The Thirteenth Floor (1999) 

Week of November 16, 2005

The Thirteenth Floor (1999)

Vincent D'Onofrio stars in one of those TV detective shows, CSPD Cold Case or whatever. They're basically all the same. That's noteworthy here, in that it doesn't leave him as much time as it once did to bring his particularly grating brand of overacting to the big leagues.

After an uncharacteristically brilliant turn as Private Gomer Pyle in Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, D'Onofrio became one of independent film's foremost It-boys back when you could still evoke the term "independent film" with some sense of intellectual honesty. If you wanted to give your '90s indie instant cachet, you booked D'Onofrio for fifteen minutes of eccentric screen time. He was the male counterpart of the once-ubiquitous Parker "One Note" Posey. Now that independent film's not so independent, D'Onofrio's talents, or lack thereof, have been laid bare (watch The Velocity of Gary sometime; it's "lack thereof").

Here, coupled with a classic phone-it-in performance from a bearded Dennis Haysbert — who barely hits his marks while grinning out of character toward a fat paycheck — D'Onofrio's bleach-blond 1930s bartender helps turn The Thirteenth Floor into a critical and commercial bomb that sunk the career of the gorgeous Gretchen Mol, a competent, humble actress who deserves better.

To atone, perhaps Vinnie could throw her a recurring role on Monk & Order: Special Victims Street Blues. Or whatever. Mike Seely

Each week the author treks to the Schlafly branch of the St. Louis Public Library, where a staff member blindfolds him and escorts him to the movie shelves. After selecting a film at random, Seely checks it out and reviews it.

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