Watched this after the great Killing Them Softly. It passed the time – kind of a mismatched buddy cop movie along the lines of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang but with half the chemistry and humor of that one – or else I wasn’t in the most receptive mood. Can still appreciate the effort though, a fun, throwback action comedy with more careful work put into the characters and jokes than the twisty conspiracy plot.

During a 1977 smog epidemic, Russell Crowe is hired to break private eye Ryan Gosling’s arm when Gosling has been snooping around on behalf of a client searching for her dead niece. Gosling’s surprisingly capable teenage daughter (Angourie Rice of the next Sofia Coppola movie) tags along, and I think Matt Bomer (Magic Mike) plays a hit man threatening Crowe’s client Margaret Qualley (The Leftovers) who is hiding out from her mom Kim Basinger, a sold-out politician whose dirty secrets are hidden in a porn film.

My favorite shot: Gosling fighting with a guy on the roof, one falls into the pool, the other just misses

R. Collin in The Telegraph:

Both leads aren’t playing to type, exactly, so much as types gone halfway to seed. Crowe is 52 years old now, and has warmly embraced the dramatic possibilities of middle-aged spread … Gosling, meanwhile, plays the kind of moustachioed bro who — for want of a better way of putting it — thinks he’s Ryan Gosling, giving Holland a loose-swaggering confidence that amusingly exceeds his practical abilities.

A total trip, better than I’d dared hope it would be. Would’ve been soooo nice to see in theaters, but I’ll settle for the multi-narrated DVD. Even more family-focused than Cowards, it also goes further inside the psyche of the Maddin character than that one did, with his flashbacks and memories and fantasies splayed out on the screen, cutting and fading into whatever “reality” he’s seeing at the time. Black and white, great-looking photography with subliminal flashes of color. Attractive and expressive actors do a great job with the gonzo plot before the editing rips it to pieces. More obsessions on dead fathers, hands (gloves), infidelity, sexual transgression, betrayal, and memory oh the memories!!

Shotput of butter!
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Briefly: Adult Guy Maddin returns to his childhood home, an island lighthouse orphanage, by request of his dying mother. As he paints the place he remembers his life there with older sister Sis, forbidding faux-suicidal Mom, mysteriously hard-working Dad, twitchy traumatized friend Neddie, and leader of the orphans Savage Tom. One day teen detective Wendy Hale comes to the island, but after she falls for Sis (and Guy falls for Wendy), she disguises herself as brother Chance Hale, leading to much sexual confusion for poor Guy. With the kids, Wendy finds out the terrible secret, that Dad is stealing brain nectar from the orphans (and from Sis) and selling it. Sis awakens one night and kills Dad with a knife, Guy is adopted off the island, Dad is resurrected then both parents are exiled and, after Wendy leaves, Sis burns herself up like a moth in the lighthouse lamp. Back in the present, Guy is still obsessed with Wendy, tries to get to know his mother better, and there’s almost a semi-happy ending before the melancholy memories take over once more.

Conspirators! Guy in center, Sis on left, The Lightbulb Kid whispering:
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New cinematographer (sorry, but you can’t tell), same editor as Cowards Bend The Knee (you can kinda tell), and music that I’d swear was influenced by the 60’s Russian song used in Heart of the World. Features no actors from anything else I’ve ever heard of (well, Guy’s mother was 33rd-billed in Henry Fool).

A rare glimpse of color:
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The shorts on the disc are cool, too. It’s My Mother’s Birthday Today is a “biopic” (heh) of the “castrato” who sang with the live show – a few minutes of abstract business, with the vaguely Scott Thompson-looking guy making hard-boiled eggs and singing with a caged bird. Footsteps juxtaposes scenes from the movie with the sound crew in their lab doing foley effects, including some questionable techniques of bare-butt-slapping and horse’s-ass-kissing. Slower-cut than My Mother’s Birthday but even more fun to watch.

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