The long David Lynch-like opening sequence is memorable: Beautiful young Dorothy awaits the arrival of old flame Mel — a private detective — in a Radio Hill park high above Los Angeles. Two drug dealers, followed by a handsome park ranger, get there first. By the time Mel shows up, it’s — you guessed it — “Too Late.”
Even more memorable, perhaps, is the second sequence, in which trophy wife Janet (Vail Bloom) wanders around naked below the waist, up to and during the murder of her mobster husband, who used to employ Dorothy at one of his sleazy strip clubs.
If you stand on the cutting edge, be careful: It can slice your feet off.
Director-writer Dennis Hauck’s feature film debut plumbs the tangled depths between private eye Mel (John Hawkes) and missing Dorothy (Crystal Reed), the stripper with the proverbial heart of gold he’s hired to track down. It’s a familiar setup. But Mr. Hauck tears it apart, then stitches it back together into a tapestry of eccentric SoCal lost souls, skipping most of the PI detective stuff and focusing instead on the characters’ emotional lives, the backstory and the aftermath — NOT in that order.
This ambitious contemporary film noir unfolds across five nonsequential acts, filmed in the old 35 mm Techniscope format, which yields 22 minutes of footage per roll, compared with the 11-minute max of most subsequent 35 mm formats. With its self-conscious lighting, long zooms and tight focus, Bill Fernandez’ old-fashioned photography superbly captures both the seedy and faux-glamorous vistas of LA.
Oscar-nominated for “Winter’s Bone” (2010), Mr. Hawkes is a self-effacing, less-is-more kind of actor. Here, as the grizzled gumshoe, he resembles a down-and-out Sean Penn. Dichen Lachman as Jill, a hard-boiled Asian vamp, is a little too inscrutable, while Sydney Tamiia Poitier — yes, the daughter of Sidney! — has a nice turn in the opening.
Mr. Hauck strives to channel Quentin Tarantino — a “Pulp Fiction”-style take on the noir genre — but his script’s long-winded, grandiloquent dialogue, packed with film references, grows tedious. Is a stripper’s monologue on Bugs Bunny really necessary?
“I thought it was more interesting to ostensibly solve the case right off the bat and then delve deeper into who these characters are and how they know each other,” the director has said. “The film’s structure was conceived before I even knew what it would be about. I told myself it could be about anything, as long as it takes place in five 20-minute scenes.”
Content follows form, in other words, rather than the usual other way around.
Interesting, in theory.
Dubious, in practice.
“I could be wrong,” he adds, “but I think the shots in ‘Too Late’ are the longest continuous shots filmed on 35 mm in cinema history.”
He is, in fact, wrong. There are many instances of longer takes dating back to the silent era, up through the Andy Warhol films. Anyway, it’s not really about the length of the takes. It’s about the challenge of editing them.
Some nice music adorns “Too Late” — notably, Mr. Hawkes’ performance of “Down with Mary,” and Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”
But, oy veh, the self-indulgence of this project — whose climactic finale involves a drive-in theater that doubles as a boxing venue, run by scantily clad Jill.
Director Hauck says he has another project in mind, described as “Nathanael West meets Terry Gilliam for a weird movie about a guy with no tongue.”
Gotta admire the man’s imagination. Gotta wish him better luck next time with the coherent execution.
(Opens Friday at the Pittsburgh Film Makers’ Melwood screening room in Oakland.)
With a huge thank you to Abby from Chloe Bennet Net, I’ve added some bluray captures of Dichen from 2 extras from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2. Hope y’all enjoy!
With a huge thank you to Raina from Screencapped.net, I’ve added some bluray episode captures of Dichen from the US version of Being Human. More to come!
The staff here at Lovely Dichen Lachman would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
‘The Last Ship’ season 3 news: Show casts Fernando Chien, Dichen Lachman and Bridget Regan
“The Last Ship” may have reached a satisfying end with its season 2 finale but the series has been officially renewed by TNT for a third season. With the show’s plot growing on a global scale, actors Fernando Chien and Dichen Lachman have been added to the cast.
Lachman will be appearing as a helicopter pilot named Jesse, someone who has lived “off the grid,” hinting that she may be keeping unique secrets of her own when she comes in to meet the crew of the USS Nathan James. Lachman is notable for her appearances in “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “The 100,” “Dollhouse” and “Last Resort.”
According to a report from Deadline, Chien will be playing Peng. Peng is speculated to be a pivotal character in the next season as his character is described as the leader of China – what remains of it following the plague, anyway. Peng may be the link that will connect the reborn America and the rest of the world.
While their descriptions have been released, it is unknown at this point if either character is a protagonist or antagonist for the next season. Given how sides quickly turn against each other on the show, it is likely that at least Peng may be presented as a neutral character until something goes awry, causing his group in China to war against the US.
A report from TVLine also confirms that Bridget Regan, of “Agent Carter” fame, has been added to the cast as well. She will be portraying the character Sasha, a former Naval Intelligence Officer who is now based in China, working on behalf of the US government.
Regan is also known for her roles in “The Good Wife,” “Jane the Virgin” and “Beauty and the Beast.”
“The Last Ship” has no current premiere date but it is slated to release sometime in Summer 2016.
Jean-Luc Godard famously said all you need to make a movie is a gun and a girl. The combination offers endless possibilities in storytelling. Murder. Revenge. Greed. The girl can be a catalyst for action, as can the gun. Having read my fair share of Chandler, Hammett and Spillane, and contemporaries like George Pelecanos and Lee Child, the latter of which spills over more into thriller territory than straight-up hard boiled, I can unequivocally say that Too Late features one of the most convincing and true-to-spirit private dicks, cinema or otherwise.
I have much adoration for the art of the long take and doing more with less, especially when it comes to editing. A filmmaker like Michael Bay would be an inconsolable child if he didn’t have the freedom to have an edit take place every ten frames. Then again, Bay wouldn’t touch a simple detective yarn unless he could have elaborate shootouts or explosions happening at some point.