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|Index||18 reviews in total|
I found Skidmarks absolutely compelling. Peter Gallagher plays a crime-scene photographer with a sideline of blackmailing men who take his prostitute friend to motels. Gallagher, whom I've not much liked in other movies, does a terrific job as the numb, depressed antihero, unaffected by the crime scenes and accident scenes he photographs until his fellow blackmailers start turning up as victims. The movie is full of deadpanned quips and black humor (e.g., the exchange between McDormand and Gallagher when she's trying to pick him up in a hamburger joint. McDormand, cool and tough: "Do you have a name?" Gallagher: "Yeah. Do you?") The film is not flashy enough ever to have made it big, but the plot and characters are utterly original and the acting is uniformly excellent.
This is a really interesting movie that I thoroughly dug and enjoyed. It's
part intense character study, part paranoid suspense-thriller, part chase
movie. The setup is this: John Scardino is a police crime & accident scene
photog who is emotionally numb inside and moonlights as the lens man for an
extortion ring, taking dirty snaps of compromised businessmen in their
undies with a saucy hooker named Lorraine in sleazy motel rooms. Suddenly,
Scardino starts seeing the blackmail crew from his night job turning up as
corpses in his day job in seemingly unrelated homicides. Scardino is the
only one who notices the connection, but he can't say squat without
revealing his involvement in a criminal enterprise! He rediscovers his
emotional inner self by getting major league heebie-jeebies trying to figure
out who the killer is. He's taken so many snaps over the years, it could be
just about anybody. No one can be trusted! Halfway through, the movie
explodes open and turns really grisly and intense--be prepared!
The acting--by Peter Gallagher, Frances McDormand, John Lithgow, Jack Black, Geoffrey Lower, John Kapelos, Charlie Spradling and Lee Arenberg--is great and infinitely diggable. The dialogue is really wry and darkly funny, as is the music. And the movie's look has a kind of Edward Hopper-film noir thing going that I also really dug.
Not a lot of people saw this flick when it first came out. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, then went straight to HBO. Which is weird, because it's so good. This one's a real find. Go forth and dig it!
--Richard Terhune, The Movie Digger
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Johnny's last name is Scardino so why did they call him Skidmarks?
Although it wasn't explained in the movie, it is obvious that the
moniker had something to do with his occupation - a crime and accident
scene photographer. He took photos of vehicle skid marks, see? It seems
that Skidmarks was not a regular police employee but a freelance
photographer who got assignments from the cops to take photos of crime
scenes, similar to a reporter on "string" basis. Obviously, he didn't
have much talent otherwise he would have been into photography
involving advertising, modeling, art or whatnot. He reminds me of
itinerant photographers who used to frequent parks, churches and
tourist spots and overcharged for their unimaginative photos.
And so Skidmarks made a living taking flash photos of gruesome scenes. As long as the pictures were clear and showed everything the investigators wanted, they were OK. Doubtless his dreadful job had made Johnny morally numb. He really didn't even "see" the subjects of his photos. Which was why he was into a blackmailing racket where his co-conspirators faked police raids while he took photos of men caught in compromising positions with prostitutes. In one of these raids, the victim turned out to be a "friend," a detective in the police force who frequently engaged his services. But because he has been so inured to the reality of crime and the unpleasantness he encountered daily in his work, he did not recognize his friend. It seems that he completely detached himself from the scene so that he did not hear his friend's pleas to help him.His failure to do so leads to a series of murders.
This is certainly not a "feel good" movie. It is tragic but not a tragedy because the hero lacks both honor and hubris. Nevertheless, it is a riveting watch as it combines character study and suspense. One's sympathy goes out to both Skidmarks and the murderer who whacked the members of his gang and stalks him.
I enjoyed this movie. The characters were portrayed interestingly and the story moved along nicely. There were not many surprises, and some of the more gruesome scenes were stretched out longer than necessary. The main attraction was the quirkiness of the characters.
Sometimes when you are rooting around the bargain bin, you can find an
overlooked gem. A look at the cast here tells you that it has to be
worth something, and with a tile like Skidmarks, there has to be
Sure, it is not the best work of these fine performers, but it is certainly worth your time.
