Review by Mark Schwab
What do you get when you take two cups of Peter Bogdanovich, mix in a few tablespoons of The Sopranos and then add a dash of David Lynch? You get a little bit of a mess but still enough flavor to entertain in director John Heath's gonzo crime comedy THE LAST NIGHT INN.
The recipe breaks down as follows:
1. Take your two cups of NOISES OFF/THEY ALL LAUGHED Bogdanovich by placing the movie in four rooms in a seedy Los Angeles hotel and tell four different stories - all of them involving crime, blackmail and hidden secrets. There's a pair of gangsters trying to extricate themselves from a botched kidnapping, a suicidal woman who can't catch a break in trying to kill herself, a hooker/john situation that isn't what it seems and a set-up/sting operation where the criminal isn't much different from the "law-abiding" characters. Make sure the situations are a little ridiculous and the performances are turned up to "11". Oh yes, don't forget to overcook the dialogue.
2. Next with your tablespoons of Sopranos, bring in series' actor Joe Penny (the Victor Musto character) who gives a truly fine performance (even if it feels like it belongs in another movie sometimes) and throw in a lot of gangster-isms and double crosses. Also, make sure the bodies pile up.
3. Finally, add a dash of David Lynch with long dialogue scenes about surreal situations, Twin Peaks-styled music and a marvelous turn by Suzanne Kent as the bumbling suicidal woman. Kent is terrific here, recalling the understated comic timing of Marianne Sagebrecht from Percy Adlon's BAGDAD CAFE.
A lot of THE LAST NIGHT INN is pretty uneven as you might expect in these pseudo-anthology films. Some things work perfectly (Kent's suicidal woman), others work somewhat (the gangsters and the sting operation) and others don't work at all (the hooker/john story is overacted to the point of distraction). But as truly indie films go, THE LAST NIGHT INN is put together well by having an enthusiastic cast and solid production values. It also doesn't try to pretend to be something it isn't genre-wise which is a very good thing and the pace never really drags. There are some smiles to be had here. You could do a lot worse than spending a quickie 81 minutes at THE LAST NIGHT INN.