SMILE FOR THE CAMERA
Michael Butts | Martinsburg, WV USA | 04/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"JOHNNY SKIDMARKS is one of those movies that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, and then shipped off to HBO. A shame, as this dark, disturbing film is brilliant. Director John Roffo gives us a "noir" feel with some really catchy oldies played throughout. Peter Gallagher stars as Johnny, a crime scene photographer, who is also making some money on the side by taking pictures in a blackmail scam. Things turn sour when Johnny's cohorts start turning up dead, and it looks like Johnny's next. Gallagher is at his best in his role as a man who has stopped participating in life, has stopped caring, has stopped feeling. He doesn't want to know anything about the people he photographs, either on his crime scene job or his blackmailing. He has a brother in law, played well by Jack Black, who runs a clown burger joint(...). Gallagher meets up with Frances McDormand (brilliant as always) as a newcomer who just might have some connection with his blackmailing scam. The ever chameleonic John Lithgow appears as Larry, Johnny's detective friend, who seems to encourage Johnny to feel a little more. Geoffrey Lower adds some macho depth in his role as Larry's partner, who for some reason just doesn't like Johnny. In a small role, lovely Charlie Shadling portrays Lorraine, the hooker the blackmailers use in their scams.
This is a dark and unsettling film, and the finale on the rooftop is gut-wrenching in its brutal honesty.
A very good film, overlooked, but worth seeing!"
A Very Cool Movie!
Michael Butts | 11/17/1998
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is a really interesting movie that I throughly dug and enjoyed. It's part intense character study, part paranoid suspense-thriller, part chase movie. The setup is this: John Scardino is a police crime & accident scene photog who is emotionally numb inside and moonlights as the lens man for an extortion ring, taking dirty snaps of compromised businessmen in their undies with a saucy hooker named Lorraine in sleazy motel rooms. Suddenly, Scardino starts seeing the blackmail crew from his night job turning up as corpses in his day job in seemingly unrelated homicides. Scardino is the only one who notices the connection, but he can't say squat without revealing his involvement in a criminal enterprise! He rediscivers his emotional inner self by getting major league heebie-jeebies trying to figure out who the killer is. He's taken so many snaps over the years, it could be just about anybody. No one can be trusted! Halfway through, the movie explodes open and turns really grisly and intense--be prepared!The acting--by Peter Gallagher, Frances McDormand, John Lithgow, Jack Black, Geoffrey Lower, John Kapelos, Charlie Spradling and Lee Arenberg--is great and infinitely diggable. The dialogue is really wry and darkly funny, as is the music. And the movie's look has a kind of Edward Hopper-film noir thing going that I also really dug.Not a lot of people saw this flick when it first came out. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, then went straight to HBO. Which is weird, because it's so good. This one's a real find. Go forth and dig it!Richard Terhune, The Movie Digger"