Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Cold Comes the Night: A Gritty Noir for Bryan Cranston
Russian mob does not have much in terms of pension and disability plans, so an
aging courier slowly losing his eyesight does not have many options. He just carries on, relying on trusted
accomplices. Unfortunately, when a shipment
of cash goes awry, he will force a single mother to help him retrieve it in Tze
Chun’s Cold Comes the Night (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
can count on his partner to cover for him, but he has little confidence in the
younger man’s judgment. His lack of faith is vindicated when they stop for a
few hours shut-eye at Chloe’s no-tell motel in upstate New York. When a lurid
misadventure leads to the death of Topo’s associate and a local girl, the more
discrete older thug forces Chloe to serve as his eyes. Initially, Chloe does so to protect her young
daughter, Sophia. However, as she grows somewhat used to the grizzled Topo, she
tries to forge a temporary alliance. After
all, he seems to be a better bet than Billy, the corrupt married cop she has reluctantly
been carrying on with, who also becomes their leading suspect.
Cold starts out as a mother-and-child
in jeopardy thriller (sort of the reverse of Wait Until Dark), it soon develops its own distinctive identity. Wisely, it largely removes Sophia from the
line of fire, focusing instead on Chloe’s uneasy give-and-take with Topo. There
are no cheap rehabilitations in Cold either. Topo essentially remains who he always was, even
though he develops a subtle regard for Chloe.
he never breaks a sweat, but it is still fun to watch Bryan Cranston do his
thing as Topo. He seethes like a
champion and nicely projects an air of world weary existential resignation.
Despite all his instant hardnose credibility, the name Topo still automatically
brings to mind images of Topol singing “If I were a Rich Man,” which clashes
rather badly with the mood the film is going for.
Chloe, Alice Eve holds her own against Cranston’s Topo surprisingly well. At least, she is not a shrinking violet
Lifetime movie heroine. Young Ursula Parker is also relatively down-to-earth
and endurable as Sophia. In contrast, as
greasy Billy, Logan Marshall-Green annoyingly acts like he is channeling Bill
Perhaps the film’s biggest surprise is that such
a gritty noir comes from director-co-writer, Tze Chun, as the follow-up to his
emotionally wrenching coming of age story, Children of Invention. It turns out he has a
good handle on the double-crossing machinations of the Simple Plan style thriller. Cold
moves along at a healthy clip and delivers plenty of Cranston (this is no
glorified cameo, but a legitimate featured role). It definitely comes from a B-movie place, but
the elements come together rather effectively.
Recommended for fans of slightly grungy noirs, Cold Comes the Night opens this Friday (1/10) in New York at the
Labels: Bryan Cranston, Tze Chun