Release Date: October 6th, 2006 (Quad Cinema) by Brazos Pictures.
The Cast: Lou Diamond Phillips, Bruce Weitz, Glenn Plummer, Tracy Middendorf, James McDaniel, Peter Onorati.
Directed by Stephen Purvis.
BASIC PREMISE: Manny (Phillips), an autistic clerk at Hotel El Cortez, gets entangled in the dangerous schemes of Popcorn (Weitz), a prospector with a goldmine, and Theda (Middendorf), the girlfriend of Jack (Plummer), a drug dealer.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Lou Diamond Phillips gives a strong performance as Manny, an autistic clerk fresh out of prison who helps out Popcorn—a terrible name— with his gold-mining scheme while being seduced by Theda. He also helps Arnie (McDaniel), a cop, by keeping an eye on Jack, Theda’s drug-dealing boyfriend who stays at the hotel. The plot begins with some tension, but it gradually diminishes as the plot gets more convoluted. Screenwriter Chris Haddock certainly includes plenty of conflicts for Manny which inevitably get him into trouble—i.e. by flirting with Theda even though Jack distinctively told him not to. Popcorn tells him to persuade a gambler (Onorati) to invest in his goldmine. Unfortunately, the plot eventually feels contrived and formulaic in the second act. Although Manny is somewhat of an interesting character, there’s not enough information about his past to allow you to truly care about him. Other characters also come across as one-dimensional. On a positive note, it’s worth mentioning that director Stephen Purvis shows some skill behind the camera with stylish cinematography, editing and set design which all contribute to the overall gritty atmosphere. A more imaginative and organic script would have made for a more engaging second act and a much more surprising third act.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: None is required or desired.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: A contrived and convoluted plot with weak character development.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 3
IN A NUTSHELL: Lou Diamond Phillips gives a terrific performance. Stylishly-directed, but with acontrived and convoluted script and unimaginative characters.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: VHS/DVD
The "C" Menu