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Sunday, 4 January 2009

Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead, 1995 - Movie Review

Director: Gary Fleder
Starring: Andy Garcia, Christopher Lloyd, William Forsythe, Bill Nunn, Treat Williams, Jack Warden, Steve Buscemi, Fairuza Balk, Gabrielle Anwar, Christopher Walken
Running Time: 115 minutes
Score: 10 / 10

This review by malkane316 - a truly great movie with great dialogue. Boat drinks to you all. Cheers to Daan for reminding me of this forgotten classic.

The early and mid nineties saw the emergence of Tarantino and his new greed of filthy pulp genius, and naturally everyone else wanted apiece of the action. From now on scripts had to be full of witty dialogue, the characters had to be from the wrong side of the tracks, but we had to be able to relate to them. Of course, most of Tarantino's imitators were rubbish, leaving the man himself to bask in glory. However, when Scott Rosenberg gave his brilliant script to director Felder, something special was created- a Tarantinio beater.

TTDIDWYD suffered perhaps because of its title, and because it is more downbeat than much of what was being released at the time. Some reviews here have strangely dared to say that the dialogue is crap, that certain scenes to do not 'further the narrative'. How odd, and these people love Tarantino? For whatever reason, the film has largely been forgotten about, but with the cast it has i'm sure more people will come to it and find what a gem it is. Truly it has one of the best casts ever- Walken, Garcia, Lloyd, Buscemi, Balk, Anwar, Warden, Bill Nunn, Treat Williams, and they all give near career bests. The plot sees Jimmy the Saint brought out of retirement for one last job by his psychotic ex mob boss, played terrifyingly by Walken. For the job he needs to recruit some of his old gang- Pieces (Lloyd), Franchise (Forsythe), Easy Wind (Nunn), and reluctantly Critical Bill (Williams). Each man is out of the game, but this job will pay them for the rest of their lives and they can retire in peace. The job is simple- Walken's son lost his mind after his girlfriend left him for another guy. The other guy is coming to town, so Jimmy and his gang scare him into leaving the girl, so that Walken's son will be happy again. This will in turn give Walken's life meaning again. Things go horrifically wrong though, and each member of the gang is given 48 hours to live. As this is happening, Jimmy has fallen for Anwar, but can't be with her. He tries to get his friends to run for safety, but they refuse, willing to accept whatever happens. Jimmy also stays to try and do some right in his life- giving the engagement ring to Anwar and her fiancée, and saving local whore Balk from wasting her life, giving her a child. Soon the inevitable happens as the unstoppable assassin (Buscemi) comes to town, but not before Jimmy exacts perfect revenge.

The script is easily one of the best of the last 50 years, full of quotable dialogue "I am Godzilla! You are Japan!" , but full of meaning, heart, and existential dreaming. The whole story revolves around life and death, how we will be remembered in death for our achievements in life, and giving hope to the living as we die. Every character is extraordinarily drawn, with depth and individuality. Jimmy tries to save his friends but their pride means he has to accept their decisions. He may be a gangster, but he knows what is right, moral rules are forever more important than the laws of Cops and Robbers. Pieces works in a porno theatre with the painful loss of strength in his hands, but he knows that back in the day they were at the top of their league. Walken is genuinely Evil as the man with the plan, Buscemi is brilliant as Mr Sssh, and Williams is a forgotten man- a self serving patriot, guns framed on his walls, ready to protect himself from invasion at anytime. Anwar and Nicolsi (as Walken's son) deserve special mention, both get our sympathy as they are trapped in a situation they are not part of, and do not deserve what happens to them. There are too many characters and traits to list, ensuring that I at least will continue to find new things with every viewing.

Although there is strong sentimentality, there is plenty of violence and strong language to balance everything, and as i've said before, sentimentality is nothing to be ashamed of-in life or in movie making. The film is not meant to be completely bleak and hard hitting, and it is a sad sign of our times when we berate a film for being sentimental. Much like the Shawshank Redemption in effect this film will leave you with hope. A breathtaking film which will stay with you forever if you let it. 10 out of 10

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34 comments:

Daan said...

''TTDIDWYD suffered perhaps because of its title''

I remember seeing this for the first time, and the network called it: Jimmy The Saint, i like the original title better though

Mr. Shhh said...

I don't think it suffered because of that, the orginal title is interesting, at least to me, and it's a good one for a noirish movie.
Well, Scott Rosenberg is really great writing dialog, Steve was cool as ice on his part and this movie deserves to be seen by a much greater audience. The only thing I still waiting is to see Steve and Walken on the same movie, I mean, at the same level.

Live for films said...

Hey Mr Shhh, I was waiting for you to comment :)

Totally agree with you about waiting to see Buscemi and Walken working together. What has Steve got lined up in the near future?

Mr. Shhh said...

The nearest releases are "John Rabe" and, as you already know, "G-Force". The first one is something like Schindler's List and it seems Steve has a dramatic role; check it out.
I don't know if you know, but they are casting for a Martin Scorsese's new HBO series written by the Sopranos screenwriter, and Steve and Michael Pitt were mentioned for the pilot, I hope it becomes real.

Cialis said...

I have not watched this movie, in fact I was thinking rent it for this weekend. Well as I said I have not watched it, nonetheless the good comments I have heard about it make me think it should be good.

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