RIORI Vol. 3, Installment 6: JC Chandor’s “A Most Violent Year” (2014)

A Most Violent Year

The Players…

Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo, Alessandro Nivola and Albert Brooks.

The Story…

When successful businessman Abel Morales is up against the wall regarding his dwindling fortunes due to extortion, he has to make a tough decision. The law is investigating the legitimacy of his practices. The Teamsters may or may not be strong-arming his drivers and fleet of trucks, hijacking them. He might have been unwittingly connected to Mafia undercurrents. Abel must decide whether to fight back with the law on one side, or a gun on another.

The Rant…

I grew up in a town that was slowly going under.

It was once a proud city, a model of industrial success and opportunity. A destination for urban prosperity as well as a shining example of what hard work, a decent chamber of commerce and a fine education system could accommodate. For the better part of a century, my hometown was textbook USA with all the fineries that went with it.

All that was on its way out when I moved there.

I didn’t know that at the time, but once I entered high school, the corruption flaking off at the corners became evident. Crime rates increased, the roads became veritable sh*tty golf courses of potholes, the cops more interested in busting non-whites for being non-white rather than tackling bigger issues like nascent gang violence and the drug trade. And the local gentry—with their suburban dollars—engaging in that perennial pastime called white flight didn’t help much either.

The town fell asunder. Local pundits—not much removed from the nameless, faceless “they” which was always being accused of causing the rot—threw up their collective hands and resigned themselves to the classic defense of “things ain’t what they used to be.” Then they went back to nursing their beers and openly hating negroes.

I think on some level that this malaise and acquiescence by the townies of dwindling returns planted the seed of my eventual hard-on for sketchy neighborhoods, their potential dangers, and an overall curiosity regarding urban corruption in cities larger than mine. I was a lilywhite, suburban kid, residing in one of the more well-heeled residential neighborhoods on the fringes of the city, far removed from the grime and blight downtown. At that age, center city was terra incognito, no man’s land, not the place for a well mannered me. Hell, back then my world ended about two blocks south of my home, bordered by a very busy street. That was the line of demarcation in my wanderings around my squeaky clean neighborhood.

The whole street thing and admonishments from the who’s who regarding the dark, urban underbelly of our slowly going south town also had an influence on my attraction to seedy sections of a city. On a very low level—basically a gateway—any time at that impressionable age I got to cross that demon street, I felt I was getting away with something. Something bad. I was going where I wasn’t supposed to be. Granted, this was very weak sauce. Across the street was a neighborhood almost exactly like mine. No Hell’s Kitchen there. But as I got older, and eventually earned a driver’s license, I’d find myself following my senses and exploring ever further into the belly of the beast. This didn’t stop within my hometown. Oh, no. Before Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations ever hit the air, your humble movie-basher would one way or another find himself in the seamier sections of New York, Boston, San Francisco and Honolulu even, looking for truth and fun.

You don’t have to be part of some Nat Geo expedition to the Yucatan to discover bizarre wildlife. Sometimes all you have to do is simply go “downtown,” if you have one. One of the many reasons I had for poking my nose into places I had no sane right to be was discovering said wildlife, usually in some back corner of the demimonde. Here’s a story about one such adventure. Perhaps—if you were lucky—you might know what I’m talking about; the surreptitious joys of both “getting away with it” and/or “being where you’re not supposed to be.”

Granted Honolulu is not South Central LA, but in the vein of our urban explorer adventure—and not to implicate myself in past incidents of a dubious nature—let’s just go with it. I figure a tale about scouring the back streets of some tourist town might be easier to digest than, say, avoiding hoodlums while trying to…uh, let’s let that hang in the air. Honolulu is figuratively and literally a sunny place, and we’ll make this late night excursion a positive one.

In some ways, the touristy town is a bit of a slum unto itself. There, most of the side neighborhoods were made not of crumbling, burnt-out buildings but endless, endless, identical hotels, restaurants and gift shops. Sterile. Plain. Somewhat intimidating, all those glaring lights and tall, tall white monuments to disposable dollars. The place eventually felt like the set of cautionary movie Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. On the other side of that same coin think Pete Seeger: “Little boxes, little boxes…”

When I was fortunate enough to visit Hawaii, I was held up in the local Hilton complex. Not hotel. Complex. Tourism is a compartmentalized business. The resort does not want its guests to leave the property, running the risk of them spending dollars at some off-site restaurant or bar. They want to keep the money circulating right there and only there. After all day wandering the grounds, exploring every nook and cranny, I came to that conclusion. The place had restaurants, bars, pools, gyms, even a mall for f*ck’s sake, and all of it under the banner of Hilton. Barring going to the beach, there really was no reason to go explore the town. You had everything there for your touristy dollar delights.

