Thursday, July 28, 2022

Blasts From the Past

 I’ve been traveling and didn’t have time to do justice to the post I had scheduled for today, so we’ll hold that for another time. My conscientious nature (read: OCD) compels me, almost literally, to post something every Friday.


So I wondered what I posted ten years ago. (An idea I stole from Ken Levine’s award-winning blog, as I am nothing if not unoriginal.)


As it happens, the posts in July 2012 covered two subjects:

·       The release of my novel Wild Bill, which might be my favorite of the 14 books I’ve written (it’s in the top three for sure)

·       A brief review of an underappreciated film, Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead.


Here’s a link to purchase Wild Bill, which was my most ambitious book, and I absolutely guaran-goddamn-tee you it’s worth every cent of the buck a Kindle copy will cost you. (Unless you have Kindle Unlimited, in which case I guarantee you your money back on any free download if you don’t like it. Try beating that deal with any other publisher. I dare you.)


Need more info on Wild Bill? Here you go.


Will Hickox is a decorated FBI veteran with a legendary ability to cultivate informants, much closer to retirement than to the days when he earned the nickname “Wild Bill.” Operation Fallout should cut the head off of the Chicago mob and provide a fitting capstone to his career. When Outfit boss Gianni Bevilacqua dies and the resulting war places Fallout in jeopardy, Hickox does what he can to save it, and his retirement plans with his lover, Madeline Klimak.


Wild Bill examines the stresses of Operation Fallout from the law enforcement, criminal, and personal perspectives, as Will and his peers fight to keep the investigation afloat amid the power struggle between Gianni’s son and elder statesman Frank Ferraro. Torn between wanting closure to the investigation and starting his retirement, Hickox weighs the dangers of involving himself and Operation Fallout in the war, blurring the line he walks with his informants.


And here’s what I had to say about TDDIDWYD:


I only heard of this movie because it stole its name from the Warren Zevon song. All I knew about it was the title.


So I wasn’t expecting much when the credits started to roll. Andy Garcia. William Forsythe. Christopher Lloyd. Treat Williams. Jack Warden. Steve Buscemi. Bill Cobbs. Oh. “And Christopher Walken.” (Don Cheadle also has a cameo not noted in the opening.)


Now they have my attention.


This is a solid movie about what happens when you mix with the wrong people and things go tits up. (In this case literally, when Garcia’s crew accidentally kills the girl they’re supposed to be bringing back to the crime boss’s son.) I’ve always liked Andy Garcia, and I appreciate his skill as an actor more all the time. (For a role you’d never expect to see him in, check out Confidence.) Here he pulls off subtlety most actors wouldn’t have the nerve to attempt, especially in a touching scene with Lloyd. This is also the first time I’d seen Lloyd in a straight dramatic role, and he is convincing as the senior member of Garcia’s crew.


The story moves along, the dialog sizzles, and the performances are spot on. The movie lost its ass, according to IMDB. (Budget of $7 million; American gross of about $500,000, though it did better in the UK.) It’s a shame. This is a good example of what can be done on a fairly limited budget, working with professional actors for whom the job is worth more than the check or the media coverage.


Will your life be forever diminished if you don’t see Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead? No. If you like solid, gritty crime stories with solid performances, sharp dialog, a little tongue-in-cheek humor, and bits of pathos that never become maudlin, it’s a well spent couple of hours.

1 comment:

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