Wicked City: White Knuckle Nostalgic Crime Drama

Ed Westwick

Los Angeles in the 1980s was a force to be reckoned with, Hollywood, Sunset Boulevard and driving ambition were all part of the scene and Wicked City, the ABC white knuckle crime drama full of nostalgia delivers this new offering on October 27, 2015. Anyone who visited the city of angels in the late 1970s early 80s will remember the hookers on street corners and the XXX rated clubs between Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset. The strip had more drug dealers and deaths per square inch than any other part of the city.

Having seen the pilot it is easy to see that this will be one heck of an addition to the ABC lineup. Set in the time were serial killers were falling over themselves in the world of glitter, glamor and drugs, Wicked City packs a punch in its opening episode.

Starring Jeremy Sisto, Taissa Farmiga, Erika Christensen, Ed Westwick and Gabriel Luna Wicked City follows an ambitious young reporter Karen McClaren (Farmiga), a detective Jack Roth (Sisto) and a serial killer, Kent (Westwick).

The show takes us back to a time where pagers were cutting edge and Pat Benetar could be heard on most rock channels. Smoky clubs along the strip, like Whiskey A Go Go, were packed with wannabes and Billy Idol performed live. The Hillside Stranglers were behind bars and the police were terrified of the possibility of copycat killers.

McClaren meets a helpful man at the “Whiskey” who likes to pay back and Roth is a cop with some baggage. Kent is pretty disturbing and the three main players are joined by a group of characters that include an undercover cop, a fast burner detective and a lot of victims.

This new crime drama boasts a more than capable cast and the sets look so convincing that one almost needs to look out the window and double check that we have not somehow been transported back to 1982.

Taissa Farmiga proves that she does not need American Horror Story to give a great performance and that those chops are improving with each project. Jeremy Sisto convinces as the detective who is determined to put another serial killer behind bars before he can kill again. Ed Westwick is truly unsettling as Kent and it is brilliant to see W. Earl Brown as Captain Williamson.

The pilot of Wicked City packs a lot of suspense into the series open and while there are no car chases, overly gratuitous violence and only the most modest of sex scenes, the episode excites. More of a mystery thriller than cop show, this new offering from ABC looks to be entertainment with a capital E and guarantees some solid performances and white knuckle viewing.

The show airs October 27 on ABC. Tune in and take a trip down memory lane or if you are too young for that, have a look to see what “The Strip” was like “back in the day.” Fans of Farmiga will be pleased with what she brings to the show and Ed Westwick kills it as Kent (Pun intended.).

http://www.disneyabcpress.com/abc/video/vgq63_7qluycv0zlvek7ydn8j16lvwdi/embed?t=170

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005): A Gay Buddy Film

Unknown

After being told by numerous people (well, two at least) that Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was a dynamite film that showed implicitly that Shane Black was an awesome director before Iron Man 3, I decided to watch it. Especially after seeing a clip from the film that featured Val Kilmer, Robert Downey Jr and Evan Parke where Downey shoots Parke in the head.

Despite that sounding bad, it was actually quite funny and after being told by my soon-to-be illustrious director Natasha Harmer that, “Oh, it gets even better.” Watching the film became a “done deal.” Just for the record the other “fan” of this film is my daughter Meg’s significant other Max.

Based, in part, on a Brett Halliday novel titled Bodies are Where You Find Them (whatever that means) and with a screen story/screenplay written by Shane Black and directed by same, – And yes, it’s the Shane Black who wrote the Lethal Weapon films, plural, and other great bits of movie magic – Kiss Kiss Bang Bang or KKBB as I’ll refer to it for the rest of this post, is a kick ass, funny film with just enough tongue in cheek humour directed at the audience to take the sting of the sadder bits of the film.

Whew! Try reading that last marathon of a sentence with one breath. Go ahead, try! I dare you!

Narrated by Downey, KKBB is a journey through the Los Angeles movie crowd as dictated by every movie ever made about Hollywood. It abounds with stereotypes, clichés and enough two-dimensional characters to populate a Top Cat cartoon.

But…

These have all been done on purpose. At the beginning of the film, Downey is introducing himself as our narrator and cheerfully telling us how bad he is going to be and then proceeds to show us. He also starts the film standing by a heated swimming pool, occasionally dipping his shoes into the water.

The reference to Sunset Boulevard is obvious and if you didn’t see it? Shame on you! Now go out now and watch Sunset Boulevard and tell me you can’t see the reference. I’ll wait.

Gay Perry and Harry...There must be a joke there somewhere...
Gay Perry and Harry…There must be a joke there somewhere…

Downey plays Harold a cheap thief who gets to Hollywood and the fabulous party with the pool via a  perfectly timed escape from east coast cops where he bursts into an audition and gets hired. While at the party he meets Val Kilmer, a gay private detective who goes by the name of Gay Perry. He meets the host who is mega rich and mega rich Harlan Dexter (played by Corben Bernsen who makes a great bad guy) and sees a girl that piques his interest.

Later he finds out that this intriguing girl is non-other than Harmony Faith Lane (Michelle Monaghan), a childhood crush from his hometown. While trying to win the girl, Harold gets involved with Gay Perry to learn how to be a detective. This “one-night-stand” results in a murder mystery that serpentines through the entire film involving all the main characters.

Love interest Harmony. I will resist all temptation to make jokes about Christmas Stockings...
Love interest Harmony. I will resist all temptation to make jokes about Christmas Stockings…

Downey was, as usual, brilliant. How anyone can put themselves through so much substance abuse hell and still continually “knock it out of the park” is beyond me, but we’re glad he can.

Val Kilmer actually entertained me for once and I actually liked his character.  So kudos to the man who I’ve never really liked much except for  his Doc Holliday in Tombstone and  his role in the  film Red Planet, where he also knocked his role(s) out of the park.

Michelle Monaghan was quirky and cute and funny. She was also sad and funny as the girl who “didn’t make it.” Her bear/beer commercial was sadly funny as well, although having actor Laurence Fishburne voicing said bear in the commercial didn’t hurt.

This film is a real 5 out of 5 stars effort by all concerned. It didn’t quite make me feel a full range of emotion. I cannot, hand on heart, say that, “I laughed, I cried, blah blah.” But laugh I did and the film delivered so adequately on that score that sometimes I even laughed when it wasn’t politically correct to do so.

A great film, that shows that Shane Black is more than a one trick pony.

Simply Great.

Downey Jr and Black...Bromance...
Downey Jr and Black…Bromance…

 

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