J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Cut to Black: Brooklyn Get Noirish

Brooklyn: it’s just like Jake Gittes’ Chinatown, except more full of itself.  Finding a corrupt politician there certainly has never been a problem.  Ex-copper Bill Ivers knows all about that.  Despite his not so great judgment, he will accept a job offer from the councilman responsible for his disgrace in Dan Eberle’s Cut to Black (trailer here), which opens tomorrow in New York.

When we say “Dan Eberle’s Cut to Black” that is no exaggeration, considering he wrote, directed, co-produced, and stars in the film.  Frankly, it is not always such a bad thing to have more than one cook in the kitchen—like maybe here.  Regardless, Eberle plays the unflaggingly stoic Ivens, who basically just binge drinks when not reluctantly sleeping with his landlord’s wife. 

Much to his surprise, he is summoned by Councilman John Lord.  On the brink of declaring his candidacy for state wide office, Lord needs an under-the-radar guy to take care of some business.  His estranged love child stripper-daughter is being harassed by a stalker, but the local cops can’t do anything, because they never can.  Ivens is to handle it, preferably without Jessica ever catching wind of him.  However, it does not work out that way.  Instead, Ivens self-appoints himself her guardian angel.

Evidently, Black was a big hit at this year’s Brooklyn Film Festival, carrying home the audience award.  Maybe they were amused to see indieScreen masquerading as a high-end strip joint.  At least, the noir is suitable noir, stylishly shot in the darkest possible black-and-white by cinematographer James Parsons.  However, in terms of character and narrative, Black is rather middling at best.

Without question, Beau Allulli is the class of the cast, playing Gunther, a crooked officer from Ivens’ past, who harbors ambitions of becoming Lord’s press secretary, because you know how much cops like dealing with the media. He digs into Gunther’s villainy and his compulsive self-help shtick with admirable relish.  You could say Eberle’s Ivens is somewhat low key in comparison.

Black has the classic film noir look down cold, but it lacks the substance.  It might strike a chord with Brooklynites, but there is nothing special here for the rest of the city.  Surely, it will return to indieScreen at some point, but tomorrow (10/18) it opens in lower Manhattan at the Cinema Village.