Monthly Archives: April 2012
Maybe it’s just me, maybe it’s something built into my jaded generation, but I end up assuming everything will be a steaming plate of shit and chips unless it first provides certification of its not-shit nature. In triplicate. Such was my assumption about The Hunger Games; when I first heard about it, my reaction was Didn’t I already read/watch this when it was called Battle Royale? An attempt to reformat the Japanese original’s totalitarian state and teenage gladiatorial death arena for the palate of Western audiences, namely the post-Potter Twilight generation?
Yeah. I should stop assuming things.
The setup is pretty straightforward. Generations after a failed uprising/civil war, the post-apocalyptic remains of North America have restitched themselves under the control of the victorious state of Panem. As punishment for their attempted rebellion, the outlying areas have been divvied up into districts, operating as combination collective farms and industrial plants and kept in a state of suppressed poverty. Once per year, two teenagers—a boy and a girl—are chosen from each district to compete in the Hunger Games: a futuristic deathmatch where these Tributes fight to the death, with the Panem and District citizens watching the ordeal in a rapt fervor. Twenty-four teenagers enter, one teenager leaves.
Katniss Everdeen lives in District 12; when her younger sister is chosen, she volunteers in her stead. A talented archer, she manages to overcome the prejudices weighted against her district through unconventional tactics. See, well-to-do viewers may sponsor the participants with air-dropped gifts, such as medicine or food, and the Games are equal part survival course, combat mission, and showboating for fans. District 12′s other Tribute, a strapping young lad named Peeta, manages to showboat a little too far when he reveals he has a secret crush on Katniss—snap! I wonder what her boyfriend back home thinks about this?
Their drunken advisor—Woody Harrelson, since Woody Harrelson is in freaking everything—urges them to play up this star-crossed lovers angle. Even as they get into the meat of the film—the third act is the Games themselves, after some long and bloated setup—their relationship develops onward, despite the foregone outcome that one of the two will die. The hope is that Katniss will get more sponsors this way… because they’re all guessing Katniss is the only one with a chance, and needs all the help she can get. Their strained relationship ebbs and flows during the game, but by the end, it becomes both the foundation and moving force of the film.
On the one hand, this is a grim futuristic dystopia with a Young Adult love-story that can appeal equally to girls and boys. On a deeper level, this film a scathing satire of our glorious technological future. Contrast the pastoral, 1950s-drab outlying Districts with the glitz and glamor of the Capital City, an amalgam of the stereotypical worst excesses of D.C. insiders and the Hollywood elite, the One Percent turned to eleven—it’s a modern-day Metropolis gone Lord of the Flies.
And note the connection between the Hunger Games and modern society, with their sponsors and mass-media appeal, the vicarious viewers whose emotions are played by this reality TV show gone Thunderdome. It’s in the same vein as Battle Royale, yes, but also treks back through the history of the totalitarian dystopia through Logan’s Run (check out those jumpsuits!), Orwell, and Huxley; it emerged with many similarities, but still has something new and interesting to say.
As the first installment of a trilogy, it has that problem where unique and interesting concepts are introduced but left undeveloped. For example, the Games take place in an artificial, controlled environment, and Gamesmasters are shown to have the ability to drop in new threats to herd, or weed out, the participants… something that’s used about twice. I’ll bet that comes back in the sequels, since it’s a concept that shouldn’t be so woefully underused. There are a number of blatantly obvious questions, many about the setting, that are never answered, and any social criticism is left in the allegorical stage, buried under the surface-level narrative.
An actual film complaint—pretty much my only one—is that is uses the bane of today’s moviegoer… the shaky-cam. Imagine dropping a half-dozen teenagers, a camcorder set to record at full zoom, and some pit bulls into a cement mixer, and you have The Hunger Games‘ fight sequences. The first time it’s used, it can follow its purpose: that would be the initial slaughter when the Tributes are released into the Games, the scrimmage over the supplies left before them. Reflecting the stress and chaos of the moment, with distanced sounds and nervous breathing, it works, without obscuring the action too greatly. And the scenes in the Games have these hand-held, documentary look, which could reflect Katniss’ unsteady nerves or whatever, so there’s already some unsteady-cam action going on.
