Monday

We Own the Night

(2007)

(Spoilers)

I tried to watch this film when it first came to the theaters, but I lost interest after about ten minutes. Since it is a respected film I resolved to stick with it this time, and found some parts of it quite excellent.

"We own the night" was the motto and rallying cry for the New York Police Departmentís Street Crimes Unit, described in this New York Times article as an elite and specialized plainclothes squad which existed between 1971 and 2002 and operated almost exclusively at night in high-crime neighborhoods. I tried to own the night when I lived in New York at that time, but my accountant told me that the night was temporary, inevitably to be followed by day, and therefore should be leased.

At any rate, this film is not a historical treatment of anything related to that squad, but is more of an "inspired by" treatment. It takes place in New York and borrows the motto, but those details are about the only connection to reality.

Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg, and Robert Duvall play a family of three New Yorkers who get involved on both sides of the drug wars. Duvall plays a police chief and Wahlberg, playing Duvall's son, is a fast-rising captain in the force. Phoenix plays Duvall's other son, a fast-living club manager who is the family's black sheep and has changed his name from the family's Polish "Grusinski" to the sterile "Green." Matters come to a head when Wahlberg's unit raids Phoenix's club and arrests some Russian dope dealers. In retaliation, the Russians nearly succeed in killing Wahlberg. Phoenix's public anger over the raid draws the attention of some violent Russian mobsters who think he might make a good ally. Unaware of Phoenix's fraternal connection to the man he just ordered a hit on, one of the most fearsome baddies confesses to him that he had Wahlberg taken out and will take out Duvall next. Phoenix keeps his counsel and reports the conversation to his father. The next logical step is for Phoenix to agree to work undercover for the police, since he already has an "in" with the mob. The crux of the story is the struggle of the three Grusinskis to infiltrate and take down the Russian mob. You can find a detailed (spoiler) summary on the Wikipedia entry for We_Own_the_Night.

The best thing about the film in general is that it toys with the audience's sympathies. In the first twenty minutes or so, the two brothers seem equally unsympathetic. They don't seem to like one another, and we don't take sides because we don't like either of them. As the film progresses, however, both of them are allowed to show unexpected elements in their personalities, and unexpected depth, so that the audience comes to respect them both, and to see that good men need not be idealized to exhibit their merit.

The best specific thing about the film is that it contains three good action sequences: a terrifying shoot-out as part of a multi-car chase scene in a heavy rain, a scene where Phoenix is undercover in a drug den and the baddies find his wire, and a long set piece in which the police and druggies battle in the midst of smoke and dense wild grass which grows several feet above their heads,

The film's weaknesses are

(a) It takes too long to develop. The first time I tried to watch it, I was so bored after ten minutes that I gave up. The opening scenes are not only uninvolving, but also totally lacking in energy, partially because all three of the lead actors chose to play their roles as soft-spoken guys who play their cards close to the chest. Compared to the beginning of this film, there is more life in The McLaughlin Group. Not to mention more sympathetic characters.

(b) It is utterly predictable. If you can't figure out in about five minutes that the lovable and dignified old grandpa who owns the club is actually the mastermind behind the Russian mob, then you have probably never seen any other movies about that or any other mob! Of course Eastern Promises used the same shopworn device, but it had a different purpose in that film, where the kindly old gent's connection to the mob was supposed to be obvious to the audience in order to demonstrate the naivete of the nurse, who did not suspect it. Eastern Promises kept its secrets in another drawer. In We Own the Night, however, it seems that the screenwriter thinks he's keeping that connection as a hole card when it is actually evident to anyone who's ever seen a movie. That same point could be made about Phoenix's lovable doofus friend, Jumbo. You just knew that he had to have secrets, and it was not difficult to guess what those might be.

(c) Is there anyone who watched this and did not realize that Phoenix, the party boy non-cop, would eventually become the real hero cop? Much too Hollywood. On the other hand, that predictable outcome was partially redeemed by two other things: (1) straight-arrow Wahlberg turned out to freeze up in combat, which was a good development and surprised me; (2) Phoenix's integrity and heroism cost him the love of his life, so there was no phony-baloney happy ending to the love story.

It isn't a great crime story because audience interest sags from time to time, and it isn't a great dramatic film because it lacks any value beneath the surface. While greatness eluded it, I found it to be a reasonable investment of my time and energy. The characters have some complexity, there are a couple of unexpected developments, and there are several nail-biting action scenes.

  • Rotten Tomatoes: 55%
  • Metacritic: 60/100
  • IMDb: 7.4
  • Ebert 3/4
  • Berardinelli 3/4
  • BBC 3/5
  • Box Office: $28 million
     

Eva Mendes:

Other chicks:

 

 

 

  • * Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe).

  • * White asterisk: expanded format.

  • * Blue asterisk: not mine.

