Daily notes 2014

Currently watching: The Borderlands
I could look at this bastard glare all day!

Currently watching: Grave Encounters
Was highly reluctant to dip my toe into this one. Now 12 minutes into the film, and in fact am quite pleased to note how nice it was to dive straight into the haunted building (at 3 minutes), after which we directly engage with a number of characters who provide customarily spooky exposition. Incredible how common it is for films to start slow.

Found myself very pleased by two more things! All of this has to do with quantification, but I really think it’s hugely important: we get to witness the cameraman setting up most of the camera feeds, and as soon as the show begins (11:30pm) we can rest comfortably knowing their situation cannot go on for more than 6.5 hours when the caretaker arrives to unlock the building. These just put the viewer at ease and ensure that the filmmakers aren’t afraid to show us their hand ahead of time.

Well… my favorite part is one of the film’s last minutes, when Lance discovers all this occulty nonsense. It’s well-presented, this is an eminently serviceable altar – it’s just such a pity there isn’t any context for it. At all ūüė¶


vlcsnap-00055I thought this little bit of set design was really spot on, particularly in the production of that tiny ancient book with those alien characters you don’t quite get time to place (in case you’re wondering they’re Old Norse runes, which potentially dates the book at anywhere between 100-700 AD, I believe – which is excellent).

Film’s now over. And oh did they play with those 6.5 hours!

Currently watching: The Burning Moon
But not for much longer.

Currently watching: The Manitou
A Great Old One.

Currently watching: Blue Sunshine
Reefer Madness 2?

on Ghostbusters
In seeking films I consider to be mistakenly called “Lovecraftian” I came to Ghostbusters (by far the most mainstream selection yet), and it provided more material than I could’ve suspected. Here’s my entry for it:
A much cleverer film when viewed on paper: repulsed at the atrocities of WWI, mad scientist turns apocalyptic cultist and manages to manipulate construction of major Manhattan skyscraper (a feat unto itself), turning the building into history’s largest, most powerful astrological instrument which, surrounded by millions of na√Įve souls, is at this very moment¬†stretching its spectral arm¬†into deep, deep space to summon some unthinkably ancient,¬†malevolent god¬†known as Gozer, who will be preceded by Its harbingers, the key and the lock, Vinz Clortho and Zuul (Bebop and Rocksteady).

“..what’s Gozer..?”
(beat) “Gozer was very big in Sumeria.”

Architect successfully performs numerous rituals with accursed brethren in the enormous temple secretly constructed on the roof, and dies confident that in fifty years the world will end with the coming of Gozer the Destroyer (dunno about you, but I would kill to see his reaction were he to witness the form of this “Destructor:” a mere two-hundred foot, extraordinarily vulnerable biped that is dispatched in about ten minutes. I suppose it must’ve had some powers we never¬†witnessed).


Now… who doesn’t think that sounds bloody exciting? Sadly it has almost nothing to do with the events of Ghostbusters, the “Ramis/Reitman Boys’ Club” – Gozer is a groovy cameo appearance with a literary shadow in the shape of Mr. Lovecraft or perhaps Mr. Crowley (whose presence I’m attributing to the kookiest person involved, being of course Mr. Aykroyd), but you will find no depth to this sketched¬†silhouette.

A few more thoughts:

..with implications like these the film’s irreverent tone is duly appreciated and a major reason the film developed a cult following, the bulk of credit clearly going to the smartest man on set, Bill Murray, and his motherfucking class act co-star Siggy.

…I must admit that if Gozer is somehow connected to ghosts, there is the implication that behind every ghostly apparition on Earth is, in fact, the unseen hand of some malign entity from another dimension – perhaps taking on cartoonish, comic form at the behest of the auteur Reitman, or taking on the guise of our loved ones to lull us into the rocks. I’m loving this idea.

I also¬†wish more focus had been given to the increasing rapidity¬†of supernatural incidents and some superstitious notion that it’s in service of something nigh at hand, too dark to imagine, creating that horrible (and wonderful) anticipation of doom in¬†the viewer’s gut; that the increased supernatural activity was occurring specifically in wailing anticipation of the coming of Gozer, and that the Ghostbusters are formed out of practical necessity more than anything else – noting that they were simply the only ones aware of (and interested in) handling this forebodingly¬†evil upswing. ¬†I think that sounds like a dynamite origin story, or I’ve just written a super reboot. Oh, wait… now it’s Melissa McCarthy and her ilk… Class, put your textbooks away, today we’re “having class outside.”

