Overnight and The Boondock Saints (review)

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Some Kind of Monster

Troy Duffy is a dick. A grade-A hothead asshole with an ego that practically verges on the psychotic. That’s not me talking — that’s Overnight, a kick-ass documentary by two of Duffy’s former friends, Tony Montana and Mark Brian Smith, who demonstrate most ably why they are no longer his friends, in this tale of greed and arrogance and the very very dark side of the seductive power of Hollywood. It’s so perfect an example of well-earned comeuppance and karmic justice that if it weren’t true, someone would have had to make it up.
You mean you’ve never heard of Troy Duffy? Heh. He was supposed to be the next Tarantino, it seems, a pet of Harvey Weinstein’s who was going to rock your world with his cool-criminals movie The Boondock Saints, even though he was just a guy from Boston who’d moved to L.A. seeking his fame and fortune. Casting approval? You bet. Final cut? No problem. His band on the soundtrack? Yeah, baby. Duffy had never made a film, but who cares? Harvey Weinstein was gonna buy the West Hollywood dive where Duffy tended bar and give half of it to Duffy as a valentine. Duffy was on the cover of U.S. Fucking A. Today. No wonder he thought he was “Hollywood’s new hard-on” who was going to make “one of the best independent films ever.”

Montana and Smith starting shooting with whatever they had on hand, from still cameras and Super-8 to mini DV, as soon as Duffy gathered together his “Syndicate” — family and friends, including Montana and Smith, who would come along on his magic Hollywood carpet ride. And so they were there as it all started to fall apart as quickly as it came together, when the phone calls to Miramax and William Morris stop being returned, when the press stopped groveling at his feet, when the movie disintegrated long before a single frame had been shot. The simplicity of Montana and Smith’s unvarnished point-and-shoot approach serves to let Duffy’s character shine through: he’d had an overblown sense of entitlement and his own importance before Hollywood started blowing him, and it only got worse once Hollywood got bored with him. He clearly saw himself as a benevolent godfather before, though he was rather parsimonious in sharing his luck with his pals even as he demanded outrageous fealty from them, but he got real nasty real fast, becoming breathtakingly bombastic, ranking himself and his still unachieved goals on a history-of-the-world scale — as in, no one else has ever done what he’s setting out to do. Duffy is a burlesque of what happens when unprepared smugness goes through the Hollywood wringer. Schadenfreude is rarely so satisfying as it is here.

So what happened to The Boondock Saints? It got picked up by Franchise Films, financiers of last resort for desperate filmmakers, and Duffy produced it on half the budget Miramax had been promising. After a tiny release in 1999, it went on to little acclaim on DVD. It is, by turns, hilariously awful and just plain unhilariously awful, full of its own nonexistent momentousness, an unintentional parody of hardboiled gangster flicks. It’s exactly the kind of movie you’d expect the guy we see in Overnight to make.

The “Italian mafia” and the “Russian Crime Syndicate” are at war in Boston, and a pair of local Irish lads, brothers Connor (Sean Patrick Flanery) and Murphy MacManus (Norman Reedus: 8MM), are on a mission from God to cleanse the city of these “lowlifes.” Along the way, they discover the most outrageous way to cauterize gunshot wounds — it involves a steam iron — while also outwitting the cops and the FBI. Not one to be shown up by that ironing crap from the pseudo good-guy bad guys, Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man 2, The Clearing), as a federal agent, goes completely off the deep end, clearly encouraged by Duffy, flailing and wailing and sweating profusely as he “conducts” a firefight that’s like “Armageddon,” waving his arms in slo-mo while the choir on the soundtrack moans a dirge. There’s a lot of that kind of thing — crucifixes dangling in slo-mo, religious-sounding dirges, all sorts of pompous Tarantino-esque junk — but for sheer OMG, WTFness, it’s hard to choose between disgusting porn star Ron Jeremy as an “underboss” or Dafoe disguising himself in drag and actually being mistaken for beautiful.

Hollywood’s new hard-on is pretty flaccid.

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics
rated R for pervasive strong language, sexual references and some nudity
official site | IMDB

The Boondock Saints
vewied at home on a small screen
rated R for strong violence, language and sexual content
official site | IMDB

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