When Fred Frenger gets out of prison, he decides to start over in Miami, Florida, where he starts a violent one-man crime wave. He soon meets up with amiable college student/prostitute Susie Waggoner. Opposing Frenger is Sgt Hoke Moseley, a cop who is getting a bit old for the job, especially since the job of cop in 1980's Miami is getting crazier all the time.Written by
A framed photograph of Miami Blues author Charles Willeford can be seen on Hoke Moseley's desk in the police station. See more »
When they have to buzz you in through a locked coin shop door, they also have to buzz you out. But Frenger just goes through the door after shooting Pedro and the coin shop owner. No one buzzes him out, and the door would be locked. See more »
...And you save your money... and buy a nice little house, with a white picket fence, and live happily ever after.
Frederick J. Frenger Jr.:
Tell you what. Let's go straight to the "happily ever after" part, OK?
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You know what this reminds me of? Godard's "Breathless," one of the first of the shockingly original Nouvelle Vague flicks of the early 60s. I remember first seeing "Breathless" with some friends in a theater in Ithaca, NY, and emerging arguing about what it meant. I don't mean trying to identify any great load of symbolism or moral lesson it might be towing behind it. I just mean, what happened, and why? As I recall we decided that "Breathless" was an "existential" movie and didn't really need to be specific about what was going on. It was a story about a man making a life choice. You can be or do anything you want, said Sartre, and you can break all the rules -- as long as you're willing to take the consequences.
In "Miami Blues" the Belmondo part is played by Alec Baldwin, a guy fresh out of prison who has chosen a life of wilful disobedience. His girl friend (who really ought not to be in college) is a part-time hooker with aspirations that are utterly bourgeois. Jennifer Jason Lee wants to live with her husband and babies in a house with a white picket fence. Fred Ward, looking grizzled and great, is a homicide detective whom Baldwin clobbers and whose identity he steals.
I don't know why certain things happen. For instance, I have no idea how or why Baldwin manages to dig up Ward's home address, then goes there and beats hell out of him, and winds up stealing his false teeth, handcuffs and other cop accoutrements. What was THAT all about? I'll give one more example. Baldwin is in a convenience store and stumbles on an armed robbery. "I'm the police! Drop that gun and walk out of here!" he shouts -- and threatens the armed robber with a jar of spaghetti sauce.
See, in an existentialist movie like this, the characters don't really need to have motives. They do whatever they feel like doing.
There IS continuity though, even if in its details the movie makes very little sense. The characters are consistent, and there is a rudimentary plot, engaging and amusing without being in any way memorable.
I did enjoy the movie though, even the second time around, or maybe even MORE the second time around, since I'd learned not to expect an abundance of logic in the narrative.
The acting of the three principles is also admirable. Alec Baldwin had just appeared in "The Hunt for Red October," in which he struck me as not much more than a handsome leading man. Here, he's a different character entirely. Watch him as he struts down the street, arms swinging jauntily, grinning through pain, happily throwing off non sequiturs in dramatic situations. ("Do you own a suede coat?" he asks a criminal before murdering him.) Lee is more than childlike. She's positively childish with her overflowing emotions. I loved Fred Ward in this. He's full of quirks and rarely seems to be taking the role seriously. Instead of soaking his precious false teeth in -- what is that stuff, Polydent? -- he soaks them overnight in a glass of left-over booze.
Interesting exercise in style and acting.
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