*** Official "NARC" Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Nick C., Jan 4, 2003.

  1. Nick C.

    Nick C. Second Unit

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    Great gritty cop film, but I was a little confused with a this portion of the plot...
    towards the end of the film, when Tellis is confronting Oak about Oak's motives for killing Calvess, he mentions the abused girl Oak briefly mentioned earlier in the film. Then Tellis talks about pimping out the girl for drugs...is he saying Oak was trying to save the girl from this potential abuse from Calvess? Also Tellis mentions Oak has been having the medical examiner help with the girl's drug addictions--shifting between clinics, but how does this relate to the Oak's motives? What is the girl's relationship to Oak and/or Calvess?

    any enlightenment appreciated [​IMG]
     
  2. Kirk Tsai

    Kirk Tsai Screenwriter

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    From what I understand,

    First question, yes. I believe the key here is that the little girl eventually married Calvess, and the movie shows Oak being extremely protective of her, highlighted by the scene when Tellis visits her. Oak's concern is like you said, that she will somehow become a victim to Calvess' drug addiction, and Oak cannot allow that to happen for the sake of Mrs. Calvess.

    I enjoyed the movie too; not unconventional, but very gritty, with a bit of Rashomon sensibilities. Great two lead performances, too.
     
  3. Nick C.

    Nick C. Second Unit

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    thanks for responding Kirk,

    I recall during the flashbacks as Tellis is confronting Oak, the scenes cut between the girl and Calvess' wife, but I didn't make that connection about them being one and the same...I suppose the key hindrance is time, I couldn't connect Oak's story about the girl with 10-15years later as a grown woman.

    If this wife assumption is true, there must be quite an age difference between Oak and Calvess, such that Oak would act as a father figure of sorts. This would corroborate Oak's 'Rashomon' version at the very end, as he effectively lost his life while attempting to save his partner/figurative son's tarnished reputation
     
  4. Quentin

    Quentin Cinematographer

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    Edit: Since this is now a discussion thread, I removed the spoiler tags...spoilers below!

    Simply put, the opening sequence of this film is brilliant. It is one of the most visceral, precise, and affecting sequences I've seen in ANY film, EVER.

    From the drug-addled chase, to the strung out junkie threatening the little boy (all intercut with a ponderous Jason Patric - communicating that this is a memory, and one that haunts this man), to the tragic choice and accident, to the interrogation and blow up, to Patric in the shower holding onto his little baby boy. Wow. There is virtually no dialogue in this 3+ minutes, and yet we know everything - who this guy is, what makes him tick, what life as a narc can be like, how gritty this film will be, and more. It is a great opening and a lesson in visual filmmaking.

    In fact, this film as a whole could show a lot of people the difference between visual filmmaking (the opening) and literal (much of the third act) and how/why visual filmmaking is superior.

    So, obviously, I liked the beginning better than the end. Oh boy, is that ever true...

    I think there are four nearly fatal flaws in what is traditionally considered the "third act" of this film:

    1) The act begins with Patric's wife leaving him in the most cliched and obviously manipulative scene in the film. Haven't we seen this scene a bajillion times? What is it doing in such a well done, fresh film? Even worse...the opening sequence and much of the film afterward clearly establish family as being the most important thing in the world to Patric. From the opening sequence to all the scenes of Patric looking at pictures of the dead cop and his kids/wife, to him visiting her, to Liotta's speech about the little girl, and on and on. So, now that Patric's wife is apparently leaving him for the old cliche reason of "I love you, but I can't live like this," he must continue on his course? Why? How? Wouldn't the character we've watched up till now drop the case for his son? I think the character is ruined/abandoned at this point and never truly recovers.

    2) Speaking of family and its role in Patric's motivation...it is a recurring theme in this film. Or, should I say, through 2/3ds of this film. Once Patric's wife leaves him, issues or hints or signs of family don't pop up again until the very final twist. It's just a run of the mill cop film for 15-20 minutes. Too bad, because they really had me engrossed up until they dropped the ball.

    3) I raved about the visual filmmaking of the opening sequence. And, that continues through the entire film. Ingenious stuff. Until the end! Then, we get massive expositional dialogue. The whole movie, the director finds unique visual ways to explain clues and moments to us...and then he quits for the biggest scene of the film. What's up with that?

    4) The "tape recorder" ending is pushing it. The director is simply trying to be too "artsy" by leaving the open ended final scene. Will he destroy the tape or turn it in now that he knows the truth? I don't know. I wish I did, because this film is not built upon a moral question of "what would you do?" it's built upon the relationship between two fascinating, well acted characters. Finish the film!

