Mojave (William Monahan, 2015)

William Monahan is probably one of my favourite screenwriters. I don’t know if his scripts really work as films but they’re funny and he writes the best lines. He won an Academy award for best script for The Depaah-td (*faux Boston accent), which contains some vulgaric jems like ‘In America we bring cash to a deal – no ticky no laundry!’ and ‘No use cryin over spilt Guineas…’ and ‘Do you like sticking your cock up miss Freud’s ass?’

It’s fun for its Elmore-esque dialogue but overall feels both hallow and weirdly tragic in its tale of male existential angst. In fact, I’d say Mojave was like a long lost relative  from Tarantino’s Godardian/LA-era period (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown). Those films, along with Boogie Nights, Hard Eight, The Player and The Long Goodbye, possibly including Inherent Vice and Big Lebowski, and maybe even Chinatown, constitute certain type of surrealistic-cum-FrenchNewWave vision of Los Angeles, which is like a genre in and of itself. It’s about sex, murder, money, drugs, and more drugs, and Socrates and Nietzsche, and more drugs and money and sex – that is totally specific to America and the City of Angels. Beautiful, immoral and ugly.

Typically, the marketing team for this film seemed to  have completely miss-sold what it film was meant to be about. ‘The most intense thriller of the year’ blah blah blah etc etc. It’s not. The critics hated this film. Whatever Monohan did after The Departed he knew he was doomed, because basically his talent is write witty obsense dialogue better than anyone else, and who wouldn’t feel jealous? So here’s a story about two uptight idiots having an unnecassarily protracted disagreement about life in a desert for no apparent. It’s like the hipster version of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.

Thomas, a super-rich, celebrity Vincent Gallo-type actor/filmmaker (Garret Hedlund),  has an identity crisis whilst making a film about something really arty, probably himself, so he goes to the desert to be alone and contemplate the meaning of life. Naturally, he meets another guy Jack (Oscar Issac) who’s equally erudite and disilluisioned as himself, and so a battle of wits ensues. But who is Jack, what does he want with Thomas……that’s the profound question we need to ask ourselves and the reason we’re watching this absurdly funny, Leonard/Tarantino/Beckett mash-up. I liked it. I’m not surprised everyone hated it. It’s really like study of narcissism, not as well made as Fellini’s 8 1/2, but swearing and lines are funnier.

Mark Wahlberg, as Thomas’s sleazy agent, has lines like ‘This is killing my vibe. I ate all the chinese food, now all I want is a blowjob. I’m not into feet’ He is permanently dressed in a bathrobe, drinking champagne from oversized flutes and surrounded by bodyguards and prostitutes who fail to please or protect him at the crucial moment.

Garret Hedlund plays the central Brando-eqsue protaganist. A performance so tired and bored even Brando and Kinski might feel irritated. His voice is like Dolph Lundgren impersonating Jack Kerouac, which is basically the same roles he played in On The Road and Inside Llewyn Davis.

If Oscar Issac had played Kerouac in On The Road alongside Hedlund, I would’ve officically called these three films a trilogy of ‘young bored poets being angry’.

I have yet to watch Lindsey Anderson’s Oh Lucky Man!

2 thoughts on “Mojave (William Monahan, 2015)

  1. Hey there! Still not sure you name, but I gave you some feedback on DEAR DARKNESS, and you responded to my response (thanks!). Yeah, I can see how the films you all mentioned are similar to what you’re going for. I wonder if you can’t simply expand the mystery, with more twists and turns, and then give Tim a reason to solve it. Just make him more active, even if you don’t make him “likeable.”

    It’s cool reading your blog. I love a fellow film aficionado.

    Good luck with the project!



    • Hello, thanks again for the positive feedback. Coverfly peer review tool is surprisingly useful. I guess you must be a writer yourself? What sortof things do you write? I could say alot about the problems with Dear Darkness (also a great PJ Harvey song), I couldn’t quite decide if it should be horror or thriller, or even just a drama about two brothers, and in the end it was easier just to have weird stuff happening and not fully explain it. You’re more than welcome to take a crack at a rewrite if you think have some ideas. I think I basically need some more scenes between his encounter with Alison at the abbattoir and when she betrays him. Actually, originally is was meant to end after he returns to the pub and we realise that his brother really is a ghost, but someone said it was too short, so I tacked on a big action scene at the end, which I trying to avoid to keep the production costs down, but seems to work. My email’s


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