Sunday, June 30, 2019

River of Grass

Huge apologies to anybody expecting me to be witty and engaging on the latest episode of the Do Some Damage podcast. You see, while I was my sorta my typically half-assed prepared to talk about a couple of films, I found myself engaged in what I assumed was a private conversation with Steve Weddle about Charles Willeford. Steve's reading Willeford's most excellent first book of memoirs, I Was Looking For a Street (as should fucking you - it's so good!) and we talked about ol' Chuck and his work and habits for a good ten minutes.

Ten minutes that I was enjoying perfectly well when it was between pals, but dear reader, I apologize for subjecting you to my quarter-assed Willefordian musings. For the record the Robert Mitchum movie I am referring to is John Farrow's 1950 offering Where Danger Lives. If you don't care to listen to the whole ten minutes I will spare you some grief... Wild Wives is the book you'd want to compare to Where Danger Lives...
...and I assert that Willeford probably modeled Freddy in Miami Blues on (or at least his actions were inspired by) Robert Stack in Airplane!

Now check out Alec Baldwin as Freddy in George Armitage's 1990 adaptation of Willeford's Miami Blues
I can only kinda sort blame Steve for including the ramble because weirdly it ties into the two movies I had already picked out to discuss as they are both oddball Florida crime stories...

The first is Kelly Reichardt's feature debut River of Grass about a couple of especially low-rent lovers on the run (Lisa Donaldson and Larry Fessenden) who manage neither to love nor run after they are bound by murder.

The second is Victor Nunez's Coastlines. For every crime films of the seventies nut out there who moans that they don't make 'em like that anymore, might I insist you check this one out. It's a crime melodrama starring Timothy Olyphant, Josh Brolin, Sarah Wynter, William Forsythe, Josh Lucas and Scott Wilson and if that cast ain't enough to rouse your curiosity why the hell are you even reading this?

I've written more than once about Coastlines on this here blog and was super excited to find it (and River of Grass) available on Hulu. Hurry though, it looks like Coastlines is leaving soon! River of Grass is also available now on Prime. If you dig Coastlines check out Nunez's Ulee's Gold - another slow-burn thriller with a good central performance by Peter Fonda and shit, Reichardt is pretty much aces every time out, but crime-wise check out Night Moves and you could sorta tie Wendy & Lucy into that knot and her Meek's Cutoff is like a feature length western episode of the Twilight Zone.

If you're interested in more Willeford talk check out this collaborative Picture Books piece betwixt me and Johnny Shaw on the films based on Willford material (Monte Hellman's Cockfighter, George Armitage's Miami Blues and Robson Devor's The Woman Chaser). If you like what you read there be sure to check out Johnny's latest book The Upper Hand (and all his other shit, seriously).

And if you'd like to see me and Shaw finally become a single character might I suggest Mike McCreary's Genuinely Dangerous, a book I've had for three years, but only just read and found Jedidiah Shaw to be a character worth his own series. Mike's books are literary rocket fuel - not good for much but blasting off if that's what you feel like doing.

If you're looking for more Florida crime stuff's Matt Coleman at Book Riot has some solid recommendations including Miami Blues, Vicky Hendrick's Miami Purity, Ace Atkins' White Shadow, Elmore Leonard's Rum PunchSteph Post's Walk in the Fire and many more in honor of Alex Segura's fifth(?) Pete Fernandez title Miami Midnight.

And shit, if you wanna stick to the brilliance of Armitage's Miami Blues check out Travis Woods' usual bullshit at Bright Wall Dark Room on the matter.

And if the mention of Reichardt's Night Moves put you in mind of Arthur Penn's awesome Floridian film of the same name with Gene Hackman - check the fuck out Matthew Asprey Gear's new book on the film Moseby Confidential: Arthur Penn's Night Moves and the Rise of Neo Noir. Crackin.

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