Mar. 1st, 2013

burntcopper: (Default)
specifically, I'm going through the recorded tv on my dvr box to try and clear space, mostly going through the things I recorded because they looked interesting, or had an actor in I liked, etc. Some miniseries that got really good reviews I lasted one ep on. I could see that it was technically good, the acting was great... I just wasn't interested. 3 eps deleted in a swipe.

Last night I watched Street Kings. Which is a James Ellroy written LA cops thriller corruption undercover etc. you know the genre. I'd recorded it because Chris Evans was in it, and I'm making the effort to try and see his past work. (it's actually surprisingly difficult to find what he refers to as his dumb populist stuff on uk tv, unless it's Fantastic Four, whereas things like Sunshine are on regularly)

Anyway. Keanu Reeves as a permanently angry violent detective who gets caught up in corruption and finds out how far it goes and.... oh, what do you care, you know all the beats of the story anyway. You know the damn dialogue. You even know the camera angles and colour palette. Rest of the cast was actually quite good - Forest Whitaker, Naomi Harris as a murdered cop's wife, Chris Evans as the jaded-but-young homicide detective, half his dept made up the cast from The Wire, etc.

Except: it was incredibly weird, disconnected viewing. You couldn't quite look away because even though it was by-the-book of this genre, certain things kept throwing you out:

1) Keanu Reeves is essentially a likeable plank of wood.*
2) Nearly the whole cast were doing 'I will do my job and turn in a decent performance but we're not trying *that* hard' acting. Except Chris Evans and Naomi Harris, who were giving really good performances, which was kind of jarring any time they switched between the rest of them and these two. Second, they were normally just in a scene with Keanu, which ... actor who can't act vs. really good actor makes for very odd viewing.
3) Really quite lovely camerawork and editing.
4) You were constantly aware that on the one hand it could be a much better film if it wasn't Keanu and everyone else tried harder (when this genre is good and you have great cast, it's brilliant - see Out of Sight, Elmore Leonard penned Soderbergh directed, Clooney-Lopez starring, that's a masterpiece) - but OTOH, also intensely aware that it could be so much worse.
5) Any time a scene started and Keanu wasn't in shot but had started speaking, it sounded like it was being narrated. He's that deadpan.

*If you wonder why he's employed so much, even though everyone knows he can't really act? I heard this from... maybe Mark Sheppard? Keanu shows up on time, doesn't demand stupid paychecks, learns all his lines, makes an effort to be nice to the crew, goes home at the end of the day and isn't a nuisance. and the public know his name and're willing to watch something undemanding with him in as lead. Like any business, the people who keep getting employed are the people who're likable and do their job. They might not be the best in their field, but they turn up on time.

So yeah. not a recommended film (unlike, say, Shoot Em Up, which is a masterpiece of late night bonkersness or Smokin' Aces) but interesting for the incredibly dissonant experience of watching it.

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