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Johnny LaRue's Crane Shot
Thursday, June 22, 2006
A Talking Monkey?
I don't want to write too much about it now, because I've written a review to appear in next week's The Hub, but let me highly recommend to you KISS KISS BANG BANG. Fucking jagoff Champaign-Urbana theater managers never brought this terrific movie to town late last year, I guess because they had to have 8 or 9 screens free to play KING KONG on. KISS KISS BANG BANG is a lot better than KING KONG, and it didn't help its cause that Warner Brothers gave it an arthouse-type release. That made no sense, as it's definitely a mainstream action/comedy, albeit a very quirky, offbeat one that may not mesh well with the dopier among us. Regular arthouse patrons probably had little patience for the violence and raucous humor, meaning it probably played in a lot of empty movie houses.

KKBB was written and directed (his first time) by Shane Black, who wrote LETHAL WEAPON, LAST ACTION HERO and THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT and became one of Hollywood's most expensive screenwriters. KKBB is a perversion of sorts of those dumbass action movies that made him rich. It spins '80s buddy-cop movies and '40s detective mysteries with high style and humor.

Robert Downey, Jr. stars as a petty thief who becomes the reluctant partner of "Gay Perry", an L.A. private eye, played by Val Kilmer. The two stumble onto a twisty murder plot reminiscent of THE BIG LEBOWSKI, and like that movie, the plot plays second fiddle to the broad cast and rat-tat dialogue. Michelle Monaghan, whom I recall from her brief stint as a regular on BOSTON PUBLIC, is the female lead, and does a surprisingly professional job keeping up with her fast-talking male costars. Corbin Bernsen, of all people, has a terrific role that might very well be, with the exception of MAJOR LEAGUE, the best part he's ever had in a feature.

At home tonight, I began watching POLICE WOMAN, thanks to Netflix. I have no idea why Sony decided to put this '70s cop show on DVD, but I'm glad they did. I really don't recall seeing much of it when I was a kid, even though it followed THE ROCKFORD FILES on Friday nights for awhile. I'll write more on POLICE WOMAN after I've had a chance to watch a few episodes, but it seems pretty solid. Angie Dickinson, 42 at the time and looking stunning, starred as an undercover cop with trusty Earl Holliman as her boss and Ed Bernard (THE WHITE SHADOW) and Charles Dierkop as her colleagues.

Posted by Marty at 11:06 PM CDT
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Saturday, June 24, 2006 - 10:17 AM CDT

Name: "Jim K"

I don't know if I'd blame the theatres so much as the studio.  Studios simply don't know what to do (or care) with 'tweener films anymore.  I went to see this in the theatre despite Shane Black, highly suspicious of the good reviews, but because I am of the age that Kilmer is a personal hero because of REAL GENIUS and TOP SECRET and Downey is a fine actor.  So I figured, what the hell, and it DID receive good reviews from the N.Y. press, and the reviewerss sounded suspicious of their own positive reaction, which was understandable -- LETHAL WEAPON is watchable, but it ain't a good script, and his other titles are terrible.  But the movie was really good indeed.  But it played in N.Y., got good reviews, and did surprising business its first week or two, but the studio NEVER pushed it wide.  We all love DVD, but DVD is to blame -- films already have dvd release dates before they've played three days in the theatre, and it isn't apparently cost effective to try to nurture a film.  KISS KISS got enough attention when it came out so that they knew it would get some attention upon dvd release; but tv and newspaper ads and prints all cost money, so....everyone I know of every age group liked this film (my dad and his pal, both over 70 liked it, and the pal is gay and opera-loving, not a LAST BOY SCOUT-fan), so if it had come out in 1982, I think there would've been a chance for it to play 3 months in NYC, keep getting attention, and then get spread out across the country.THE PROPOSITION, a great violent new Western with Guy Pearce and Emily Watson, is following the same path -- fine reviews, but with a dvd release date of August, even with the surprising success the film had out the gate, the studio hasn't made any effort to push it wider or see if it can break.  I truly think we'll never see these kind of midlevel successes EVER again at the theatrical level.   There will be "art" films that will be pushed, hoping for Oscar success, and comic book films, but midlevel genre films?  Straight to dvd, save NY/LA releases....  

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