Another Day in Paradise

Another Day in Paradise

James Woods is one of those actors with such intensity that he’s always interesting to watch. The acting in general is mostly good in Another Day in Paradise, but not surprisingly it’s Woods who is most attention-grabbing.

This is the story of a loser, lowlife, druggie teenage, small time, amateur criminal, who is taken under the wing of his uncle, a loser, lowlife, druggie, middle-aged, somewhat bigger time, more professional criminal. It’s a road movie, with them stealing, drug dealing, shooting people, and getting shot. Each of them brings along a girlfriend.

I have to give the movie credit in that it presents these people and their lifestyle as utterly unappealing. Or maybe it’s just me, whereas a certain type of viewer will see this as something exciting and worth emulating, but I really can’t accuse the movie of glorifying this behavior. The characters at times display some limited capacity to care for someone else in the foursome, but for the most part they’re psychopaths who are so pathetic that even with the advantage of throwing off all constraints of law and basic decency, they still can’t make any but the most miserable life for themselves.

I don’t know. They spend a lot of money frivolously on clothes and such, and they shoot up a lot of heroin. Maybe that’s something, for some people anyway.

It strikes me that the women in a lifestyle like this are in some ways even more pathetic and useless. They sometimes play some minimal auxiliary role in the crimes, but really the men do everything, and the women are just there to be there. Or just to provide sex as one of the perks of being a criminal I suppose.

What goes through somebody’s head to live that way? “I’ll just lay around all day doing drugs, and be available when the guy who steals the money that buys the drugs wants to fuck me.” This is a life?

If anything the younger woman is even more of a zero. The occasional scene that tries to show her as having any kind of depth or feelings falls flat, because we’ve seen her choices. Like when she’s talking to her boyfriend about getting pregnant, and how they can learn from the mistakes of their abusive parents and raise their child right and give it a good life.

No, see, that’s asinine. You’re 16 or 18 or whatever you’re supposed to be, you spend all day smoking and doing meth and heroin and God knows what else, you’re not married, your boyfriend is as much a loser as you are, and you and your three partners have a high likelihood of being dead or in prison in the near future. Your chances of giving a child a good life are precisely nil, and the very fact that that isn’t glaringly obvious to you shows that on top of everything else you’re a complete moron.

Like I say, the acting is mostly good, and purely on the level of telling a briskly moving, understandable story that keeps you engaged, Another Day in Paradise is pretty good. And I can’t even say that the fact that the characters have so little in the way of redeeming features counts against the movie. Bad people doesn’t equal a bad movie, otherwise every movie ever made about Nazis would be a bad movie. As I alluded to earlier, if anything it’s better that a movie depicting characters pursuing this kind of lifestyle doesn’t pretend they’re role models.

One minor criticism is that a few scenes in the movie are implausible in that lots of loud action is going on with another character nearby who needs to be oblivious to it for the sake of the story, but in reality certainly wouldn’t be.

I also thought the music was not used well. That’s something I rarely comment on about a movie, but instead of being an appropriate part of the background, the music in this movie calls too much attention to itself. There are scenes that drag on an extra fifteen seconds, thirty seconds, or more, seemingly as an excuse to play more of the song being used as accompaniment.

Overall, there are some good scenes with a fine level of intensity to them, and I’d say Another Day in Paradise rises a little above the typical movie of its criminal shoot ’em up genre. On the other hand, it isn’t anything that’s worth going out of one’s way to see.

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