HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Manhattan Night
HTS Overall Score:70
“Manhattan Night” is a bit of an interesting bird, as it was adapted from crime thriller “Manhattan Nocturne” by author Colin Harrison, which ends up being a surprisingly better book than the film (or not so surprising if you have ever watching a movie adapted from a novel before). A neo noir thriller, “Manhattan Night” tries to recapture the old gumshoe days of the 50s detective novels, or old time radio broadcasts, but stays JUUUUUUUUUUST out of reach of actually accomplishing that goal. At times the film really works, which is what is the saddest as you’re left with the knowledge of what could have been, but ultimately the movie just can’t seem to grasp that little bit of reality that makes the movie grab hold of the viewer and not let go.
The movies starts out well, with Adrien Brody narrating the film like a good old detective. He’s looking decidedly haggard and worn down, looking for his next big break as a written newspaper reporter, only to be sidetracked when the dame walks in (it’s almost that obvious). This “dame” is the luscious and stunning Caroline Crowley, the widow of the late filmmaker Simon Crowley (Campbell Scott, who plays a decidedly bizarre character). It seems that this Femme Fatale wants Adrien’s character (named Porter Wren) to investigate her late husband’s death, which seems simple enough. Enamored with the young lady, and completely shut out of his own marriage, Porter takes the case only to fall into her web of lies, deceit and lust. Only when he is in over his head does the real story come out. She wants him to find something. Something that is being held over her head by Porter’s boss Hobbs (a megalomaniacal Steven Berkoff).
Now Hobbs wants this bit of blackmail found too, and it seems that both he and Miss Crowley are under the mistaken idea that the other has it. Digging deeper and deeper into the past as well as the present, Porter soon unravels a web of lies and betrayal that goes much further than a simple death, or a simple retrieval of an item. Especially considering the fact that he’s trying to balance his life with his family, combined with the lustful life he’s leading with the beautiful Caroline, and of course staying alive from the goons that Hobbs is sending his way. They say the truth sets you free, but sometimes the truth is one more weight to carry on your shoulders. A weight that may push one under the much and mire.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=76289[/img]“Manhattan Night” really does have its moments. In fact the last act of the movie is mesmerizing up until the last 2-3 minutes of the movie where it once again dips off in quality. This is the act where you realize that Caroline might not be the evil Femme Fatale that you’re lead to believe, only to have that believe altered ever so slightly to where you realize that nothing is ever that simple. In either direction. Black and white do not exist in this tale, and everything is a different shade of grey. However, that still cannot make up for the fact that the first 2 acts of the movie plod along just a bit heavily. With a bit of a pretentious and portentous air, the movie tries to make itself seem smarter than it is, from the classic crime noir “detective narration”, to the deliciously evil villains that come up twirling their mustaches along the way.
The characters are really the redeeming portions of the movie (along with that solid third act), and all the players play their role quite well. Steven Berkoff is your classic old man villain, with riches beyond compare, and rather forgettable at that. What really stands out is Scott Campbell as the eccentric filmmaker Simon Crowley. Scott is nearly unrecognizable as Crowley, who is basically a sociopath with psychopathic tendency’s which comes out as “brilliant” to the public at large. Almost like an emotional vampire, he feeds on other people’s reactions in his search for the “truth”, whatever that may be. The man is completely and utterly obsessed with filming other people’s reactions to his twisted stunts, and that turns deadly when his own wife becomes his little “experiment”. He seems out of place and looks like a bum most of the time, making you wonder just why Caroline agreed to marry the man. Caroline is exquisite as our tragic Femme Fatale with a twist. Yvonne is simply a stunning beauty, and alluring in every which way you can possibly imagine. Her ability to seem since, yet completely calculating at the same time makes your skin crawl, and truly not sure what to make of her until all of the cards are on the table.
Rated R for sexual content, nudity, violence and language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=76297[/img]Lionsgate’s 2.40:1 AVC encoded Blu-ray looks rather nice, with a slightly honey colored grading to the film lens, giving the film a slightly sallow look. Skin tones and contrast look nice, with natural looking flesh tones, while the black levels get REALLY black. So black that sometimes that there is a fair amount of black crush littered throughout the neo noir looking image. Colors tend to be neutral, with an emphasis on dark blue, white and grey a lot of the time. There are a few splashes of neon colors in the opening shots of New York, and some colors on clothing here and there, but much of the image looks dark and dreary. The digital photography does a good job with the low light levels, and only once or twice did I notice any digital noise in the really dark scenes. It’s a good transfer, almost great at times, the occasional bout of softness keeps it from those echelons.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=76305[/img]The singular 5.1 DTS-HD MA track that is home on the Blu-ray does a great job at setting the mood. This is really a dialog centric film from beginning to end, and that means a front heavy mix, but the track does what is asked of it with apparent ease. Dialog is crisp and clean, with no sounds of distortion, and the ever present narration from Adrien Brody towers above the rest of the vocals as the centerpiece of the film. Surrounds get a bump in activity when Porter is out and about in New York City, or when he’s at the original party where he meets Caroline, but then subsides down to a restrained front heavy mix once more. LFE is tight and punchy, but really only called out for a few moments here and there (such as when Porter is mugged in the alley by Hobbs’ men) and to accentuate the melancholy score.
• Audio Commentary with Director/Producer/Screenwriter Brian DeCubellis, Actor/Co-Producer Campbell Scott, and Cinematographer David Tumblety
• Behind the Scenes with Cast & Crew
• "The Watcher" Featurette
• Deleted/Extended Scenes
• Director's Notebook and Storyboards
“Manhattan Night” is an interesting film, and one that ALMOST achieves its goals. Trying to emulate the neo noir detective films of yesteryear (which the book achieves actually), film maker Brian DeCubellis crafts a throwback thriller to those days and JUST about succeeds. Sadly that is part of the frustration, as the viewer is left with the knowledge of what might have been, and what almost was, instead of actually enjoying a good movie. There’s a bit too much predictability and more than a touch of melodrama, which detracts from the intensity of the actual experience, and leaves the film feeling a bit hollow. I wouldn’t say that “Manhattan Night” butchers the source material, but rather that it can’t seem to actually fulfill the same success that the novel experienced, leaving me to recommend the film as a very low rental if you’re interested by the trailer, otherwise it might be best to skip it.
Starring: Yvonne Strahovski, Adrien Brody, Campbell Scott
Directed by: Brian DeCubellis
Written by: Brian DeCubellis (Screenplay), Colin Harrison (Novel)
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 83 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: August 2nd, 2016
Buy Manhattan Night On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Low end Rental
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