Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Cash Only: Where Hope and Livable Apartments are in Equally Short Supply
to avoid foreclosure? Then pay your mortgage. Look, nobody wants to sound like
Marie Antoinette, but the financial crisis has been widely used as a pretext to
shield the irresponsible from their due consequences. Elvis Martini is a
perfect example. There is no situation he cannot make demonstrably worse in
Malik Bader’s Cash Only (trailer here), which opens tomorrow
in New York.
is the owner-super of a rather rundown apartment complex in metro Detroit’s
Albanian-immigrant neighborhood. He is about to lose the property to
foreclosure because all his income has gone to service the vig he foolishly
took on from a local loan shark. Most of his tenants are even more
down-on-their luck than he is, but at least they mostly pretend to feel bad
is a hardcase exception. Long past due on her rent, the street walker is openly
contemptuous of Martini and conspicuously neglectful of her young son. Having
had more than enough of her, Martini locks her out and plans to sell what he
can to cover her past rent. However, when he comes across a stash of what must
be ill-gotten underworld cash, he quickly applies it too his voluminous debts.
Obviously, that is an incredibly bad long-term decision. Before long, Rolexa
turns up dead and Martini’s daughter Lena has been kidnapped, forcing him to
launch a desperate fund-raising scheme.
it or not, Cash Only might play
better outside of the City precisely because we are so profoundly real estate-obsessed
here. Since most of us are so familiar with the challenges of apartment
hunting, we will want to see how Martini deals with the aftermath of his big con,
but those scenes are not there to be seen. Instead, we are just left with our
that as it may, Martini will have viewers pulling out their hair due to general
vexation with his short-sightedness, regardless of what city they live in. Man,
when you are in a hole that deep, stop digging. Granted, there is something tragically
realistic about his self-defeating behavior, up to a point, but someone as
street smart as he should know better than taking money stolen from the
Bader and screenwriter-lead actor Nickola Shreli give us a vivid sense of this
deeply depressed Wayne County setting and it isn’t pretty. Frankly, it makes
stealing from organized crime look reasonable, because what’s to lose? More of
this? Shreli himself is also a charismatically meatheadish screen presence,
even when inducing face-palms.
Only desperately wants to be
considered “relevant,” but it is really just a reflection of some admittedly dreadful
localized circumstances. The local color is compelling, but the whole time viewers
will be wondering hasn’t he seen A Simple
Plan? Gritty but ultimately frustrating, Cash Only opens tomorrow (5/13) in New York, at the Cinema Village.