Not watching: X-Men: First Class
Come on, folks, look at that. These movies would be limp dicks without Fassbender. Casting is 99% of the job.

Just finished: The Valdemar Legacy
I should’ve done a whole thing on this film. It’s a 13 million Euro, Universal Pictures released major studio affair taking place exclusively in the Lovecraft universe – how I missed this one is a total mystery. The film sort of treads water, maintains itself just above the mark that would get you angry at it; just barely watchable. The image seen below is actually a “post-credits sneak peek” at clips from the second part, seemingly shot immediately following this film (this film’s ending doesn’t even attempt to satisfy, clearly marking itself at a mere chapter break until Volume Two. That’s fine on occasion). So there you have it: Cthulhu. There’s another shot of Cthulhu – in all his digital glory – shown after this image, but I prefer this teaser.

Currently watching: [REC] 2
Yes, I said I wouldn’t watch the sequel, and I am doing it only because I noted that Dimitris Springer gave it 4/5 stars.

Avoiding these films until now makes their content feel derivative, which only illustrates how influential they’ve been. 30 minutes into this and I’m quite surprised at just how much it feels like a video game (reversing that statement of course reveals the truth). But this is a video game, it is exactly, precisely what I’ve been seeing in games for the past five years since this film came out along with all its sensationalist siblings. And now that I’ve experienced both, I can say with confidence that you’re better off playing the video games. You’re not going to get writing which is measurably better and most importantly, the immersion will be more intense, more visceral – and it’s the visceral, immersive experience which is the sole purpose of found footage films. Additionally the story is just so “conveniently” wrapped in violence, and action, and running and completing tasks, and gunplay.

My main, simple, old-as-time complaint? Every time some demonic human appears the camera begins shake so hard it’s a strain on the brain and impossible to follow (we all agree with this, nobody likes it) and seemingly every character present assumes his role in a conspiracy to create an incoherent cacophony. These men are soldiers, for christ’s sake.vlcsnap-00031

Well now that does look pretty fun…vlcsnap-00032

Currently watching: Ghostwatch
The deception notwithstanding, I’m quite surprised they were able to air this on BBC 1 given that the poltergeist is allegedly a child molester: at one point we see him cloaked in the corner while the children sleep; multiple times we hear the children writhing and crying out “GET OFF ME!” when the ghost is present and active; [and yada yada I’m sure there’s something else].
Ghostwatch was so effective one pre-teen mentally handicapped viewer would incredibly take his own life a view days after the broadcast, convinced that noises created by the house’s heating system were signs of a malevolent poltergeist. At first glance I do not remotely blame the BBC for this incident… but I think the responsibility actually falls on the society which allows for the possibility that their programming may be viewed unwillingly.
Heh… did just notice that this character, played to be especially dense and obnoxious, is an American football fan ūüôāvlcsnap-00014vlcsnap-00015And moments later he is told that “on this spot” the body of her dog was found, poltergeist victim, sliced open with its up-to-recently incubating fetuses strewn all over the place. Hide your children.vlcsnap-00017

Currently watching: Absentia
I’m seeing some Norton Criticals on that shelf!

Currently watching: Guardians of the Galaxy
You really can’t help but love this guy.

Currently watching: Witch Hunt
vlcsnap-00058 Every now and then a cinephile gains access to an extraordinarily rare film, and two possibilities emerge: lost treasure or soggy boot. Witch Hunt is comprised of muddy entrails in the shape of a boot. I am mere minutes into the film and there are very, very good reasons to anticipate its ignominious failure. And why should that have been..? It’s 1994. It’s Los Angeles, and there are a few strange men in Hollywood with an interest in the occult – Paul Schrader among them, god bless that man’s tainted soul. Shot by the late lamented Jean-Yves Escoffier (Boy Meets Girl, Mauvais Sang for which he was nominated for a 1987 C√©sar, and of course Les Amants du Pont-Neuf for which he won Best Cinematographer at the “European Film Awards” presented by the “European Film Academy,” whose awards look like this. I imagine I should be embarrassed for never having heard of them before, but mostly I’m just shocked).
vlcsnap-00059 Where was I? 1994. Los Angeles. Scoring by Badalamenti. Even Julian Sands (the 90s magician). MAGIC, the most vague and least intriguing path into the occult… and, of course, Mr. Lovecraft, and I’m not referring to the character played by Dennis Hopper (who at the time claimed this was the strangest film he’d made) in what can only be viewed as a failure of imagination by screenwriter Joseph Dougherty, a mostly television man who currently writes Pretty Little Liars. The first major error of logic was creating some world where “magic” seems to be accessible to civilians – far too broad to write in any remotely realistic way, much more suited to animation or simplified abstraction. Film is the wrong medium. The dynamic is similarly interesting (incidentally) to the internet’s birth in the late 90s and the sudden power given to all.
vlcsnap-00061 Troll 2, eat your heart out.
vlcsnap-00063 vlcsnap-00062 There are also zany antics like these. ¬†It’s a very silly film… and yet another terrifying example of how that positive irreverent impulse can go horribly wrong. I say terrifying because I’ve written similarly. It’s really a matter of “owning” your production; irreverent material is, perhaps, considerably more difficult than playing anything straight because you have the entire straight world you have to portray, and then an entirely separate (and intelligent) tier of irony above that.

