Tuesday, September 17, 2013

FALLEN ANGELS: "The Quiet Room" (1993)
& "The Professional Man" (1995) -
Steven Soderbergh

Just before Soderbergh hit an early career slump with his failed first stab at neo-noir, The Underneath, he whipped out these two quickie TV noirs for the Showtime series Fallen Angels. Both are slight but satisfying entries in his filmography, most interesting when viewed as dress rehearsals for longer, better noir projects to come (The Limey, Out of Sight). Both are nearly impossible to track down now (note the weird subs above) but worth it for completists or noir heads.

"The Quiet Room" features Joe Mantegna and Bonnie Bedelia as a sleazy cop duo who pump prostitutes for client information in order to frame their rich johns and pad their pensions. It's got a nice but somewhat telegraphed end twist and features an always welcome turn by Peter Gallagher as a tumescent dentist.

"The Professional Man" is the more interesting of the two, despite its inclusion of Encino Man Brendan Fraser. Fraser plays a gay elevator-operator-cum-hit man (and when's the last time you saw that job description?) who has to rethink his chosen trades when his employer, mob boss Peter Coyote, takes a shine to his male lover. It's an interesting spin on the usual femme fatale story (homme fatale?) based on a solid short story by David Goodis. So, long before Matt Damon was mounting Michael Douglas in Behind the Candelabra, Soderbergh was already testing out same-sex power dynamics. You go, girl.

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