After that, it does pretty much what shaky-cam cinematography always does: acts as a crutch for inept/lazy directors and/or actors, obscuring the lack of choreography. “You actors, just sprawl around on the ground slapping each other while Bob films from inside a tumble dryer; don’t worry, we’ll fix it in post.” The fight sequences are a muddled mess of close-ups and jerky handheld cameras and bad lighting; as either consolation or an addendum, they’re also way damn short.
The teenage actors all did admirable performances. Josh Hutcherson stumbles occasionally as Peeta, but he gives an all-around solid performance that I can’t complain about. Supporting cast such as Lenny Cravitz, Woody Harrelson and Donald Sutherland are excellent, and Stanley Tucci hams things up as the Games’ newscaster/reporter. But it’s Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss who steals the show; her ability to emote is sublime, which is in high demand in The Hunger Games, with some emotionally powerful scenes. She also manages to pull off a strong, independent Tomboy who’s still sexy—and since the traditional genre stereotypes are thrown on their heads, with Katniss caretaking an injured Peeta, we have yet another solid female rolemodel from a science-fiction-tinged action movie.
Within The Hunger Games we have an entertaining action film, a Young Adult love story, a dystopia, a cunning social satire, a modern parable for the 99% generation, and probably two or three other things I left out. It’s one of those few films that appeals to teens and adults without compromising—the thematic allegories are vague, not dense or bludgeoning; the action is frenetic, but not the focus; the love story is engaging, not sappy. The effects are slick, and the film’s vision is sweeping and uncompromising, if under-detailed. Its pre-Game half grew long, and the shaky-cam sequences are shit, flaws marring an otherwise solid movie.
I don’t think it’ll go down in history as a landmark film—save for making bank at the box-office—and it might not be the one 2012 movie you remember ten years from now. But The Hunger Games is certainly worth watching.
So I was watching Saturday Night Live last night and started to really ponder the musical guest. It’s a repeat, of course, with the now-infamous Lana Del Rey videos which I’d somehow missed first-run. Kind of odd for me, since I watched the episode the first time around but missed the songs (also, Weekend Update), and watching SNL is how I keep up with the modern mainstream music scene (aside from listening to 89X). Not counting that British one consisting of a half-dozen teenage boys, the bands this year have been stellar. Maroon 5 and Coldplay rocked out, Florence and the Machine were killer, Karmin and Jack White put on great shows. Del Rey? Became the victim of intense internet mockery.
Let’s start with one of the two she performed on SNL in its original video format: “Blue Jeans.” Very mournful, sorrowful love song heavy on atmosphere; a lot of layered complexity in its performance, a very catchy set of hooks and visceral imagery. It’s really an amazing video in terms of visuals, too; and I say all that as someone who isn’t that into love songs, or modern pop music for that matter.
And here’s how she performed on SNL:
What the crap? That’s not even the same person. The sheer dynamism of the scripted video is gone, and while you can see snippets of real quality in her performance, it’s like she’s on a crazy highball of sedatives and Novocaine, plus more than a little stage-fright, and who knows, a friggin’ head cold or something. Not every artist is great at full-body performances, but she just stands there like a deer in the headlights; she’s awfully warble-y and changes pitch far too much; I know the SNL stage has intense pressure even for experienced bands, but she tanked out there.
That’s not even the song that caused the furor, either; that’d be “Video Games,” her song that went viral and got Del Rey tons of attention. Again, here’s the original first, quite a haunting little ditty; another atmospheric, bleak love song that excels with aid from a really well-done video loaded with a fascinating hodge-podge of movie reels and clips.
And the live version:
Seriously, what the hell happened there? She doesn’t have a very dynamic presence in the original video, either, just standing there in the brief segments that aren’t old movie reels, but she has a better range and can stay in pitch. Live, she’s all over the map. And while “Blue Jeans” live had a few moments where she really shone, this one—which came first—was muddled and forgettable.
An example of the things you can do with computers these days? Does some producer with computers fix all her shitty tracks? Or was her live performance just on the wrong foot, an off day, a combination of various factors and pressures lined up against her?
I’ll never know. But damn. While her performances weren’t awful, they were pretty bad, and aren’t selling me on live concert tickets; if she sounds that shitty on SNL, she’d either sound that shitty live or sound like she’s lip-synching from a CD. As opposed to the directed videos, which are great advertising for her CDs (or, in my case, dropping some of her tracks into a Spotify playlist).
