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Diamond Men Review


Excellent
Last year, Ned Beatty was given tribute by writer-director Tom Gilroy in Spring Forward, inhabiting a beautifully written role as a weathered park ranger. Another true actor's actor, Robert Forster, is given his full measure as aging diamond salesman Eddie Miller in Diamond Men. Forster, best known to younger audiences as laconic bail bondsman Max Cherry in Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown, has quite a history behind him. His underappreciated body of work includes a hardcore television journalist in Haskell Wexler's masterpiece, Medium Cool (1969), and his debut as a quiet soldier who becomes the object of Marlon Brando's desire in John Huston's complex Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967).

With Diamond Men, Forster effortlessly becomes one with his surroundings. Carrying a "live line" of diamonds (in a black briefcase) on the road as he travels from one small-town business to another in rural Pennsylvania, he's familiar with dingy coffee shops and cheap, out-of-the-way motels, comfortable with the interior of his Lincoln Town Car and his predetermined routine. He's an older man with a heart condition, 30 years peddling his wares, but Forster doesn't choose to arouse pathos in this tightly wound curmudgeon. Eddie's personality is best described as an undisclosed poker hand: quiet, inconspicuous, intense. With his tough, wrinkled face and world-weary disposition, Forster creates one of his most memorable characterizations and writer-director Daniel M. Cohen wisely uses him to carry the movie. He's in almost every scene, and Diamond Men is graced by that weighty presence. (The other main character is Eddie's world of highways and hotel rooms, photographed with unobtrusive sensitivity by John Huneck.)

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Pecker Review


Excellent
John Waters lives in two worlds: the trashy and aggressively weird neighborhoods of his native Baltimore and the artsy society circles of New York City. Pecker is his hilarious take on what happens when those two very different cultures collide.

Pecker (Edward Furlong) is a happy-go-lucky teen who loves to carry his camera around town taking quick snapshots of the types of characters who have been populating Waters's films since the '70s. He even lives with some of them: his thrift-shop owning parents (Mary Kay Place and Mark Joy); his foul-mouthed sister Tina (Martha Plimpton), who works as a sassy bartender at the local gay bar; his eight-year-old sister, the hopelessly sugar-addicted Little Chrissy (Lauren Hulsey); and his totally wacky grandmother Memama (Jean Schertler), who cooks and sells pit beef sandwiches on the front lawn when she isn't distracted by her statue of the Virgin Mary, which speaks to her saying, "Full of grace! Full of grace!" Memama doesn't realize that she's actually the one saying it.

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That Darn Cat Review


Grim
Barely amusing, this remake of the Disney kiddie flick features an (inadvertent) crime-fighting cat, Christina Ricci, and the near-instant cinematic meltdown of Doug E. Doug. The story and the performances are universally appropriate for The Disney Channel fare -- which is to say, they are far from good. I suppose this would be fine to plop a kid in front of for an hour and a half, but is that saying much? Try something with animated animals instead.

The Four Seasons Review


Good
Back in the '70s, Alan Alda gained a rep as a "sensitive man," a pro-ERA, Marlo Thomas-loving, abortion-rights-advocating bleeding heart. The Four Seasons, written, directed, and starring Alda at the peak of his M*A*S*H fame, is his feminist apotheosis. This sparkling comedy tracking the travails of three upscale middle-aged couples as they vacation together four times a year (accompanied by a vibrant Vivaldi soundtrack, natch) is told from a distinctly female, and feminist, perspective. Alda is really in touch with his softer side.

Jack and Kate Burroughs (Alda and Carol Burnett), Danny and Claudia Zimmer (Jack Weston and Rita Moreno), and Nick and Anne Callan (Len Cariou and Sandy Dennis) head off for the first of their four annual trips in spring, but it's not going to be a good time. The fragile and seemingly unstable Anne announces that Nick has dumped her and that a divorce is imminent. The women rally around their long-time friend while the men stand back and try to avoid emoting at all.

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