Then, as hope has dwindled to an almost non-existent point, you sit back and watch a film like Smoke Signals. Smoke Signals is one of those rare movies that you never hear a bad word about. It is one of those films that comes out of nowhere, has no big names or bad lines, and is a completely original story... in short, the main things most movies lack.
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The film focuses on two Sioux brothers living on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation - one of the largest pieces of land granted by the government for "re-settlement" of Native American tribes. Rudy (Eric Schweig) is the local arm of the reservation's law enforcement and spends the better part of his night shifts rounding up drunken Indians and breaking up domestic disputes on the reservation. His brother Mogie (Graham Greene, looking like a beached whale) is one of the reservation's infamous drunks, due in part to a stint in Vietnam and the typical, abusive father.
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For starters, it's literally crawling with cult-friendly stars, including Jon Favreau (Swingers), Joey Lauren Adams (Chasing Amy), Bud Cort (Harold and Maude), Jon Gries (Real Genius), Daryl Hannah (Kill Bill),and Rachael Leigh Cook (who seems to be making a living off of desert-based movies these days). Secondly, it's got message boards buzzing with fans asking a variation on one simple question: What the hell does it all mean?
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It's down at the donut shop that young Oliver (Joshua Close), a runaway who has grown up in foster homes, meets Dodge (Nick Stahl), a streetwise, hollow-eyed hustler who's always on the lookout for new recruits to present to the local pimp, Fagin (Gary Farmer). The thoroughly unpleasant Fagin, who usually greets his charges with a punch in the face when they return to the ratty hustler rooming house he runs, quickly brings the nervous Oliver into the fold. The only ray of light in this ugly world is Nancy (Michele-Barbara Pelletier), a friendly diner waitress who also happens to be the girlfriend of the unseen Bill Sykes, the terrifying mastermind who apparently controls the entire Toronto underworld, Fagin included.
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That's some comfort, too, because I can't fathom how a middle-aged romantic tragicomedy like this could possibly win a major award.
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You almost certainly have seen more than one movie about a retiring crook going for one last big score. You may have seen the old crook-young crook rivalry before too. And who hasn't seen an elaborate, high-danger heist climax? Heck, that's been done three times in just the last month, in "Sexy Beast," "Swordfish," and "The Princess and the Warrior."
But you haven't seen any of this done with three of the greatest film actors alive, which is what makes the difference in "The Score," a pulse-racing break-in thriller that shatters the mold because of its absolutely brilliant performances and its handful of entertaining twists.
Robert De Niro plays Nick Wells, the career safe-cracker who is ready to hang up his spurs, settle down with a good woman (in this case Angela Bassett) and just run the swanky upscale jazz bar he owns in downtown Montreal.
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Writer-director Christopher McQuarrie brings a dark and gritty tone to this larger-than-life franchise.
Ed Helms has spoken about his initial reluctance to follow up the 80's cult classics.
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