Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I'm On Thin Ice

While visiting my father in Las Vegas two weeks ago, we saw Thin Ice. Las Vegas is truly the land of the metroplexes - 300 screens in the metropolitan area showing the same dozen or so films. I have noticed that there is always in Indian film screening on one screen in the newspaper listing. That indicates there is a sizable Indian immigrant population in Las Vegas which I haven't seen.

Also, we were driving on Spring Mountain Road which is called Las Vegas' Chinatown. That means the strip malls have Chinatown style tiled roofs with upturned corners. I was surprised that "Chinatown" went on for miles along Spring Mountain. I didn't think there was enough of an Asian community to support that many businesses. The "Chinatown" is Pan Asian as we stopped in a Korean supermarket next to a Filipino restaurant with Vietnamese, Thai and Japanese businesses within short distance.

Thin Ice starring Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin & Billy Crudup; directed by Jill Sprecher; (2011) - Official Website

Thin Ice is a great film...until the last 10 minutes. Greg Kinnear plays a shady insurance agent looking to steal a valuable violin from an elderly client (Alan Arkin). At each step along the way, Kinnear's character encounter setbacks including getting involved in a murder. Thin Ice is a black comedy which cashes in on Kinnear's greed, Arkin absent mindedness and Billy Crudup's manic energy as the small time hood who blackmails Kinnear.

The film reminded me of the Coen's Brothers' Fargo until Thin Ice pulls a switcheroo which essentially invalidates everything up until that point. I thought the film was great without the surprise ending and felt resentful afterwards. The San Francisco Chronicle review does not mention this surprise ending.

Sisters Jill and Karen Sprecher wrote and directed the film which was called The Convincer on the festival circuit which included the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. The film was edited without the Sprecher's involvement and re-titled Thin Ice. The Convincer received generally positive reviews; Thin Ice's reviews are mixed.

Greg Kinnear is great as a small time con man suddenly in over his head with no way to escape. I laughed out loud several times at his discomfort in certain situations. Billy Crudup also holds his own as the squirrelly murderer who drags Kinnear down with him.

If you like black comedies, the first 85 minutes of Thin Ice are definitely worthwhile. Even when it was The Convincer, Thin Ice had the aforementioned surprise, so I wonder if my distaste is with the surprise or the way that specific plot point was presented.

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