Thursday, August 09, 2007

Movie: Slayground (1983)

I watched this movie because I am a Donald E. Westlake/Richard Stark completist. And so you won’t have to, because it’s not good.

Stark’s Parker character, here named Stone and played by Peter Coyote, is forced to go ahead with an armored car robbery without his getaway driver of choice. The reckless replacement ends up killing a young girl. Her wealthy father hires a professional killer to track down the men responsible. And Stone hies off into England to hide out in a creepy amusement park.

Slayground errs in making the hit man a full-blown psychotic out of a horror movie. As a result, plenty of potentially engaging material – how does the assassin locate three loosely-connected thieves? – is skipped over entirely. There’s some interest in seeing the British comic actor Mel Smith in a straight role, but the amusement park stuff wears thin in a hurry.

Still, for the first twenty minutes or so I thought I’d lucked into something special. There’s a great, ice-cold opening scene (featuring Kelli Maroney of Night of the Comet and Chopping Maul) explaining what happened to Stone’s original driver. And the heist itself is the closest representation of Stark I’ve yet to see on film, a quick and brutal piece of work carried out in one of those isolated shades-of-brown towns where cash remains king.

But once Parker – sorry, Stone – tells the rookie driver to pull over after the accident to see if anyone’s hurt, I knew the good times were over. The Parker I know wouldn’t do that.

TV: My On Demand Demands

Hey, basic cable networks. You’d be having an even better summer if you took full advantage of On Demand. I missed Sunday night’s debut of TNT’s The Company, based on the novel by Robert Littell and starring VKDC favorite Michael Keaton as legendarily brilliant-but-batshit CIA officer James Jesus Angleton. No problem, I figure. I’ll just catch up with it during the week.

No dice. Part one hasn’t aired again, and there’s no sign of the miniseries at TNT On Demand. Yet all their other summer shows, like The Closer and Saving Grace, are there. The USA Network will allow you to catch up on Monk whenever you want, but not their spy caper Burn Notice. I know I have a DVR, but seriously, do I have to do everything myself?

Miscellaneous: Links

The unbelievable feel-good story of the day: the inspiration for Omar in The Wire and the main character of The Corner are getting married.

You don’t have to be a Catholic from Queens to find this Onion story hilarious. But it helps.