Liam Neeson’s particular set of skills have mostly withered away and I don’t remember the last memorable Neil Jordan flick, but seeing their names and others like Jessica Lange’s on a poster summons certain feelings. It’s not to do with what any of them have done recently but it’s enough to get me to the multiplex for Marlowe.
There are three others in the auditorium, all north of sixty-five. This is par for the course for most adult movie screenings these days. Unless it’s at an art house or cinematheque, the grown-ups generally stay home.
Marlowe is meant to evoke noirs with Chandler’s weary detective donning his fedora yet again but this is warmed over ersatz fare. Despite the elderly couple’s occasional cackles, the wise cracks are some very weak tea. Neeson looks old and tired. I wonder whether he needs a paycheck that bad. At least Jordan still knows how to frame a shot now and then. But everything good to do with this movie is via association to work he did decades ago. If anyone told the director of Mona Lisa, The Crying Game, and The Butcher Boy that he’d be making a stale reboot of a gumshoe yarn he’d have laughed you out of the room without a doubt.
Jessica Lange is a real old-school movie star. She always seemed like she came from another time. But even she can’t put over what Jordan or whoever hired him is trying to peddle.
The only way to enjoy this is to imagine Neeson and Lange in other roles, when they were good. For minutes at a time I forget about the dreck on screen and think about Darkman and Frances. I imagine the many roles they played before ending up in this. You can play this game with any movie or show. There’s only so many memorable players and their best work makes their worst sort of fascinating. But not enough to justify this faded copy of a copy of a copy.
This is how art forms die. When everyone just goes through the motions. Money was spent on period costumes and vehicles but whatever life this cosplay slog might’ve had is dead and buried with however allowed Chandler’s intellectual property to be paraded about in zombie flicks like this one.
I can’t tell if the other member of our little audience is enjoying the movie but the masticating sounds coming from her end of the room indicate she’s at least enjoying her multi-course meal.
It can’t go on this way much longer. These places will soon go the way of pay phones and kerosene lamps and I can’t say I’ll miss them. I imagine movies will be like LPs—a small dedicated audience with little reach or relevance to the mainstream culture. There’s a limited lifespan to everything. Trust me as someone who works in a medium that was pronounced dead over a hundred years ago. I know whereof I speak.
If I’m being optimistic I can see a future where Liam Neeson doesn’t have to embarrass himself by putting on a coat and hat meant for a much younger man, likely dead when Neeson was just being born. The retreads and playacting can stop and the few people making movies can put their energy into producing something with a pulse.
Until then I guess I’ll keep suffering through these death throes at the mall. I can’t give up the habit despite drastically diminishing returns. I’ve been at it too long to change my ways.
I wrote about longtime musician Roscoe Mitchell’s first art show. This review is a product of revisions and compromises with the editor of the fancy international art magazine that published it. I knew going in that I couldn’t say all I wanted to say on the subject of a famous person and their first art show, but that’s the terms of engagement. When it’s not your hamster wheel you can’t insult the fabricator or operator, question the workings of the gears, and expect that they’ll allow you to keep pedaling your little legs forward.
I read a story from Alla Gorbunova’s It’s the End of the World, My Love into a microphone.