Mulholland Falls Lee Tamahori

Mulholland Falls Lee Tamahori
Take any honest noir movie from the '40s and '50s and remove nearly everything of substance and you're likely to be left with Mulholland Falls. Director Lee Tamahori must have been in a sadistic mood when he decided to assemble the then most promising cast in years (John Malkovich, Jennifer Connelly, Michael Madsen, Nick Nolte, etc.), only to make what amounts to a glorified TV movie of the week. The film centres around Max Hoover (Nick Nolte), a hardboiled LAPD officer who fronts a thuggish police crew called "The Hat Squad" (no joke). They're investigating the murder of a local woman (Jennifer Connelly) who has seemingly slept with every government agent, including Hoover. Whodunnit? Who cares! Produced in 1996, Mulholland Falls goes to ridiculous lengths to remind you that, indeed, this film is set in 1940s Los Angeles. The noir clichés are abundant and not a second goes by when someone isn't smoking a cigarette, wearing a trilby hat, or drinking whiskey by the glassful. Too bad the gig is up when, during a cemetery scene, more than a few visible gravestones have dates listed in the mid- to late' 50s. To be fair, the film isn't entirely worthless. The cinematography is nice and the acting is obviously above par given the cast (save for Melanie Griffith, who stole the 1997 Razzie for "Worst Supporting Actress" for her role), making it surprisingly watchable through to the end. In fact, it quickly becomes the greatest film ever if you enjoy watching Nick Nolte whack baddies in the throat with a billy club for two hours ("This isn't America, Jack. This is L.A." Thwack!). The DVD is barren, with only a theatrical trailer added to the package; perhaps the film was as forgettable to all involved as it was to its audience. If you're looking for a decent neo-noir flick, you're better off re-watching L.A. Confidential. (MGM)