That being said… I can sleep soundly knowing that I would never, on my worst day, if all my other senses were compromised, write the situations you¬†observe¬†in the surrounding pictures. ¬†It would simply never happen. ¬†So that’s¬†comforting.

vlcsnap-00064 vlcsnap-00065 vlcsnap-00067 vlcsnap-00069
And here I haven’t even mentioned the myriad curious connections to another film about dark magic in Los Angeles, potentially shot at the same time as Witch Hunt, the incomparably superior (in relative terms) Lord of Illusions. The real mystery is why Dennis Hopper ever agreed to work on such a script. It must’ve been favor to somebody. I never thought I’d say this: Dennis Hopper is wholly incorrect casting… yes, wholly incorrect to play “Philip Lovecraft: Private Investigator,” which is so 1st draft even SyFy wouldn’t touch it.
vlcsnap-00001Climax: an Eric Bogosian rant, very Talk Radio. There is no film like Witch Hunt. Did I mention that the black T-shirt Eric Bogosian just emerged from the torso of the suited senator played by the same actor?vlcsnap-00005

Currently watching: The Making of Prometheus

I don’t think anybody realizes Ridley Scott is actually 76 years old – born in 1937. It’s madness. He has the looks, wit and energy of a man in his 40s – perhaps because he’s been unmarried since 1989; you don’t get men in their 70s often directing pictures as ambitious as his. It’s so easy to forget his age. To be perfectly candid, this is really just blowing me the fuck away. He also avidly draws and does all his own storyboards and lots of pre-conceptualization. The real pity of Prometheus is Giger’s (RIP 2014) lack of involvement, and O’Bannon’s (RIP 2006), though Ridley was able to produce interesting design work. Ridley, by himself, is considerably more sentimental/religious than O’Bannon, who would’ve turned out a much different story… different, yet even while Prometheus feels so much like At the Mountains of Madness to me…
Oh dear… I was just reminded Tony Scott died two years ago, by suicide.

Currently watching: Hemoglobin/Bleeders (1997)
Following the Dan O’Bannon trail. The film has been damned interesting to this viewer, who was not pleased to find that it had been hugely panned. I’m sure we’ve all, at one point or another, asked ourselves, “Would I eat an embalmed fetus to live?” Our protagonist did it – and this scene immediately follows. I just hope he brushed his teeth.vlcsnap-00040Moments later… a lurid, uncut rut. A polarizing film.vlcsnap-00043And with the exception of the sex, very Lovecraftian. Though it now occurs to me that for a film to be truly Lovecraftian, in the most fundamental way, it can only be experienced through one single character’s perspective. No ensembles, no fraternity, dog eat dog.


Currently watching: The Dark Half



Currently watching: Demon Seed



Currently watching: Husbands

I guess the one nice thing about Cassavetes, perhaps the best thing (and the quality lamely emulated by mumblecorits), is his total lack of pretense. It makes me think of Heath Ledger’s Joker and his line: “Oh, and the know the thing about chaos..? It’s fair.” (among the more insightful quips J. Nolan has produced) The terror of total freedom is accompanied by a frantic lucidity. Arguably, it’s a correct universe – but it’ll drive you raving mad.vlcsnap-00005


Just started: The Unknown Known

Errol Morris is of course talented, but I was never explicitly drawn to him. Then I saw him on Bill Maher and witnessed his peculiar cadence and sense of humor, and feel it explained a great deal. He’s one of those men whose work I respect yet whose personality is such that I will never take him as seriously as he’d like.

