My weekly movie reviews. You can also read these on letterboxd.

This week focuses on three crime films I watched as a reference for my adaptation of Hemingway’s THE KILLERS.



Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I avoided this one for a while, assuming it was a throwaway crime picture from the 90s, certainly one that no one talks about anymore. However, recently writing my own crime story set in the 1950s, I thought I’d finally give this a look.

MULHOLLAND FALLS must be one of the most overlooked films of its decade. Perhaps overshadowed by the greatness of L.A. CONFIDENTIAL which would come a year later, this picture deserves more credit than it gets for being a smart, well-acted mystery/thriller. Nick Nolte leads quite a cast, including two incredibly sexy women (Griffith and Connelly) and a solid male ensemble (Penn, Madsen, Palminteri, and Malkovich). There are others who pop along the way, filling in the background with strong supporting turns: Treat Williams, Andrew McCarthy, Bruce Dern, and William Petersen in a particularly violent cameo. There’s even a young Kyle Chandler if you look close enough. Some films with stacked casts fall flat. This one doesn’t. Its an unpretentious Noir, not leaning on style or homage, and led confidently by director Lee Tamahori who follow this with his best film, THE EDGE.

Nolte is quite good in the lead. It was a good decade for him, past his prime as a good-looking leading man and heading towards his transition as a character actor. I sincerely don’t know why this film doesn’t get talked about more; it’s the kind of crime picture I wish the streaming services were turning out every month.

Watched on Tubi



Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

This is a film I keep wishing was better than it was. Every time I watch it, I go in hoping to discover a great movie that wasn’t revealed to me before. However, it continues to elude me…

Somehow two great actors, a good director, and a script co-written by Joan Didion doesn’t add up to anything special. It isn’t a bad film and remains engaging though it never picks up speed. I like slow films but this one never reaches anything, it just stays on low heat for its entire runtime.

The best parts of the movie was the quiet ones, like the scenes between Robert Duvall and the madame, played by Rose Gregorio, an actress I’ve never noticed before. Those have some weight, some heartbreak to them. Duvall in general shines in this picture, with his iconic laugh and temper. He blows De Niro off the screen in their scenes together but that might be more because of the charismatic and reserved contrast in their characters.

Watched on Tubi.



Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

I agree with Roger Ebert on this one. The story, at least in the hands of Carl Franklin, isn’t all that interesting. It’s the mood, the look of DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS that makes it watchable.

I would also suggest that Denzel was wrong for this part, at least at this stage in his career. Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t think Denzel was great in movies until his later years, specifically when he made FLIGHT and had an incredible streak with Tony Scott. Here, he doesn’t bring enough weight to the role, weight that someone like Jimmy Stewart could bring to a detective part especially after fighting in the war. The more interesting performances belong to Don Cheadle and Tom Sizemore. Cheadle, the film’s wild card, would have been a more dynamic Easy Rawlins. Or perhaps Wesley Snipes (who according to an interview with Franklin was interested in the material) would have brought a more gritty, hardened edge to the gumshoe character. Sizemore gives one of his best performances, up there with HEAT and PRIVATE RYAN. He’s scary in the picture.

Like Ebert, I enjoyed the look of the picture, the production design, costumes, and cinematography. But it didn’t hit me on an emotional or psychological level at all and that’s what great Film Noir does. I am surprised that this hasn’t been on the reboot list. Yes, there’s been talk of a TV show but why isn’t anyone thinking about a new Easy Rawlins movie starring Denzel? The actor would be perfect for the part now and there are plenty of Mosley novels to adapt. I can see Franklin coming back to helm or even Spike Lee with the guidance of a good producer like INSIDE MAN. Tony Scott would have made an excellent Easy thriller with his leading man… one can only dream.

Watched on Netflix