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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 4.76%
Pretty Bad: 19.05%
Total Crap: 19.05%

1 review, 15 user ratings

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Good Night to Die, A
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by Erik Childress

"And Taking The Long Way To Get There"
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2003 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL: If you’re an independent filmmaker, the best way to get yourself noticed is to do a crime drama with a big cast. Mix in a little flash in your technique and someone is either going to reward or mistake you as the next big thing. It worked for Tarantino than Bryan Singer and, unfortunately, Guy Ritchie. Director Craig Singer boasts no relation to Bryan and doesn’t quite rank in Tarantinoville, but takes us on a journey of promise, thanks in part to a solid cast, before ultimately showing he’s not quite up to playing with the big boys. Yet.

Flash the frames any way you want, but nothing can possibly add to the charisma of leading man Gary Stretch. All it takes is one role for someone in Hollywood to take notice and whether the film gets distributed or not, Stretch is destined to hear more than a few “who was THAT guy?” To put it in simplistic jargon, when Pierce Brosnan retires as James Bond, Stretch could easily fit into his laser-equipped shoes.

In A Good Night To Die, Stretch plays Ronnie, a New York hitman who was once approached by a hapless thug named August (Michael Rapaport) to stick ‘em up. Ronnie put him in his place, but also saw something in him. Not skills. He just liked the chap. Years later as his protege, August has messed up and hit the wrong guy, ticking off the local crew and all the rules about hitting “made guys” and such.

What follows is a series of vignettes in both flashback and present day as Ronnie attempts to help his boy without really doing much of anything except participating in long, drawn-out conversations where he doesn’t say much. Stretch does most of his speaking in the Chili Palmer school of staring. Many of these scenes, especially the early ones, remunerate thanks to the actors. Rapaport gives one of his best performances, mixing naïve, overstated toughness to a more sorrowful soul torn between loyalty and a dissatisfaction with the job. Inspired casting of 80s icons, Ralph Macchio and Ally Sheedy, to play a hit squad known as Donnie and Marie, constantly has everyone wondering how much their affection reveals if they’re really brother and sister.

The problem is that Singer either gives us too much or too little in the realm of his characters. A little Stretch and Rapaport go a long way in any scene, but it would have been nice to see them together more often. Same goes for Macchio and Sheedy who make such an impression it’s a shame to see them thankfully whack Lainie Kazan only to disappear for a brief cameo at the end. Frank Whaley comes aboard for a great scene that would have been greater if he wasn’t allowed to go on and on and on well past the scene’s natural end. James Russo seemingly has an important role in the beginning only to disappear as do Robin Givens, Seymour Cassel and Deborah Harry in small roles. A trip to Ronnie’s mistress (the gorgeous Penelope Fortier) is a useless distraction smack dab in the middle that woefully begins to derail what we were liking about the story in the first place.

This kind of back and forth dominates A Good Night To Die and makes it all the more frustrating by the time its all over. Singer has a nice knack for mixing quirkiness with violence, but hasn’t yet mastered how to pull it all together. When asked about the film, I’ll be sure to remember the actors and their characters. But the world in which they inhabit will be thought about in bits and flashes as I imagine a more unique one where I’d like to join them all again.

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originally posted: 05/22/03 07:35:43
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Tribeca Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/19/09 Fred Von During A gritty nyc hit man and low livin to hi liven in the Big Apple!! 4 stars
3/30/04 Jenny Confusing and annoying - would be good if the plot was explained a little better. 2 stars
2/25/04 Horace Greeley this movie was a winner takes all and came in a close second 2 stars
8/30/03 john smith excellent movie, I wish there more scenes with the caputo kid.(Rocco). 5 stars
8/17/03 corky Tries pretty hard but just...really...umm...not so good. 2 stars
7/25/03 George Wilkins A complete waste of money 1 stars
7/24/03 maddy shweetah 5 stars
7/16/03 Randy Thomas Could this suck more? 1 stars
7/10/03 Ron J. Really bad 1 stars
6/11/03 Brannie Herez Brannie, This movie looks sooo bad that i wont even bother to pay for movie tickets. 1 stars
5/29/03 Michelle Donovan not very original with unsympathetic characters 2 stars
5/28/03 Everton Sctt Cool style! 5 stars
5/27/03 Tex Williams This is a must see crime thirller with a great cast! 5 stars
5/27/03 Steve McAloon really great movie 5 stars
5/27/03 Carrie Williams I really enjoyed this film... quirky but compelling. 5 stars
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  12-Aug-2003 (R)



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