Trouble Is My Business – it gives noir a good name
Posted on December 12, 2017
Trouble Is My Business, the feature directorial debut of Tom Konkle, is not so much a neo-noir thriller as an homage to noirs of years past. It’s a stylish love poem, really, lifting many of the timeless elements that made noirs so powerful in the 1930s through the 1950s, including the hard-boiled detective, the femme fatale, and the MacGuffin (in this case, a diamond).
Konkle (who cowrote the script with his costar, Brittney Powell) stars as Roland Drake, a shamed shamus who now runs a one-man detective agency after his partner Lew (David Beeler) moved on to bigger and better things. Drake gets a phone call from a mysterious woman who – of course – desperately needs his help in locating her missing father, a man who had somehow procured a famous, expensive diamond from overseas. The diamond, incidentally, is also missing. But before Drake can get to some serious detecting, his mystery woman is dead. In his bed. A bad start to a bad day!
And soon he has company – the dead woman’s sister, Jennifer Montemar (Powell). Jennifer assumes Drake had a hand in her sister’s death, but she too wants to find her father. And the diamond, of course. But Drake finds himself up against almost everyone, including his ex partner, a sadistic detective (played by perennial heavy Vernon Wells), a corrupt police force, a haughtily rich family, and some Russian mobsters.
Now, it may seem like there are a lot of people in this murky stew. But I found the direction – particularly the pacing – to be a huge asset, offsetting the many variables to some extent. It’s also helpful that the story isn’t told in a completely linear way; in fact, it spices things up a bit. If the plot simply a series of contrived events, the nonlinearity might prove to be confusing. But the script is tight, to the point where short snippets of dialog or a darting glimpse of a scene can prove to take on added meaning as the movie progresses – or, indeed, no meaning at all.
Konkle is very well cast as the weary, yet noble, gumshoe who may be in over his head. Of all of the characters in the movie, Drake is certainly the most developed, the most relatable, and the best portrayed. I’m not sure how many actual noirs Konkle the director saw before making this film, but Konkle the actor seemed to channel Sam Spade and Mike Hammer effortlessly. I found it pretty easy to believe that Drake could be dumb enough to fall for a dame but smart enough to stay one step ahead of, well, everyone else. The rest of the cast ranged from sufficient to very solid to slightly hammy. That’s not a slight against the cast, either. This is not a movie in which every performance needs to be Oscar worthy. The biggest roles – Drake and Jennifer – were spectularly aced, and that’s important.
Sometimes the movie’s tone shifted abruptly – from a serious detective tale to a slapstick comedy. The occasional joke makes sense, but here the one liners sometimes took me out of the scene (and, in fact, made me remember that this is a modern film, even though it is set in the late 1940s). Comic timing is never easy when you’re working on a dramatic film, I assume. It’s just that sometimes an actor’s line delivery would feel almost like they had just stepped out of character for a moment. That’s the tone shift I noticed.
But for the most part, this was a wonderful film, and it should be seen by fans of the genre. It might have come off even better had it been filmed in black and white (which I believe is a much more expensive process nowadays), but some of the scenes are lit to give one the impression of monochrome, with stark contrasts and sharp angles.
Original post here
Trouble Is My Business indie film
October 25, 2017
UK Film Review
Directed by Tom Konkle
Starring Tom Konkle, Vernon Wells, Brittney Powell, Steve Tom, Benton Jennings, Mark Teich, Jordana Capra, David Beeler
Indie Film Review by Chris Olson
Classic crime noir adventure in this indie film from director Tom Konkle, Trouble Is My Business taps into a reservoir of genre conventions to deliver a good ol' mystery and kidnapping story using amazing cinematography, costumes and filmmaking aesthetics to embolden the myriad of vibrant characters.
Disgraced private investigator Roland Drake (Tom Konkle) may have taken on more than he can handle when the daughter of a prominent family comes to him for help in finding her father, who has been missing for a week. To make matters worse, she then goes missing! With a punctured reputation being splattered all over the tabloids and a rocky relationship (to say the least) with the authorities, Drake must navigate his way through copious amounts of mystery and violence to find answers.
In the vain of films like Laura and Double Indemnity, Trouble Is My Business ticks a lot of cinematic boxes when it comes to delivering a period crime drama. The darkened urban streets and grimly lit office are all there alongside the tumblers of whisky and snappy dialogue. Even the font used on the opening credits smacks of '40s noir. Tonally there is a huge amount for audiences to be immersed in with this movie and great effort has been put into the sublime mise en scéne. Certain sequences may feel a little over the top but it's a genre movie that can certainly indulge in a bit of melodrama without jolting the audience out of the experience.
