'Dark Streets'

Feebly mixing film noir and the old-time nightclub musical, "Dark Streets" could do with illumination in more ways than one. Snapped up after its odd jury prize at CineVegas, this under-budgeted, '30s-set pic wants auds to believe power blackouts in an unnamed city are to blame for the woes of club owner Chaz Davenport (Gabriel Mann), even as ostentatious production numbers in the spirit of Coppola's "Cotton Club" keep the joint jumping.

Feebly mixing film noir and the old-time nightclub musical, “Dark Streets” could do with illumination in more ways than one. Snapped up after its odd jury prize at CineVegas, this under-budgeted, ’30s-set pic wants auds to believe power blackouts in an unnamed city are to blame for the woes of club owner Chaz Davenport (Gabriel Mann), even as ostentatious production numbers in the spirit of Coppola’s “Cotton Club” keep the joint jumping. A dozen original blues tunes, featuring vocals by Etta James, Natalie Cole and others, likely won’t push the film past its mid-December platform release in Gotham and L.A.

Based on producer Glenn M. Stewart’s 2004 stage musical “The City Club,” the pic opens with a literal bang, as a man is shot point-blank in the head, followed by a narrator’s hardboiled voiceover: “A bullet’s kiss is a cold way to meet betrayal.” That ridiculous line inspires an early wish for camp, which director Rachel Samuels (“The Suicide Club”), straining to capture period on a budget, doesn’t fulfill.

As a dancing chanteuse, Bijou Phillips gives it her all, which isn’t enough, and a wooden Mann doesn’t help, although Izabella Miko brings a modicum of unaffected charm to her role as the Other Woman.

Tech credits run the gamut from impressive sound design to editing that tries and fails to paper the production’s cracks. Pretentious film, shot largely in downtown L.A., is dedicated to the New Orleans musicians affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Dark Streets

Production

A Samuel Goldwyn Films release of a Sherezade Films and Capture Film Intl. presentation. Produced by Glenn M. Stewart, Claus Clausen, Andrea Balen, Corina Danckwerts. Executive producer, Steffen Aumueller. Co-producer, Jeremy Alter. Directed by Rachel Samuels. Screenplay, Wallace King, based on a play by Glenn M. Stewart.

Crew

Camera (Technicolor), Sharone Meir; editors, Anne Goursaud, Michael J. Duthie; music, George Acogny; music supervisor, Acogny; songs, James Compton, Tim Langhorne Brown, Tony De Meur; dance choreographer, Keith Young; production designer, Frank Bollinger; art director, Jana M. Mrovec; set decorator, Eden Barr; costume designer, Maria Schicker; sound (Dolby Digital), Zsolt Magyar; sound designer, Daniel Dietenberger; supervising sound editor, Barney Cabral; special effects, Nils Allen Stewart; visual effects supervisor, Chris F. Woods; stunt coordinator, Stewart; assistant director, Daniel Shultz; second unit director, Claus Clausen; casting, Johanna Ray. Reviewed on DVD, Minneapolis, Dec. 8, 2008. (In CineVegas Film Festival.) MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 83 MIN.

With

Gabriel Mann, Bijou Phillips, Izabella Miko, Elias Koteas, Michael Fairman, Toledo.
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