Sunday, July 15, 2007

Movie: You Kill Me (2007)

After a solid week of old school noir, it’s tough to get back into the cinematic swim. You’ve got to choose your next feature carefully. The wrong movie could induce toxic shock. I’d have to be revived by an usher waving a picture of Edmond O’Brien under my nose. And you don’t find that level of service at a lot of the big theater chains anymore.

Fortunately, an intermediate step was available. You Kill Me is a comic spin on noir directed by one of the contemporary masters of the form, John Dahl.

Ben Kingsley stars as a Buffalo hit man whose alcoholism leads him to screw up a job involving rising Irish gangster Dennis Farina. Kingsley’s Polish mob boss patron (Philip Baker Hall) sends him to San Francisco to dry out. There, he’s watched over by a pit bull real estate salesman (Bill Pullman), helped by a gay AA sponsor (Luke Wilson) and smitten with the divine Teá Leoni, who is not in nearly enough movies.

That’s a fine cast, and Dahl gets great work out of them. Pullman and Dahl, who go way back, bring out the best in each other. You Kill Me is blithe and light on its feet, but with some savvy things to say about the recovery process, being your own man, and the way ethnic rivalries stubbornly cling to life in the east but fade as you move west. Plus it’s funny into the bargain.

OK. I’m ready now. Bring on the giant robots.