It's not easy being typecast, especially when you only ever get the chance to be an extra. Nick DeMaio is tired of his gruff demeanour, Italian American heritage and New York accent constantly thusting him into gangster roles and dreams of expanding his work to include a broader range of characters. But, alas, it's not easy to convince casting agents he's more than just a one trick pony, and so he rounds up a bunch of actor friends who are equally determined to be more than just mobsters and sets up to organise a producation of Shakespeare's 'Julius Caesar'. Unfortunately, the stereotyped mass of aspiring stars has caught the attention of the cops, who start to get suspicious that their play is an attempt to cover up a major criminal plot after the murder of a Broadway producer. They enlist an undercover agent to audition for the play, but little does he know that he's only going to find a passion for the stage among these long-suffering gentlemen.
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The most surprising thing about this comedy is that it's not very funny, but then it's not meant to be. This is a trippy odyssey into the mind of a drug-addled guy who thinks the world is falling apart around him. Sure, it's fitfully amusing, but it's also harrowing and utterly bonkers. And there are some moments of sublime emotion in there too.
Dan Fogler stars as Warren, a 33-year-old unemployed graphic novelist who is haunted by dreams about the world ending on 21st December 2012. But there's another date approaching much sooner that has him even more shaken: his wedding to his rather too-hot fiancee Karen (Kelly Hitchinson), who is trying to get pregnant as she plans the big day. Then in a peyote-induced stupor, Warren becomes convinced that he has been given some sort of psychic insight into the apocalypse, and asks his best pal Balance (Yang Miller) to help him make a documentary film about the strange events going on around him. And things get very strange indeed.
Written and directed by Fogler and Michael Canzoniero, the film flickers back and forth between Warren's luridly coloured drug trips and his even more jarring lucid moments. Every scene is packed with existential chatter, like a Woody Allen movie for potheads, while the tone swings wildly between dark drama, broad slapstick and even a couple of zany musical numbers. Which is appropriate for a film set in the mind of a man who isn't always sober. It's not easy to watch this slobby nice guy lose his mind, but there are observations along the way that add strong resonance.
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Annabella Sciorra and Sarita Choudhury - Annabella Sciorra & Sarita Choudhury New York City, USA - at the after party celebrating the Opening Night of the New Group Theatre Off-Broadway play 'Two Thousand Years' held at the West Bank Cafe. Thursday 7th February 2008
There's a serious losing streak as far as "true stories" in cinema are going. It's an open invitation to drizzle overdone sentimentality and turn crass tear-jerking into box office gold (see Glory Road or North Country?). That being said, that kind of stuff is spun gold in the face of the haphazard bile that is being thrown at the audience in Sidney Lumet's latest film, Find Me Guilty.
The film opens with Tony Campagna (Raul Esparza) making a panicked phone call to an unnamed person. He immediately goes from there to the home of his cousin, "Fat Jack" DiNorscio, a lone shark and cocaine dealer, and shoots him five times. For reasons unknown, DiNorscio survives, but refuses to rat on Tony. To him, ratting on family and friends is worse than death, and he tells his daughter that as she sits next to his hospital bed. Soon enough, Jack is in jail and part of a massive trial with most of the New Jersey crime family. In court, Jack befriends a lawyer (Peter Dinklage) but refuses his council, deciding to represent himself instead, against the wishes of mob boss Nick Calabrese (Alex Rocco). DiNorscio makes terrible jokes, but like all naïve if not honest men, he's endearing in a certain way, especially to Judge Finestein (Ron Silver). His charming and quirky attitude in court is hard to stand but seems to work on the jury, as they go in the room to deliberate on what would become the longest court case in U.S. history.
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And so we come to the strange, sad, and rather crass case of Sam the Man, a creepy and just plain wrong romantic dramedy that's got no romance, few laughs, minimal drama, and a parade of hateful characters. Wrap them up in a cheap, out-of-focus, underlit, and inaudible package shot on cheap digital video, and the recipe for disaster is complete. Microwave on high for three minutes.
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