First offense is listening to Danny Elfman trying to emulate Philip Glass, but that is Morris’s fault. I really cannot stand scoring like this in documentaries, or anywhere; “Objection: leading!” You think your shit don’t stink, Morris?vlcsnap-00004“Belief in the inevitability of conflict can become one of its main causes.” Hm. Maybe Errol’s winning me back. Man – I hate to say it but the very access this film provides makes it important, regardless of aesthetic missteps. It’s like an automatic 4/5. Damn.


Currently watching: Le Week-End

Of course.vlcsnap-00001


a few thoughts on Silicon Valley

A very charming show with plenty of intelligence. vlcsnap-00004vlcsnap-00005I’ve heard about these transports. And now that I’m seeing one, well, obviously, I’d like it.vlcsnap-00006Erlich driving a point home.vlcsnap-00008vlcsnap-00009Co-creators and producers…vlcsnap-00010I miss you.vlcsnap-00011


a few thoughts on Mad Men

Harry_tomorrowland_joyce_peggy_carolyn(to Chris)

As fond as I am of Mad Men, I always strongly wished that the season premiers and finales would contain a higher level of writing and directing, and I’m really using Six Feet Under as the bar. You know what I’m talking about – really, each episode directed by Alan Ball was easily discernible from the others, showed a great deal more maturity with the medium, always featured major dramatic performances, etc – in a word, “pivoting on emotional cathexes.” Smart TV. Mad Men’s premieres and finales feel identical to every other episode; the show has always been extremely formulaic (this is why I once commented that watching it sometimes feels like being in a vacuum).

Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 2.58.34 PMNow that I think about it, Mad Men is actually a bit more literary in that sense. Outside of some general soundtrack cues which exude that chauvanistic high rise American adventure in commerce kinda feel, the show is almost entirely without affect, and any impact the viewer feels is probably served by the narrative’s construction alone – leaving the actors to carry a great deal of weight. Admirable and tough to pull off. Mad Men has continually reached a high bar, and proven it’s incapable of greatness – just the best TV has to offer. Like an olympic gymnast who reaches the uppermost pinnacle of her talent, and never scores above an 8.9 or something. I’m going to blame the casting – lots of highly talented actors, none of whom (including Hamm) are bright shining stars. No Kevin Spacey, no Gabriel Byrne, no central powerhouse of talent; a socialist network of overachievers. On the bright side, they keep a healthy sense of humor. We won’t see anything we haven’t seen before, we’ll see a fine cover of some hits.Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 3.42.07 PMI really love that Don is passionate about cinema – from the horse’s mouth, “I see everything.” We all know well that if there was ever a time to be addicted to the cinema, it was the 1960s. And characters very frequently end up in the cinema. Hm – at first I was merely going to make this note, but now I find myself searching for every noted instance in Mad Men that takes place in the cinema. A few notable ones immediately come to mind… the most notable being Don and Lane’s New Years Date to Godzilla (s04e03, “The Good News”), just one of peaking season 4’s great episodes.Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 4.43.14 PMDon’s shock as the end credits glacially signify the grim end to Planet of the Apes (s06e04, “The Flood”). And Don likes it so much they stay for an immediate second viewing. That’s a cinephile.Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 5.09.06 PM

Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 5.09.15 PMTen year old Bobby Draper: “..Jesus..”Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 5.09.37 PMPete actually flirting with Joan – and this is after enthusiastically prostituting her to Jaguar. Pete is one of the strangest characters on television, and is mercilessly brutal with others who act the way he does. The poor guy has been frustrated for so long he’s been warped.Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 5.33.54 PMPeggy’s Ted Chaough sexual fantasy.Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 7.18.46 PMMasters of the Universe.Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 8.21.51 PMPoor Ken Congrove’s Detroit nightmare. The show paints a number of car guys as scum, and I must say that my professional experience serves to enhance that prejudice (limo services & auto bodies).Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 8.35.07 PMSo bizarre. And now that I think about it, this means that both of Pete’s parents died in highly tragic circumstances: dad in a plane crash, mom seduced and thrown overboard at sea..Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 2.25.38 AM

[8-11 M]

Don uses this familiar face in his personally designed ad for the fur store where he works.

vlcsnap-00006Rizzo’s first appearance, showing his KKK film to Clara and Megan.vlcsnap-00008vlcsnap-00009The inclusion of Ms. Ida Blankenship is perhaps the most solidly strong choice the writers ever made.vlcsnap-00011An extremely rare tender moment between Betty and Henry; most of their relationship witnessed by the viewer consists almost solely of her acting out and his justifiable indigence over it. In truth I’ve come to quite like Betty Francis, she provides lots of irreverent comic relief.vlcsnap-00012vlcsnap-00013vlcsnap-00014This is rather like a painting.vlcsnap-00015vlcsnap-00017


Mad Men climax

Mad Men climax

a few final thoughts on Mad Men (casting)


And just look how far Peggy’s come (s02e02).