Konkle is a particularly strong lead, containing all the wit, charm and ruggedness you could want for a private dick, and engaging in some fantastically theatrical banter with almost all of the characters. He gets ruffed up along the way by an absolutely sterling performance from Vernon Wells as Detective Tate, whose long arm of the law stretches far and wide. Along with Konkle in most scenes is the excellent Brittney Powell who commands so many of the frames she is in as Jennifer.
With a running time of nearly two hours, Trouble Is My Business stretches itself too thin in terms of plot, especially during the final third. It's a storyline that keeps to the path well trodden and didn't need as much convolution as it has. That being said when cinema is as visually arresting as this you don't mind sticking around a little longer. The use of an eclectic array of Hollywood backdrops (I assume using green screen) is just magnificent, one rooftop scene where Tate beats seven bells out of Drake is sublimely put together, as are the numerous car scenes and shoot outs.
The phrase "they don't make them like this anymore" could not be more apt for Konkle's film, co-written with Powell. It's a genre movie that completely dedicates itself to the form and reaps the benefits for its boldness. Fans of the masters of cinema will be in their absolute element, ricocheting against the costumes, sets, characters and more as the story unwinds into a classic caper with all the trimmings. Now...where did I leave MY whiskey tumbler.
Indie Film Reviews
Trouble is My Business (2017) review
October 19, 2017 By Carl Burgess
Set in the 1940’s, Private Investigator Roland Drake finds himself on a dangerous missing persons case after being hired by a beautiful dame. We review the independent feature film Trouble is My Business.
Trouble is My Business (2017) review
When you think about the term “independent feature film”, images of arty love stories, football hooligans and cliched horror will likely pop into your mind. You may think about poor acting alongside amateurish cinematography and worse sound design (which in some cases is fair, but definitely not all). What you probably won’t think about is a stylish film noir set in a backdrop of 1940’s Los Angeles, with great dialogue performed by some very capable actors; yet this is exactly what Trouble is My Business is. Directed by Tom Konkle based on a screenplay by Konkle and fellow actor/scribe Brittney Powell, Trouble is My Business is a clever and well-crafted movie with nods to the Golden era of Hollywood – think Chinatown meets the video game L.A. Noir with a bit of comic book style thrown in for good measure and you’ll be on the right track.
After a prior missing persons case ended in disaster, private investigator Roland Drake (played by director Konkle) finds himself down on his luck. Work has dried up, he has recently received some unwanted attention from the press and his office is about to be foreclosed. Then he finds a beautiful Femme Fatale at his desk. Katherine Montemar requires Drake to help her find her missing father. Although he is reluctant at first, Konkle accepts the job and they soon find themselves in bed together. Things then take a turn for the worse, when Drake wakes up in blood-soaked sheets with Katherine missing. Confused, Drake is soon paid a visit by Katherine’s older sister Jennifer (Brittney Powell) who now wants Drake to find both Katherine and their father.
Soon, Drake finds himself in a web of lies, treachery and deceit alongside some shady characters including his former partner Lew MacDonald (David Beeler), the hard-nosed and rather dodgy police detective Barry Tate (Vernon Wells) and the wicked Montemar matriarch Evelyn (Jordana Capra). It was great to see Vernon Wells in this production. Many readers out there will fondly remember his performances as the chain mail-wearing villain Bennett in the action classic Commando and when he wore the red Mohawk as Wez in Mad Max 2: Road Warrior. Other die-hard film fans will recognise Brittney Powell from (a personal guilty pleasure of mine) Airborne alongside Jack Black and Set Green in early roles. As a matter of fact, all the cast give good performances, with some over-the-top line delivery that help generate laughs and intrigue to great effect, especially Konkle who seemed to have a whale of a time in front of, and behind, the camera.Trouble is My Business poster 203x300 Trouble is My Business (2017) review
The production design is rather excellent. Konkle and his team transport us to the 40’s with the help of some small and neat details mixed with great set dressing and lighting. Talking about the sets, the team used a mixture of real locations alongside green screen. Whilst some scenes are obviously crafted using cgi, some are done so well that only fellow filmmakers will be able to tell. The score, by composers Thomas Chase and Hayden Clement works very well with the imagery, even if it seems to be playing constantly in the background.
It’s obvious to tell that a hell of a lot of hard work and effort was put into creating Trouble is My Business, it is a labour of love for all those involved and it should certainly be applauded. With a small budget, many filmmakers would have easily opted to create something on a smaller scale, yet this production team went all out. They set out to make a love letter to all things noir and they certainly succeeded. Trouble is My Business is a lot of fun and worth checking out.
4.5 / 5 stars