Okay, I’ve been pretty skeptical about this one, dating back to when I first heard they were remaking it. I mean, the Schwarzenegger one wasn’t brilliant, but it managed to keep Philip K. Dick’s paranoia and questioning of reality intact inside an entertaining ’80s trashy action movie. Probably one of the top three PKD book-to-movie adaptations… behind Blade Runner, of course, and I’m growing to like Spielberg’s Minority Report more than the original story.
And Hollywood has a tendency to make… well, really shitty “sci-fi” movies out of hot-shit science fiction properties (anyone else remember Surrogates? Cowboys and Aliens? Predators? Green Lantern? Need I go on?). For every District 9 or Inception, we get a good number of science fiction films that are forgettable, or best left forgotten. Just look at all the failed attempts to turn Dick’s novels into films—don’t get me started on Paycheck or Next. (I’ve realized that the irony of The Adjustment Bureau is that they didn’t develop the concepts far enough; probably why Rango, which went far enough and then some, beat it down at the box office.)
So, yeah, after seeing the trailer, I’ll eat some crow and say the new Total Recall looks pretty damn good. As in, see it opening day damn good. The visuals are astounding, for one, and the plot seems as Dickian as Dick’s original story. Also, the cast is pretty stellar. Colin Farrell stars, with support from Jessica Biel and Bryan Freaking Cranston as antagonists, and Ethan Hawk, Bill Nighy, and Kate Beckinsale in support.
The whole Mars subplot has been dropped, but honestly, what made the story interesting was Dick’s surrealist paranoid mindfuckery. The Mars angle was great flavor, but the meat of the story wasn’t the Martian rebellion, it was Dick’s eternal attempts to define reality and humanity, the sense that you never knew what was the true world and which was the implant. Something the poster hypes up:
Well, you know how to market a Philip K. Dick-based film and stay true to Philip K. Dick’s overarching vision; you have my interest.
So, here’s hoping that screenwriters and directors have figured out the proper way to adapt PKD to film, rather than skimming the surface-value concepts into another formulaic, chase-scene-rific shitty action film. (I really hated Paycheck and Next, okay?)
When I say “The Seventies was the best decade for crime films,” your answer should be “No shit, Sherlock.” The French Connection, Dirty Harry, The Godfather, The Taking of Pelham One-Two-Three, Night Moves, The Gauntlet, pretty much anything with Michael Caine… speaking of whom, was in a classic of crime cinematography on the border year of 1969. That would be The Italian Job, a heist flick known for its classic car chases.
So, The Italian Job. After an intro scene where the Mob bumps off some guy in Italy, dapper gentleman gangster Charlie Croker (Michael Caine) is released from prison, and immediately sets off on a new job. This time, a heist in Italy, finishing the job planned by the guy killed in the opening sequence: making off with $4 million in gold bars the Chinese are delivering. With the aid of Mr. Bridger (Noël Coward), still living in a luxuriant prison cell, and his girlfriend Lorna (Margaret Blye), Croker assembles a team to pull off this heist. It includes a number of screwballs, such as Professor Peach (Benny Hill), a computer whiz with a thing for large ladies. They’re walking a fine line, avoiding both the police and the Mafia; with the roaring of engines and crashing of the Italian transit system’s mainframe, they’re off.
What strikes me most is how you can’t make a movie like this any more. Never mind the costumes and so-very-’60s music, I’m talking about the plot and setup: the entire movie is so-very-’60s. Everything is set up, through perfect planning and careful legwork, so that the heist goes in the Brits’ favor. And while there are some surprises for them, it ends up with madcap chase sequences going in favor of Caine’s crew, the Italians stumbling around confusedly, crashing into walls, wrecking their cars, and so on.
There’s no sense that the robbers are in any kind of trouble; the Mafia thread purports to some trick ending, something related to Caine’s girlfriend, but that never appears; and up until the literal cliffhanger, there’s no sense that these guys aren’t going to make off with four million in gold bricks. Part of the problem is that a proposed sequel never appeared, but I was struck by how short the film was—making it shallow in both plot and character development, and its lack of emotion detracts from its attempts to build tension or drama.
