Tom Cudworth

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Ten Benny Review


OK
A bizarre conflagration of GoodFellas, Moonstruck, and The Brothers McMullen, Ten Benny's story of three men coming of age in New Jersey is all over the map. At times it's good, at times it's unwatchable. As a whole, it's fair. The plotlines of gambling addiction and mob tyranny are pretty old, but like I say, it's not a horrible movie. Just not a great one.

Restaurant Review


Good
They might as well have called this movie J. T. McClure's, which is the name of the "restaurant" where all the film's characters work. That would have at least helped to add a little mystery and some flare to such a pitiable title. Thankfully, the film itself is a whole lot better than the name might indicate. Restaurant, directed by Eric Bross, spins the story of a group of young twenty-somethings struggling to reach their dreams of fame, while working at an upscale bar and grill in Hoboken, New Jersey. It's got that sort of Swingers humor and mentality, mixed with a diverse cast and much more serious themes.

Our protagonist is the restaurant's bartender, Chris Calloway (Adrien Brody - Summer of Sam, Six Ways to Sunday), a struggling playwright weaving his real life problems into his first play -- a work in progress that he can't seem to finish. When he meets the newest waitress Jeanine (Elise Neal - Mission to Mars) and they hit it off, he's faced with his second interracial relationship (the first being Lauryn Hill, who we see mostly as a picture on the refrigerator). Chris can't figure out why he likes black women so much, especially after his Italian father raised him to be a bigot. This dilemma is portrayed in his unfinished play, which is the story of a white man that can't deal with the external pressures of having a black girlfriend, even though he's madly in love. As he tries to make sense of his feelings, he gets caught up in the past when his ex (Hill) shows up at a friend's wedding. Because his relationship with her ended on such a bizarre note, he can't put it behind him, which prevents him from devoting his heart to Jeanine, and finally, thwarts him from finishing the play. Whew!

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