January 24, 2011
The Son of No One
Dito Montiel has made two mediocre movies about tough kids in New York--A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, about growing up in Astoria, and Fighting, about underground bare-knuckle boxing. He gets big stars for his small-budget movies (Robert Downey, Jr., Shia LaBeouf, Terrence Howard) and writes interesting stories about people living on the margins, but somehow his movies don't quite come together. I can't tell if they're supposed to be character-driven indie movies or formulaic studio star vehicles, because they're both of those things simultaneously.
Now he's got a new one at Sundance that stars Al Pacino, Channing Tatum (above, who Montiel thinks is "a great actor" and has cast in all 3 of his movies. Mm-hm.), Juliette Binoche, Katie Holmes, and Tracy Morgan. Look at that cast. Indie or mainstream? I don't know. Adding to the confusion, the title, The Son of No One, is a reference to The Replacements' "Bastards of Young".
Here's the trailer:
It's got crooked cops, family secrets, a non-flamboyant Al Pacino, a non-funny Tracy Morgan, and it's shot in Astoria. It has the aura of gritty indieness. But the feel of the trailer makes the movie look like any of the dozens of studio movies with big stars about corruption, spies, high-level cover-ups, and cops out for justice that typically feature Ray Liotta and/or Al Pacino (both of whom are in The Son of No One). Like Righteous Kill, Body of Lies, We Own the Night, Spy Game, Narc, the list goes on and on.
So I can't tell what to make of Dito Montiel and his style. Maybe his career goal is to be the Tony Scott of Sundance. Or a mainstream Martin Scorsese, with Channing Tatum as his De Niro. I predict Juliette Binoche's performance will be good in a way that makes it seems like she's in a different, better movie than everyone else, and 5.6 stars on IMDb.
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