Wednesday, 18 July 2012
Nolte in Ninety Six
Nick Nolte's a fairly patchy actor but he puts in an excellent turn in Mother Night, based on Kurt Vonnegut's novel of the same name. Nolte plays an aging American playwright arrested for his Nazi past and when tasked with writing his memoirs, reveals he was actually a spy recruited by the Americans who secreted coded information into his WW2 radio broadcasts. This is a bittersweet, intelligent meta fiction about the perils of patriotism and group identity and has a script and cast that nicely flesh out the nuances and consequences of the character's various deceptions.
A different Nick Nolte turns up in the crushingly formulaic thriller Mulholland Falls also released in 1996. Set in 40's L.A. Nolte leads the infamous 'Hat Squad' who keep the city clean of organised crime but get into some hot water while investigating the murder of a nuclear scientist's lover. I'm not sure why the hackneyed plot and factory floor script attracted such a bevy of famous faces but they growl, mumble, over and underact their way through the 90 or so mins of predictable. A year later and this attempt at neo noir was outclassed in every department by L.A. Confidential.