Pete’s mother informs him and his brother (news to me) that their recently deceased father used to refer to them as “salt and pepper.” Amusing enough… clearly Pete is salt…vlcsnap-00002

Pete’s leisure activity.

Peggy & Pete’s shining moment. Wow!

This amusing little aside can be noted by the viewer in the second Don kicks open the door (s03e13, and I’m sure I missed some appearance of that “f” in an earlier episode).vlcsnap-00036

And this shot of Pete from the pilot. Location shooting… sigh…vlcsnap-00026

I find this line to be perhaps brilliant (I don’t use that word lightly!), and love that it comes from Glen: “Mom got married and now I’m supposed to live with him.” Who doesn’t love Glen? – besides Betty, whose rancor is disseminated with ubiquity.vlcsnap-00037

Currently watching: Bonnie and Clyde
Bonnie’s got a winner!
vlcsnap-00025They figured it out, this is how you make the midwest exciting: you burn it down!vlcsnap-00026P for perfect casting. I forgot this film had so much humor!vlcsnap-00031vlcsnap-00032Isn’t this supposed to be, like, the 30s? Burgers and fries in the car? Perhaps America does have a culture after all.vlcsnap-00033Ell oh ell. That’s one miracle of lighting, wouldn’t you say?vlcsnap-00034American gothic. To be honest it really bugs me that Beatty was thirty when they shot this. While the film works very well, seeing an actual angst-ridden, out of control 24 year old would be so much more fascinating – another Gary Oldman/Tim Roth/James McAvoy type role.vlcsnap-00036

Currently watching: 4:44: Last Day on Earth
Another Wisconsiner in the big city. I swear to god I don’t know if I can ever get NYC out of my blood, it’s an endless intoxicating tease. May sound silly for a person to say who’s only visited half a dozen times, but it’s true.
The film itself? Very competent, like Abel. First: Abel is great with minutiae, but I find it impossible to believe that 18 hours before the world ends, this is what NYC looks like. No… looting? Smoke? Excessive noise? Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 10.30.00 AMI’m really glad there’s no reason to dislike Willem Dafoe.Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 11.22.29 AMAs for the ozone depletion and the mentions of Al Gore, I can only hope that Ferrara isn’t force feeding us – but I strongly suspect I’d be disappointed.Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 10.53.24 AMAgain. You’re telling me that six hours before the world ends, in the center of the universe… no noise? No throngs? No chaos, not even a little bit? Have you forgotten, Abel, about the destitute in this country? You think they wouldn’t be in the streets? Everywhere?Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 11.59.11 AMThere it is: the most memorable and impressive thing photographed in the film. The image that’ll stick with you. I think that’s probably exactly how I’d look if this happened to me. Also it’s funny how much of the film is filled with “clips” – times really have changed. Now we’re all 100% susceptible. Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 12.36.14 PM Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 12.40.07 PM

Currently watching: Nymph()maniac Volume 1
Dashes of Greenaway! The film’s brilliant literary montage is reminding me how far I’ve strayed. I’ve never made any bones about my high opinion of Trier’s talent, and I typically enjoy him very much. vlcsnap-00018

Just started: Life Itself
Starting right out in highly familiar territory: the State/Lake el platform in the center of the loop, pointing at the wonderful Gene Siskel Film Center (best cinema in Chicago).vlcsnap-00015vlcsnap-00016Siskel, you dog.vlcsnap-00017

Just watched: Snowpiercer
Happy to report it’s a first-rate sci-fi film, in the lateral neighborhood of Children of Men – which places Bong Joon-Ho next door to Alfonso Cuaron. Excellent. One needn’t even be enthusiastic about the film to admire it. vlcsnap-00023Tilda be mine.vlcsnap-00024

Our Wizard of Oz is again Christof… while Harris is always welcome, his casting feels to me like the sort of halcyon idea which springs unbidden to mind and throws back your head with its rightness, only to stop you from thinking about it twice; obviously your hardened dogmatic mogul will be Ed Harris, just like your lizardy corrupt veteran cop will be Ray Liotta. vlcsnap-00020Regardless, who doesn’t relish these theatrical dystopian mega-reveals?

