the local hoe-bag who openly mocks Quaid & Clan too. Ultimately this is glossy trash and they marketed it with trailers that made it seem like a straight up horror or supernatural thing, when in reality it’s much more of a stalker thriller, which is alright too, if you have a villain as intense as glowering, seething Dorff. It certainly doesn’t warrant the shit storm of bad reviews it’s amassed though, there’s fun to be had if you approach it with a popcorn movie mindset, and with that cast alone at least you get to watch them do their thing. Hey, at least it’s light years better than that fucking Dream House thing with Daniel Craig.

-Nate Hill

Silent Hill: Revelation- A Review by Nate Hill 

I’ll admit that Silent Hill: Revelation pales dimly compared to the first excellent film, and is kind of a slipshod mess, but it’s a lovable mess in my books, still a Silent Hill film after all, and kind of wins points just for bringing back some of it’s old cast as well a few newcomers. Silent Hill is one of my favourite horror films of the 2000’s, and I waited on this sequel like a dog, through production delays and distribution hell, and I think somewhere along the way I realized it wasn’t going to measure up, but nothing would deter me from seeing it. Well, it squeaked out onto Blu Ray and made a tiny splash on everyone’s collective radar, prompting terrible reviews. The story more or less picks up where the first one left off, if a few years down the road. Sharon (now played by Adelaide Clemens) and her father Christopher (Sean Bean returns) have been on the run for most of her teenage life, eluding the dark forces from the town of Silent Hill, which still linger and follow them. One day Christopher disappears, and Sharon is forced to confront her past (which she curiously has no memory of) and return to dreaded Silent Hill, assisted by a mysterious hunk (Jon Snow, who does know some stuff here, and more than he let’s on). Once she’s there it’s essentially more of the same, with abstract looking demons running about, a disconcerting tarantula made from spare mannequin limbs (shudder) scuttles aroind, that relentless fog permeating every alcove and street, as well as a new arch villain in the form of terrifying Claudia (Carrie Ann Moss, of all people), a matriarchal cult leader who creates all kinds of trouble for Sharon. We are treated to a brief ghostly appearance by Sharon’s mother Rose (Radha Mitchell cameo), the return of damaged soul Dahlia Gillespie (Deborah Kara Unger) Sharon’s birth mother and far more coherent this time around, and a bizarre special appearance by a blind, babbling Malcolm McDowell, whose part in the whole mess still escapes my comprehension. The 3D effects are odd and stand out in not so much of a good way, the plot makes little sense when compared to the first, and where the first was eerie, elemental and atmospheric, this one is clunky, rushed and nonsensical. But you know what? I kinda liked it all the same. One thing I really enjoyed is a very well done WWE smackdown of a fight between a souped up Moss and the infamous Pyramid Head, who pulls a T-101 here and actually steps in to save the day. It’s the one sequence that achieves that hellish, otherworldly aura which ran through both the games and the first film like an undercurrent, and as a rule. It’s too bad they decided to replace Jodelle Ferland with a badly rendered CGI dollface in scenes where that little brat Alessa shows up, the effects there are abysmal. Watch for Peter Outerbridge briefly as trucker Travis O’ Grady, a character from the games who I imagine would have gone on to star in a third film, which seems unlikely now. If you’re a fan of the first film, you may get a marginal kick out of this, or at least certain aspects, but only if you’re feeling generous. It ain’t all that.