Tag Archives: Mos Def

Where’s Marlowe? (1998, Daniel Pyne)

Where’s Marlowe? is a pseudo-documentary about a pseudo-documentary about private investigators. Miguel Ferrer is the private investigator and he seems like a good fit for the role, only director Pyne and co-writer John Mankiewicz don’t actually need him for anything. The point of the film, as things move along, is getting the documentary makers (played by John Livingston and Mos Def) more involved with the private investigating.

When the film centers on Ferrer, who’s a good-natured rube who cares too much about his clients and their problems to be fiscally solvent, Marlowe at least has some charm. And as appealing as Mos Def gets in his performance, he and Livingston are still unlikable. Once Allison Dean–as Ferrer’s suffering secretary and Def’s love interest–gives up on Def (and the documentary), it’s hard to stay onboard.

The film has some good supporting performances, particularly from John Slattery as Ferrer’s partner, and also Clayton Rohner as a client. Miguel Sandoval has a nice cameo. Livingston is bad, so’s Barbara Howard in a smaller, but important role. Howard’s real bad, Livingston it might be the script’s fault.

Speaking of the script, the writers don’t pay much attention to keeping their characters consistent. It really hurts Ferrer, though nowhere near as much as his unexplainable absence during some of the second act hurts the film. It’s a messy script, which Slattery overcomes because he’s not the lead. Poor Ferrer stops getting character development after twenty minutes.

Marlowe’s a misfire.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Daniel Pyne; written by John Mankiewicz and Pyne; director of photography, Greg Gardiner; edited by Les Butler; music by Michael Convertino; production designer, Garreth Stover; produced by Clayton Townsend; released by Paramount Classics.

Starring Miguel Ferrer (Joe Boone), John Livingston (A.J. Edison), Yasiin Bey (Wilt Crawley), John Slattery (Kevin Murphy), Allison Dean (Angela), Clayton Rohner (Sonny ‘Beep’ Collins), Elizabeth Schofield (Monica Collins), Barbara Howard (Emma Huffington), Kirk Baltz (Rivers), Miguel Sandoval (Skip Pfeiffer) and Wendy Crewson (Dr. Ninki Bregman).


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The Italian Job (2003, F. Gary Gray)

So Edward Norton hated making The Italian Job? I’m shocked. (According to the Internet gossip, it was to fulfill a Paramount contract–they even gave him a car… I don’t remember if it was a Mini Cooper). It’s the lamest role Norton’s ever played. As an actor without a persona, he doesn’t belong in the Italian Job at all, since almost everyone is just playing his assumed screen role.

Mos Def is a funny black guy, Jason Statham is the cool British guy, Seth Green is the dorky guy. Only Mark Wahlberg (it would have been amazing if the ad campaign had been “meet the new funky bunch”) doesn’t have a persona. His performance is so bland if he didn’t smile ever three minutes, he’d disappear.

Charlize Theron does a little better than Norton and Wahlberg–though persona free, her character is also absent any presumed personality.

From the first few minutes of the film, it’s impossible to imagine it existing without Ocean’s Eleven. But it’s the studio version of Ocean’s Eleven (it doesn’t even take place in Italy, which disappointed me quite a bit).

Gray is a perfectly adequate director in terms of composition, even in Panavision; the film’s visually engaging if not interesting. His direction of actors is terrible here, but I doubt he really even bothered.

One very nice surprise is John Powell’s score, which is playful and “inventive” enough, it carries whole sequences.

The heists aren’t interesting, but it’s affable enough they don’t need to be.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by F. Gary Gray; written by Donna Powers and Wayne Powers, based on the film written by Troy Kennedy-Martin; director of photography, Wally Pfister; edited by Richard Francis-Bruce and Christopher Rouse; music by John Powell; production designer, Charles Wood; produced by Donald De Line; released by Paramount Pictures.

Starring Mark Wahlberg (Charlie Croker), Charlize Theron (Stella Bridger), Donald Sutherland (John Bridger), Jason Statham (Handsome Rob), Seth Green (Lyle), Mos Def (Left Ear) and Edward Norton (Steve).


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16 Blocks (2006, Richard Donner)

Bruce Willis has had more comebacks–commercial and artistic–than any actor I can think of… Pulp Fiction was artistic, Die Hard: With a Vengeance was a commercial one, The Sixth Sense was both (his performance any way), and he’s due. (I just realized, the trips tend to come with comedic ventures). 16 Blocks is probably not his best performance–though he’s excellent–but it is the first sign he’s going to age gracefully. Willis’s generation of actor–and even the one before his, if Harrison Ford is any indication–has been rather uncomfortable with the whole aging process. It’s always these fifty year-olds with three year-old babies. None of those perks for Willis in this film. He’s fat and slow and, even when he gets going, he never really moves fast.

The film is far from perfect–it’s got an intense set-up and the first forty-five minutes were incredibly smart, the film kept the audience in the dark, letting the actors do their work. It’s not quite a real-time film, which is good, since those never really work out, but there’s too much thrown into the film… too much construction. Richard Wenk writes good dialogue and good characters, but he runs out of situations. He also plays three major tricks on the audience, all but one are expected, but the film’s so affable it’s impossible to get upset with it.

Mos Def contributes a lot to the affability and he and Willis are great together, with Willis actually doing different work than he usually does in his buddy films. David Morse, of course, turns in the best performance. Watching this guy chew gum is amazing….

There’s also the playful tone Donner takes with the film. Donner knows how to make a film entertaining and never takes 16 Blocks off track. The editing is good and the cinematography is great–so good I thought I’d recognize the name, but did not. It’s a lower budget film for Donner, who–I think–put together the financing himself, and it’s a practice he should stick with. He knows what he’s doing.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Richard Donner; written by Richard Wenk; director of photography, Glen MacPherson; edited by Steven Mirkovich; music by Klaus Badelt; production designer, Arv Greywal; produced by Avi Lerner, Randall Emmett, John Thompson, Arnold Rifkin and Jim Van Wyck; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Bruce Willis (Jack Mosley), Mos Def (Eddie Bunker), David Morse (Frank Nugent), Cylk Cozart (Jimmy Mulvey) and David Zayas (Robert Torres).


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