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: Hit Me (1996) Tacoma Noir  ( 2573 )
cigar joe
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easy come easy go

« : March 01, 2015, 09:21:53 PM »

Hit Me (1996) Director: Steven Shainberg, Writers: Denis Johnson, Jim Thompson (novel) Stars: Elias Koteas, Laure Marsac, Jay Leggett, William H. Macy, Philip Baker Hall, Kevin J. O'Connor, and Bruce Ramsay. (full review)

Hit Me

Been on a Jim Thompson adaptation kick recently, both novels and film adaptations. This film captures his small time fucked up loser desperation universe perfectly, I don't know how close to the book A Swell Looking Dame, it is, it is next on my to read pile, but as a stand alone film it works. It's a great Neo Noir and I got a bit of a  Blue Velvet Lynch-esque vibe from it, though a comparatively low key vibe but in a good way.

Elias Koteas performance as Sonny the goofball night bellhop really shines. Sonny stuck in a dead end job is reduced to swiping hotel VHS players and cases of hotel booze to make ends meet. He is supporting, on his own, his mentally challenged older brother. Sonny occasionally even pimps hookers to lonely business men out of  hotel rooms. After multiple viewings a fragment of cinematic memory finally "hit me", think of what a good, serious, tragic-comedic Red Skelton performance may have looked like in a film noir, some of Koteas' facial expressions are that dead on, but other comedians like Huntz Hall also come to mind. This probably flew over the heads of the then current (1996) film demographic for most of whom Skelton and Hall are non entities.  But Koteas goes even further creating his own believable lunatic of a character who constantly talks to himself and habitually is physically pumping up his ego for various tasks by acting out and letting fly with compulsive manic gestures.

Koteas as Sonny

Laure Marsac as Monique Roux simmers delectably, a soiled dove-ish French Canadian griffter/hostess/hooker, the femme fatale of the film. The seemingly incessant Tacoma rains depresses her character to the point of despair. Marsac ranges all the way from waifish crumbling beauty, to sloe eyed temptress, and finally boils as a deadly Diana in an explosive chase sequence set in the streets of a deserted warehouse district. Her sole life quest focusing her character, seems to be to get to "Gay Paree" any way she can by any low life means possible. She carries an Eiffel Tower tchotchke that lights up and plays her leitmotif. It acts as a sort of dream navigation beacon to mother ship Paris. She's fun to watch.

Marsac as seductress Monique

Jay Leggett plays Sonny's childlike dependent older brother Leroy, practically house bound in a "crazy house" dwelling strewn with food containers & decorated with discarded toys. He is way over weight, a good natured human Muppet who tells Sonny that he wants to go to Foster Care because there he can eat all the ice cream he wants.

Leroy and Sonny at home

Kevin J. O'Connor is  Cougar, a harelip scarred, sadistic thug of a  loan shark who has recently become the hotel security man, Bruce Ramsay is Del a former bellhop buddy of Sonny who has hit the big time. He connives Sonny into a plan to rob a high stakes illegal poker game.

Cougar and Sonny top, Del bottom

Philip Baker Hall is great as Lenny Ish, the hotel's biggest client and the local mobster who grouses that he used to live in "a five star country".

Lenny Ish

William H. Macy unexpectedly shows up in a great little cameo as a homicide detective. J. C. Quinn and Haing S. Ngor play Sonny's fellow night shift employees.

The studio sets capture the cheapo 2-3 star hotel world, and a nice opening montage shows Sonny schlepping through his various dead end bellhop job duties in the bowels of hotel housekeeping, accompanied by a plucky melody that becomes Sonny's leitmotif. Later when Sonny & Monique make love their two leitmotifs combine into a nice score by Peter Manning Robinson.

Of course, being a Neo Noir everything goes terribly wrong for ridiculously simple reasons, in this case a change of diet, and the film leaves Sonny and Leroy setting off on a trip to Nowheresville, sitting in their rusty, trusty beater Chevy, orbiting the edge of the Twilight Zone in the universe of lost dreams.


"When you feel that rope tighten on your neck you can feel the devil bite your ass"!
cigar joe
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easy come easy go

« #1 : March 02, 2015, 03:28:47 AM »

PS it's on Netflix.

More Reviews:

Hit Me (1996)
FILM REVIEW; Denizens of the Front Desk, Waiting for a Kiss Goodbye

Published: October 2, 1998

When Thoreau wrote, ''The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,'' he surely had in mind people like Sonny, the night bellhop at the Hotel Stillwell in Tacoma, Wash.

At 31, with eight years on the job, Sonny (Elias Koteas) hasn't got much of a past or present. And like the Stillwell, which has slipped from a three-star rating to two stars, he isn't looking at a promising future. Sonny supplements his wages and tips by stealing and selling the hotel's vodka and VCR's and arranging female companionship for guests who ask. When he goes home after his dreary nights, his obese, retarded brother, Leroy, is waiting in front of the television set in a filthy, littered house, and the phone is ringing with threats from a social worker to remove Leroy from Sonny's patient care.

The stage is set for Sonny to become the protagonist in ''Hit Me,'' a bleak, rewarding film noir. Adapted by Denis Johnson from Jim Thompson's novel ''A Swell-Looking Babe'' and directed by Steven Shainberg with a sure feel for the genre, ''Hit Me'' slithers amid Pacific Northwest rain and darkness through layers of desperate hope, tempting beauty, deceptions and double crosses to a slightly attenuated but appropriate conclusion.

