What you'll get with Knockaround Guys is another knock-off of a gangster film, 90 minutes of phony tough guy bravado, stagy dialogue, laughably inaccurate accents and, most inexcusably, a slow-moving story. This may all explain why Diesel isn't the lead in this chest-thumper: The film was made before his breakout success and has reportedly been sitting on the shelf at New Line. It must now be time to take advantage of his star -- and box office -- power.
Continue reading: Knockaround Guys Review
Basing their premiere feature on the little-seen Italian comedy Big Deal on Madonna Street (1958), the writing, directing Russos set their film -- a finely tuned, brilliantly designed, screwball romp -- in the Ohio city of the title, which they've drawn as decrepit, to say the least. Collinwood is painted as low rent, low wage, and low class, where every sidewalk square is cracked and so are the people that walk on them.
Continue reading: Welcome to Collinwood Review
Gray, recently appearing with The Yards at the Boston Film Festival, based his tale of New York City subway vendor corruption on his own father's experiences. The filmmaker has given us a well-composed script, deftly flowing through intertwining relations of families, friends, enemies, and politicians. He sustains a hopelessly dim design throughout the film, even having the mind to steal wonderfully from a few Godfather scenes (he claims by accident), and lifting Gordon Willis' outstanding cinematography with his DP, Harris Savides (on purpose). Gray's direction gives us an overriding sense of doom that retains suspense far beyond that of a second-time filmmaker (his first being 1994's grim Little Odessa). But all that is nothing without Mark Wahlberg.
Continue reading: The Yards Review
The entire, very talented cast of the caper comedy "Welcome to Collinwood" is clearly having a good time playing criminal washouts who know more about their own local-crook jargon than they do about breaking and entering. But you get the feeling watching it that having a good time took precedence over making anything more than an insubstantial romp designed to entertain themselves.
Amusing but otherwise forgettable, the flick stars Luis Guzman (also in this week's "Punch-Drunk Love") as an imprisoned petty thief who hears about a supposed dream heist opportunity from a lifer he's serving time with and says to himself, "This could be my Belini!" But he needs a Melinski to take the fall and someone who can pull a Krasner at the Shylock's office they'll break into, so the job doesn't turn into a real kaputchnick.
But in the process of trying to line up a patsy, his girlfriend on the outside (Patricia Clarkson) ends up with half a dozen hapless partners instead -- including a hopelessly amateur boxer (Sam Rockwell), an unemployed photographer (William H. Macy) who carts his infant son everywhere he goes because his can't afford his wife's bail, a frail old thief (Michael Jeter) who can't complete a sentence without pausing for breath, a dubiously "expert" safe-cracker in a wheelchair (George Clooney) who is a little cracked himself, and a couple more small-time hustlers (Isaiah Washington and Andrew Davoli).With stars such as these employing the cheeky comic instincts they've honed, often together, in flicks by David Mamet and/or Steven Soderbergh (who produced this picture with Clooney), the frivolity is contagious, even if the plot and the gags are, more often than not, obvious, broad and overused.
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David Mamet's "Spartan" is Tom Clancy without the pop-literature pretense. It's "24" for those who like more of a cerebral challenge -- a tense, tightly paced political action-thriller with provocatively elusive twists that don't feel contrived for shock value.
It's a movie in which intellect trumps exposition to the point that most of the characters aren't clearly identified, making all of them seem more shadowy and dangerous. The story counts on your ability to think for yourself and draw your own conclusions about evidence trails, incidents, alibis, motives and intentions -- then pulls those conclusions out from under you more than once with substantial surprises that make you think even harder. And it has a palpable atmosphere of pressure-cooker urgency, kept doggedly in check by government agents for whom eye-on-the-prize callousness is compulsory.
Val Kilmer stars as a terse military espionage operative called in by the Secret Service to work with a clandestine team searching for a missing -- likely abducted -- First Daughter before the headline-hungry press gets wind of the notoriously rebellious girl's disappearance.
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In a reasonably fresh twist on the organized-crime genre, "Knockaround Guys" is a post-Tarantino-styled slick flick about a quartet of pampered gangsters' sons trying to prove their worth as wiseguys.
"To regular people we're stone f**ing goombahs," gripes sharp-dressed 20-something tough Matty Demaret (Barry Pepper), who has recently given up his dream of going legit as a sports agent because his last name scares the bejesus out of potential employers. "But to knockaround guys, to our fathers, we're nothing but errand boys."
Now Matty's plan for his crew to earn some respect within the mob has gone horribly haywire. Entrusted to deliver $500,000 cross-country, Matty enlists a paranoid, recovering cokehead buddy called Johnny Marbles (Seth Green) because he flies a small plane and can make the trip in a day or two. But while refueling at remote Wibaux, Montana airport, Marbles panics when eyed by the local law and lets the bag of money out of his sight.
Continue reading: Knockaround Guys Review
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