Sixty Minutes To Midnight
I first came across the man who, should, by all rights, be an exceptionally well known Canadian acting legend, Robert Nolan through his work with my pals Zach Green and Richard Powell, of Fatal Pictures. From the earliest days of the site and podcast I have reviewed and praised the three shorts they produced together and interviewed them each at different points in their career.
I, also, out of nowhere one evening, saw Robert appear at the end of the Cynthia Rothrock movie Tiger Claws. That's how things work sometimes.
The good things come together.
Robert, for example, worked with Bill Oberst Jr. on Heir, Zach and Richard's most recent collaboration and Bill worked with my other pal John Portonova on the excellent Bigfoot movie Hunting Grounds AKA Valley of the Sasquatch.
To quote Hunter S Thompson "All energy flows according to the whims of the great Magnet".
Luckily things like Facebook, which, while it certainly has its flaws, did allow me to discover Robert Nolan's next role in the action, horror, thriller "Sixty Minutes To Midnight" from Slate 10 Pictures producers Frank Ieraci and Tom Stefanac, writer Terry McDonald and director Neil Mackay. To my delight, from the trailer, it looked to a) be a starring role for Robert and b) be awesome.
See for yourself:
Also, thanks to Facebook and just my general, arrogant persistence, I was exceptionally thankful to connect with the producers and get a screener of the film. It was one of those trailers where I watched it and thought "I love everything about this, I need to see it now!" - sometimes if you are polite, persistent and have spent 7 years building a film website, you can get your wish.
I am happy to report that I loved Sixty Minutes To Midnight. It was everything the trailer promised and so much more.
Without spoiling too much Robert Nolan plays Jack Darcy, a down and out, alcoholic, Vietnam vet, construction worker on New Year's Eve 1999 - who assumes that Y2K is going to happen and the world is going to come crashing to a halt while he sits in his farm house with his Jack Daniels and his old war movies on the TV. He's also something of a survivalist with a secret bunker on his property filled with all the good stuff - food, water, tools and lots and lots of guns. His friend Markus, meanwhile, is having the big party with lots of people. Jack was invited but that's not his scene.
However this will be no normal New Year's and Jack finds his farm house under siege from a marauding horde of gun toting aggressors.
This incredibly ambitious indie movie has overtones of Die Hard, Straw Dogs, Running Man, and even films like Nick of Time as, after the introduction, the last 60 minutes of the movie are, basically, the Sixty Minutes To Midnight.
It's a wonderfully made film.
So often indie movies are well meaning but obviously low budget efforts, the best of which have ideas and intention that shine through the less than professional acting and production values and the worst of which seem to feel the act of existing is merely enough. It also tackles a genre which most indies don't go near because of the level of professionalism, patience and effort it requires to get things like gun shots and stunts correct and not look half-arsed. I am happy to report that there doesn't appear to be any poor After Effects style CGI blood, muzzle flash or explosions in the film. For the most part it seems to be deliciously, practically done. The best kind.
The direction and camera work is wonderfully assured. No lazy shaky-cam or poor lighting here. It is polished, precise, uses the frame well and - shock horror! - has the camera on a tripod. Every other up and coming filmmaker could learn a ton from Sixty Minutes To Midnight.
When you combine these practical film-making talents with the acting ability of Robert Nolan and Arnold Sidney, you have an excellent combination. Throw in a killer soundtrack and flawless editing and you're on to a winner. This will make my Top 10 list this year. I was just so impressed with the way it was made. Hollywood wishes it was still this good.
If I am being completely honest, its ambitions are hampered a little in places. Not so much in the performance, the effects, the direction or the staging of the action, all of which are damn near impeccable but with the level of talent on display it almost needed a better or more complex script. The story and structure, during the second act, is a little repetitive and at the end it almost seems a little unsure of itself and, dare I say it, a little obvious. That being said, though, it is an incredibly well made action, horror, thriller. It deserves a standing ovation.
Robert Nolan is the Chuck Bronson of this generation. The soft spoken, older, grizzled gent who we don't think, at first glance, will be a solid gold arse kicker but who manages to rain down hell on his assailants in a repeatedly entertaining, wonderfully resourceful, a little panicked, but ultimately successful way. When the story takes darker and darker turns and Jack fights, not just for his own survival, but also to avenge those around him, Nolan shows you all the horror and anguish his character is facing, mixed with the determination and resilience he needs to continue forward. It cements him as one of my favourite actors out there.
I am a huge fan of the action genre and more and more the trend has turned towards the martial arts style of action movie - whether it's the martial artist turned actor or the actor who has trained for months so that they can appear to do all their own stunts - it was refreshing then to see a good old fashioned gun-toter. One man vs. nefarious folks who would do him in. Will it give Jack a reason to clean up and sort his life out? or will he never escape the events of this one night? I, for one, hope there's a sequel where we find out...
Sixty Minutes To Midnight is currently doing the festival circuit - find out more here.