Which was reason enough for me to get the hell out of there for a while.

Later that night your typical Pacific rainstorm began pummeling the town. Drove a lot of the people indoors. Not me. I knew from my urban exploring that when the rain comes down, the rats come out of their holes in the wall. With all its shiny, cleansed, inescapable edifices of combustible dollars everywhere, I knew that Honolulu had to have its local color hidden away somewhere. So in the rain, my backpack filled with comics, pens and my notepad, I left the Hilton and wandered over to a small, independent bookshop across the street. I asked the guy at the counter where a haole like me could find some local action. He kind of smirked and directed me to a bar down the road. I thanked him and bounded back into the storm again, rain pissing down and me dodging cabs.

The further I got down the street, getting ever soggier, I saw that the hotels began to thin out giving way to smaller shops and parking lots. The lights of the hotels still shone brightly, but the shadows got progressively longer, blurring into the puddles. Par my tour guides directions, I took a left at a light and stumbled down the side road towards my destination. What I found looked very out of place wedged between two other monolithic but less luxurious hotels. I mean very out of place. I think the bar was located under a parking deck. There was nothing more to give a passerby an indication that it was a legit watering hole save the lone window with a neon Corona sign lit up and an open door permitting weary music droning from within. I had found my quarry. I was a shade disappointed at first. If this is what the downtrodden neighborhood of Honolulu was, it was no more skuzzy than my bar back East.

Inside, the place was low slung. The ceiling was only about a foot higher than I was. Corny trinkets of Hawaiian kitsch littered the walls. Peeling linoleum floor. A fogbank of blue haze from endless cigarettes. Rickety wooden stools circling the bar that had seen better days, their foam seats spilling out from tears in the vinyl. I liked the place immediately. Looking around, the bar crowd didn’t seem like a touristy bunch. I distinctly remember seeing a few cooks and valets, still in uniform, drinking beer, playing pool and just shooting the sh*t. This must’ve been where the working class—the underside—of Honolulu tourism went to get away from it all. I grabbed the first stool I saw, ordered a beer (they surprisingly had the local brand I enjoyed back in PA) and got out a few comics to pass the time.

Sitting there, I couldn’t help but get a feeling of déjà vu. This was my first time to the Aloha State, so I knew it was impossible for me to have ever visited this bar before. However, looking around, the joint looked vaguely familiar. I scanned the place for clues. Couldn’t put my finger on it, but…

My investigation and comic book reading was loudly interrupted by a commotion at my back, right where the door was. I turned, as well as most of the locals, to see what was up. These two dudes, dressed head-to-toe in San Francisco 49’ers gear, were whooping it up. The had a wagon in tow—a red Radio Flyer, no lie—with a large, cartoonish, Grandmaster Flash boombox inside. It was playing Billy Joel at 11. These two guys cranked up the volume further, started doing this insane dance and began to karaoke over Billy, hollering improvised lyrics over “We Didn’t Start the Fire” praising the 49er’s. The crowd loved it. They clapped and cheered. Between songs, Frick and Frack did a pseudo Abbott and Costello routine, cracking jokes about (you guessed it) the 49er’s. Folks bought them beers, they danced around appreciatively, and after 15 minutes out the door they went, boombox still blaring.

The bartender told me that those guys were regulars. They hailed, naturally, from San Fran, but always took a monthly vacation to Honolulu, espousing the wonders of the 49er’s wherever they went. I thought that was hilarious and the barkeep agreed. He was a nice guy, laid-back, and was honestly curious about my comics and what I was writing in my notebook. I asked him about the local scene in town and he gestured around his bar and said that this was pretty much it. Most tourists didn’t come to his place, rather mostly hotel employees and a few other locals. I mentioned that this was my first time in Hawaii, but I could swore that his place was familiar.

The guy smiled and pointed to the wall over the pool table. There were a series of framed photos hanging up. I squinted to make them out through the clouds of smoke. A few of them were headshots, all signed. Tom Selleck. Jon Hillerman. Orson Welles (Orson Welles?). A shot of a red Ferrari speeding down a road. It slowly dawned on me.

I turned back to the bartender, pointing over my shoulder at the pictures.

