music friday: 1995
the conformist (bernardo bertolucci, 1970)

hit man (richard linklater, 2023)

Richard Linklater is one of my favorite directors ... the last time I made such a list, I ranked him as my 14th favorite of all time, between Miyazaki and Truffaut. The Before Trilogy, Boyhood, Dazed and Confused, A Scanner Darkly, these are wonderful films. One of the things about Linklater, though, is that he is capable of making a film that isn't great, doesn't try to be great, but is fun to watch. Not every film has to be a classic. Hit Man combines genres in an interesting way and has terrific chemistry between leads Glen Powell and Adria Arjona. It was a perfect movie to watch during some troubled personal times.

Linklater and Powell co-wrote the script, amazingly based on the true story of a fake hit man who works with the police. In the movie, the main character is a college professor who moonlights with the police, pretending to be a hit man in sting operations intended to trap potential "customers" so they can be arrested without anyone actually dying. This leads to a movie called "Hit Man" that earns its "R" rating as much for sexual content as for violence. The romance comes when Arjona's character tries to hire the hit man, but instead he helps her turn her life around, and they fall in love. There is an unreal lunacy to much of the plot, despite its basis in fact, but hey, screwball romances never worried about realism.

There is also an underpinning of philosophy, with the matter of identity being obvious. I don't think any of this would work without these leads, and without Linklater's ability to make something pleasurable about it all. The cast is full of people I thought I recognized but I didn't, which somehow made sense.

Like I say, sometimes you don't need greatness.


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