    So, IMO, four major flaws that nearly self-destruct this film.

    But, despite my venom and disappointment, I love this film. Liotta gives his best performance EVER. Patric nails it. This is a tough, gritty, hard hitting film. If the third act had been done right, this would have contended for top three of last year in my book. As it is, it will probably just miss top ten.
     
  5. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    This thread is now designated the Official Discussion Thread for "Narc". Please, post all comments, links to outside reviews, film and box office discussion items to this thread.
    All HTF member film reviews of "Narc" should be posted to the Official Review Thread.
    Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
    Crawdaddy
     
  6. Robin Warren

    Robin Warren Second Unit

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    I totally agree with the opening. I had huge goosebumps when he is holding his baby in the shower. Great scene. Also loved the "murder" scene investigation in the bathroom. Very morbid and some great dark humour. I liked the ending and felt this was one of the strongest cop movies in recent years. Great performances.
     
  7. Brett_B

    Brett_B Supporting Actor
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    Nick,

    The way I saw it, we knew that Oak's wife died after 16 years of marriage, and we were to assume it was a very happy marriage (Oak still wearing his wedding ring) with the exception that they didn't have any kids. I can't remember if there was a reason that they didn't have any (kids), but I gathered that Oak really wanted one. So when Oak finds the little girl he was acting in a fatherly way towards her. Here is his chance now to be a father to a child he will never have (with his wife), so he does whatever he can to help "clean-up" this little girl. This little girl is now a drug addict, not because it was her choice, but because of her father which enraged Oak even further. So when Oak finds Calvess still an addict, Oak doesn't want to see Calvess' daughters possibly suffer the same consequence as the little girl he had found.

    Overall, I think that Oak was trying to save Calvess' family from suffering, because he wouldn't have let that happen to his own family.

     
  8. Doug R

    Doug R Supporting Actor

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    My biggest problem with the film (though I really enjoyed it) was Oak could have pinned Calvess' death on anyone. Why did he feel compelled to find those two guys? All he needed was to ensure it wasn't marked as a suicide and Calvass' wife was taken care of. Why hunt down those two?
     
  9. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

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    Doug,
    I think it was because he really wanted to get the guys who strung Calvess out, which were those two guys at the end. It wasn't so much that he wanted to displace any blame away from himself or Calvess but wanted to make the guys who geve him the drugs pay.
     
  10. Nick C.

    Nick C. Second Unit

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  11. Quentin

    Quentin Cinematographer

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    I think you've got it wrong...

    Tellis' shooting of Oak was justified. Oak was not innocent - he was about to bust a cap in Busta Rhymes. Tellis is upset because Oak is dead, yeah, but he doesn't feel guilty about it, just shitty. I also think he wishes they had another chance because he DID misjudge Oak, and he probably wishes he had a "father" like Oak when he was strung out.
     
  12. Brett_B

    Brett_B Supporting Actor
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  13. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

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    I thought the girl, who was 10 in 1985, was the fully grown wife of the young undercover cop Calvess. By 2002, she would be 27, and could certainly be Calvess's wife even considering the children.
     
  14. Nick C.

    Nick C. Second Unit

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  15. Quentin

    Quentin Cinematographer

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    Not sure we're talking about the same thing here. Oak confesses as he dies. He tells the truth about the suicide. I think this must be the truth...despite what Patric says. Oak has no reason to lie at this point, the confession makes sense, I think there is a father/son thing going on with Tellis, and I think the final shot of the tape recorder leaves Tellis with a tough choice - give it to the department and ruin the life of Calvess' wife (she'd lose the pension on a suicide), or tell the police that Oak is the killer. It's a tough choice...one that I would have liked to have seen played out.
     
  16. Mike Modisett

    Mike Modisett Auditioning

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    Can anyone tell me if the tape recorder was running at the end? The zoomed in on it, but it looked like it might not have been on...
     
  17. David Lawson

    David Lawson Screenwriter

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    The tape recorder was certainly on; it reached the end of the tape and the heads stopped rotating right before the cut to the credits.

     
  18. Paul Jenkins

    Paul Jenkins Supporting Actor

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    Just got back from this. What a wonderfully powerful and thought-provoking movie. Great acting and engrossing filmmaking. Bravo..

    On the points above, I also walked away not really sure which 'truth' was the right one, but lean towards Oak telling the truth as he died, and Tellis having a choice with the tape recorder and what to do with it.

    Great film, will definitely add this to the DVD collection when it comes out!
     
  19. Colin-H

    Colin-H Second Unit

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    I liked this movie, but aside from the stylistic aspects, I thought it had a very “been there, done that” feel – like Rashomon crossed with Training Day.
     

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