Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Rushlights: Hot, Dry, and Noir
the Lone Star State, estate law is a big deal.
Smelling the money, crack-heads and secret progeny will come out of the
woodwork for a Texas-sized inheritance in Antoni Stutz’s sweaty small town
noir, Rushlights (trailer here), which opens
today at the Picture House in Pelham, New York.
long after Billy Brody finally puts the moves on Sarah, the greasy spoon
waitress he has been swooning for, she calls him in a state of panic. Ellen Niles, her crack-addict roommate has
overdosed. Normal people would simply
call the police, but not Billy and Sarah.
They are heading out of town as fast as his beater can take them, but
not without a dubious plan.
bears an uncanny resemblance to her dearly departed roommate, who just received
a letter informing her she is the sole heir of the rich uncle she hardly
knew. Billy and Sarah are off to Texas
to collect in her place. However,
problems will follow them from the big city.
It turns out there is a reason Sarah was rooming with a hardcore
druggie. It also seems there might be an
unacknowledged son looking to claim the estate for himself—and he’s a real
is kind of amusing to watch Rushlights string
along one highly improbable scene after another, with a perfectly straight
face. Right from the first ridiculously
convenient accidental gun discharge, viewers should realize what they are in
for. However, veteran character actors
Beau Bridges and Aidan Quinn are actually a lot of fun to watch doing their suspicious
Jim Thompson thing as good old boy Sheriff Robert Brogden, Jr. and his
glad-handing lawyer brother, Cameron Brogden, respectively. Both are in fine form strutting about and
chewing the scenery.
contrast, the young leads are decidedly lightweight, particularly the
underwhelming Josh Henderson and his high school freshman starter moustache as
Brody. Haley Webb has a bit more
presence as Sarah, Ellen, or whoever she is, but she does not project the femme
fatale sense of danger the genre demands.
At least cinematographer Gregg Easterbrook gives
it the right hot-in-the-shade inflamed passions noir look, in the tradition of Red Rock West and Blood Simple. As a director,
Stutz also maintains a respectable pace, but as a co-writer, with Ashley Scott
Meyers, he overindulges in contrivance while avoiding logic like the plague. Frankly, Rushlights
would be perfect viewing for a lazy somewhat hung-over weekend afternoon,
but its probably not worth commuting from the City to Westchester when it opens
today (6/21) at the Picture House, as well the Chinese 6 in LA and the Premiere
Renaissance in Houston.
Labels: Aidan Quinn, Beau Bridges