DURANT’S NEVER CLOSES (director/writer: Travis Mills; screenwriters: based on the play by Terry Earp and the book by Mabel Leo; cinematographer: Nikolai Fornwalt; editor: Rolo Tomassi; music: Tyler Parkinson; cast:Tom Sizemore (Jack Durant), Michelle Stafford (Suzie), Peter Bogdanovich (George), Mark Laursen (Cowboy), Stacie Stocker (Beckie), Barbara McBain(B.J.), Seth Gandrud (Mike), Troy Tunell (Bugsy Siegel), Mark Grossman (College Kid), Jon Gries (Dizzy Dean), Renee Bryant (girlfriend), Joe Ricci (Bar patron), Magda Durham (Helen), Greg Lutz (eye doctor); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: William Long/Travis Mills/Scott Conditt; Running Wild Films; 2016)
“Not that it’s a bad film, it just needed to be cooked a little more.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Writer/director Travis Mills (“The Big Something”/”The Detective’s Lover”) presents a dubious biopic on the legendary late Arizona bar owner Jack Durant (Tom Sizemore), a colorful real-person with possible links to the Las Vegas mob. In the Phoenix of 1950, Jack Durant opened a fancy bar restaurant that lived by its advertising slogan that it never closes. It was famous for its juicy steaks and its clientele of celebrities and the infamous. Durant died in 1987, leaving his place to his pet bulldog. Travis Mills bases the narrative on the play by Terry Earp and the book by Mabel Leo. The plotless film moves from one vignette to another, with the connecting thread being the bar owner. Durant regularly sits at the end of the bar with a laconic cowboy (Mark Laursen) and stories from his past materialize that range from him bouncing customers, telling about his stormy marriage to his cashier Suzie (Michelle Stafford), putting up with the sponger drunk has-been Hall of Fame pitcher Dizzy Dean (Jon Gries) and possible contact in Las Vegas with mobster Bugsy Siegel (Troy Tunell). Most stories didn’t seem plausible or memorable, and that Durant was so foul-mouthed and repulsive it left me feeling no sympathy for his plight. In his storytelling Mills blended together many genres–from a modern Western to a neo-noir to a period film. But the filmmaker seems to never be quite sure in which direction to commit to. I was curious to see the performances of accomplished actor Tom Sizemore and the one time great director Peter Bogdanovich in this low-budget indie. Bogdanovich has a small part of a “fixer,” who by bribes gets the outsider Durant into the town’s exclusive country club. But these two reputable Hollywood icons are fine but are not enough to save the film. Not that it’s a bad film, it just needed to be cooked a little more.
REVIEWED ON 7/25/2016 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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