Release Date: Jan. 29
Director: Hue Rhodes
Writer: Hue Rhodes (screenplay), Danti Alighieri (story)
Starring: Steve Buscemi, Sarah Silverman, Romany Malco, Peter Dinklage, Tim Blake Nelson
Cinematographer: Giles Nuttgens
Studio/Run Time: IndieVest Pictures, 85 mins.
Buscemi divine in Sin City comedy
Steve Buscemi projects such a specific persona that it’s nearly impossible to see him as anything other than himself. Supporting in an impressive number of the last two decade’s best films (Miller’s Crossing, Reservoir Dogs, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, Big Fish), he’s either the weird, insecure, vaguely pathetic good guy or the weird, insecure, vaguely pathetic bad guy. But when Buscemi is given enough time and space, he creates remarkably nuanced and moving characters—even within those claustrophobic parameters.
In Saint John of Las Vegas, he’s engaging and sympathetic as a reformed-gambler-turned-insurance-adjuster whose first assignment as a fraud investigator takes him across the desert, ever closer to the dangerous pull of Las Vegas. Sarah Silverman is charming and funny, and the camerawork is highly stylized and visually sumptuous, filled with bright, contrasting colors and geometric patterns that director Hue Rhodes calls an homage to Piet Mondrian. References to Dante’s Inferno—our hero is named John Alighieri, and he’s led by a man named Virgil closer and closer to our modern-day “Sin City” of Las Vegas—become almost laughably heavy-handed when we meet a sinister figure named Lou Cypher. The Dante-colored surface-coating wasn’t necessary; the film stands up on its own.