“Are you saying…?” I pointed to the floor. “This is the place?”

The guy smiled proudly and nodded his head. “Aloha, buddy. Welcome to Hawaii.”

I was in the bar that was used in the TV show Magnum PI. I saw that show as a kid. It was pretty cool. For those who want to know, Magnum was this action/comedy show about the escapades of a posh private investigator played by Tom Selleck. His character was a combination of James Bond coolness, Indiana Jones scruffiness and just enough humor to make him a relatable Joe. Beyond that, it was all fast cars, luxurious Hawaiian manses, pretty girls and foiling the exploits of drug runners and murderers. Magnum had a buddy who ran a bar in town, and it was there our hero visited to kick back and have a few, as well as gather scuttlebutt on the local criminal element. Some of the scenes were shot on location in the very bar I was slowly getting tight at.

I returned there the next few nights to hang with the townies, shoot pool, wax philosophical and occasionally discuss the merits of one Magnum episode compared to another with the barkeep. It was nice that the second night I came by—that night’s weather was classic early spring Hawaii: breezy and in the 70s—the bartender recognized me immediately and plunked my beer of choice right in the spot I was sitting in the night before. I kinda doubt I would’ve gotten that kind of royal treatment at one of the Hilton’s sponsored bars.

That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about when I mean sketchy neighborhoods. Granted, that little piece of the city was far from bullet-ridden. But it was a low level thrill to get out of that cushy cloister and sought out what the locals did, whatever it was they sought, happening in a dive bar once featured on a mid-80’s glam cop show. It was a more lighthearted affair then being in “the bad part of town” at night.

Trust me: been there, done that.

Now it wasn’t as if I was trying to score dope or solicit a hooker when the shadows grew longer and then went away. I was usually the wheelman for such adventures. My then loser friends were junkies and pill-poppers; I stuck to the legal drugs. My willingness to drive into the center of night, either hanging out at bars, clubs and all-night diners afterwards, was just the logical—if not socially unhealthy—extension of me “crossing the street” from my college days well into my 20s.

Now listen, I’m not trying to romanticize urban degradation and alienation. Well, maybe a little. Dive bars, empty bus stations, the subway, all these places at night held a sort of magic for me. I created a fantasy world of urban decay in my fevered, Hubert Selby, Jr imagination. This was especially solidified in my years at college, when I was exploring the punk rock scene in NYC at the tail-end of the 70’s, spilling over into the early 80’s. Not the scene per se, but first the bands. The Ramones, Talking Heads, Television, Richard Hell, Dead Boys, early Lou Reed, those guys were my soundtrack. The sordid adventures at CBGB’s and Max’s Kansas City where these bands cut their teeth. Jim Carroll living at the movies. I actually did a pair of papers on the social climate of the City for my classes. Needless to say, my research became an enthusiasm. When I get into something it fast becomes a fetish. I scooped up literature on the scene and culture about back in those dying days of disco, delved into it. The stories in Legs McNeill and Gillian McCain’s Please Kill Me became like gospel, ever fueling my skewed romantic fantasy of the Lower East Side becoming not unlike an asphalt Eden for rogues like me (or thought they were). A good example of at what level my Darwinian mind was working, check out Jim Jarmusch’s debut film Permanent Vacation. Says it all there.

So this week, driven by my still present but usually checked keenness for a crumbling New York between 1976 and 1982, we’re going back in time. Back to a place I’d like to think I visited, explored across the street, when the City was not as “nice” as it is today. Where Travis Bickle still drives a cab and shoots pimps, where Times Square could only be described as “sticky,” where the Ramones wanna take us to Rockaway Beach and where the Statue of Liberty’s torch was unlit.

All that kind of paints a warm, homey picture. Doesn’t it?…

New York, 1981. Winter. The year has gone on record as the peak of a crime wave that enveloped the city for the better part of a decade, and businessman Abel Morales (Isaac) is feeling the pinch. Abel may be the last just man in Sodom. He’s the owner of Standard Oil, a heating fuel company servicing the five boroughs, and has been quite successful for the past 15 years of operation. His is the typical American success story; immigrant does good, becomes a lucrative businessman, gives back to the community, takes care of his employees and has never forgotten where he came from.