Of course, that’s not why you’re watching this movie. You’re watching to see a well-coordinated planning sequence turn into Mini Coopers driving up, through, and over buildings—down into a subterranean mall, into a church, through a sewer system, on a roof, etc. And it’s a fine chase sequence, even if it’s pure Mini glorification, something that the remake latched onto to the point where it was the best two-hour ad for Minis ever made.
And because of that well-executed heist—and chase—the film is deservedly a classic. It’s nice to see an old-fashioned heist go well for the heroes, and the chase scenes are entertaining for their madcap nature, blazing through every kind of location imaginable. But I guess the dark old film noir and gritter late ’60s/early ’70s flicks are more my cup of tea; while I liked The Italian Job as an enjoyable lighthearted romp, with good characterization and fantastic car chases, I thought it was too straightforward, with a feeble plot lacking in suspense or depth. To each their own.
I think it’s interesting how conceptions on pop-culture phenomena change over a given time; positive and negative connotations switch places, and even the meaning of the name isn’t stable.
Take comic books, for example: for most of the 20th Century they were looked down upon as just-for-kids, childish funnies that grown adults had no reason to touch or come close to.
It took a generation growing up on comics to come up with the artistic visionaries who’d redefine comics as mature, adult, with deep themes and strong content: obvious names like Alan Moore and Frank Miller, for example. Gone were the days of four-color superheroes saving Hostess Pies from third-tier villains; suddenly in the late ’70s and ’80s, they had severe personal problems, battling drug and alcohol addictions, putting drug dealers and child abusers behind bars.
And it took a generation of readers growing up on the work of those luminaries to get to the point today, with many readers, bookstores, critics, etc. making off with the term “graphic novel” and applying it to “comic books” in order to construct a mature image, getting away from the kiddie comics of ages past. There’s a niggling remnant of the old stigma, but society as a whole doesn’t care so much anymore since the content has matured. And while not every one is Persepolis or Watchmen, the actual tone of most comics has moved on to straddle the line between child and adult.
On the other hand, we have pulps, the seedy dime-quarter-dollar magazines that entertained a generation. Back in the days before paperbacks even existed, in the age of war-rationing and the dominance of the fiction magazine, the pulps carried on the fine heritage of dime novels and penny-dreadfuls and other Victorian-age serials. Their name comes from the cheap wood-pulp used to make the paper, but has become latched on to the style and tone of their content: seedy, low-brow entertainment, the kind of “boobies and ‘splosions” media for non-literary-minded young guys.
Not that it was always thus, as many famous literary authors had their start in the oddest pulp places. But since lurid covers began to dominate during the pulps’ heyday—the late ’30s to the mid-’50s—and many involved “adult” themes (violence, sex, etc.), they gained the image of low-brow schlock, and there they remain. Pulps are seeing another resurgence, thanks to the power of the internet, lapsing copyrights and eager reprint houses, but they still have a negative connotation outside their niche interest base.
How about spaghetti westerns? The name itself is a negative connotation: what’s a bowl of spaghetti look like? A mess. An apt definition for Italian directors hiring American actors to film westerns in Spain. A good spaghetti western has a grittier, sometimes bleak outlook, with protagonists surviving massacres or attempted hangings (despite their innocence), dark anti-heroes riding lean horses in pursuit of their prey: gold, vengeance, death. It’s infusing more of the gritty noir anti-hero into a genre that’s already fueled by rough living, bleak landscapes, and casual death.
So the name itself was originally a deliberate criticism, but it was subverted by fans to become an accepted nom-de-plum. And while the genre had a brief life-span, roughly 1964 to the end of the 1970s, it’s had its impact on the western as a whole, breathing life back into the flagging genre. Interestingly, though spaghetti westerns have passed on, they’ve been replaced by another group of foreigners who’ve latched on to reinvent the mythos of the American Old West: see the ramen western subgenre. (Yes, this is really a thing.)
I get that Rapture was supposed to be the pure Objectivist paradise, and that I’m looking too seriously at mechanics designed to provide in-game resupply, but why the hell are you stocking your vending machines full of bullets and handing out gene-altering substances that promote, in their advertising no less, smashing your ideal state? Seriously, you ponder not why it went to shit, but why didn’t it go to shit sooner?
It’s like the State Department giving every citizen an Anarchist’s Cookbook, saying, “Here you go, enjoy! Oh how could we not have foreseen this going horribly, horribly wrong!”
