Jenna Ricker’s self-regarding Buffalo-bound chintz-noir “The American Side” features an old-fashioned kind of half-inspired, half-cocked, screw-loose and convoluted only-in-the-movies detective story telling that would have counted as a decent discovery in the wee hours on one or more late-night Cinemax channels. The screenplay by Ricker and Greg Stuhr (who was in the Steppenwolf production of “The Qualms”) perambles around timeworn hard-boiled wisecracks, blackmail, flighty women, a schlock carnival and long-lost, conspiracy-buried inventions by Nikola Tesla. Stuhr plays the Polish detective who gets to admire the twists and turns in the scenery up close. The parade of actors taking their fair chomp out of the sets includes Matthew Broderick, Janeane Garofalo, Robert Forster, Harris Yulin, Robert Vaughn and Joe Grifasi as “The Serb.” 104m. (Ray Pride)
“The American Side” opens June 17 at the Wilmette and on video-on-demand. The trailer is below.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.