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.
Continue reading: Find Me Guilty Review
Was one second of Fahrenheit 9/11 flubbed when Michael Moore "invented" a headline from a newspaper, which was actually part of a letter from a reader, not a real story?
Continue reading: Fahrenhype 9/11 Review
Hawn is partnered rather tragically here with Burt Reynolds. They play the titular best friends -- screenwriters -- who decide to get married, only to realize that romance is far more difficult than friendship. I mean, there's in-laws! An old and groping father is about as funny as Friends ever gets, as the movie's one-liners fall down flat one after another. That's probably because the film is based on the real life of writers Valerie Curtin and Barry Levinson, and frankly not much amusing seems to have happened during their brief marriage.
Continue reading: Best Friends Review
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Now, with Michael Mann's lengthy biopic of the heavyweight king hitting theaters, kids can think of former "Fresh Prince" Will Smith. And I'm still not sure if that's a good thing.
Continue reading: Ali Review
Each year, hundreds of film festivals transpire, but Cannes is definitely one of the most celebrated. Indie director Henry Jaglom takes us within the 1999 Cannes Film Festival and regenerates the flavor of what it's like to be there. As the movie opens, Jaglom inserts a montage of photographs featuring actors and filmmakers who have visited the festival earlier. Actors like Grace Kelly, Charlie Chaplin, and directors like Alfred Hitchcock have attended.
Continue reading: Festival In Cannes Review
The opening shot of Michael Mann's masterfully crafted boxer biography "Ali" is an image from behind a punching bag being pounded by the champ in rapid musical rhythm. As the bag flashes by with a strobe-like effect, that intensely focused gaze Muhammad Ali is famous for -- that laser beam look that means he's tuned out the world, that stare as steely as a freight train bearing down on you -- beams out of Will Smith's eyes.
It is the one and only time in the film you'll even remember the star's name, because for the next two and a half hours Smith inhabits Ali -- his power, grace, ego, humor and body language, inside and outside the ring -- as well as any actor could.
Choosing to focus on ten momentous years in Ali's life, Mann's round by round, bobbing and weaving narrative style assumes at least a passing knowledge of the fighter's life, merely dropping in on pivotal events without spending much time catching the audience up on the particulars of who, when and where.
Continue reading: Ali Review
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