Barney Panofsky (Giamatti) has had an event-filled life that not many people quite understand. His first marriage to Clara (Lefevre) in 1970s Rome was short, but his second back home in Montreal (to Driver) was even briefer, as he met wife No 3, Miriam (Pike), at the reception. His later years are haunted by a detective (Addy) who's determined to prove that Barney killed his best friend (Speedman) back in the 80s. And then there's his feisty dad (Dustin Hoffman), smart kids (Jake Hoffman and Hopkins) and a too-friendly neighbour (Greenwood).
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Finding love has never really been a problem for Barney. Having been married once before, he thinks his marriage to 'the second Mrs P' is going to be it, he's finally ready to settle down. After all, you couldn't hope for more when you're marring a beautiful princess with 'a wonderful rack'; however when Barney lays eyes on Miriam, a guest at his wedding, he knows his marriage is a total sham and a huge mistake.
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The dialogue is fantastic, with Eastwood utterly believable in his testifying to the evils of whisky, and Hackman totally at ease with saying he "et it." Richard Harris's English Bob is an unforgettable pansy of a villain, and the widescreen cinematography is lush during the day, ominous during the invariably rainy nights.
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To get away from the misery of his day-to-day existence, Dark retreats into a 1950s film noir fantasy world straight from one of his books, where he's a handsome band singer who moonlights as a gumshoe. In the fantasy, he gets tangled up in a plot revolving around a dead blonde dame, the sinister Mark Binney (Jeremy Northam) who hires Dark to investigate her murder, and a couple of palookas in sharp suits (Adrien Brody and Jon Polito) who keep trying to bump Dark off. Unfortunately, the fantasy starts getting mixed up into Dark's real life - Chandler-esque gangsters showing up at his bedside, and hospital staff bursting into renditions of doo-wop hits that Dark's alter ego would have sung in an L.A. nightclub - and he has trouble keeping them separate.
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The phrase, now famous via Douglas's Oscar-winning performance, was initially uttered by Ivan Boesky, the 1980s business biggie who thrived on doing whatever it took to become rich, and paid the price as a result. Director/co-writer Stone, with Douglas at the epicenter, erects an overdone behemoth of a movie that, like Boesky himself, is an ageless -- and, at times, clichéd -- cautionary tale.
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The two are spotted in the White House by a gaurd who originally saw the girls at Watergate the night of the burglary. The two are taken to the infamous "West Wing" where they meet and fall in love with President Richard "Dick" Nixon, played by Dan Hedaya, and very well I might add. Unfortunetly Hedaya's very entertaining performance of Dick couldn't save this already ill-fated non-comedy.
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Despite the High Seas setting, the film takes the form of merely a series of conversations among various characters on the boat. Central to them is grad student Dale (Tony Mamet, David's brother), working the boat to earn money during the summer. Then there's an ornery captain (Charles Durning) and his number two (George Wendt). There's a strange fireman (Denis Leary) who stays below deck. There are horny guys (J.J. Johnston and Jack Wallace) who argue the merits of Steven Seagal and his toughness. There's also a lovable deckhand (Robert Forster) who teaches Dale a thing or two about life, love, and so on.
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"Baadassss!" is Mario Van Peebles' fond commemoration of his cantankerous father's bull-headed cinematic audacity. An unblinking, if slightly golden-toned, account of the making of Melvin Van Peebles' violent, dark, gritty and groundbreaking "Sweet Sweetback's Baadassss Song," it's a clear labor of love, and so much the better for it.
"Sweetback" -- a "ghetto Western" about a slick, taciturn pimp who becomes a hunted man for killing a couple thug cops who beat a black militant -- scared the hell out of Hollywood, yet its success ($15 million in limited release in 1971) gave rise to scores of shallower imitators that became the blaxploitation genre of "Coffy" and "Shaft."
Getting the divisive, patently anti-establishment film made was a nightmare of financing and bounced checks ("Baadasssss!" implies that drug money was to be used before Bill Cosby stepped in), of casting (writer-director Melvin played the lead when he couldn't find the right actor), of union problems (the industry guilds were practically all-white at the time -- and expensive), of controversy (an X rating), and of distribution (only two privately-owned theaters would touch it at first).
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Imagine a pair of bubble-headed teenage girls plunked down in the middle of "All the President's Men," then transform the major Watergate players (Nixon, Woodward, Bernstein, Liddy, et al) into oafs, and you have the recipe for "Dick," a nimbly-witted marriage of teenage social slapstick and political satire.
A cross-generational comedy that quickly lays out historical details for the uninitiated, then sets about clowning with the fuzzier facts, the movie stars Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams as a couple of dim and giggly 15-year-olds who stumble onto the Watergate break-in (one of them lives in the hotel), then become witnesses to President Nixon's cover-up, after being spotted on a White House tour and appointed "official White House dog-walkers" in order to keep them close and find out what they know.
Since their lives revolve around lip gloss and Bobby Sherman, it takes these two ditzes a while to catch on. After getting lost in the executive mansion, their new buddy President Nixon (a perfectly cast Dan Hedaya) plays off the document-shredding they've seen as a crafts project. "Paper mache is a hobby of mine," he grunts, momentarily unfurrowing his brow.
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Writer-director Rod Lurie is to political thriller cinema what Jackie Collins is to romance novels: high-gloss trash. The difference is that Lurie takes himself seriously.
Earlier this year his preposterous nuclear countdown yarn "Deterrence" was released after sitting on a shelf for two years. It starred Kevin Pollack as a US president snowed in at a Colorado greasy spoon getting unsolicited advice from a peanut gallery of patrons as Saddam Hussein's son revealed a secret nuclear arsenal pointed at our shores. Even more ridiculous than the plot was the "just kidding" manner in which it concludes.
Now comes "The Contender," a lurid yet didactic gavel-to-gavel drama about a vice presidential appointee embroiled in a sex scandal.
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Ironically, "The Singing Detective" probably would have been better without the awkwardly integrated songs that signal frequent shifts into fantasy for the picture's acrimonious anti-hero -- a second-rate pulp novelist hospitalized with literally crippling, full-body psoriasis that serves as a metaphor for his rampaging inner demons.
As an acerbically droll psychological drama about the writer's noir-fiction imagination slowly seeping into his tormented reality, this new adaptation of the highly acclaimed 1986 BBC miniseries (both were written by the late Dennis Potter) has many layers of mesmerizing Freudian substance, brought vividly to life by Robert Downey, Jr's fearlessly hostile but slowly warming performance.
Playing Dan Dark -- a bitter soul trapped in a grotesquely scabby, arthritic body -- Downey seethes with such animosity toward the whole world that when his doctors break into a low-budget production number lip-sync of "At the Hop" or his ointment-applying nurse (Katie Holmes) coos "Mr. Sandman" in a sexual daydream sequence, the film overshoots its intended farce because such silliness is so out of character for a man this bitter and full of bile.
Continue reading: The Singing Detective Review
Filmmaker Wes Craven has died at the age of 76, his family has announced. With a career spanning over 40 years, Craven was one of the most prolific...
Set in the beautiful Swiss Alps, Youth sees Michael Caine & Harvey Keitel in a fine piece of work.