The Killers

“Sylvester, unless you want to renew your partnership with the late Johnny North, I suggest you tell us everything and anything we want to know.”

These are the words whispered into the ear of Sylvester by Charlie Storm, played by the timeless badass Lee Marvin. Originally adapted from an Ernest Hemingway short story in 1946, The Killers was actually a TV movie that was deemed to violent for the small screen, which then saw it’s release in theaters.

There are a few differences from the two adaptions, in which many view this as the superior of the two.

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The Plot 

  • Two contract killers, Charlie Storm and Lee, are paid to kill Johnny North, a high school teacher and former race car driver who is told ahead of time that the hit men were coming for him, yet he doesn’t try and escape.
  • Charlie, unable to understand why North didn’t try to escape before they got there, looks to investigate Johnny’s past.
  • In their investigation, they find out North was involved with a woman named Sheila, who was the mistress of a mob boss, Jack Browning (Ronald Reagan). They cut their ties once Johnny discovered this, yet offers to help them pull a heist on a bank,
  • As the truth is coming together, the killers have turned front the hunters to the hunted.

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What I Liked

  • As a fan of director Don Seigel, I can see how he started to formulate his own directing style in this early work. He’s methodical in his pacing and really expoitls the violent nature of his characters in the blink of an eye.
  • The complexity of Johnny North felt authentic. He’s a man driven not by passion but blind love, and he sacrificed his own common sense to obtain his desires.
  • The character of Lee was an ntereguing one. He comes of as psychopathic yet we don’t see much malicious tendencies. Almost as if he really believes murder is just an everyday occurrence and it’s funny to him. Not complex by any means, but a nice twist to the story.

What I Didn’t Like

  • Ronald Reagan was a terrible choice to play the mob boss. He made a living in Hollywood playing likable characters. The role he played in this film was utterly unconvincing and would have altered my view of this film greatly had he gotten more screen time.

Should You See It?

  • Absolutely! As a matter of fact, you can watch it right below.

She’s So Lovely

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Directed by Nick Cassavetes and written by his late father John Cassavetes, a pioneer in the independent film sector, She’s So Lovely tells the story that makes us wonder just how strong love really is.

“Would you continue to love your partner if they were a homicidal maniac that’s been locked up in solitary confinement for 10 years” is how Nick approached this question. This film is part melodrama and in many ways a black romantic comedy, because we can see how love does indeed make fools of us all. It makes us “rock the boat.”

The Plot

  • Like so many of Cassavetes’ films, we have a woman named Maureen, the eccentric and hard nosed lover of Eddie (Sean Penn), a personality equal to that of Maureen Robin Wright Penn), who hasn’t come home in three days.
  • When her neighbor Kiefer (James Gandolfini) invites her in for a drink to calm her down, he gets to drunk and sexually assaults her. Eddie shows up a day later, but he isn’t told the truth.
  • A couple more and Maureen tells Eddie what happened.  He brutally beats Kiefer, goes and gets drunk at a bar because Maureen didn’t tell him the truth from the beginning and accidentally shoots an emergency response member in a drunken tirade.
  • After spending 10 years in solitary confinement, Eddie is released and is told that Maureen is married to man named Joey (John Travolta) and has two children with him, but also has a child from her’s and Eddie’s past.
  • Eddie arrives at Maureen’s, giving her an ultimatum to come back to her or stay.

What I Liked 

  • The film attempted to keep the spirit of a true Cassavetes feature that shows us that all families are dysfunctional, and most times irrational. Why? Because we’re human beings. Irrationalism is the centerpiece of why we make decisions, be it for ourselves or loved ones.
  • The casting was every underrated. This is a film that casted a handful of actors who are viewed as borderline insane for their craft and the characters they played. Watching them all gel together was humorous, but in a good way.
  • I also like how the movie was reference in an episode of Entourage.

What I Didn’t Like

  • The film seemed to lack a real resolution. Yes, in the ending we have a decision, only after a bizarre 40 minutes of her contemplating her indecisiveness.
  • The film felt too fast paced. Cassavetes’ films would span hours because he wanted to show real human emotion go up and down. Here, it’s too fast to really empathize with any one chacter.

Should You See It?

  • This is not a movie for everyone. Most of you will probably shut it off within 4o minutes, despite it only being about an hour and a half. If you enjoy watching whacked out characters and nonsensical romance that still makes more sense than romance movies today, then check it out.