Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Tribeca ’16: The Fixer
might think Afghanistan is worlds apart from this Humboldt County-ish
community, but they have their similarities, like violently erratic drug growers.
However, Osman does not know the lay of this darkly sinister hippy land. Yet, he
ought to understand the importance of local knowledge better than anyone in Ian
Olds’ The Fixer, which screens today as the
best actor award winner at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
was a fixer, one of those unsung guides/translators/hand-holders who are
indispensable for foreign correspondents. Since hotshot journalist Gabe
uncharacteristically sung Osman’ virtues, his original hometown paper agreed to
serve as Osman’s immigration sponsor. However, they do not have a job waiting
for him, as Gabe had led him to suspect. Some of the town’s unsavory elements
are less than welcoming, but his host, Gabe’s sheriff’s deputy mother Gloria
could not be more welcoming. In fact, she might be too happy to have him
staying with her.
acclimates himself to the area, he crosses paths with Lindsay, who definitely
qualifies as local color. To make up for a less than auspicious first meeting,
Lindsay takes Osman under his wing, offering him an unofficial tour of the
local drug scene. Unfortunately, Lindsay disappears soon thereafter, having run
afoul (again) of Russian “organic farmer” Dmitri Sokurov. Reasserting his
journalistic instincts, Osman resolves to save Lindsay or at least bring his
killers to justice.
The Fixer is a bit of a Jekyll-and-Hyde
movie, but it represents a quantum improvement from Olds’ last James Franco
project, the unwatchable sham, Francophrenia.
There is some wit in Fixer and some
intriguing noir, as well as erratic tonal shifts and some awkward telegraphing.
actor Dominic Rains is indeed a reasonably defensible choice for the Tribeca
acting nod. He balances intelligence and naïveté quite adroitly and develops
crackling good screen chemistry with the remarkably diverse ensemble. He even
plays off producer James Franco quite well. Frankly, Franco is somewhat
effective as the stoner lowlife in his initial, out-of-focus, off-kilter scene,
but he clearly looks miscast (presumably by himself) in every subsequently well
contrast, Melissa Leo is uncomfortably real as Gloria, while Rachel Brosnahan brings
out surprising dimensions in Sandra, the hipster actress Osman might be getting
involved with. However, it is Thomas Jay Ryan (a.k.a. Henry Fool) who really spikes
the ball as the mysterious Sokurov.
For what it’s worth, The Fixer is probably the best Franco film
since True Story, which is a more
impressive distinction if measured in intervening movies rather than years
elapsed. It is not perfect, but it is worth checking out to watch actors like
Rains, Ryan, and Brosnahan do their thing. Recommended for fans of small town
noir, The Fixer screens today (4/24)
as an award-winner at the 20016 Tribeca Film Festival and also today during the
San Francisco International Film Festival.
Labels: Dominic Rains, Tribeca '16