Review: Glass Chin
REVIEW: Being a film critic for JoBlo.com, my inbox is ofen full of review requests from indie distributors looking for coverage for their movies. When you agree to check out one of these films, itís really a crap-shoot as to how the film is going to turn out. Something like GLASS CHIN really belongs in the ďbest caseĒ scenario in that itís a truly nifty little neo-noir gem that deserves to find an audience.
The great Corey Stoll is perfectly cast as a washed-up big-time boxer. While not a total oaf, his bruised ego wonít allow him to let go of his former glory. Having blown all of his cash, heís now reduced to living in a cramped apartment where he whines to his supportive girlfriend (Marin Ireland) about how heís constantly losing Facebook friends and how everyone has turned their back on him now that heís no longer a party machine. Stollís guy is not immediately likable. Heís responsible for his own downfall, and while his girlfriend should be his solace, he constantly screws around on her despite her steadfast support. Still, he gives the guy some tenderness, with one of his redeeming features being his love for his black lab dog, and the honest professionalism he brings to a part-time gig mentoring a young up and comer, leading to a big crisis of conscience in the finale.
In classic noir style, itís the promise of another shot at the big-time that lures him into working as a debt collector for Billy Crudupís smoothie mobster. Sent out on runs with the more vicious Robert (a scene-stealing Yul Vasquez) an unlucky run-in with a coked-up school teacher with a 300k debt leads to his inevitable downfall in classic noir tradition.
Running a lean eighty-eight minutes, Noah Buschelís film really does come off like a modern version of the kind of melodrama that would have starred Robert Mitchum or Victor Mature in the forties. Moving at a quick clip, things happen fast although Buschel is also able to slow things down at times for a lengthy exchange between characters, with him naturalistic, gritty dialogue feeling like something out of Cassavettes Ė giving this a strong KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE style vibe.
One of my only complaints is that the inevitable frame-up never really feels convincing, as Crudupís supposedly smart mobster is basically painting a target on his back for cops with his threats. That said, it still kinda works as itís initially ambiguous as to whether or not heíll actually follow-through, with the important thing being that Stollís not-too-bright character thinks he will.
Despite its modest budget, Buschel gives this a crisp scope look, and the soundtrack is way above average for an indie, with lots of great songs, including some cuts from the New York Dolls (along with a cameo by front man David Johansen thrown in for good measure). Stoll is terrific, perfectly playing the smart-assed but thick between the ears boxer. Marin Ireland is incredible as his girlfriend; giving what could have been a stock character real life and warmth. For his part, Crudup is a little too polished to be menacing but it suits the role Ė even if heís a little too quick to bust out into Tarantino-ish speeches (which doesnít jibe with the rest of the film). The still absolutely gorgeous Kelly Lynch pops up for two scenes as a bartender Stoll hooks up with, but despite only having a few minutes of screen time she makes a huge impact. The best of all of them is Yul Vasquez, who gives real depth to his tough-guy enforcer part, with a climactic heart-to-heart with Stoll being arguably the movieís best bit.
Suffice to say, GLASS CHIN was a real unexpected gem and the type of indie film Iím always hoping shows up in my inbox. Now that itís hitting VOD, I highly suggest all of you who like this kind of thing get out there and support it by ordering it. Its well-worth the modest VOD fee and a really solid watch.