In another era, John Hawkes (The Sessions, Four Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri) would be a leading man who’d line them up at the local movie theater. But this isn’t the age of James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, or even Gene Hackman, and if one doesn’t have “movie star” looks that person plies his trade as a character actor .
But Hawkes is one example of how character actors often have more presence than the actual star of the project, and it’s great to see him front and center in Small Town Crime. Directed by brothers Ian and Eshom Nelms, the feature focuses on an ex-cop named Mike Kendall (Hawkes) who has turned his life into a living hell thanks to his alcoholism. Drinking like a fish on a daily basis, Mike often wakes up with no idea of his location, and his decision to go behind the wheel while drunk should irritate many a viewer.
Mike may have affection for his adopted sister (Octavia Spencer) and her husband (Anthony Anderson), who’s also his drinking buddy, but they can’t stop his downward spiral. Upon the discovery of a dying woman who’s abandoned on a deserted road, Mike immediately rushes her to the hospital but to no avail. Determined to find her killer in hopes of actually rejoining the force, Mike gradually becomes reengaged with life, proving that when halfway sober he’s actually a great detective. Daniel Sunjata and Michael Vartan play cops who don’t want Mike anywhere near the investigation, with Robert Forster and Clifton Collins Jr. helping Mike out as the victim’s father and an all too confrontational pimp. Caity Lotz (Legends of Tomorrow) also stars a prostitute who may be hiding a thing or two from Kendall.
Fans of such neo-noirs like Blood Simple, where the hard boiled crime is slightly tempered by comedic undertones, should gravitate towards Small Town Crime. Running a lean and mean 91 minutes, the effective thriller is powered by a charismatic and memorable performance by Hawkes. Credit goes to the directors for filling out their narrative with a talented ensemble, but unfortunately their ultimate purpose is to service the narrative’s top dog. That’s a minor quibble, as it’s great to see Hawkes anchor his own film for once, and the Nelms brothers prove they have no trouble delivering an engaging narrative.
Small Town Crime may not reach the big stakes level of some of its cinematic influences, but that’s just fine. If you didn’t already know Hawkes is a star, then Small Town Crime should lead you in the right direction.
The film hits select theaters and On Demand January 19.
Currently in theaters and doing surprisingly well at the box office, LINCOLN appears to be living up to its advance hype and racing towards the front of the awards season line. Directed by STEVEN SPIELBERG from a script by award-winning playwright TONY KUSHNER, the impressive cast includes DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, SALLY FIELD, JOSEPH GORDON LEVITT, JOHN HAWKES, WALTER GOGGINS, JACKIE EARL HALEY, JAMES SPADER and TOMMY LEE JONES. During the Beverly Hills press conference to promote the film, DANIEL DAY-LEWIS (whose titular performance almost guarantees an Oscar nomination) confessed that he made a few discoveries about the 16th POTUS while researching the role, not the least of which was a “delicious” sense of humor . (CLICK ON THE MEDIA BAR FOR AUDIO)
Completely surprising skeptics unable to believe that a long, talky historical epic centered on the passage of the 13th Amendment could sustain substantial box office traction, STEVEN SPIELBERG’s beautifully realized LINCOLN has taken in over $62 m in just over three weeks of limited release and continues a better per-screen-average than such “blockbusters” as THE TWILIGHT SAGA and SKYFALL.
A true labor of love for SPIELBERG and star DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, LINCOLN was almost a decade in the making and served as a learning experience for everyone involved. During the recent Beverly Hills press conference to promote the film, SPIELBERG talked about his commitment to the idea that DAY-LEWIS play the titular lead role while the actor wanted it known that there was no ill will between he and pal LIAM NEESON, who was at one time in contention to play the part.
Currently in theaters (and in the Top Five on the weekend box office chart), LINCOLN is director STEVEN SPIELBERG’s slavishly devoted-to-detail account of the last four months in the life of the U.S. President most famously known for the passage of the 13th Amendment and the abolishment of slavery. Written by award winning playwright TONY KUSHNER, the stellar cast includes DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, SALLY FIELD, JOSEPH GORDON LEVITT, JOHN HAWKES, WALTER GOGGINS, JACKIE EARL HALEY, JAMES SPADER and TOMMY LEE JONES. During the Beverly Hills press conference to promote the film, KUSHNER (along with star SALLY FIELD) responded to questions about the recent allegations that LINCOLN may have been homo or bi sexual. (CLICK ON THE MEDIA BAR FOR AUDIO)
Expanding its reach and opening in more theaters today, STEVEN SPIELBERG’S epic historical drama LINCOLN, takes an in-depth look at the last four months in the illustrious president’s life and details the passing of the 13th Amendment as it abolished slavery and put an end to the Civil War. Stepping into the titular role, DANIEL DAY-LEWIS takes on a persona already immortalized by such greats as RAYMOND MASSEY, HENRY FONDA and ROYAL DANO (to name just a few). It might be a daunting task for any contemporary actor but, during a recent press conference to promote the film, the actor talked about overcoming his doubts and finding the character.