Peter Gallagher (Short Cuts, American beauty) plays a police photographer, who moonlights catching people with hookers so his partners can blackmail them. Sort of like Danny DeVito in L.A. Confidential. He hooks up with Frances McDormand (Fargo, North County), an alcoholic who is trying to dry out.
When his partners start dying all around him, you have to believe McDormand is involved as her father is on TV stating that he has never cheated. We know differently, and so does Gallagher. But, that's a red herring, and the killer comes from a place you never suspect.
Jack Black (The School of Rock) provides comic relief as the ex-brother-in-law, and John Lithgow (Terms of Endearment, The World According to Garp) provides the exciting finish. Charlie Spradling provides the eye candy.
i think that this movie is one of the most underrated movies around..i have watched it at least 8 times and it gets better everytime I see it. Francis mcDermott is as good as she has ever been. Let the viewer decide......!!!!!1 luv it.
"Johnny Skidmarks" (1998) is a neo-noir. The story has an unusual focus
that's interesting, which is the moral and emotional numbness and
insensitivity of a crime photographer. The development of this original
idea in the story creates a beginning in which we aren't quite sure
what the story is about. The movie catches more fire when several
killings occur. It goes into intense thriller mode when the connections
are made between the photographer and the killer, who has a motive but
is also extreme and crazed.
Peter Gallagher plays crime photographer Johnny Skidmarks, the latter a nickname. Because his character is supposed to be insensitive to what he photographs, his role is rather subdued and laid back, but he has a few good quips here and there. Frances McDormand is his love interest, but her subplot doesn't relate to the main plot. This is a story weakness. She, however, is an interesting actress. She brings a world-weariness to the film and also she makes a pass at Gallagher, an interesting inversion. John Lithgow is the police detective who is Gallagher's boss at the crime scenes, although the independent Gallagher is not part of the department. Lithgow's work is always worth watching.
There are some gruesome scenes that I could tell were imminent that I didn't want to see. I closed my eyes during their expected duration as judged by the sound track. This worked out well. In one scene, even the usually unperturbed Skidmarks has a fainting spell.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
John Lithgow's best performance in many years as a homicidal cop, on the brink of madness. Lithgow is both funny and at times scary in a role that, after seeing Cliffhanger, seems that he was destined to excel. Although having a slow start, the film gains momentum and gears towards the rollercoaster finish in which Lithgow's character delights. Although, never a classic, it is a pretty decent effort.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw this one a good while ago, and it stuck with me as an enjoyable
piece of work. Finally, I've been able to track a copy down and last
night I sat down and watched it. To not beat around the bush: it was
disappointing on the whole, but still worth another watch because of
the strange combination of many elements, such as film noir, black
humour, drama, romance, an offbeat sounding soundtrack with a lot of
Italian ditties and such, and even a portion of gore.
The story sometimes just muddles along like the lost main character himself does, with a finale that does not really deliver a proper payoff. It has to do with the credibility of Johnny forgetting who Skovik is; if you can go along with that, there'll be no problem, but it felt like big step too far for me. Then, there's the dark and romantic drama going on between Johnny and Alice, which didn't work well for me either. Jerry, Johnny's 'former' brother in law, could have been a fun part in itself, but just like a lot of things in this film, it didn't really sit right either. It's hard to put a finger on it, but there you have it.
There's plenty of potential, but with so many different elements going on, I think it takes a really good director to make it all come together just right. This, to me, is more like a 'nice try, no cigar' deal.
5 out of 10, which may even be generous.
"Johnny Skidmarks" does not seem to know exactly what it wants to be - it crosses a number of genres, from black comedy to thriller. As it turns out, none of the genres it dabbles in are particularly well accomplished. It's not funny, not thrilling, or insightful. The main problem with the movie, as my summary line points out, is that it's too soft and low key. This particularly goes for lead actor Peter Gallagher - he is so lacking in emotion (ANY emotion) for most of the movie that it's hard to get a handle on his character. But the movie's story is also weak. It's extremely slow moving and filled with unnecessary fat. There's also fault with the twist about two-thirds into the movie, which is not only predictable to a good degree, it depends on the characters being extremely stupid. The only interesting thing to be found in the movie is seeing a pre-fame Jack Black, though his scenes only add up to a few minutes of the total running time.
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