In Review: ‘Keane,’ ‘Day Shift’
A harrowing indie from the early '00s returns to theaters as Jamie Foxx fights vampires on Netflix.
Dir. Lodge Kerrigan
Though he looks relatively put together, it’s clear that something isn’t right with William Keane (Damian Lewis) from the first moment we see him . As Keane opens, he approaches a Port Authority ticket booth and asks if the agent remembers him. William was there a few months back with his daughter, see, when she disappeared. He even has a newspaper clipping to prove it. Not unsympathetic but baffled that he would be expected to remember a face he saw thousands of customers ago, the agent shoos him away. Then, with mounting urgency, William starts asking everyone for help. If he can just find the right person, or crack the code that will bring him face-to-face with his daughter’s kidnapper, or just try hard enough all will be well. Life will find a way to match up with the reassurances he repeats to himself like a mantra in the moments when he can calm down enough to focus on the words.
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First released in 2005, Keane is writer/director Lodge Kerrigan’s third feature, but it wasn’t supposed to be. Kerrigan had to abandon his previous project, In God’s Hands, due to extensive negative damage. The central themes of that lost film, a drama about the struggles of a young couple (Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard) after their child is abducted, clearly stuck with Kerrigan, and while it’s impossible to judge a movie that never was it’s hard to imagine it being more powerful than this haunting character study, which is returning to theaters in a restored version after years of unavailability.
Much of that power comes from Lewis, whose William is a deeply hurt man whose pain makes him wildly unpredictable. In a harrowing early scene William knock back two generously poured vodkas in a bar then demands the jukebox be turned up, then turned up again and again, no matter how angry this makes the bartender or the other customers, so he can really hear the Four Tops song he needs to dull his pain. It’s an intense, unnerving performance made all the more gripping by explosions of tenderness. When William learns Lynn (Amy Ryan) and her daughter Kira (Abigail Breslin), neighbors a few doors down from his flophouse, are short on rent, he covers it for them and then later cares for Kira when Lynn’s not around. But even these moments of connection are troubled by his unstable condition.
Using a handheld camera and found locations, Kerrigan shoots in a style reminiscent of the Dogme 95 filmmakers or the Dardennes, but with an electric energy all his own. This lends a disturbing immediacy to Keane’s depiction of one man’s Sisyphean struggle to avoid falling apart one desperate minute at a time. —Keith Phipps
Keane opens today in select theaters before rolling out in other markets.
Dir. J.J. Perry
Day Shift is one of those movies whose good qualities make everything going wrong around them stand in even sharper relief. The directorial debut of J.J. Perry, an elite stuntman, stunt coordinator, and second unit director making his directorial debut, boasts a distinctive sense of place thanks to its clever use of the less-glamorous stretches of the San Fernando Valley and, perhaps predictably, some really cool action scenes (though they’re made a little less cool thanks to some CGI’d-to-the-max effects shots). The premise isn’t bad, either. Jamie Foxx stars as Bud Jablonski, a working class vampire hunter trying to save his family by rejoining the vampire hunting union that kicked him out for too many violations. This involves being paired with Seth (Dave Franco), an uptight, by-the-books union rep who gets drawn into Bud’s battle against a deadly new plot to take over Los Angeles. A buddy comedy set-up with a vampiric twist? Sounds promising!
Here’s what doesn’t work: everything else, from the low-effort performances seemingly taking their cues from supporting player Snoop Dogg to the exposition-padded scenes between the action sequences, to the good-enough-for-Netflix vibe that permeates Day Shift from first frame to last. And maybe good-enough-for-Netlix is good enough to align a content strategy that seems determined to flood the service with off-brand semi-blockbusters on a monthly basis. But life is short, and every 116-minute stretch is precious. Is it good enough for you? —Keith Phipps
Day Shift is now on Netflix.
Me feel like good-enough-for-Netflix is just straight-to-DVD for post-DVD era. But it really muddy waters when more-than-good-enough-for-theaters movies like Prey or Luca also get dumped onto streaming.
And one thing me predict will happen in coming years is that waters will just get muddier. We already have oddities like Sherlock — 3 90-minute movies as season of TV — or MCU — essentially episodic TV series in movie form. And lines will also blur between "web series" on YouTube, and streamer on more respectable platform, and TikTok and Twitch and whatever other format comes along that me to old to grapple with.
But realistically, is Good Mythical Morning somehow less of TV show than Tonight Show? It certainly more engaging. And 15-second ProZD skits or Ryan George Pitch Meeting funnier than anything SNL is giving us. So me for one welcome our new streaming content overlords, as this breaking down of boundaries between formats mean we likely to get interesting things happening in margins.