Bad Turn Worse — While intimate in mood, a twisted sexually charged, little story plays out. Because it looks easy, B.J., a charming, but cocky young man steals a chunk of money from his boss, a small-time gangster. B.J., his girl, and his best friend spend it all on a weekend getaway. There are problems. It wasn’t the small-time gangster’s money after all, but a big-time gangster’s. And the charming cocky kid’s girlfriend is really in love with the best friend. They are having an affair. All these secrets slowly surface requiring payback in various forms. The drama unfolds in outback Texas, a popular locale for sleazy rural noir. Well-acted by MacKenzie Davis, Logan Huffman, Jeremy Allen White, William Devane and Mark Pellegrino, it is directed by the Hawkins brothers. Zeke and Simon and released in 2013.
Common — This is an important film with a message; but its importance and its almost documentary presentation doesn’t undermine its drama and suspense. In the slightly more civilized world of JohnJo O’Shea who lives in a small town in England, it is the law that is the villain of the piece. Apparently, there is an enforcement interpretation in their legal system called “joint enterprise.” In the case of murder, anyone however tangentially involved, is as guilty as the person who actually does the deed. On the surface, the idea may not seem problematical. However, this film points up a serious defect in the justice of it all.
The film is designed to indict the joint enterprise practice, and director, David Blair, has taken an almost documentary approach to the project. It works. We feel as if we are eavesdropping on a family victimized by the prosecutorial practice. Johnjo believes he is driving three of his brother’s friends to pick up a pizza. The others know that the purpose of the pizza parlor visit is to harass one of is patrons. Instead one member of the makeshift gang kills an innocent bystander —an incident unrelated to the intended bullying. Yet all of them must stand trial for murder, including JohnJo. This is a great piece of drama and journalism. The entire cast is stellar. It is important to note that there are those who defend “joint enterprise” as an essential tool for the prosecution. Watch the 2014, 90-minute film and decide.
The cracked clay of the first film might leave your throat dry. Certainly, Mexican beer — Pacifico, Superior, Corona — would be appropriate, though you should probably be older than most of the cast to buy it. A switch to something heartier for the second might be best for the film set in a chilly Great Britain. Maybe some fish & chips too.