Remarkable Power (2008)

Rating: B-

Dir: Brandon Beckner
Star: Evan Peters, Nora Zehetner, Tom Arnold, Kevin Nealon

It’s clear that Beckner is going for something like the Guy Ritchie school of film-making. He throws multiple threads into the cinematic blender, from quirky ethnic gangsters through to self-help gurus, via talk-show hosts with adulterous wives and chicks with death obsessions, then sets it on ‘High’ and sees what comes out. The results, while not quite up to Ritchie’s best work, still have enough of a quirky originality to them to make this worth a look. Ross (Peters), inspired by a self-help infomercial, becomes a knife salesman. But when he meets one of the actors from the informercial, he realizes it was all a scam.

An unfortunate accident leaves the actor a corpse; though Ross tries to cover-up his involvement, he’s witnessed both by private eye Van Hagen (Arnold) and Athena (Zehetner, though we were sure it was Leslie Andrews from Sick Girl), who runs a website devoted to corpse photos. Meanwhile, late-night host Jack West (Nealon) has discovered, thanks to Van Hagen, his wife is cheating on him with a baseball star, just as his show gets cancelled, and concocts a scheme to make sure his last show is a memorable one. Though that’s far from everything – I didn’t even get as far as the Jewish mobster, to whom the actor owes ten grand, for instance – it should be enough to give you some idea of where this is coming from.

It does take a bit of time for things to pull together, and there are still some elements which seem more like they were tacked on; the West storyline in particular. However, the elements that do work are enough to keep you interested, and Peters is a sufficiently-engaging performance at the core to keep things rolling, even if it’s really the supporting cast who provide the movie’s more memorable moments. If some aspects, such as the fractured story-line, are a little too Tarantinoesque for comfort, the script keeps things from imploding in on themselves, and it possesses a nicely cynical, tongue-in-cheek approach to Hollywood life. In a week where it seems I’ve been falling asleep on the couch with a disturbing frequency, this one staved off unconsciousness with somewhat surprising ease.