Barely getting this up before the film finishes it's Brattle run, but that's OK; it's available on demand, which itself probably explains why its theatrical presence is so tiny. I like it, though, and it looks nice enough on screen to be worth a trip to the theater.
One thing that does kind of interest me:
In the review, I imply that writer/director William Monahan likely identified more with the bookish hitman than the film director, which is obviously complete supposition. But if it is the case, I'm curious what the end means. Maybe nothing, maybe just that even when you think you've got something figured out, it can turn around and bite you in the ass.
* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 29 January 2016 in the Brattle Theatre (first-run/Special Presentation, DCP)
William Monahan's new film is right on the line between the crime movies where the filmmakers are aware of the genre's tropes and can therefore share a wink as it uses or avoids them and the movies which spend so much time examining their own archetypes that they neglect their own stories. It would probably take only the smallest of pushes for Mojave to end up on the wrong side of that line, and it may wind up that way for some; for the rest, it should work nicely as a compact bit of Hollywood crime.
Thomas (Garrett Hedlund) is a creature of Hollywood, both as a motion picture director and as a guy famous and powerful enough to be frustratingly erratic. He takes a drive out into the desert and wrecks his car, although he's resourceful enough to make his way back out. On the way, he bumps into Jack (Oscar Isaac), an apparent drifter with a rifle who likes his Shakespeare and is probably just as dangerous as he seems. Thomas gets away, and is soon back to business as usual with his producer (Mark Wahlberg), agent (Walton Goggins), and star/mistress (Louise Bourgoin), but he's become a loose end for Jack, who is just as intelligent as he is crazy.
Monahan pursued scholarly and satirical writing before winding up in the movie business, and as such has probably placed more of himself in Jack, the nominal antagonist, than any other character. Jack's a smart guy, well-read in the classics and philosophy, and as such both an odd fit for the movie world but also capable of moving through it like a hungry shark when he gets acclimated. There's a sense throughout of there being riches there for the taken unless things are derailed by the odd, amoral people who live there, so wrapped up in their own highly-specific struggles that they don't think much about actual physical danger when it appears. Monahan uses Jack to present what is likely his own point of view, someone able to navigate Hollywood despite not still being of it, not blind to the decay around him.
Full review on EFC.