A few weeks back on an otherwise fine Tuesday while I was at the library typing away on a review or something at the usual table I sit at near the DVD section, a man came in with a friend of his looking for a particular film. However, from listening to their conversation behind me (the gentlemen weren’t whispering), neither could recall the title. As there wasn’t a clerk in earshot at the time, my encyclopedic brain clued into things quickly when one guy said “it’s about this black guy with a twin brother who’s white or something like that…” and without turning around (hey, I was busy and decided to help them out so I didn’t have to hear them gab away), I chimed in with “Suture” and heard both their heads turn around with a cartoon snapping sound. Not looking up, I smiled. I tend to surprise people sometimes with my head full of useless know-it-almost range on certain subjects
One guy leaned in like I was his new best friend and said “YEAH, that’s it! HOW did you know that, man?” His clothes smelled like he just ate at the newly re-opened McDonalds across the street and had a cigarette afterwards. My nose hairs curled up something awful, and I offered up the following nugget of truth: I’d seen it back when it was released and a few times on cable a few years later. To which Mr. Tobacco Burger (who’d turned around so his head was now on correctly) offered up his own nugget of truth. “I’ve been looking for this movie FOREVER, man!” (Edit: Okay, partial truth) – I heard it’s SO strange… I like strange movies like that!” I didn’t want to spoil his mood, but I did inform him that he should either ask at the front desk or see if it was in the database. of course, two or more amusing things happened after that, but I’ll keep you in suspense for a bit…
Where was I again? Oh, right. So, my new temporary friend scoots off to the desk while his equally smelly pal (old sweat and musty coat plus tax and a burger or two)is perusing the rest of the library’s slim lineup, chatting away to no one in particular about how there’s nothing in the stacks that’s really interesting and how he wished the Blockbuster or Hollywood Video stores in this area would have never shut down. Ah, progress. As I’m waxing nostalgic and waning because I’m about to faint from the aroma. Meisterburger Puffernstein rolls up looking pouty. As he’s got no library card, he can’t take out a movie and he’s left his ID in his other pants or something, so he’s kind of S.O.L. to-day. Boo for him… and for me, because he then sits down and asks me to tell him about the film.
Suture is exactly the kind of film you cannot describe in a blow-by-blow description at all without A: revealing the entire plot, B: Realizing the plot and main gimmick aren’t all that important at the end of the day. and C: making someone who may want to see it actually want to see it after you’ve explained it all. For the uninitiated, the film is about identical twin brothers, one of whom decides to murder the other (who’s unknown to everyone else in the film) by staging an accident in order so he could steal his identity, then kill their father in order to claim a ton of inheritance money. There’s more, but I’ll skip it because the film has some gimmicks to throw at you that are super darn cool, but more stylish over substance.
The big hooky gimmick is one brother, Clay (Dennis Haysbert, yes the guy from those Allstate ads) is black, the other, Vincent (Michael Harris) is white (and color aside the two men look NOTHING alike) and no one says a thing about this during the entire film. In fact, after Vincent’s attempt to kill Clay fails, Clay ends up getting reconstructive surgery and yep, there’s still not a note about the men looking different. This ends up being a red herring anyway, as the film is actually a decent little drama without the weird visual/mental mind job. The other gimmick is it’s a black and white film with some wonderful set designs that give things a half 1960’s/half-early 90’s vibe but again, do nothing for the plot. There are nods to Hitchcock and other directors and the design sense recalls some functional minimalism that looks gleaned from a few Asian films with a slice of Italy as an appetizer. But, oh yeah – I had two guys sitting next to me and waiting for a story, right?
Rather than give the guy a glare and send him on his merry way (hey, he may have decided to lurk out there afterwards with his pal), I opened a new tab on my laptop and dialed up the trailer above. The pair of ripe fellows got their eyeful and afterwards, looked at each other for a few seconds before looking back at me as if they were two dogs begging for a treat. “Um, no… I don’t have the whole film on this computer…” I said, trying to breathe more through my mouth than nose. But I think if you know someone with a computer and enough time, you may be able to find this somewhere online to watch. “Oh, that’s alright,” Smoky the Burger said, smiling back at me – “I still want to hear the story from you…” At this point, I’d shut my eyes because my eyeballs had rolled back around in my head to get away from the smell and because my brain was printing out a response and I wanted to blurt it out faster (I can read upside down, in case you didn’t know – it’s a skill that comes in very handy sometimes).
After my eyeballs rolled back into place, I opened them and mentioned that I was working on some articles and needed to get them done before a deadline as I showed them my site. They both leaned in (*gag*, *choke*) and looked for a few seconds, then Sir Smoke-A-Lot looked up grinning as if he’d found a bag of free burgers with cigarettes in them on the street. “Oh, man! Sorry about that, man! We didn’t mean to keep you from your stuff, dude! Gotta get PAID, right? Right?” he said, nodding away like one of those bobble-headed backseat dog figures from back in the day. I should have told him I don;t get paid for this and asked it HE could lend ME some change for a burger (but no cigarette) “Yeah…” I noted, not nodding back. “Deadlines suck, guys, or I’d be here all day talking about that flick. But them again, you SHOULD track it down on your own, as if I tell you everything… you won’t want to see it, correct?” OldCoat McSweaty agreed and started nodding before saying to his pal, “Yeah, let’s go, man – you don’t have a card anyway, so even if they DID have it, you can’t even take it out!”
His friend thought or a second and you could practically see a feeble ghostly hand reach up through his hat and pull the chain the old 15 watt light bulb above his head. “Oh man, that’s riiiiiiiight!” He said, grinning as he popped up out of the chair. “You know Freddy on the block, right?”, he said, slapping his friends arm (and making me see a cloud of invisible Pigpen dust and germs fly into the air around me). “His sis-ter has got a computer at her place. Let’s go over there, man – I think we can watch movies there!” As they turned to leave, I was back at work, but looked up just in time for Beefy Smokestacks to zip back and ask “Uhm, what’s the place we can see this movie at again?” As I happened to have a Post-it pad with me, I wrote out YouTube and the name of the film on a note and handed it to him, which he took with a huge grin and a “Thanks, man – thanks a lot!” before rushing out to catch up with his friend.
So, is Suture a good movie? Well… it depends on your tolerance for style over substance. It most certainly looks great, the performances are fine and if you strip away the gimmicks, it’s not bad at all. That said, I wonder how it would play as a straight drama/mystery with NO gimmicks at all, as there’s enough here that would have worked fine without all that trickery. As for my choice of director? Oh, I dunno… but if we’re going to do the black and white (characters) and black and white (film) thing again, I’d say ring up Spike Lee and NOT Tyler Perry, please… anything but that…