Ron Silver

Ron Silver

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Find Me Guilty Review


Terrible

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

Reversal Of Fortune Review


Extraordinary
Here's the movie that made Jeremy Irons such a memorable villain. (Well, this and Dead Ringers.) And it's all true: Claus von Bulow was convicted of nearly murdering his ultra-rich wife (Glenn Close), who lay in a coma after a massive insulin overdose. The famous Alan Dershowitz (Ron Silver) handles the appeal: While it initially appears to be a no-contest-he's-guilty-slam-dunk, all manner of evidence comes to light indicating that not only is Claus probably innocent, he almost certainly is. How we change our minds into rooting for this bad guy remains one of cinema's greatest tricks. You may feel different about the voice-over narration, provided by the comatose Sunny, the film's one iffy spot. (As for Sunny, she's still in a coma as of 2005, 25 years later.)

Fahrenhype 9/11 Review


OK
Was it five minutes what Bush sat in that classroom or was it seven?

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

Best Friends Review


Weak
When Best Friends is less than halfway over, you'll long for a much better '80s rom-com like Seems Like Old Times, also starring Goldie Hawn in one of her endless roles from the era as (basically) herself.

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

The Arrival Review


Good
Worse alien-invader films have been made, but none of them have starred Charlie Sheen! What's a poor astronomer to do when he learns of a plot of Body Snatcher-types threatening to take over the world? Well, he's going to make damn sure there's room for a sequel, that's what. Surprisingly average.

Continue reading: The Arrival Review

Ali Review


OK
It saddens me to think that when most kids today see the name "Ali," they probably think of whipped-cream-bikini babe Ali Larter, not Muhammad Ali, "The Greatest," as he was wont to call himself -- as in the greatest fighter of all time.

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

Festival In Cannes Review


Excellent
Attending a film festival is a remarkable experience. For a few solid days, a individual can recline in comfortable movie theater seats, consume buckets of warm, buttery popcorn, and enjoy cold fountain drinks. People can also relish that rare film which hasn't been mistreated by studio budgets or stipulations by censor boards. It's altogether a little slice of heaven, and Festival in Cannes provides an insider's look at such an experience.

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.

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Master Spy: The Robert Hanssen Story Review


Excellent
Meet Robert Hanssen, a walking contradiction.

He's deeply religious (Catholic, four kids) but trades nudie pics of his wife with his friend.

Continue reading: Master Spy: The Robert Hanssen Story Review

Black & White (1998) Review


Weak
A promising thriller noir is ruined in its second half by a meandering plot that tries to get clever but ends up being pretty dumb. Gina Gershon and Rory Cochrane as cops investigating the elusive "inside job" are pretty bland and have no chemistry, even if Gina spends most of the film naked. Never mind the plot.

Ali Review


Good

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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Ali Movie Review

Ali Movie Review

It saddens me to think that when most kids today see the name "Ali," they...

Festival In Cannes Movie Review

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Attending a film festival is a remarkable experience. For a few solid days, a...

Ali Movie Review

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The opening shot of Michael Mann's masterfully crafted boxer biography "Ali" is an image from...

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