Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead
||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (June 2015)|
|Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Gary Fleder|
|Produced by||Cary Woods|
|Written by||Scott Rosenberg|
|Music by||Michael Convertino|
|Edited by||Richard Marks|
|Distributed by||Miramax Films|
Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead is a 1995 American neo-noir crime film directed by Gary Fleder from a screenplay written by Scott Rosenberg. The film features an ensemble cast that includes Andy García, Christopher Lloyd, Treat Williams, Steve Buscemi, Christopher Walken, Fairuza Balk, and Gabrielle Anwar.
The film's title comes from a Warren Zevon song of the same name, recorded on his 1991 album Mr. Bad Example, which he allowed under the condition that the song be played during the end credits. The lead character's name, "Jimmy the Saint," comes from the Bruce Springsteen song "Lost in the Flood" from the album Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. It is referred to by critic Jonathan Rosenbaum as one of several of Pulp Fiction's clones. The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival.
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Jimmy "The Saint" Tosnia (Andy García) is a dapper ex-gangster living in Denver. Jimmy has left the criminal world, attempting to "go straight" with his "Afterlife Advice" business, where dying people make videotaped messages for their loved ones. However, his business isn't doing well and his former boss, a local crime lord known as "The Man With The Plan" (Christopher Walken), has bought up his debt in order to command a favor from him.
The Man With The Plan was left a quadriplegic from an attempt on his life, years ago. With his wife deceased, the only person he cares about now is his son, Bernard (Michael Nicolosi). Bernard had recently suffered a separation from his longtime girlfriend, Meg (Sarah Trigger). The breakup left him so heartbroken, he became socially maladroit; he carries out his frustrations through physical violence, and preys on children with the intent to molest. Meg's current boyfriend, Bruce (Josh Charles), will be arriving in Denver shortly and The Man With The Plan wants Jimmy to convince Bruce to break up with her, so Bernard can have a shot at resuming their relationship. Jimmy recruits several of his friends, all down on their luck ex-gangsters, to help with the scheme. These include Easy Wind (Bill Nunn), Pieces (Christopher Lloyd), Big Bear Franchise (William Forsythe), and the rage prone "Critical Bill" (Treat Williams). The plan is to have Pieces and--against Jimmy's better judgment--Critical Bill, pose as police officers and intercept Bruce. They will then take him to a secluded spot where the gang will beat him, until he agrees to break up with Meg. But things go terribly wrong when Bruce grows suspicious of the two men's identity and openly mocks them. An enraged Critical Bill stabs Bruce in the throat. The commotion wakes up Meg, who had been sleeping in the back of Bruce's van. Meg's appearance startles Pieces, who accidentally shoots her dead.
The Man With The Plan is furious at the outcome of their botched mission. He informs Jimmy that out of consideration for their past relationship, he will allow him to live, as long as he leaves Denver for good. His crew, however, have all been sentenced to "buckwheats", which--in the slang of the film--means assassination in a particularly gruesome and painful manner (an example is given in which a person is shot up the anus).
The group comes to terms with their own impending deaths as they are stalked by a mild-mannered, yet deadly hitman known as Mr. Shhh (Steve Buscemi). Pieces accepts his fate, to which Mr. Shhh provides a quick death. Easy Wind goes into hiding with a gang lord named Baby Sinister (Glenn Plummer), but is given up after Mr. Shhh infiltrates and kills most of Sinister's entourage. Because Franchise has a family to raise, Jimmy pleads with The Man With The Plan to spare his life. The Man With The Plan agrees to do so, but betrays Jimmy, as Franchise is killed while attempting to flee with his family. The betrayal makes Jimmy vengeful of The Man With The Plan; in turn, Jimmy is also sentenced to buckwheats.
Mr. Shhh finally locates Critical Bill holed up in his apartment, but is ambushed by Bill, and the two end up killing each other. In the wake of Mr. Shhh's death, the contract falls to a trio of Mexican brothers, who attempt to track down Jimmy. In his final hours, Jimmy says goodbye to Dagney (Gabrielle Anwar), a woman he had fallen in love with. Knowing that he will most likely be killed, Jimmy murders Bernard for all the misery he indirectly brought upon the group. He also impregnates Lucinda (Fairuza Balk), a prostitute with whom he has been long acquainted with, in order to fulfill her wish of becoming a mother. As he narrates an Afterlife Advice video of his own, Jimmy tells his unborn child to always have faith, listen to their mother, and to make a list of 10 things important to them and to satisfy most, if not all of them, to create their own perfect life. The trio of killers catch up to Jimmy and he takes his death with grace. With Jimmy taking away the last thing precious to him, The Man With The Plan would never again spill another drop of blood. The final scene shows Jimmy and his friends having "boat drinks" in the afterlife.
- Andy Garcia - Jimmy "The Saint" Tosnia
- Christopher Lloyd - "Pieces" Olden
- William Forsythe - Francis "Big Bear Franchise" Chiser
- Bill Nunn - Earl "Easy Win" Denton
- Treat Williams - "Critical" Bill Dolittle
- Jack Warden - Joe Heff
- Steve Buscemi - Mr. Shhh
- Fairuza Balk - Lucinda
- Gabrielle Anwar - Dagney
- Christopher Walken - The Man With The Plan
- Michael Nicolosi - Bernard
- Bill Cobbs - Malt
- Marshall Bell - Lt. Atwater
- Glenn Plummer - Baby Sinister
- Don Stark - Gus
- Willie Garson - Cuffy
- Jenny McCarthy - Blonde Nurse
- Buddy Guy - House Band
- Josh Charles - Bruce (uncredited)
- Sarah Trigger - Meg
- Don Cheadle - Rooster
- Tiny Lister - House
- Wiley Harker - Boris Carlotti
- Bill Bolender - Stevie's Dad
- Bill Erwin - 70-Year-Old Man
The film was met with negative reviews from critics, as it holds a 33% on Rotten Tomatoes from a sample of 27 reviews. Produced on a budget of $8 million, the film only made about $530,000 upon its limited release
- Rosenbaum, Jonathan. "The World According to Harvey and Bob (Smoke, The Glass Shield)", Chicago Reader, June 16, 1995.
- "Festival de Cannes: Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-09-07.
- Official website
- Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead at the Internet Movie Database
- Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead at AllMovie
- Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead at Box Office Mojo
- Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead at Rotten Tomatoes
- Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead at Metacritic