On this edition of ‘Cross the Streams’ we got a couple of docs, some pulp with a double dose of Hawkes. Starting with Netflx: I have been in a Tarantino mood as of late for reasons that escape me, so I checked out a film I heard was a cool homage to those crazy pop flicks of the late 90’s, then I read that it was a complete rip-off of those same movies, so I decided to check it out for myself. “Too Late” written and directed by Dennis Hauck actually finds a way to be tip-toe the line of homage to flat out crossing and stopping on the line on its way to rip-off town. Told in that non-liner method it follows a murder and the build up and investigation of that murder of a small time actress and the obsessed P.I. played by John Hawkes who is looking into the murder to which he has a personal stake in.
Now if this was released in the 90’s, I would have hated this on principal alone, but since we are over 20 years removed from “Pulp Fiction” and over a decade of Tarantino films that take place in the present time. Think about it his last three films (Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchanged, Hateful Eight) were all period pieces and I really miss his modern work which doesn’t seem to be coming anytime soon, so either by default or because it’s well crafted, I enjoyed “Too Late” despite its flaws. Hawkes just as he is in every role he tackles is brilliant. The structure of the film like my favorite’s of Hitchcock, “Rope” as it is shot in four 20 minute single takes that form to this one narrative that is done with clear intention.
“Small Town Crime” written and directed by Eshom and Ian Nelms, which also features John Hawkes in the lead role is more of straight forward, straight to video feel of a crime film. Hawkes is a disgraced police officer who is trying to get his job back even if that means posing as a P.I. to solve again the murder of a young girl. With no other reason than wanting to prove to his sister played by Octavia Spencer and his former fellow officers and mostly to himself that he deserves his badge. Through the investigation he meets former Tarantino alumni Robert Forester as the grandfather of the girl, and a great performance by Clifton Collins Jr. as a Motown loving pimp. The film is pretty much by the numbers, nothing special, but does have clever bits and a muscle car that is a few beeps away of being a lovable Star Wars droid. Or maybe it was just a 70’s inspired rendering of Burt Reynolds film. Either way it is a fun sit on a late night.
Over on Hulu we have a pair of documentaries, the first is a breakdown as well as a look at the cultural impact of the infamous shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho”. The film titled “78/52” named after the number of camera set-ups and the number of edits respectively, analyzes the brilliance of that shower scene from the choice of black in white after Hitch was already doing color, to the classic Bernard Herman score to Janet Leigh and her body double. Directed by Alexandre O. Phillippe this is a fantastic breakdown of the scene and the film as a whole and its place in the popular culture. With talking heads like Guillermo del Toro, Peter Bogdanovich, Karyn Kusama, composer Danny Elfman to actors like Elijah Wood and daughter of Leigh the incomparable Jamie Lee Curtis. If you are a Hitchcock fan or just a fan of film this is a must watch.
“Score: A Film Music Documentary” is about the art of the film score and it’s place in film history. It rather quickly follows its journey from the silent films that were accompanied any a live piano player to the jazzy sounds of “A Streetcar Named Desire” to the epic horns of “Star Wars”. It also throughout branches off to the composers and their methods, which consist of meeting with the director which looks uncomfortably boring for all involved but then we see the behind the scenes of the creation of scores for “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Mission Impossible: Rouge Nation”. We get insight from composers all over the spectrum and we hear from composers of rom-coms, kids films, all the way to the grand scores of blockbusters of both past and present. Director Matt Schrader even takes time to delve into the science of what we hear and how our brain interprets different kinds of sound and what a brilliant musical piece at the right moment can do in order to give us goosebumps. For a cinefile like me it’s a fascinating look into a world that without the music, films would not be what they are today.