Sunday, January 12, 2014

Cold Comes the Night

It's been a few months since one of these genre films popped up at Apple Cinemas - since May 2013, going by when I've been there - and I don't know as I should expect it to happen again any time soon, as I was the only person in the audience for a 5:25pm show on Saturday. It's kind of an in-between time, sure, and we were having a crazy mid-January thunderstorm which might have kept people in their homes, but just one ticket sold?

This makes me sad, because I would really like to see more movies like this (if hopefully of somewhat higher quality) show up in local theaters, and I sometimes get the sense that the people involved would too. I don't know if Ian Judge is still booking the non-Indian movies at Apple since they were purchased from Entertainment Cinemas by an independent operator, but somebody keeps making an attempt, and at times seemed to really be making a push for it - around the time they were showing Aftershock and Black Rock, the "coming attractions" part of their website made it look like this could have been a regular thing. It doesn't seem to stick, most likely because it seems like it's pretty difficult to get the word out. I may get excited when I see a title that I don't recognize listed on a movie-times app, but who else goes searching for such things on a weekly basis? Even if Apple decided to really commit and make sure trailers ran and posters were up for these smaller releases, that's still a somewhat minimal raising of the profile without the other local theaters joining in, television ads, the sort of saturation coverage the bigger movies get on-line.

I do sort of wonder what would happen if they committed a theater to indie/foreign-but-mainstream the way they do to B/T/Kollywood, though. I suspect that there's enough material being released between Well Go, Magnet, IFC Midnight, China Lion, Drafthouse, and other smaller distributors (this one was Samuel Goldwyn, a niche label even if it is owned by Sony) to keep it turned over. There's got to be a way to make it work, but I don't know if it would take more commitment or creativity.

Anyway, even if it's not a great movie, give it some support, even if it's on $5 Tuesday. It's good enough to be a worthy investment in getting more indie genre stuff to show up as something other than a midnight show.

As an aside: In the seven or eight months since I last went there, Apple seems to be upgrading the place nicely. It consists in large part of a bunch of flat-screens being placed above the box office & concession stand, as well as being used to direct the audience to a specific screen, but it looks fairly slick. The digital projection didn't look bad either, and while I was in a different room than usual, things didn't look like basic maintenance had been skimped on any more. this is, perhaps, the essence of damning with faint praise, but the former Fresh Pond Cinemas were rather unpleasant places for a while, but between the upgrade and decent prices, I might wind up going there more often. Good on them.

Also, I found the first three trailers kind of amusingly connected. It's been a while since the Ivan Reitman film being previewed looked better than the Jason Reitman one, but I will happily go see Draft Day before Labor Day. There was also one for 3 Days to Kill which stars Kevin Costner (as does Draft Day), albeit in a Besson/McG action piece, and between that and Jack Ryan, he seems pretty busy, much more visibly so than in recent years.

Cold Comes the Night

* * ½ (out of four)
Seen 11 January 2014 in Apple Cinemas #10 (first-run, DCP)

There are a number of paths to directing major motion pictures, and I suspect that the one Tze Chun is on is fairly common: Do some shorts, make a truly independent film that's close to your heart for next to nothing with unknown actors (Children of Invention), take some jobs in TV, do a genre film with actors who are familiar but maybe not quite stars, and hope all of that adds up to a demonstration of both your talent and professionalism. Cold Comes the Night is Chun's small thriller, and it's not a bad selection if you're looking for some crime you haven't seen. Can't fault it for keeping Alice Eve and Bryan Cranston working, either.

A motel office is not the best place to raise a child, but single mom Chloe (Alice Eve) doesn't have the money to move elsewhere, even though the social worker points out that a lot of drug users, prostitutes, and other unsavory characters pass through as justification for threatening to take Sophia (Ursula Parker) away. Tonight, for instance, there's accented career criminal Topo (Bryan Cranston), his partner Quincy (Robin Taylor), and the girl Quincy picks up. That goes worse than usual, and the next morning, Topo really needs the package in the car that corrupt cop Billy Banks (Logan Marshall-Green) is planning to sell for scrap - and since Topo is nearly blind, he's going to need Chloe's help to get it.

It's basic crime-story material - if you can't draw a line between Chloe's situation and a whole bunch of money up for grabs, turn the movie off and come back when you're awake - but there's potential there: How do Topo's instincts, honed over decades of practical criminal experience, make up for his macular degeneration? With Sophia in the middle of everything, how can Chloe justify not taking the safe play? It looks like Billy might be Sophia's father; how does that complicate things? Unfortunately, it doesn't take long before hope for much in the way of creativity starts to flag; early conversations seem generic, like Chun and his co-writers knew where they needed to go but meant to circle back later with a more interesting way to say it. The job gets done, but seldom in a surprising way.

Full review at EFC.

1 comment:

Steven said...

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