  • No asterisk: it probably sucks.

OTHER CRAP:

Catch the deluxe version of Other Crap in real time, with all the bells and whistles, here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manon of the Spring

(1986)

Manon de Sources (1986) is actually the second half of a story begun in another film, Jean de Florette. The two together tell one story, and were released at virtually the same time. This half of the tale concerns the revenge of a young woman (Emmanuelle Beart) for the death of her hunchback father in a small town in rural France.

I found it a little slow, but the time was used for character development. Since all characters find redemption, the bittersweet ending has a "feel good" aspect. The acting is superb, as is the photography.

IMDb readers say 8.0. Critics also loved it, with Berardinelli and Ebert both awarding 4 stars. 

 

Emmanuelle Beart does full frontal and rear while dancing with her goats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Dicktator

(1974)

Today the Time Machine goes back to see two legends of the sexploitation era.

Rene Bond showing off her bod in these caps and six clips.

Uschi Digard does her thing in these caps and seven clips.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes and collages

"Friends"

part 4 of many

Courteney Cox

Episode 219

Episode 229

Bonus from episode 229: Ellen Pompeo

(Going backwards in time.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More from to Electric Blue ...

Emma Nixon (film clip here sample right)
Kathryn Shannon (film clip here sample right)



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Anamaria Marinca in 4 Luni 3 Saptamani Si 2 Zile
Laura Vasiliu 4 Luni 3 Saptamani Si 2 Zile
Unidentified in 4 Luni 3 Saptamani Si 2 Zile
Agathe De La Fontaine in Le Scaphandre Et Le Papillon
Marina Hands in Le Scaphandre Et Le Papillon
Marie Meyer in Le Scaphandre Et Le Papillon

(Film clips from this movie in yesterday's edition.)

Ajejandra Adame in Ninas Mal
Martha Higareda in Ninas Mal
Diana Golden in Ninas Mal
Maria Aura in Ninas Mal
Antonella Salvucci in The Torturer
Daniela Georgini in The Torturer
Elena Bouryka in The Torturer
Eleonora Sannibale in The Torturer
Martina Micozzi in The Torturer
Valeria Cramerotti in The Torturer
Ashley Hudson in Corporate Affairs
Melinda Page Hamilton in Corporate Affairs
Unknown in Corporate Affairs
Aubrey Caldwell in Cold Heart Canyon
Cassie Courtland in Cold Heart Canyon
Holly Morgan in Cold Heart Canyon
Lee Anne Davis in Cold Heart Canyon
Katie Gil in Bikini Bloodbath
Leah Ford in Bikini Bloodbath
unknown in Bikini Bloodbath
Carmen DiPietro in Snack Bar Budapest
Elena Cantarone in Snack Bar Budapest
Giudita DelVecchio in Snack Bar Budapest
Katalin Murany in Snack Bar Budapest
Loredana Romito in Snack Bar Budapest
Raffaella Baracchi in Snack Bar Budapest
Sylvie Orcier in Snack Bar Budapest
Valentine Demy in Snack Bar Budapest
Emma Lung in The Jammed
Erika Smith in Splatter Beach
Eva Mendes in We Own the Night
Francesca Inaudi in La Bestia Nel Cuora
Giovanna Mezzogiorno in La Bestia Nel Cuora
Georgia MacKenzie in Honest
Maye Choo in Honest
Jennifer Lefleur in Witchcraft 13: Blood of the Chosen
Roxy Vandiver in Witchcraft 13: Blood of the Chosen
Kate Ambler in City of Vice
Kate Maberly in Like Minds
Leslie Culton in Splatter Beach
Mia Blake in The Tattooist
Misty Miller in The Box

 

 

 

 

 

A film clip of Fionnula Flanagan in James Joyce's Women. If you have never seen this, let me state clearly that you must. I don't know of many (if any) cases of distinguished mainstream actresses doing anything like this on camera.

I asked Oz for a personal favor on this one. Susannah York has always been a favorite, so I requested film clips of Susannah in Eliza Fraser, which he covered in his Aussie Day Special. Great stuff, especially the scene where she is to be married to the Aboriginal chieftain.


Johnny Moronic made collages from Feast of Love:

Alexa Davalos

Radha Mitchell

 

Selma Blair


Mr Skin has a tribute to the obscure films of Marie Forsa, one of those Swedish women who seemed omnipresent in 1970s exploitation films. First there is a film clip from Bon Ami in which she does a medium-core but high-camp sex scene with Hairy Harry Reems.

Ms. Forsa in Flossie

 

Ms. Forsa in The Devil's Plaything


Today's usual collection of Britney out with a flimsy t-shirt and no bra.

Two of Mariah Carey in the water. Obviously not paparazzi snaps. She's posing. But I don't know the story behind the pictures.