Two years before Quentin Tarantino unleashed Reservoir Dogs, there was a different American directorial debut that found more drama in the aftermath of a heist than in the robbery itself. Only instead of a postmodern pastiche of the history of crime movies, this one was a bizarre, acid-tongued and increasingly surreal comedy. Quick Change was co-directed by star Bill Murray (his only directorial credit to date) and Howard Franklin, who also adapted the screenplay from Jay Cronley’s novel.
Tyler and David discuss the movies and TV shows they’ve been watching, including:
ALL THESE SLEEPLESS NIGHTS
Unnamed Terrible Movie
JEREMIAH TOWER: THE LAST MAGNIFICENT
THE WE AND THE I
WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?
MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS
BORN IN CHINA
MY NAME IS SALT
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000
THE HANDMAID’S TALE
Despite the generic title of Ryan Suffern’s Finding Oscar, this documentary is far from anodyne. That much is made clear very early on, as we see multiple skeletons, some still wearing children’s clothing, exhumed from an unmarked mass grave while relatives stand around crying, 30 years of their worst fears being realized with every inch of bone that emerges from the dirt. This is a dark and visceral tale that Suffern is telling. It also turns out to be one jaw-dropping hell of a yarn.
As a topic for a movie, “city planning” sounds almost comically dry and uninteresting. When faced with what it really means, though, especially at a time when humanity as a species is increasingly urbanized, almost nothing could be more vital. Citizen Jane: Battle for the City, Matt Tyrnauer’s crackling, vivacious new documentary, brings that vitality forward through most of twentieth century history, finally arriving at the doorstep of our present day.
No small number of comparisons have been made between food and sex. Usually, though, these extend only as far as the sensual properties of both. In Lydia Tenaglia’s uneven but occasionally revelatory new documentary, Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent, the two things become connected at a pathological level, at least for the film’s subject, the renowned and mysterious chef of the title. In one of the earliest stories Tower shares, a formative experience with food—the delicate and meticulous cleaning, preparing and cooking of a freshly caught barracuda—is inextricably linked with his having been sexually molested at the age of six. Tower’s life is a bizarre and often compelling one but Tenaglia is ultimately undone by a desire to make it a more conventional, palatable one and to overlook Tower’s bullheaded egocentrism.
Every year (or nearly every year), Disney releases a documentary about animals under their Disneynature imprint. These always hit theaters in April, timed to coincide with Earth Day. As an effort to raise and maintain global awareness of conservation issues and general interest in the natural world, it’s a commendable project. It’s just too bad these movies tend to stink. Lu Chuan’s Born in China is no exception.
Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire gets off to an unpromising start. Two 1970s Boston tough guys, Bernie and Stevo (Enzo Cilenti and Control’s Sam Riley), sit in a van trading 1970s Boston tough guy dialogue that sounds like it’s from a movie far below the eccentrically fun standard set by Wheatley’s previous work. “I see him again, he’s fucking dead.” That sort of thing. Eventually, though, a method to the mundanity reveals itself. Free Fire, though in every noticeable way a conventional crime film narrative, is actually a sort of experiment. Wheatley wants to see if he can take ten larger-than-life character archetypes, throw them into a large room and, starting at the end of the first act, tell a whole story that consists of little more than everyone shooting at each other. Like the gunmen and gunwoman in the movie, he doesn’t always hit his mark. But, by the end of it all, he’s made a lot of entertaining noise.