Michael Cerenzie

Michael Cerenzie

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Before The Devil Knows You're Dead Review

At the tender age of 83, director Sidney Lumet opens his latest film with a married couple going at it, doggy-style, in a bedroom full of mirrors. The wife is black-haired and thin while the husband is bulky and stares at the reflection as if it's his only moment of true triumph. In a recent interview, Lumet described the image as the man's idea of "classy"; an act of high-class privilege that the man can only hope to aspire to.

The man in question is Andy (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a pudgy volcano of a corporate hustler with a trophy wife. Gina (Marisa Tomei) fits that role to a T as she spends Andy's money and enjoys mid-day quickies with Andy's brother Hank (Ethan Hawke). Hank's money goes towards his ex-wife (a great Amy Ryan) and daughter while Andy's cash, when not with Gina, is spent on heroin in the très chic twentieth-floor apartment of his dealer in Manhattan. The boys need dough and their bourgeois office jobs aren't keeping it coming in. That's when Andy gets the idea.

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City Of Ghosts Review

Lest you think all actors are suddenly turning into directors, (as in George Clooney's 2002 Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) let me point out that it's not a new phenomenon (Kenneth Branagh's 1989 Dead Again). So, there's nothing extraordinary about Matt Dillon directing (and co-writing and acting in) City of Ghosts. And what he's turned in here for his theatrical film debut is a rather atmospheric journey set within the corrupt, decrepit precincts of Cambodia with plenty of opportunities for tension and intrigue.

The question is whether he developed his story to take full advantage of the setting for Asian mystery (this is the first film shot entirely in Cambodia since 1964) and the cutthroat characters that people it -- at least in fiction. Unfortunately, writer-director Dillon evokes the color and the mystery without quite managing to create gut-gripping drama. The flaw is in the content.

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Deuces Wild Review

I'm not sure The Godfather was a good thing. Because it was such a success, filmmakers seem to have gotten the impression that any movie involving Italian gangs is automatically a high quality affair. That mistaken impression is the only thing which could possibly explain a film like Deuces Wild.

Set in 1950s New York, the film follows the lives of a gang of youths called "The Deuces." Lead by the charismatic young Leon (Stephen Dorff), "The Deuces" are sworn to protect their block and their turf. Driven by revenge over the death of their youngest sibling, Leon and his brother Bobby struggle to preserve their little piece of Brooklyn against drug dealers and local toughs.

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Michael Cerenzie

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