Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Kill Me Again (1989) Nevada Desert Film Soleil

Directed by John Dahl, a Billings, Montana, native and a U of M alumni of mine. Kill Me Again was the first of a trio of Neo Noirs  (Red Rock West (1993), The Last Seduction (1994)), that cemented Dahl at the get go as one of those few directors that truly understands the visual style of what basically makes a noir a noir combined with a simple story about down and outers that isn't typical Hollywood i.e, using "A" actors, car chases, product placement, explosions, etc., etc. The story was written by Dahl and David W. Warfield. The excellent cinematography was by Jacques Steyn and music by William Olvis.

The film stars Val Kilmer (True Romance (1993), The Salton Sea (2002)), Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs (1992), Mulholland Falls (1996), Sin City (2005)), Joanne Whalley, Jon Gries,   Michael Greene (To Live And Die In L.A. (1985), and Bibi Besch.

Film Soleil, the yang of Film Noir 's yin. Credits roll. Desert. Distilled anti-city. Bright. Sun baked. Torrid. Wasteland 360 to the horizon.

Shithole. Winnemucca. Nevada. A daylight heist. '76 Monte Carlo. Vince (Madsen) leather clad Elvis. Eye shades. Fay (Whalley), casino trash bimbette. She's the bait. Vince is the switch. Mob skim. Briefcase stash. Two couriers. One gets stupid. One gets cute. Vince drills him. He bites the Dust. Vince grabs the loot. Fay lays Chevy rubber. Desert desperados. They vamoose. Gone.

Vince (Madsen)

Fay (Whalley)

Two lane getaway. Briefcase opened. Whoa! WTF? Fay's ecstatic. $$ sign eyes. Money junkie. Gambling addict. Vince pissed. Too much. Thirty times too much. Mob money. Deep doo-doo. Gotta leave state. Gotta scram. Gotta get the fuck outta Dodge. Gotta Idaho. Hicksville. The boonies. Lay low.

Two lane getaway

The loot ... Fay want's to go to Vegas

Too much
 Fay - No way. You go. Been there done that. We split it. Viva Las Vegas. Vince pissed. Cowboy boot to brake. Hooks in. Rubber smokes. Vince and Fay have a tussel. Vince persuades. Fay comes 'round. Fay gets docile. They head North.
don't fuck with me 

hitting the hooks


Pit stop. Rest Area. Vince gotta whiz. Doesn't trust Fay. Takes her and briefcase into shitter. Vince starts watering the horse. Fay eyeballs rock door stop. Sees way out. Sees $$$. She grabs rock. Kisses Vince on the melon. He's still draining the main vein. Golden shower. Lights out. Fay grabs money. Fay grabs Chevy. $$ sign eyes. Looking for bright lights. Wants to hear that ding, ding, ding. Heads to Reno.

Pit stop
Reno bound Fay
Motel. Fay checks in. Tabulates total on tabloid rag. $475,000. Almost half a mill. Tabloid blurb. "Wife fakes death and steals hubby's money." Fay get's brainstorm. Flips open phone book. Private Investigators. "A". First listing Jack Andrews. Lucky dog.


Jack Andrews P.I. (Kilmer)
Jack Andrews (Kilmer) is a Reno PI about to go on the skids. He owes $10,000 to a loan shark. Payment due. He's late. A couple of meatheads are bustin' up his office. A warning. Jack gets feisty. Get's a broken pinky finger for his trouble.

Fay cleaned up
Pure as driven slush
Fay goes fishing. Dresses in white. Innocence personified. She's pure as driven slush. Walks into Jack's. Got a plan for the man. Jack eyeballs Fay. Likes what he sees. Fay goes into her act. Turns on the tears. Sob story sister. Battered beauty. Abusive beau. Not right in the head. Displays her bruises. Cries crocodile tears. She wants Jack to fake her death. Get Vince off her ass. She'll pay $10,000. Half now. Half later. Jack's got $$ sign eyes. Fay is addictive.  Money troubles solved? No, it's an invitation to the blues, it's an invitation to Noirsville.

Jack is jacked. Jack is inventive. The man with a plan.

Step one: Get Fay a fake ID. Get buddy Alan to scrounge a pint of Fay's blood type. A hospital connection.
Jack and Alan (Jon Gries)
Step two: Make Fay get noticed. She checks into a new dive. Fay plays cute. Tolls the desk clerk. Bats her eyelashes. Giggles. Sundress strap malfunction. Giggles. He drools. Sweet, girl next door sexy. He's boner city.

Step three: Fay plays craps. She jiggles when she wins. Low cut dress. Deep cleavage. Bouncing boobies. Everybody drools.

Crap game
Step four: Jack in disguise. Ten gallon cowboy. Picks Fay up at casino. Drives Fay to motel. Fay makes sure desk clerk sees her, she waves. He's shot out of his imaginary saddle.

shot out of the saddle
Step five: Fake evidence. Trash the room. Rough Fay up. It turns sexual. She LIKES it. Spill some booze. Spill some blood. Rip her dress. Cut it with knife. Stab wounds faked. Dump her purse. Wrap her in a sheet and dump her in her trunk.

The "Killing"

Step six: Check her into another Motel. Drive her car with the bloody clothes out into the desert and dump it. Looks like another hooker murder. Another runaway who trusted the wrong guy. Body missing. Sandy grave.

Step seven: Prearranged. Alan picks him up. Alan get his cut. Jack is back. Rendezvous in Reno. Rendezvous with Fay.

But Fay has SPLIT! She checked out. VAMOOSED! Leaves Jack jack. Headed for Vegas. In her purse was a matchbook with Jack's number. Guess who gets pinched? Jack. And guess who comes knocking at Jack's door next. VINCE!

Our femme fatale Joanne Whalley-Kilmer has this quality of being able to look both extremely sexy and weasily simultaneously. At times she's a bit swarthy, disheveled, and K-Y Jelly greasy. But she cleans up nicely in a low rent, low life sort of way. She can play sweet and demure when she's registering at a motel and wants the clerk to remember her. Other times she affects the look of a rat nibbling on a wedge of cheese. Her eyes slightly bulging at the moment you flip the lights on in the kitchen. She has an aura of rodent, I guess we can call it a rat girl vibe. She's jail tail.

Michael Madsen is always convincing as a homicidal psychopath. He was born to play these characters. In classic noir he would have been reverently type cast, on par with Peter Lorre, Elisha Cook Jr., Dan Duryea, and Raymond Burr. His dead eyes negate any facial expressions he may generate. You are looking into the abyss of mayhem and madness. You know he's crazier than a shithouse rat.

Val Kilmer as PI Jack Andrews has an Eagle Scout vibe. He comes off as competent P.I., who has had a string of bad luck. Swerving to miss a deer he loses control of his car and goes through a guardrail. He and his wife are plunged into a lake. He tries to save her. Only Jack survives and he's haunted by the tragedy. He is down but not out.

The finale sets up like this. Jack is after Fay. Vince and the police are after Jack. The mob is after Vince and Fay. It's quite entertaining, looks great, and it manages to homage a few Classic Noir's in the process. John Dahl really has a handle on Film Noir/Film Soleil. Music was by William Olvis. For his first effort Dahl earns a 7-8/10.


1964 Cadillac Coupe DeVille 

A Neo-Noir visual treat, the screencaps are from MGM DVD.

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