My comprehensive True Detective case file.

2014 Oscars

After three years of putting effort into Oscar commentary and predictions, the intellectual returns have diminished to the extent that I am condescendingly decreeing they are no longer important to me.

But I like gambling, and I did make some predictions.

Currently watching: Only Lovers Left Alive
Christ is it a relief to watch somebody competent for a change.

Currently watching: The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema

Currently watching: Snake Eyes
I have something of a soft spot for this film, and am reminded of how much I love ensembles.

Fellow Chicagoan and our Friend of Abe.

It’s really a pity that guns are the bane of civilization, because they’re just so bloody cool looking.

Out of the myriad difficulties one might have with this narrative, this is perhaps the most criminal: so Secretary of Defense, Charles Kirkland, gets an anonymous email from a government employee who fears a coverup over serious technical problems with a brand new missle defense system, the AirGuard. Kirkland replies saying he needs proof – and that this person should bring him the proof at a major Atlantic City Title Fight, where he will be swarmed by press and surrounded by security. He gives her no further information about how to find him during this event; the best she can think to do is “get a good look of the arena from high up.” He is sitting ringside so there’s no possibility of getting anywhere near him. The ringisde seat directly in front of him is vacant, because – apparently – Commander Dunne wants her to use it. Nobody bats at eye as an incredibly conspicuous blonde in a solid white, reflective, sexy suit waltzes ringside – “No ticket.” – sits in the open seat, and carries on a conversation with the Secretary of Defense. You may be saying, “But Commander Dunne was in charge of security, and could’ve ensured that she was left alone.” I suppose that’s possible, but that would require a conspiracy of silence among myriad security units that would be impossible to maintain. Dunne would never have left so many loose ends. There’s also just a tiny little lapse of logic in having your secret rendezvous ringside at a major sporting event that is being recorded from every conceivable angle, conversing with the Secretary of Defense and handing him mysterious files.
Oh, and I would like to note that I just love how Sinise’s character is named Kevin Dunne and the film features actor Kevin Dunn (as the reporter with access to the investigation). See? Insert dramatic “dunne dunn” sound effect here. And for the record, I knew it back in 1998! Why? Oh, because of Stir of Echoes, obviously. Koepp again. Makes me wonder if Koepp and Dunn were friendly – Dunn is from Chicago, after all!

Heh heh. There’s a lot in the film I really enjoy, but the simple number of coincidences make the ending absolute horseshit. And here’s my main problem: a police van smashes through the wall (shaking my head) and the officers instantly see a man with a gun, so they order him to drop his weapon. Never mind that this man is – very, very clearly – a decorated military officer.
It would appear that Santoro contacted some of his cop buddies and told them to show up at the casino with orders to arrest Commander Kevin Dunne (which, I guess, they were willing to do just because). This tip-off would’ve been after the scene in the stairwell when Costello informs Santoro that Dunne is a conspirator, and before Santoro examines the Eye in the Sky footage which captures Dunne in the act (even though the footage merely shows Dunne standing in wait without the redhead present – not exactly ironclad proof of corruption). We are led to believe that Santoro refuses to acknowledge that Dunne is corrupt until he has his proof in the footage, but it seems that he hedged his bet, contacted his peers and told them to arrest Dunne. He is not a man with any particular amount of authority, and Dunne is a respected Navy Commander. So Santoro must’ve had to detail everything he knew so that somebody over there would believe him. That, or his Atlantic City cop buddies are just piss poor police officers – which is certainly possible! I guess some people will do anything for Ricky. If you say so, Mr. Koepp.

The film’s final shot features the redhead’s ruby ring in the newly placed pillar for Powell’s Millennium Casino, underway after all. I know how the ring got there – but I don’t know why we should care. Is it a reminder that the casino wouldn’t exist without bloodshed – an homage to Santoro’s blood money? That’s the best I can do.
Oh, now I think I’ve got it! The middling rock tune which plays over the end credits, Meredith Brooks’ “Sin City,” contains the refrain, “You’ll never leave Sin City.” There you have it: Mrs. Redhead Conspirator cemented in the pillar; corruption leads to death. Santoro opts to serve in heaven. Well… again, if you say so, Mr. Koepp.vlcsnap-00002