Rating: The Ugly – 64.5 Genre: Thriller Duration: 99 mins Director: Tom Holland Stars: Timothy Hutton, Lara Flynn Boyle, Faye Dunaway
Daft as a brush but forgivably sardonic, Tom Holland’s The Temp is a fast and loose thriller about an executive’s beautiful but sinister assistant whose recent arrival coincides with a number of accidents that move both her and her increasingly suspicious boss up the ladder. Timothy Hutton is the beleaguered exec, Laura Flynn Boyle, his self-appointed but apparently unstable cat’s paw while Faye Dunaway and Oliver Platt play their cut throat co-workers. With its unpredictable plot and outlandish progression, The Temp scores for its sheer uniqueness but with the writer-director of the quirky Fright Night pulling the strings, it’s also a riot of rather well disguised black comedy too. Contrasting dark tones of paranoia with over the top villainy, there’s barely a scene that won’t elicit a crooked smile. However, so unorthodox is its execution that the sarcasm is perhaps too well disguised. As often as not, the movie comes across as a tad unsure of itself and even erratic. In these moments, it can let the audience slip through its fingers despite the best efforts of Hutton and co. In the end, it all unravels rather resoundingly but, at the very least, it maintains its eccentricity.
Rating: The Good – 77.1 Genre: Crime Duration: 98 mins Director: John Dahl Stars: Nicolas Cage, Dennis Hopper, Lara Flynn Boyle
It may have been forgotten over the years but John Dahl’s moody thriller is about as good as it gets. Back when he was one of the most interesting actors on the scene, Nicolas Cage took the lead role in this neo noir as a former marine drifting through the town of Red Rock when he gets mistaken for a hitman by a bar owner (J.T. Walsh) who wants to do away with his wife. (Laura Flynn Boyle). Broke and out of gas, he takes the money with the intention of warning the wife and leaving town but it’s not long before the real hitman shows up in the form of the not surprisingly unhinged Dennis Hopper.
In a town straight out of a Coen Bros. film, Cage soon finds himself up to his neck in double crosses and murder to the point that you won’t know where he’s going to end up. Dahl’s soft atmospheric lighting sets an intuitive backdrop for all those unravelling plans and slippery loyalties. Cage is an outstanding rube with just enough about him to stay one step ahead of them while Flynn Boyle was born to play an out and out femme fatale. Walsh does what he always did so well though his nastiness is nicely tempered by a doubt and trepidation that his other villains were not often afforded. Of course, Hopper owns the screen when he’s sharing it but he doesn’t give us an undiluted lunatic. Like everyone else in Red Rock, he’s motivated by money and quite rational about how he’s going to get it. Sure, if he gets the squeeze his trigger all the better!
There’s a luscious script beating at the heart of all the action infused with the outlaw romance of the west as Dahl and his brother Rick reveal a keen ear for the way people talk when in trouble. Red Rock West is what you get when all the ambitions are in the right place and everyone is clear on their role and tailor-made for the job. A thriller pure of focus and rich in theme.