Despite this dignified reputation, Abel and Standard Oil are falling victim to said criminal undercurrents plaguing his industry. Or rather, the drivers of his fleet of trucks. There are reports in the shipping business that the Teamsters are engaging in “questionable” business practices. Abel’s oil trucks are getting hijacked and robbed of their contents. Drivers being assaulted and sent to the hospital. What’s more is that Abel’s bank account is taking the hit from two angles. One, the theft of his product, and; two, the city’s legal system running more or less a dragnet through businesses like Abel’s to look for any signs of price gouging, embezzlement, tax evasion and/or extortion. All of this after Abel has just secured the rights to a new property to accommodate his expanding empire.

Abel is made to feel guilty by association. His books are clean, as well as his standing in the business community, and makes no bones about having himself or Standard Oil anything to hide. But the trucks keep getting jacked, and the fuel goes missing. This invites the big questions—the gorilla and elephant f*cking on the edge of Abel’s desk—like who’s commandeering the trucks and where is the oil going?

Anna (Chastain), Abel’s well meaning but hardnosed wife, isn’t helping the circumstance any. She’s Abel’s secretary, who’s all too willing to remind him of Standard’s predicament, as well as their dwindling profits and insurance losses, and the payment on new home they bought in the suburbs, and the needs and safety of their kids, AND the intruder that was sent in the night to “send a message” to Abel and his family.

That violation is the final straw. Abel can’t protect his drivers, can’t protect his investments, can’t even protect his family. His once sterling reputation is fast going down the tubes, hot on the heels of his profits. There’s foul play afoot, but the law is more concerned if Abel is cooking the books rather than concerned with dozens of injured drivers. This can’t keep happening. Abel’s fortunes, his home, his investments are evaporating, and the County of New York wants more. The trucks have to roll. It’s winter, and customers need Abel’s fuel to keep warm. He can’t afford protection for his workers.

1981 was one of the worst years for violent crime in the City. Since the cops are doing next to nothing to protect Abel’s interests, he decides to take the law into his own hands. Fight fire with fire, and arm his drivers with guns…

Not that long ago, I was pining for a hopefully good movie to scan here at RIORI within a seemingly endless mire of slop. It was during a dry spell, like when the new releases arrive in March. I’m not entirely certain of when, but I recall at least three, maybe four films I saw in a row that really taxed my usual good humor. Then came a buoy in this sea of mediocrity. It came in the form of JC Chandor’s All Is Lost (Vol. 2, Installment 18…the first entry I got some actual feedback).

Let me tell you: voluntarily doing this gig can take a lot out of you. It’s not unlike you’ve driven on a very straight, always predicable stretch of highway. You know where the tight curves are, where the cops have their speed traps and where the best place on the road to score some cheap soft serve for the kids. Then there are the potholes, the construction crews, the traffic and the inexplicable gridlock on the eastbound lane when an accident occurs on the westbound lane. The highway’s the same, and you know it well when you’re travelling at a rapid clip. It’s the above glitches that can really take the wind out of your sails. Or gas from you tank, or whatever.

All Is Lost was a fine, solid film. In this day and age, that says a lot. Mostly today’s directors are tossed laurels and in the short line for Oscar nods when their work becomes noteworthy. The promise of an Oscar, a Golden Globe, even a People’s Choice Award seems to become the end all and be all regarding recognition to a director, justifying his or her work. I don’t think that’s the case with Chandor.

The Standard dictates lame box office draw and/or critical response to make the movie hit the list. All Is Lost was a great movie, the critics lauded it, and old smoothie Robert Redford got to shine. But it didn’t do well at the theatres, not in a profitable way. Neither did A Most Violent Year. Again we had critical praise and a engaging story, but no popular audience to rally around it. What’s going on here? Poor marketing?

Maybe. More like, sort of.

Seems to me that Chandor’s films only get limited releases in major cities. Places like LA, Chicago and of course NYC. It’s kind of hard to gain exposure, as well as recouping your losses, when your movie only plays in ten US cities for maybe two months. I remember here in my neck of the woods, All Is Lost only played at the local art house cinema, and for only one week. Recalling earlier about the cultural mindset of my town, the fact there’s even an art house cinema around is remarkable. What’s more is that a few of the locals even caught All Is Lost is nothing short of miraculous.

So I don’t think Chandor is in the biz to earn a lot of awards and make boatloads of cash. A Most Violent Year barely made a dent in the Hollywood marketplace, and that’s pushing it. Its budget was $20 million. Its gross was $5,700,000. Worldwide. Ouch. I think, for circumstances surrounding films like A Most Violent Year, The Standard may have to be tweaked. I mean, you really can’t fault a film’s lousy box office performance if said film only got shown on a dozen screens in, well, art house cinemas. Fault for poor marketing maybe, but not for the film’s quality.

