• Review: The American Side (2016)

    From David N. Butterworth@21:1/5 to All on Sat Mar 25 23:32:02 2017
    A film review by David N. Butterworth
    Copyright 2017 David N. Butterworth

    *** (out of ****)

    A Polish P.I. A raven-haired femme fatale. A suicide at Niagara Falls (or
    was it?). A conspiracy to exploit Nikola Tesla's unrealized designs.
    These vintage elements form the satisfying core of "The American Side," a hard-boiled film noir from writer/director Jenna Ricker and writer/star
    Greg Stuhr, who shuffles in as low-rent Buffalo, New York detective Charlie Paczynski. Despite his shabby appearance and questionable tactics, Charlie makes for an enigmatically-likable antihero in the film, never once at a
    loss for a pithy aside--that Polish sausage crack regarding a belligerent
    cop's nearest and dearest is pretty caustic for starters. Most of the
    dialogue crackles, in fact, evoking those classic gumshoe dramas of the
    '40s and '50s while evincing Hitchcock and Bogart and Chandler. Like most films of its type, "The American Side"--the title refers to the part of
    Niagara Falls that's not in Canada--is convoluted beyond comprehension, but
    it delivers on the look, feel, and sound of the genre, with cinematographer Frank Barrera capturing the dramatic architecture of Buffalo's seedy
    rust-belt in dramatic browns and grays and veteran David Shire ("All the President's Men") providing the breezy score. Rounding out the central
    cast of unfamiliar names (Stuhr, Alicja Bachleda, and Camille Belle) are Matthew Broderick and Janeane Garofalo, as well as '70s throwbacks Robert Forster, Harris Yulin, Joe Grifasi, and "The Man from U.N.C.L.E."'s Robert Vaughn. Some roles, like Vaughn's outraged neighbor, are little more than cameos, but the support of these familiar faces lends the film a certain legitimacy. Kudos to Ricker and Stuhr for a thoroughly entertaining
    tribute to the bad old days.

    David N. Butterworth

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