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“the january man” – a very odd film.

November 22, 2014

The movie is called “The January Man” because.. well, no, I won’t spoil that part for you.

This is a film about a cop trying to catch a serial killer in NYC.  No, that doesn’t sound original or odd. But this movie is both original and odd.

The cop is played by Kevin Kline. Kline is perhaps best known for his zany performance in the comedy “A Fish Called Wanda.” He and the rest of the core cast of that film later starred in another crazy movie, called “Fierce Creatures.” Both of those films are raunchy, but very funny.

Kline is capable of serious drama. He played characters in two emotionally heavy, classic ensemble cast films: “The Big Chill” and “Grand Canyon.” Both were directed and co-written by Lawrence Kasdan.

Besides roles in the two films I’ve just mentioned, I’ve only seen Kline do comedy, and he does it well. Check out the movie “Dave,” in which Kline plays both a US president, and the president’s look-alike, who has to take over the presidency without the public knowing. Sigourney Weaver co-stars. That movie is really worth watching.

“The January Man” is also worth watching. It’s nuts.

The DVD that I picked up.. it had kind of a scary picture on the front, and there was no mention in the description on the back cover of the case that the film would be at all humorous. I was concerned it would be a deadly serious, possibly gory serial killer film.

But no, it was not like that.

Why did I pick up the film from the library shelf and bring it home? I don’t usually watch violent movies.

But.. the cast of this film.. wow.  I couldn’t resist watching this movie because of the cast.

Kevin Kline as Nick Starkey, a former police detective turned fireman who is reinstated as a detective in order to catch a killer. Kline’s character is not at all a typical detective. He’s an oddball bohemian type.

Alan Rickman – yeah, the guy who played the villain in the first “Die Hard” film, and and Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies. Rickman usually plays dower, scary characters. But in this film, he’s Ed, an eccentric artist, and good friend/neighbor of Kline’s character.

Harvey Keitel – Frank Starkey, Nick’s brother. Keitel playing brother to Kevin Kline? That in itself is absurd. Keitel is the police commissioner (damn I couldn’t figure out how to spell that word! I’ve never typed it before.. had to look it up). As you might guess, Keitel’s character is not a very good guy.

Susan Sarandon – wife of Frank, former lover of Nick, and caught in the middle between the two men.

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio – Bernadette, the daughter of the mayor, friend of a woman who was killed, and later Nick’s lover.

Why has MEM not been in a movie since 2004? I don’t get it. She was quite popular in the late ’80’s and early ’90’s, staring in such huge hits as “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,” and “The Abyss.” She was also in an excellent thriller called “White Sands.” That one is NOT a comedy, but is rather good.

Oh this woman was hot!!! And a good actress too. Very likeable in a variety of roles. I sure enjoyed her in this film.

Danny Aiello – Captain Vincent Alcoa, the police captain Nick is assigned to. Alcoa really cannot stand the rather eccentric Nick. Aiello has been in tons of movies, such as “Godfather II,” “Do The Right Thing,” and “Moonstruck.” He hasn’t been in a well-known film since “Leon: The Professional” (sometimes the title just says “The Professional”), in 1994.

“The Professional” is a classic hit man film featuring Jean Reno (an excellent French actor), Gary Oldman, and Natalie Portman. Portman’s first role – she was only 12, and she was awesome. But I digress..

Rob Steiger as the mayor. Rob Steiger is famous, but from a different, earlier era. He was in such classics as “On The Waterfront” (with Marlon Brando), and “In the Heat of the Night” (with Sydney Poitier). I still haven’t seen “In the Heat of the Night.” I’m a bit ashamed of myself.

Ok then..

“The January Man” … is it an excellent film? No. Is it an original, silly, and entertaining film? Yes. A somewhat serious and somewhat ridiculous cop going after serial killer film.

This movie is rated R, and with good reason.

No, the violence is not very graphic compared to recent movies and TV shows. The movie was released in 1989. Standards were different then. Not saying there weren’t extremely graphic films made at that time, but most of those were horror movies, if I remember correctly.

This movie was rated R for..

Loads of F-bombs being dropped throughout the film.

And humping.

And boobies.

I usually avoid nudity, and I never appreciate sex scenes. However, I do appreciate scenes of women not doing anything in particular, but semi-nude.. if they are rather attractive. I saw Mary Elizabeth Matrantonio unclothed in “White Sands,” and I was very pleased. She’s in the nude in this film too.

I have never seen Susan Sarandon topless, and I am not happy about that!! I saw “Bull Durham” back in ’88, with the hopes of getting a satisfying view of Sarandon.. she played a very sexy character.. but no such luck.

But, as a consolation prize, there’s one other amazing, naked woman in the movie. I don’t know the name of the actress. She’s sitting on a couch in the early part of the film. Ed is painting her portrait.

Ok yeah.. I’m weird I suppose. If it’s just a shot of a woman topless, but not doing anything with anyone… that I can appreciate. But I don’t like seeing people have sex. So part of the nudity in this film I liked, and part I did not.

This is the only movie review so far that I have written in which I am not including a youtube video of the trailer. Almost all the funny parts are in the trailer, and there aren’t that many funny parts. This movie is only part comedy, and part drama. If you want to laugh uproariously all the way through a film, don’t watch this one.

If you want to see a rather odd film about a detective tracking a killer.. watch “The January Man.”

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