At least the Vaults I can kind of understand. The point of their heavy arsenals was preparatory, to be used against the Mutant Red Bastards who were probably sitting around in everyone’s houses topside soaking up the gamma rays; the Vaults were screwed up, but they went the opposite direction from Rapture’s libertarianism, and Overseers kept a firm grip on their citizens’ freedoms. Though you’d think that the Overseers might have immediately noticed some potential long-term problems, like the severe overcrowding, or the 2:1 ratio of narcotics to food, or the live panther.
Regardless, if you’re ever asked to join some secluded ideological bunker system to escape the oppression/destruction of modern society, which may or may not involve lots of firearms or robots or inane traps or super-power genetic modifications or strange agricultural experiments on the edge of the desert… my experiences from video games says, “Run like hell away from that death-trap.” Trust me, you’re better off living with the parasites and the mutants.
To reiterate (and copy/paste), I’ve been reading Ed McBain’s (really Evan Hunter’s) 87th Precinct novels lately (more reviews on the way). And I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only did several of them become feature films, but two are also on Netflix streaming. Yay for me! Movie execs weren’t ones to let grass grow on their feet, and bought up the licenses to McBain’s first few novels in 1958, McBain having published the first 8-7 novel in 1956. So, here they are, in all their glory: Cop Hater and The Mugger. I already dealt with Cop Hater, so next up:
The Mugger (1958)
There’s a new mugger in town preying on women within the 87th Squad’s jurisdiction, and he doesn’t seem to be letting up. Having stumped the detectives, psychiatrist and former detective Dr. Pete Graham (Kent Smith) comes out of pseudo-retirement to try and crack this nut. Graham is also contacted by an old friend, who wants him to look into his troubled young sister-in-law; she’s acting like something’s wrong, but tells Graham she doesn’t have any problems. Then she’s found stabbed to death in a city park, with the mugger’s trademark sunglasses crushed in her hands, and Graham has a personal motivation to catch this killer.
Whereas the book and Cop Hater were more character-driven police procedurals, The Mugger is more of a low-key psycho-detective analy-gation. It doesn’t break down into psycho-analyzing witnesses or anything—that’s just a fringe thing—but it doesn’t go as heavy into the detecting, either. In fact, the film just sort of muddles around without any sense of character or depth. Graham looks into several potential suspects and works around the mystery of the girl’s death while he keeps up his relationship with his wife Claire; meanwhile the 87th is continually stymied, and eventually tries luring the mugger out using a female detective as bait.
Now, I have read this novel, and it’s one of the best books in the 87th series, which is nothing like the film. And the changes are for the worse. The protagonist was originally a young cop—Bert Kling, see the first movie—and he met his on-off college-student girlfriend Claire Townsend during the course of the investigation, where in the film they’re married and working out of the same building. Note cop, not criminal psychiatrist; that sounds like a horrible change made to play up the contemporary growth of psychiatrists. And I should emphasize young, because I think the changes didn’t work, because the film then proceeds to point out how every loose woman in the world thinks this middle-aged, psychologist Kling is the sexiest man on Earth.
The film lacks any kind of detective/investigation work until near the end, which then results in a very unconvincing car chase (perhaps at speeds up to forty miles an hour!), and while the villain’s ending is suitably gory, there’s no real reason or lead-up to it. (In the book, it ends with the perp nailed and arrested and jailed, not brutally slain.) And the mugger himself was amped up from socking women to cutting them, probably to inflate the drama/tension needlessly. All in all, a tight, taut fraternal order of detectives with a strong sense of character was lost into a banal, featureless film. The things that were kept from the novel include the mugger, the general plot about the younger sister, a beatnik informant, a few of the set-pieces (like the female detective bait sequence), and some of the character names.
Again, McBain’s 87th was strong because it had a large, rotating cast of characters, and each subsequent novel made them feel more fleshed-out and developed. Losing that humanist approach makes the film feel shallow and lifeless, and gives it a strong emotional distance: we don’t even see the murder victim long enough to make her death anything more than a plot device, which I’m pretty sure would have irked McBain. It’s hard to incorporate that developing texture in film; Cop Hater gave it a good try, while The Mugger avoids it completely. You can tell it had a shoestring budget from its lack of characters and cheap-o sets.
