‘ Chin’ deals a noirish knock­out

Los Angeles Times - - MOVIES - — Gary Gold­stein

Punchy di­a­logue, sharply drawn char­ac­ters and ex­cel­lent per­for­mances fuel “Glass Chin,” an in­ti­mate drama that’s set in the box­ing world but is about so much more. It’s the kind of ter­rific lit­tle in­die that not so long ago might have gone quite a few rounds on art­house screens be­fore hit­ting other view­ing plat­forms.

Bud Gor­don ( Corey Stoll) is a one­time box­ing champ at­tempt­ing to re­gain the lime­light but now as a Man­hat­tan res­tau­ra­teur. To do so, he pairs with J. J. Cook ( Billy Crudup), a rich, in­sid­i­ous busi­ness­man with whom Bud, we will learn, shares a dark past.

Although Bud be­lieves J. J. will be on the up- and- up in help­ing him jump- start his eatery, J. J. sucks Bud into a crim­i­nal en­ter­prise that sends the for­mer fighter down the rab­bit hole. As one ob­server here so aptly tells Bud, “If you try to go straight on a crooked road you’ll only get f lat­tened.” But will he?

How the conf licted Bud nav­i­gates this tricky ter­ri­tory all while train­ing the ris­ing boxer Kid Sun­shine ( Mal­colm Xavier) for a big match, keep­ing live- in girl­friend Ellen ( Marin Ire­land) at arm’s- length, hook­ing up with ex- model Mae ( Kelly Lynch) and elud­ing J. J. and his chatty hench­man, Roberto ( Yul Vazquez), proves a tense and ab­sorb­ing jug­gling act.

Writer- di­rec­tor Noah Buschel’s ver­bal and vis­ual skills give “Glass Chin,” so named for Bud’s pugilis­tic weak spot, a dis­tinct place in the of­ten de­riv­a­tive world of neo- noir. That Buschel’s gifted cast — Stoll, Ire­land and Vazquez are f irst- rate, and Crudup is award­wor­thy — so deftly runs with the dy­na­mite script adds im­mea­sur­able plea­sure. Don’t miss it. “Glass Chin.” No MPAA rat­ing. Run­ning time: 1 hour, 27 min­utes. Play­ing: Arena Cin­ema, Hol­ly­wood. Also on video on de­mand.

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