Saturday, June 22, 2013

Coincidence City! In RUSHLIGHTS, Antoni Stutz piles on the happenstance like crazy

So many coincidences abound in the first ten minutes of RUSHLIGHTS (the meaning of which you'll have to crib from the movie's opening quote that dates back to the 1700s) -- from look-alike ladies to packing up the wrong person’s luggage to the discovery of an inherited estate -- that you might as well sit back and savor the nonsense of this would-be mystery thriller, all the better to mine some entertainment out of its modern-day but distinctly old-fashioned story of love, larceny and identity theft. These coincidences do continue, by the way -- and then some.

There’s even Chekhov’s famous “gun” mounted on the wall -- about which the noted author suggested that if the gun appears in act one it had better go off by act three. Director and co-writer (with Ashley Scott MeyersAntoni Stutz , shown at right, goes Chekhov one better by having that gun explode almost immediately, leading to yet more hilarious coincidence. At this point in the film, you'll either be rubbing your forehead in amazement or laughing out loud.

Meanwhile you can admire the chiseled abs and other areas of the male half of the movie's romantic equation (Josh Henderson, above, left) and the cute face and lively spirit of the female, Haley Webb (above, right, and below), who fuck like bunnies every chance they get.

Short little scenes begin and end so quickly that they don’t deliver either what we need or even what we expect. This sort of style can have its perks -- surprise, among them -- but here it seems to rob us of the normal exchange that might go on between characters to help further the plot via characterization rather than piling on more incident and event.

The old-fashioned plot has to do with our twosome driving from L.A. to Texas and trying to con their way into inheriting the estate of a recently deceased roommate (a very iffy proposition to begin with, made even iffier by everything that follows). When characters are this dumb, it's difficult to work up much enthusiasm for them.

Incidents seem invented to grab certain audience segments (Oh, hey, this should work for the gay crowd!) rather than move the plot along intelligently, but often, the result is such sleazy, silly fun that you may not mind too much. Aidan Quinn, above, shows up as a maybe too-nice lawyer who offers his help to the couple. He's half of a brotherly duo that also includes the town's sheriff.

“I’ve enjoyed about as much of this as I can stand,” notes that sheriff (played with his usual swagger and sass by Beau Bridges, above), at one choice point along the way. Though you may agree with the lawman,

you’ll probably want to stick around to enjoy all of these out-of-the-woodwork shenanigans, which include some nasty stuff from a certain very naughty, haughty (well, he's British) and sleazy drug dealer (Crispian Belfrage, above) who turns up again and again to offer further nonsensical surprises.

Rushlights, running 96 a-little-too-long minutes, opened yesterday at the following theaters and locations across the country: in Los Angeles at the Chinese 6, Hollywood; in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, at the TX Studio Movie Grill, Dallas; in the Phoenix, Arizona area at the Harkins Valley Art in Tempe; in Gainesville, Florida, at the Hippodrome;  in the CT-NJ-NY-PA area, at The Picturehouse, Pelham, NY; in Columbus, Ohio, at the Gateway Film Center; in Detroit at the Bel Air; in Houston, at the Premiere Renaissance 20; in Miami at the Palace 18; and in Minneapolis-St. Paul, at the St. Anthony Main in Minneapolis.

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