Roddy Piper as “Nada”, tough drifter and anti-alien vigilante
Los Angeles, Spring 1988
Film: They Live
Release Date: November 4, 1988
Director: John Carpenter
Costume Supervisor: Robin Michel Bush
Released on this day in 1988, They Live followed the example of most of John Carpenter’s work by finding a cult following considerably after it came out, though it debuted at the top of the North American box office.
Adapted from Ray Nelson’s 1963 short story “Eight O’Clock in the Morning”, They Live stars Canadian-born wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper as an unnamed drifter who arrives in Los Angeles looking for work… and finds a box of sunglasses that literally open his eyes to the fact that an alien ruling class has been subliminally manipulating the public to conform, consume, and reproduce. Continue reading
Russell Crowe as Jackson Healy, unlicensed private detective
Los Angeles, Fall 1977
Film: The Nice Guys
Release Date: May 20, 2016
Director: Shane Black
Costume Designer: Kym Barrett
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
I was pleased to again join my friends Pete Brooker and Ken Stauffer on another episode of Pete’s podcast From Tailors With Love, this time discussing the fun ’70s style of Shane Black’s action comedy The Nice Guys.
For those unfamiliar, the “nice guys” in question are Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, bringing back Black’s signature buddy comedy style in a big way as competing private eyes Jackson Healy and Holland March, respectively.
The older and worldlier yet paunchier Jack is more an enforcer than investigator, balancing his limb-breaking toughness with at least some remaining scruples, particularly when compared to the younger and less experienced Holly, who’s not above taking a case agreeing to help an aging woman track down her “missing” husband… whose ashes rest in an urn just a few feet away from them.
Like Crowe’s star-making turn almost twenty years earlier, The Nice Guys’ conspiratorial heartbeat is driven by Kim Basinger’s role at the intersection of corruption and porn in the City of Angels forty years prior, but the villains’ overcomplicated scheme are certainly secondary to the comedic chemistry between Crowe and Gosling, whom I—and Crowe himself—would love to see re-team for a follow-up… and with a built-in sequel title like The Nicer Guys, what’s stopping them? Continue reading
Guy Pearce as Ed Exley, by-the-book LAPD detective-lieutenant
Los Angeles, Spring 1953
Film: L.A. Confidential
Release Date: September 19, 1997
Director: Curtis Hanson
Costume Designer: Ruth Myers
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Today is the 25th anniversary since the official release of L.A. Confidential, which premiered at Cannes in May 1997 but would finally hit theaters four months later on September 19, introducing audiences to James Ellroy’s murky world of corrupt cops, crooks, celebrities, and courtesans in ’50s Los Angeles.
Among its ensemble cast, L.A. Confidential centers around three LAPD officers: the tough but unsophisticated “Bud” White (Russell Crowe), the smooth yet morally compromised Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey), and the ambitious and stubbornly upright Ed Exley (Guy Pearce). Not to spoil too much of the plot for those who have missed this gem in the last quarter-century, but one of my favorite Letterboxd reviews—submitted by user David Sims—compares the movie to The Wizard of Oz as “Bud gets a brain, Jack gets a heart, Ed gets the courage.” Continue reading