Midnight Heat: The one of the best films you've never seen
Brad Jones: a man who's to '80s what early Tarantino is to '70s.
What are you seeing this summer? So far the pickings have been slim for films and even big name directors have been cursed with horrible projects that offer little in the way of newer stories. Audiences have been forced to spend weekends looking forward to sequels rather than anything fresh. So while some people try to convince themselves their 10 bucks was well spent on films like Hangover 3 or World War Z (that's right, another fuckin' zombie film!), there's some real art being made every day and most of it is found online... for free. ,
Before I gush about this revelation I've seen in this man who calls himself "The Cinema Snob", it's important to note who this guy is, and why you should care. Brad Jones in a film maker, writer, and owner of his website "The Cinema Snob": a website that while, at its surface, is just in-character movie reviews of lurid cinema made in the 1970's through the 1980's. That is only what meets the eye; as you dig deeper into the site, you'll find a goldmine of original content, sketches, and personal videos where he reviews current movies directly after sitting through the film on its opening night... in his car. Spontaneity births hilarity, and from that comes from a critic that speaks not only from experience, but also from his hip.
While most critics are a collection of variable assclowns that only work or write to pay off a Liberal Arts student loan debt, history shows that the best critics of film are people that once made movies (ala: the Late Rodger Ebert). Brad Jones is no exception, and there is a jewel in his filmography that delivers. What does it deliver? 80's trash that anyone that rocked out to Journey will have a nostalgic orgasm watching. Midnight Heat delivers, When was it made? 2007! This is nothing new in film, whether independent or major studio release, but cut me a fuckin' break: I just saw this a week ago.
While the 1980's wasn't so long ago; it was an hilariously different era with a culture of clubs and The Culture Club. Everyone smoked 'cause no one cared, "Coke" wasn't just a beverage, and cellphones were the size of shoe boxes, owned by few. Honestly, it's hard to not giggle when thinking back on the decade that gave us MTV and Flock Of Seagulls. And the films of the 80's made audiences fall in love with that world, even if it was a combustion chamber filled with Aqua-net. Midnight Heat effortlessly re-creates this without million-dollar set design, big name stars, or expensive camera equipment. Though, it's not the look that makes this film for that is only skin deep; this film has a greater soul in its performances and storytelling.
Midnight Heat follows the character of Martin (played by Brad Jones), a pimp on edge as he is suspect number 1 in a citywide manhunt for a deranged killer called "the scalper", meanwhile avoiding his seedy pimp competition coming ever so closer to running him out of town. That's not enough, a coked-up cop named Wilson (played by Brad's friend Jake Norvell) is on the trail of redemption as he not only looking for "the scalper", but also looks to give Martin a lead salad, and save the girls in his employ. This story keeps you in its grasp because we really have little idea until the films end who is really the bad guy; who's the most unlikable? Is Martin redeemable? is Wilson misunderstood? Will the main hooker Donna survive the scalper, will Wilson act carelessly, or will Martin catch her in his rampage during the night?
Actor Jake Norvell is a natural badass cop that possibly could shoot a man by just saying "fuck" and killing him with the awesome inflection of how the word come out of him. Brad Jones might not sell being a pimp well, but that might just be because we only have one stereotypical stigma in our minds as to what a pimp is (a 1970's black guy in a purple velvet robe). Rest assured; he's pure "neon slime" with a vocal fry crackle of a man that can't be trusted or liked, but still demands to be feared and enjoyed. Donna (played by unknown actress Bianca Queen) is a damsel in distress that is believable and likeable- something hard to find in any damsel in distress (we're looking at you, Bella Swan).
As for shortcomings: there are some, but to be honest, it's still hard to not enjoy them. The camera work is from an-off-the shelf Hi-8 that shakes and has poor picture/sound quality. The lighting sucks, but this whole narrative takes place over the course of a night. The acting can get a little clunky, but it's because the lines are being read genuinely and by real people who love 80's genre characters. The whole production is the result of a great film maker with not-so-great tools and you can't really fault him for that. This things' budget was around $10,000 and it seems like most of it had to go into sound design, as it features the coolest 80's soundtrack I've heard since 200 Cigarettes. Money well spent.
There are a few other short films in the Brad Jones cannon, and at some point I'll watch them all. His video reviews are always irreverently funny, if not taken too seriously. He's daringly dabbled in the films that both agitate and offend, finding the juicy, artistic center within even the most controversial opuses like Salo (or the 120 days of Sodom),I Spit on Your Grave, and his personal favorite, Caligula. He can take on the greats, as well as the drive-in slashers, and tell the unsuspecting public whether they're worth their salt or not,... because he's made them himself.