Dusk Busters

High-wattage star power can't illuminate dim-witted Twilight

The recent revival in noir themes in the movies--the recent best and worst being L.A. Confidential and Palmetto, respectively--is understandable. For a filmmaker, noir provides a universe evocative and ready-made; it also gives you a chance to range up and down the social register, from the glittering aeries of the moneyed class to the sleaze pits of the lower reaches. Benton in Twilight is trying for that old Raymond Chandleresque sad song--the shining knight who alone is without corruption in a corrupt world. But he hasn't delineated that world for us; it's just a haze of tired gambits. Newman's Harry Ross is the romantic cynic as urban hero, but Benton is caught up in a more pungent predicament--the cynicism of a filmmaker who dresses up his pulp existentialism with brand-label actors and expects us to swoon. Snooze is more like it.

Directed by Robert Benton; with Paul Newman, Gene Hackman and Susan Sarandon.


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