Jimmy the Saint's business is videotaping the terminally-ill, so that they will be around to give 'Afterlife Advice' to their survivors. He hasn't been doing too well lately and has had to turn to loan-sharks to accomodate his failing business, as well as his expensive personal tastes. When an evil gangster-overlord buys up his note and demands a favor of Jimmy, in exchange for the interest that he can't afford, Jimmy capitulates. Jimmy is to scare someone for the gangster-overlord--really rough them up. Without giving too much away (spoiler), the scene goes down badly and Jimmy and his crew all end up with contracts on their heads for their trouble. Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead is directed by Gary Fleder and written by Scott Rosenberg. It stars Andy Garcia, Christopher Lloyd, William Forsythe, Bill Nunn, Treat Williams, Steve Buscemi and Christopher Walken. Music is by Michael Convertino and cinematography by Elliot Davis.
Jimmy the Saint (Garcia) is a ex-gangster who finds one of his debts has been bought up by his ex boss, The Man With the Plan (Walken). The Man wants Jimmy to assemble a crew to put the frighteners on a guy who stole the girlfriend of his son, Bernard (Michael Nicolosi), who has been so traumatised by the break up he has taken to "bothering" young girls. Calling on four of his old comrades in crime, Jimmy feels it's a simple job that will finally clear him of his gangster debt whilst earning his hard up pals some cash. However, in fighting threatens to destabilise the group and when the "job" invariably goes wrong they all have to deal with the vengeful aftermath of The Man With the Plan.
You wanna throw those pathetic yuks some scratch, I applaud your sensitivity.
One of a number of films that surfed in on the wave created by Pulp Fiction, Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead is a nifty and potent picture at times, with sharp dialogue, moments of brutalising and a fire-cracker of a neo-noir finale. Yet it's hurt considerably by the ridiculousness of the set up. Film hinges on a "shake down" arrangement that just comes off as a weak excuse for a film, in fact it's bad writing. There are a myriad of ways to set up a heist gone wrong and then have the crims be on the run for their lives, this set up is just pathetic. Buscemi's hit man is poorly conceived, with some glaring conflicting in the characterisation, while the Anwar (beautiful and leaving a good impression) love interest angle could have had much more made of it if the makers had had the courage of their convictions.
Give it a name.
Still, if you can allow the annoyance of the crappy set up to subside, then there's strong noir themes to indulge in here. A one time bad boy struggling to escape his past and characters stuck in a bleak destiny influenced rut they can't get out of. There's a pervading sense of depression hanging over the film, which in a twisted way makes for good film, while the character dynamics are strong because the characters are very memorable. Helps, too, that they have awesome names like Jimmy the Saint, Critical Bill, Franchise and Mister Shhh! Acting is very good, with Garcia earning his quality pathos stripes, Williams doing psycho with ease, Forsythe a mighty machismo presence, Lloyd resigned and pitiless and Walken turning in another in his long line of bitter scary bastards.
Worthy of interest to neo-noir fans for sure, but frustration sits in the narrative to stop it being an essential viewing. 6.5/10
9 of 10 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?