Unlike Cop Hater, which wasn’t bad, The Mugger was nowhere close to good. The film is sluggish, listing, and banal, lacking any sense of character or plot depth to result in monotonous and shallow tripe. That also means it’s short—74 minutes—so there’s a reason for its lack of anything; that brevity is something of a plus. The change in character could have worked great, but instead we’re left with a rather bland psychiatrist-detective with a rather bland wife and some uninspired coworkers; the most interesting characters are the bit-players and suspects. Kent Smith was no newcomer to crime/detective cinema, and while he doesn’t phone his role in, he doesn’t seem very enthusiastic either. The film as a whole just didn’t do anything for me.
I’m unsure this film will please hardcore McBain readers given all the alterations that were made, nor did it blow me away as a standalone police mystery, so I’m unconvinced this film has enough of an audience to give it some rediscovery comeback: it’s just not that good.
I’m blazing through Ed McBain’s (really Evan Hunter’s) 87th Precinct novels of late, and was pleasantly surprised to find that not only did several of them become feature films, but two are also on Netflix streaming. Score! Movie execs weren’t ones to let grass grow on their feet, and bought up the licenses to McBain’s first few novels in 1958, McBain having published the first 8-7 novel in 1956. So, here they are, in all their glory: Cop Hater and The Mugger. First up:
Cop Hater (1958) – MGM
On the hottest, steamiest summer in the City’s recent memory, somebody is out killing cops. Detectives of the 87th Precinct are getting gunned down while off duty. One murder is problematic and depressing; two is an endemic. The rest of the 8-7 cops are uneasy, on edge, unsure how or when this cop hater will strike again. Detectives Steve Carelli (Robert Loggia) and Mike Maguire (Gerald O’Loughlin) are put on the case, and are racing against the clock before another cop dies. Meanwhile, a nosy reporter is trying to uncover dirt to blow this story wide open, and rookie detective Bert Kling has a rough few days on the job.
McBain’s novels have a strong character-driven, humanist approach as their centerpiece: these are average, everyday guys, blue-collar-workers with guns kind of thing. They’re not the super-exaggerated detectives of most noir fiction; combined with McBain’s inclusion of real technique, procedures, and documents, it gives his 87th a very realistic feel.
That’s important to realize since the film follows the same approach. We see Maguire and Carelli hanging out and drinking, going for a night on the town with their wives; we see their two respective home lives, which have a major impact later on the plot. They’re also an interesting parallel. Carelli’s engaged to Teddy, a deaf-mute; two young lovers kind of thing. Maguire is the older cop, with a slightly burnt-out home life; you get the feeling his wife Alice (Shirley Ballard) really wants something more in her marriage now that the spark is flickering out.
The film deals with some very heavy adult themes for the ’50s; the deaths have a lot of weight and grit—murder, after all, of the protagonists’ figurative brothers—and we see a lot of sexual tension and implications without any real detail. Alice dresses quite provocatively—at one point she models her new swimsuit—and Teddy’s later caught in nothing more than a bath towel. Meanwhile, we have a trip to a brothel, and a large subplot about a youth gang who might include suspects, and who are antagonized by the reporter’s grilling. (Juvie gangs are so nostalgically ’50s, when the corruption of our youths’ innocence to violence and drugs was the second greatest threat to our civilization, behind Communism.)
I haven’t read the novel yet, but from what I can tell most of the pieces are there. Aside from Carella becoming Carelli, all the big-name characters still here; “Carelli’s” wife Teddy is still a deaf-mute; the City is no longer McBain’s nameless amalgam but is more clearly New York. Many of the huge cast of detectives with bit-parts in the series are rolled into faceless characters here; that’s understandable, given the difference between the two forms of media, and there’s a large cast of nameless actors in the Precinct’s offices to create the illusion of a large, overworked police squad. Everything I see is accurate enough, though I don’t remember seeing Maguire in any of the book reviews or synopsis I’ve read, so there’s that.
So what we end up with is a good, well-rounded film, yet one that’s overall unexceptional, not much more than drive-in fare; it’s a little too short, and it feels rushed when its credits are rolling over the action to save time—seriously, people are talking and running around while names, and later The End, fill up the screen. It looks like a B-movie, and feels like a B-movie, even as it sticks to the rigorous authenticity of life as a detective. That said, I thought it was very enjoyable for what it was, and is worth checking out for the noir/crime/detective movie fan. I liked it well enough.