THINGS TO DO IN DENVER WHEN YOU’RE DEAD (1995)

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Every so often I love digging this one out of the rack, having first watched it at a very inappropriate age when I used to rifle through my dad’s VHS. In the wake of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, an inevitable slew of off-beat crime capers attempted to ride on the back of their success, and this is one movie that gets lumped in with that milieu all of the time, very unfairly so in my mind, and while I do like Tarantino very much, his fanboys irk the shit out of me, accusations of plagiarism get thrown left, right and centre, no matter how desperate or ridiculous. But anyhow…

Jimmy ‘The Saint’ Tosnia (Andy Garcia) is a reformed gangster currently attempting to revive his ailing, and somewhat bizarre and niche, business of videotaping the terminally ill giving advice on life to their families. He needs nothing more than a big, fat cash injection to get him back on his feet, an injection that will come from none other than The Man With The Plan (Christopher Walken) an omnipotent crime lord and Jimmy’s former employer. The Man is a nasty piece of work, wheelchair-bound and bitter after an attempt on his life, and has snidely manipulated local loan sharks into landing Jimmy in his debt.

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As a fanatical opponent of the spoiler, all I’ll say is The Man’s decree for Jimmy’s freedom of pocket involves one of the weirdest missions I’ve ever seen a criminal commissioned to, helping out The Man’s mentally disturbed son, and for this Jimmy will need the help of his old motley crew of colleagues from back in the day. You begin to realise how peculiar this criminal organisation is when you juxtapose Dapper Jimmy: things-to-do-in-denver-when-youre-dead_01 with

Gnarly biker ‘Franchise’: denver7

Smut-peddling leper ‘Pieces’:url

Psychopathic ex-con turned undertaker ‘Critical Bill’:Treatwilliams

And laid-back pest controller ‘Easy Wind’:12960-23762

Aside from the being one of the quirkier assembly of characters you’ll find in a caper, the on-screen chemistry is superb. These guys are old friends, have deep respect for one another, and even have their own idiosyncratic slang for everything. Things don’t go exactly as planned for the guys, and this beckons the arrival of Steve Buscemi in one of the freakiest and downright disturbing performances you’ll see by him as the ominous Mr.Shhhhh

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So if you do happen upon this title, I implore you to give it a chance, Ignore the bullshit haranguing of Tarantino defenders, this film is no way near a rip-off of anything he has done, its got its own wonderful little vibe going on, meshing classic film noir with the sensibilities of the most nihilistic 70’s crime thrillers but with a very personal and introspective slant as opposed to pop culture references and cool-as-fuck characters. These guys talk slick, but they’re born losers. 8/10

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