Miami Blues (Armitage, 1990)

Sometimes off-the-wall crime films, those blending comedy with dangerous and murderous characters, succeed in bridging the contrasting styles of genre. Sonnefeld’s Get Shorty or Demme’s Something Wild represent successful examples. But Miami Blues takes the formula to the extreme side of obtuse. Alec Baldwin’s con-man Junior remains an enigma throughout, his past history blank and motivations continuously and deviously muddled. Fred Ward’s bumbling Det. Mosely, the hero of Charles Willeford’s literary series, is the only developing entity in the whole film, an old wise-ass cop with too much to prove and no one to listen. The only reason I watched this was on a recommendation from my favorite critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, when he compared the “humor and pizzazz” of the film to Godard’s Breathless. I’m not sure about that, but at least Godard had fascinating ideas behind the structure of his film, more than I can say for this unfunny and monotonous dud.

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