And Year is definitely a quality film. It’s not a good as All Is Lost, but Year is a totally different animal, even though there are similar themes.

Like survival. Abel’s story isn’t life-and-limb like Redford’s plight, but he is struggling to keep his business alive—his livelihood—against odds he has no control against despite his best actions and intentions. In a certain light, trying to make it against the backdrop of grimy NYC can be just as harrowing. Instead of being lost at sea, life in the City keeps safety and sanity at an arm’s length. In Year, it’s New York vs. Abel.

The City in winter 1981 mirrors my fascination with urban decay quite keenly. I don’t know whom the people responsible for location settings were, but they deserve a medal. The climate adds dinginess to all the scenes. Grey ice and clouds permeate almost every shot. You get a real taste for this in the opening montage. We have Abel doing his morning jogging routine. He runs along the streets; first in his affluent, suburban neighborhood (it looks like Staten Island), then later a residential neighborhood, then the main drag—it being bookended by grim-looking, possibly vacant brick buildings—until his jog ends in a very crappy neighborhood, the aforementioned buildings looking like they’ve been made out of graffiti. He then turns around and heads back along the same route. And all this time, there’s the snow, first white and fluffy and terminating in dirty puddles under steel grey skies and coppery sunlight. It looks so cold—weather and social climate alike—that you can practically see your own breath.

In the vein of setting the scene, Year’s editing is simply amazing. There’s this constant, constant pendulum swing between scenes (with some very cool cuts; juxtaposing Abel’s arrival in his Cadillac against his trucks pulling out really grabs your attention). It’s throughout the film. We have the suburban homes; we have the blighted, abandoned buildings. We have quiet winding streets in the nice part of town; we have the smoggy, congested traffic on the highway. We have warm, comfy offices indoors and cold industrial warehouses outside. This back and forth motion might sound disorienting, or at worst some cloying director’s trick to send a little too obvious a message, but it never comes across that way. Obvious allusions or no, it’s never intrusive or distracting. It’s sets a rhythm, one inviting the audience to determine the inner dynamics of the plot.

Isaac’s performance is a rare treat. Here’s a character that comes across as everyman, especially with his compassion and sincerity but simmering with tension. Abel comes across having a very difficult time coming to grips with his problems, but must at all times maintain his composure. Sure, he conducts himself and his business with this brave face and the weight of Standard’s reputation—it’s winter, and these hijackings are not going to result in his customers freezing to death. But then there’s the back alley dealings; off-the-record conversations with his workers and competitors (later culminating with the dire need for Abel to arm his drivers). Isaac presents his whole image with a controlled rage, just winking at us below the surface. The angst he must have reflects the climate of the City as it was then. So Abel may be an openly sincere urban oil magnate, but there’s this lingering…something.

This unrelenting dark tension underpins the film. I’m not talking about the tautness by scenes of legal finagling, hijacking and home invasions. It’s this inescapable, grim feeling that not all as it seems. It’s uncomfortable, to say the least. What we see with our cast are people up against a wall, indifferent social institutions and rampant crime chewing away at their stability and security. But is that what we’re really seeing?

A seed is planted early. A scene when Abel comes before the local legal representative, the lawyer lays claim that Standard Oil’s business practices may or may not be legal. But what’s the law being bent, and what’s the motive? Abel appears confident in himself being a legitimate businessman, but there’s something else there underlying his assurance. Isaac’s delivery is ever so slightly quavering, there and gone. Doubt is raised. Doubt to Abel’s operations, the lawyer’s intentions, Abel’s recent and possible future investments. Things start coming into question. Something is, to put it plainly, not right. But it’s impossible to determine what, even over the duration of the film. Even when the story is “resolved” questions remain. Year is unsatisfying, but not in a bad way. More like a pleading way.

Another similarity with All Is Lost is the “man alone” conflict. No matter what Abel does to counteract all the tensions that bear down on his life—which cause it to gradually unravel—he gets no quarter. There are precious few scenes of outright violence in Year, ironically enough, but it always seems to be lurking around the corner. The possibility of danger bursting forth is always there, but seldom actually breaks the surface. Most of the time it’s Abel trying to hold it together, get a grip, try to find a way out. Hold his own, especially when the law starts leaning into him and making unscheduled visits to his home. No one seems to be on his side, save his vampy wife Anna.

