CAPSULE: Spend some time with Jack Durant, the Phoenix steakhouse owner who is anything but restrained. Durant is funny, violent, and foul-mouthed, and probably has ties to the Mafia. DURANT'S NEVER CLOSES introduces Phoenix restaurateur Durant, one of the more legendary personalities of the Phoenix area. Rather than having a plot, the film takes the form of a collection of vignettes and short stories--not all believable--woven into a minimalist account. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10
Jack Durant (played by Tom Sizemore) was a real person, a least as real as he allowed himself be. Tough guy Durant owned a bar and restaurant in Phoenix called, appropriately enough "Durant's." [Or "Durant's Steakhouse."] There were all kinds of stories about him and no one knows which ones are true. In DRUANT'S NEVER CLOSES the viewer can spend some time in the restaurant and see the man in action, telling stories, getting in fights, making bets, and swearing a red streak, and letting everybody know who is boss. Durant knew the shiny side and the underside of Phoenix.
DURANT'S NEVER CLOSES recreates one of the more notorious figures of 20th century Arizona. Mabel Leo wrote the book THE SAGA OF JACK DURANT; Terry Earp turned it into a stage play; Travis Mills adapted the play for the film and then directed the film.
The film is a little claustrophobic, having most of the action take place in the restaurant. The production design is simple. When we are in the restaurant, which we are through most of the film, most everything in front of the camera is bright red. We have scarlet furniture, scarlet wallpaper, and scarlet lighting turning people's flesh to the same oppressive bright red. These are some of the reddist scenery since MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH.
If the background turns white we are either in Durant's head or having a flashback, or both. Durant thinks about his past and talks about it. The stories come thick and fast, though after an hour they seem less thick than fast. There are implications that Durant suggested the value of Los Vegas to Bugsy Siegel and also vaguely that he has something to do with Siegel's death. But that's Durant's version of the story. All this we get through a drowsy jazz score by Tyler Parkinson. There is some classical music when need be to bring things to a higher plane.
If your thing is watching tough guys get drunk and pick fights, browbeat the staff and even the customers, there is plenty of that sort of action. If not, the film is a little more problematic.
The viewer cannot know if Tom Sizemore's impression of Durant is accurate, but it is the film's strong suit. I rate DURAND'S NEVER CLOSES a +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10. This film is not for everyone or for anyone allergic to the color bright red.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3717088/combined
Background information on Jack Durant: http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/you-dont-know-jack-6397031
Mark R. Leeper Copyright 2016 Mark R. Leeper