Monday, December 01, 2008

Miscellaneous: Thanksgiving Roundup

Chasing Smoke
, by Bill Cameron (2008). Oregon homicide detective ‘Skin’ Kadash is supposed to be on disability while he undergoes cancer treatment. But his ex-partner comes to him with a case he can’t resist: several prominent men, all apparent suicides, all patients of Skin’s oncologist. It’s an involving mystery built around a memorable character in Kadash, a brusque, doggedly unsentimental man forced by his illness to deal with the transcendent even as he copes with countless personal indignities. I hope he makes it. I’d like to hear from him again.

The Tall Target (1951). I never pass up a chance to catch an Anthony Mann movie. Some veteran noir hands spin a historical footnote about Abraham Lincoln’s secretive train ride to his inauguration into a taut thriller. Dick Powell plays the New York cop determined to foil an assassination attempt. (His character is named John Kennedy.) Powell’s brief speech to an impossibly young and beautiful Ruby Dee about his reaction to Lincoln as a man and a leader is a model of Mann’s forceful yet understated style. TCM aired it because it’s featured in Screen Savers: 40 Remarkable Movies Awaiting Rediscovery by John DiLeo. A book I now have to read.

Ca$h (2008). My affection for OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies lingers. First I bought the DVD days after renting it. Then I ordered this movie from IFC Festival Direct because it also stars Jean DuJardin. Here he’s a small-time con artist bent on taking down Europe’s premiere thief (Jean Reno). Twist heaped upon turn, charismatic actors, lovely locations. The French, they have a word for it: divertissement. It depressed me no end to learn that the French now also say “chill” and “total hottie.” C’est la vie. DuJardin plays it straight in a film adapted from a Lawrence Block novel. Eyes will be peeled for that one.

Transporter 3 (2008). The latest entry in my favorite junk franchise is the least and the least intelligible. Literally; I understood every third non-Statham word. But I don’t go for the dialogue. I wanted over-the-top action and got enough. Read Christa Faust’s take for your word of the day.