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Jack, Thomas and Wayne are the Stickmen. They like nothing more than to have a beer in one hand, a pool cue in the other, a coin on the table and their mates around them. They play pub pool for fun and money at Dave's bar. Desperate to get out of debt, Dave gets the Stickmen entered into a high stakes pool tournament run by vicious crime boss "Daddy". He also gets them into a whole rack of trouble. Can the Stickmen beat the odds, pocket the money, win the girls and save Dave? You rack 'em, they crack 'em. And never take your eye off the ball. Written by
Evan Yates <email@example.com>
LIke 'Bootmen!' only, you know, with sticks! Actually, it's better than that...
Although this film comes onto its audience like an extended beer commercial and breeds initial suspicion that it may be a shot-for-shot remake of 'Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels', ultimately it's not too bad. The characters might be the broadest stereotypes on paper (there's even a whore with a heart of gold) but the actors flesh them out with enough of their own charm, idiosyncrasies (and outright sex appeal) to make the roles seem lived in. The performances are universally good (although Kessel's and Nordhaus' stand out most), but the thinness of the material shows through in some places (like the lack of distinction among the personalities of the three central mates).
Like a lot of film-makers these days, 'Stickmen''s came to features though advertising, and this leaves obvious and continual marks on the film's visual style. There's a lot of rapid cutting and camera motion - general ad-industry tricksiness. It shows also in the care they've taken with surface detail and lighting; like 'Lock Stock...', 'Stickmen' is an exercise in imbuing a fairly humdrum urban locale with an impossibly scungy hipness. Its Wellington is a down-at-heel props-fest of found 70s-kitsch art objects.
While there might not ever be another really good New Zealand film (it often seems like the Right has killed off the arts-sector here, except as an adjunct of Marketing), 'Stickmen' is OK. It looks good, and it functions as entertainment, unlike say, 'Via Satellite'. It's a pity it couldn't have been more than just a story about some guys, some chicks, and a game of pool.
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