Film One of the items I purchased in That's Entertainment the other week was a copy of The Contract, a little known Bruce Beresford directed thriller starring John Cusack, Morgan Freeman, mighty Megan Dodds and Doctor Who's Van Statton, Corey Johnson. It was a Father's Day gift for my Dad who likes these kinds of chase films, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that there wasn't a bit of curiosity on my part simply because this was a Bruce Beresford directed thriller starring John Cusack, Morgan Freeman, mighty Megan Dodds and Doctor Who's Van Statton, Corey Johnson, which I didn't even know existed.
He leant it back to me tonight and against the odds, it's an entertaining neo-Western about a teacher dragging the ass of a hitman who's escaped from the authorities back to those authorities with an often hilarious script which works as a decent companion piece to Grosse Point Blank as Cusack plays the straight man faced with the moral ambiguity of Freeman's contract killer. The script is co-written by Stephen Katz who's long career in television included spells on LA Law, Hardcastle and McCormick and The A-Team and deftly gives even small roles perfectly judged character beats.
The look of the film is especially note-worthy having been shot by Dante Spinotti one of the few cinematographers today who still has an especially distinctive style. Like his work on Michael Mann's Heat, in the night scenes he removes almost all of the colour, the characters only just about visible in hues of purple and blue. Unfortunately although the film was shot in a scope ratio (2.35:1 according to the imdb), it's brutally cropped to 16:9 for dvd which makes a nonsense of some of the compositions, especially a Taxi Driver-like overhead in which two characters disappear from frame completely.
One assumes if this wasn't an obscurity that wouldn't have happened. But a quick scoot around the web reveals this was not a simple production which Beresford writes about a lot in his memoir. Shot entirely in Bulgaria, he knew the script didn't make much sense when he started shooting, the producers closed the shoot down with him using his own money to complete the thing and at one point Steven Seagal asked for a supporting role but the director turned him down. The film went pretty much to dvd everywhere, but if you have a spare 92 mins it's certainly worth your time.
Here's the trailer though as ever it gives away practically the whole story:
And yes trailer editor, "Driving Miss Daisy" is a film by Bruce Beresford.