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Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Sex. Murder. Mystery. Welcome to the party.
Filmmaker(s): Shane Black

A petty thief posing as an actor is brought to Los Angeles for an unlikely audition and finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation along with his high school dream girl and a detective who's been training him for his upcoming role...

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

Gossamer Connections

I’m like most people I guess. For me, there are movies that are “just” movies, things I enter for fun.

And there are others I enter as part of lucid living, what are usually called “art” films.

Its an artificial division that exists only because of the accidents of market forces that channel money down the different pipelines. But we accept it and apply different criteria. Too bad in a way, because when we encounter something like this, it falls between categories.

All the images are drawn from the popular vocabulary, but all the flows are out of bounds for popular movies. The cleverest element here is that all the advanced ideas from the inner “intelligent scriptwriters coven” (ISC, a sort of Skull and Bones) are mutated to funny slants on the cinematic vocabulary.

This is fun, but it isn’t what the press calls a spoof, or any of the nuances they like along those lines, lines designed to support one or the other of those monetary channels. Its the language of Hollywood unleashed to eat a movie in bits, even while getting their appetite from the wholeness and perfection of the uneaten thing.

We have characters as other characters. Characters as actors. Detectives, and a pretend actor playing a pretend detective as our thrice-removed noir narrator — who forgets details and lapses into self-referential monologues.

We have a peed-on body, a gay detective, not quite as cool as Dafoe in “Boondock Saints.” But the dialog is so cool, each word sharpened, with characters correcting each other’s words.

We have a writer outside and one inside. And a movie about a detective with a movie about a detective inside, each one dealing with sex and all four of these crisscrossing in the plot.

The only odd duck is the one that ISN’T odd, the pretty — very pretty — redhead. She’s sort of the anchor here, an actress playing an actress who is the only one whose character is not acting. There’s only one place where it seemed to take itself seriously, when our real detective encounters the hidden villain.

This part wasn’t written for Robert Downey Jr, but it may as well have been. He’s one of our best folded actors and he fully understands the multiple folding mechanics Black is using. He’s a national treasure.

This won’t be selected as one of the two “must see” movies from 2005 (a bad year). But that’s only because of its commercial wrapper. Nevertheless, you really should see it. really.

Posted in 2006

Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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