Now Chastain’s character is an interesting mix of uncertainty and pragmatism. If Abel is the humanist, relying on himself putting his best foot/face forward, then Anna is the realist. She knows all about shifty lawyers and business’ being strong-armed. Anna’s the daughter of a mobster, and that tidbit’s not really brought to the forefront of the action, but like Abel’s tight visage, Anna tries to maintain a front of dedicated wife, mother and a model of quaint domesticity (albeit being luxurious). At first glance, Anna looks like she’s turned her back on her Mafia ties, but how she “advises” Abel’s conduct—business and otherwise—suggests an agendum. Like with Abel’s brave face, Anna’s gentle pressing implies something below the surface. Nothing concrete, mind you, however there is a scene when the law comes to the Morales’ home unannounced and two things occur (SPOILER ALERT):

First, Abel and Anna quickly stash the records of Standard Oil’s accounts under the deck, afraid what the lawyers/cops might find. Why? Nothing solid’s been stated about possible criminal acts, so what do the Morales’ have to hide?

Second, Anna gives a kiss off to the lawyer that’s conducting the investigation. First admonishing him and his flunkies for scaring her kids, and second—more sinisterly—reminds him of where she came from/who she knows. If she openly disinherited herself, and makes no bones about it, then why “pull rank?” Also, as an extension, how come she seems to know more about the kind of criminal dynamic Standard Oil has been besieged with if she’s never tried to affiliate herself with the Family? All these implications generates succulent tension, questioning the truth of the matter and being left with a feeling of dread that picks at your brain for days.

Year was a contemplative flick, all right. It made you think as well as question the nature of Abel and Anna’s surroundings, and what their true motives are. I mean, I’m writing this installment about a week after seeing the movie, and the flick’s still picking. That’s a sure sign of a good movie; that it leaves you with something wanting, but not lacking.

A while back I said RIORI was swearing off indie movies. With their limited releases circuiting small theatres, the results of small returns and quirky reviews almost guarantee Standard material. Year wasn’t an indie film. It did have a limited release, yes, but I’m not certain that that would’ve had a significant impact on the movie’s performance overall. The film did have difficult subject matter, with the grim and deceptive plot doing the average moviegoer no favors. But still, when you drop $20,000,000 on your film, and it only recoups a quarter of its budget, it’s glaring. Except it was a good movie. Challenging, yes, and relentlessly grim at times, but not so inaccessible to drive away the laymen.

Hm. I could say that there’s no accounting for taste, especially these days. Then again, I’m not so certain that folks would get a charge out of exploring the sticky underbelly of urban society with its crack pipes, angry whores, crooked cops and the last good deal gone down. Besides, NYC in Year was light years away from a darkened corner of Honolulu (or a good chunk of New York of today, for that matter), inviting wreck and ruin to a fool like me.

In reflection, my whole obsession with some William S Burroughs romance of skuzz in the big city was pretty juvie. My hometown was going down a slippery slope when I was a kid, and is still ever hurtling towards the Seventh Level. That’s just depressing when you think about it, and my old stomping grounds are not unique in their squalor. Right now, there are more sketchy neighborhoods than fully drawn ones back home looking more and more like winter NYC 1981 every year, even if it’s summertime.

After watching this cinematic exercise in extreme street-crossing, I came to a simple conclusion: Hawaii is a sunny place, filled with happy people, cool dive bars, occasionally Tom Selleck and nary a pile of dirty, gravel-ridden, week old snow to be found.

I’m never going back there again.

The Verdict…

Rent it or relent it? Rent it. It’s a downer of a movie to be sure, but still engaging. It leaves you with more questions than answers, and you’ll probably want it that way. Sorry for being so straight this time out; the film demanded some somber reflection. Next time it’ll be all fart jokes and malice. You have my word. 🙂

Stray Observations…

  • Brooks is barely recognizable here, save his down in the dumps demeanor. And is that his real hair?
  • “Stare longer than you should.”
  • I love that coat Abel’s wearing, like, for 90% of the film. It’s like his shield, and he seldom takes it off in front of some guy with clout. Your move, punk.
  • “It’s not like when we was driving.”
  • It’s all soft conversations here. No one really ever raises their voice in anger. Sure, there’s sniping, but never screaming. Until there is.
  • “F*ck you!” “You’re welcome!”

Next Installment…

Tobey Maguire dons the tights for the last time in the infamous Spider-Man 3.

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