First comes the femme fatale, a hotel guest named Monique Roux (Laure Marsac). She's trouble and troubled, but after Sonny deals with her slashed wrists, he can't get her provocative beauty out of his head. He calls her a four-star woman in a two-star hotel. And when they make passionate love, he is ecstatic. Then she emits an endless scream, as if raped, and Sonny sees himself faced with the loss of what little life he has, miserable as it is.

But in an instant, a devil ex machina pops up among the guests drawn to the hall -- Sonny's old colleague Del, newly prosperous and offering to set things right. And soon Sonny, despite his misgivings, is a partner in a scheme proposed by Del (Bruce Ramsay) to rob the Stillwell's safe deposit boxes of $700,000 in cash deposited as stakes by participants in a major poker game organized by the urbane Lenny Ish, the local underworld overlord.

If all goes well, Sonny is going to be able to kiss the Stillwell goodbye; bid a not very fond adieu to Mr. Stillwell, who is not happy with Sonny's performance; get out from under the sadistic hand of his creditor, the hotel security chief called Cougar, and be off to Paris to live happily ever after with Monique and Leroy (Jay Leggett).

But if Thoreau furnishes the epigraph for ''Hit Me,'' then the film's subtext is surely the one attributed to the ancient Greek Palladas: ''There is many a slip 'twixt cup and lip.''

''Hit Me'' brims with vivid characters -- not just the intriguing Mr. Koteas and the sensuous Ms. Marsac, but also the pathetic Leroy, Del, Cougar (Kevin J. O'Connor) and Bascomb and Billy (J. C. Quinn and Haing S. Ngor in his final performance), who are Sonny's colleagues at the front desk of the Stillwell. And not to be forgotten is the philosophical Mr. Ish (Philip Baker Hall), who likes to gaze through a telescope at the distant stars and grumble, ''Used to be a three-star hotel, used to be a five-star country.''

And for people like Sonny, a place to dream his American dream.
''Hit Me'' is rated R (under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It includes vulgar language, violence, bloodshed and simulated sex.


Directed by Steven Shainberg; written by Denis Johnson, based on the novel ''A Swell-Looking Babe'' by Jim Thompson; director of photography, Mark J. Gordon; edited by Donn Aron; music supervisor, Peter Manning Robinson; production designer, Amy Danger; produced by Mr. Shainberg and Gregory Goodman; released by Castle Hill Productions. At the Quad Cinema, 13th Street, west of Fifth Avenue, Greenwich Village. Running time: 123 minutes. This film is rated R.

WITH: Elias Koteas (Sonny), Laure Marsac (Monique), Jay Leggett (Leroy), Bruce Ramsay (Del), Kevin J. O'Connor (Cougar), Philip Baker Hall (Lenny Ish), J. C. Quinn (Bascomb) and Haing S. Ngor (Billy).

From IMDb

quite interesting, great performance by elias koteas

Author: duffmckagan from indiana
25 February 2003

This movie kind of took me by surprise. I thought it was going to be another semi boring heist flick, but it wasn't. I think it had some genuinely interesting points to make about one's own desperation and greed.

The movie tells the story of a lonely and frustrated bellhop (koteas)who stumbles into a plan to rob a group of wealthy card sharks who are going to take part in an illegal poker game. A slew of mistakes and fumbles occur which leads to an unfortunate (in my opnion) ending.

Koteas gives a very edgy performance and makes the movie all by himself. The rest of the cast also does their part too, in particular the actor who plays koteas's childlike brother, quite a convincing portrayal.

I give "Hit Me" 9 out of 10


Flawed... but worth a look
Author: Murder Slim ( from United Kingdom
27 August 2010

Based on Jim Thompson's 'A Swell Looking Babe', 'Hit Me' is about a bellhop - Sonny - getting involved in a scheme to steal $500,000 from high-end, illegal poker players. The swell looking babe is a French girl, Monique, and Sonny thinks his share of the money will allow him to start a new life with her. That isn't going to come easily. Monique is unreliable, hooked up with the criminals, and has suicidal tendencies. The path of love never does run smooth, does it? As in the book, Sonny is an interesting character, fuelled by three elements - his love of Monique, his hatred of his job, and his refusal to accept help to care for his disabled brother, Leroy. Sonny is over his head in it all, and once the heist goes pear-shaped, he's frantically scraping around to try a make it clear.

Elias Kotsas does a decent job playing Sonny. He looks a lot like Robert De Niro and effectively gets across one of De Niro's big skills - playing desperate psychosis. At times this can veer into comedy, and it's unclear whether this is always intentional. Kotsas acts emotions very physically - mock-humping the air before he goes into Monique's room and pepping himself up by jumping through four different positions before meeting the main poker player.

As in Thompson's novels, 'Hit Me' presents a world where no character can be trusted. Even the "good guy" - Sonny - is as shady and money grabbing as the rest, at one stage happily considering becoming a cocaine dealer. It's film noir taken to its limits... not in terms of visual style but in terms of characterisation.

Stacked up against the beautiful economy of Mamet's 'Heist' or Tarantino's 'Reservoir Dogs', 'Hit Me' does drag a little and doesn't have quite enough twists and turns to merit lasting over two hours. And, whilst shot cleanly and effectively, it lacks cinematic impact. However, there's a nice undercurrent of philosophising over the nature of survival and, whether you're a Thompson fan or not, you could do worse than checking out this interesting little movie.

"When you feel that rope tighten on your neck you can feel the devil bite your ass"!
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Lonesome Billy

« #2 : March 02, 2015, 04:21:44 AM »

Cool, I'll check this out. It's not in the French Netflix (damn rights issues... Can you imagine the French Netflix doesn't have House of Cards? Canal+ has it.)

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