Technically Competent, by Bob Connally

9 Jan

American Night is the kind of movie where you know during the first scene that you’re going to hate your life for the next 2 hours. What begins as a knockoff of other superior knockoff gangster movies with lame attempts at quippy dialogue, pathetic attempts to be cool, and unimaginative soundtrack selections gives way to just becoming painfully dull. There’s nothing interesting or entertaining here. There isn’t a nugget of a potentially fun movie here or even a pretty good performance that deserves to be in a better movie to cling to. It’s just bad and a waste of time and money. Don’t watch it.

Written and directed by Alessio Della Valle, American Night is the story of Michael Rubino (Emile Hirsch) the son of a recently deceased mob boss with aspirations of being a renowned artist. The film’s plot revolves around his attempts to obtain Andy Warhol’s “Pink Marilyn” painting. Meanwhile, John Kaplan (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is an art forger who gets entangled with the gangsters which in turn gets his girlfriend Sarah (Paz Vega) and brother Vincent (Jeremy Piven) entangled with the gangsters. As a story it’s uninspired but were it told with wit and gave us interesting characters it would be something worthwhile. But Della Valle offers none of that and instead delivers weak stabs at humor, flat, lifeless drama, and characters with no dimension. So when your eyes aren’t rolling into the back of your head over it’s freshest failed joke, you’re zoning out from the boredom and making up your own movie in your head a la Homer Simpson. “So the cops knew that internal affairs was setting them up?!”

As a director, Della Valle has many short films to his name as well as a few documentaries. American Night is his first narrative feature and I’m forced to assume he’s either independently wealthy or somebody’s nephew. The best thing I can say about this film is that it is at least put together like a real movie. It’s technically competent, which I am genuinely offering as a pull quote to put on the Blu-ray box art.

“Technically competent!” – Bob Connally, More Than One Lesson

I added an exclamation point, ‘cause hey, why not? It’s obvious that this is a guy who has watched every Tarantino, Guy Ritchie, and Martin McDonagh movie on repeat believing that he can absorb their talents by osmosis. It should come as no surprise that he didn’t. The most shocking thing to me is how he managed to get the aforementioned actors – plus Michael Madsen – to sign on for this. Yeah, none of them are A-listers in high demand but still, it’s surprising actors who have been in anything of note agreed to be in this for what couldn’t have been that much money. Though, I suppose if Bruce Willis is popping up in 14 Redbox movies a year now I shouldn’t be that surprised. Poor Bruce. At least Nicolas Cage seems like he’s having fun being in schlock. Plus, he gets a Mandy or a Pig once in awhile.

This movie made me sad about movies. It made me sad about life because I spent two hours of mine watching it. I’m looking at it as an investment though. The time I lost to it today I will gain in the future by never watching another Alessio Della Valle movie ever again. I really do fully expect him to make more, either from his weird Tommy Wiseau fortune or because a foreign studio head owes his uncle another favor. Whatever the reason, he’ll be back and probably drag an increasingly depressed and disillusioned Bruce Willis with him. Bruce will have that sad, confused look on his face that he has on all of those covers. Like he doesn’t remember signing to be in this movie and isn’t sure how he physically got to the set. That’s Alessio Della Valle’s next movie. I’m calling it right here.

Don’t subject yourself to this. Please. Watch anything else. Do anything else. Take a walk. Stare at the ceiling. Just don’t watch American Night. I did. And in the immortal words of an internet legend, “My disappointment is immeasurable and my day is ruined.”

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