Saturday, July 30, 2016

BLOOD & WINE (1996)

Directed By: Bob Rafelson 
Written By: Nick Villiers & Alison Cross 
Story By: Bob Rafelson & Nick Villiers 
Cinematography By: Newton Thomas Sigel 
Editor: Steven Cohen 

Cast: Jack Nicholson, Michael Caine, Jennifer Lopez, Stephen Dorff, Judy Davis, Harold Perrineau, Mike Starr

Bob Rafelson has stated that this is the final part of an informal trilogy he started with "Five Easy Pieces" and continued with "The King Of Marvin Gardens". In the three, Nicholson has now played son, brother and father. In this one, Nicholson is a wealthy wine dealer who has distanced himself from his wife with his philandering and from his son with his negligence. After he steals a diamond necklace with the help of a safecracker partner, Victor, things start coming apart. His wife sets out to interrupt what she thinks is another one of his weekend dalliances, but is really his trip to pawn the jewels.

Blood is thicker than water and wine is the same color and just as thick as blood can be. They also have a similar texture. Which is what this film seems to be all about. Texture, building up elements into a mixture then battling it out until the combination makes something rich, tasteful and soothing.

This is a film noir that more takes place in the daytime in sunny Florida. That does more of it's dirty dealings through dialogue rather than action, but still feels like it is missing a harder edge.

This movie is practically movie critic proof as it is Jack Nicholson reuniting with director Bob Rafelson who directed him in the classic films THE KING OF MARVIN GARDENS and FIVE EASY PIECES amongst other collaborations. This film proves to be a more worthwhile project then before with the film MAN TROUBLE. This is also one of the last films that Bob Rafelson has directed

Not only that but the film seems more. A chance for a master class in acting with Jack Nicholson and Michael Caine together on screen. Though Michael Caine seems here to more play against type as the scumbag partner who is probably slowly dying. Caine does devour the scenery but he livens up the film.

Watching two great Actors share the screen in what feels like a master class of acting. This is the team up that is worth it. Michael Caine had decided to quit acting right before this film after two disappointing films. Jack Nichols begged and convinced him to take a role in this film and he supposedly had such a great time making the movie it convinced him to come back and stick with acting. Unfortunately Jack Nicholson didn’t have such luck when trying to get Ethan Hawke to take the role of his son played by Stephen Dorff. As he turned it down due to the fact that he was finishing his own directorial debut THE HOTTEST STATE. Though if he had taken the role it would have been an amazing low-key film with a powerful cast that is more a well kept secret. As when this film came out Jack Nicholson was still regularly making movies. This one seems more personal to him as he doesn’t overplay as it’s not a film with a swollen budget. So the film wasn’t as successful as it deserved to be. As now it might be a underdog film that might have made more waves. Instead of just being more taken for granted.

This was before Hollywood tried to build great actors together on projects that seemed Unworthy. Where the plot it story came second. To just getting them Onscreen together. You can see why this project appealed to both of them.

This film seems more like it's we are supposed to be caught up in the ambiance. As the film seems to be more about making moves and setting up mood. It’s a small production and a small story, but it is strong in it’s moments

Jack Nicholson more downplays his role here with a subtlety. Where he strips away and downplays his cook veneer. Where he more plays a sad sack to a degree who is at the end of his rope and stuck with a friend/partner who lacks his finesse and is more of a oaf and leech to him pushing him to a place where he doesn't want to go. So he is stuck between a Rock and a hard place and seems to want to make everybody happy. Nicholson gives off a vulnerability while trying to seem tough. It's the type of acting he hadn't done In a while.

The film has Jennifer Lopez in a early performance. It's a small but pivotal role. She is he love interest for both Nicholson and Stephen Dorff, but her role is more downplayed as sensual more than sexual.

The cast is good but unfortunately levels Judy Davis with barely anything to do. She seems more like a place holder in a Role that more hinges on plot mechanics then an actual character. So she barely has anything to really do.

Laid back and a little more refined as you get a sense of it's meticulous design, but as of the rules of the genre has a rubles streak that tends to come out now and then before going back to business as usual. Except at the end where it seems to overflow from holding itself back throughout so much. Not horror and carnage level, but more than you might expect within this type of film.

When It comes to director Bob Rafelson. He isn't a strong visual director, but he sets the right tone. He is more an actors director. Helping them to discover their depths and more have breakthroughs as characters. Exploring emotional journeys. That mix Into the stories. Only wish the film was a little more lively. As it feels more mature taking it's time.

Luckily the movie is more interested in the characters then the story. As it is a story you have seen dozens of times and better. So stay for the acting not the plot. Which seems boiled over

The film at turns suffers from convenience a bit too much.

In the end the film has a painful ending that is justified though seems cruel and like something is missing to make it great. Which is how it feels throughout the film. Like it is missing some flavor. So that it eels almost like a typical thriller from the 90's with a star studded package

Grade: B-

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