Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Paris Countdown: Another Sleepless Night
and Milan ought to stick to slinging drinks. Delivering a shipment of cash to a
Mexican cartel predictably turns out to be really bad way to work off their
debts. It leads to all kinds of problems
in Edgar Marie’s Paris Countdown (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
was all Milan’s fault and Victor is not about to forget it. Forced to accompany his partner to Juarez,
Victor gets the worst of it when the Federales bust their hand-off. After a rough interrogation session, they are
“convinced” to testify against their French contact, the psychotic Serki, whom the
nightclub proprietors know will come looking for revenge if he ever gets out of
prison. That is exactly what happens six
has not talked to Milan since their Mexican misadventure. He still bears the scars and the hearing aid
from his close encounter with a power drill.
Yes, he is carrying a grudge, so when Wilfried, his mobbed-up sushi
restauranteur colleague, offers him the chance to set-up Milan, he
matter-of-factly agrees. However, Victor
finds betrayal is far more difficult once he comes face-to-face with his former
friend again. Against his better
judgment, Victor will flee into the night with Milan, trying to stay one step
ahead of Wilfried’s henchmen and the slightly put-out Serki.
Countdown is aesthetically
reminiscent of several recent French noirs, including Frederic Jardin’s more
action-oriented Sleepless Night and
Philippe Lefebrve’s massively cool character-driven Paris By Night. In terms of
style, Countdown essentially splits
the difference between the two. Frankly,
it is not as accomplished as either, but it still has its merits. In fact, the world-weariness of its primary
protagonists and general vibe of nocturnal angst are quite compelling. Neither Milan nor Victor is any sort of
action hero. Clearly, both are
physically past their prime, struggling to deal with their night of madness.
Marchal (the director of the similarly hardboiled 36th Precinct) is appropriately haggard yet appealing
roguish as the exceptionally irresponsible Milan. Jacques Gamblin clearly has less fun as
Victor, but he is convincingly nebbish as the sad sack. Unfortunately, Carlo Brandt’s Serki looks
even older and more broken down than they do, making him a problematic villain.
As a thriller, Countdown has enough atmosphere and attitude to get the job
done. For his feature directorial debut,
Marie shows a competent command of the elements, but the MVPs are clearly
Marchal and cinematographer Danny Elsen, who gives it a fitting Miami Vice-like sheen. Recommended for fans of French thrillers, Paris Countdown opens this Friday (11/8)
in New York at the Cinema Village.
Labels: Film Noir, French Cinema