Vincente Minnelli ("Gigi" and "Meet Me in St. Louis") directed this 1946 potboiler that featured Katharine Hepburn ("Olly, Olly, Oxen Free") and "Rooster Cogburn") right after her "box-office poison" period.

She is the tomboy daughter of a professor, played by Edmund Gwenn ("Miracle on 34th Street" and "The Trouble With Harry") who has been urging her to find someone to marry and settle down. Bingo! A handsome, single millionaire, played by Robert Taylor ("Ivanhoe" and "Quo Vadis") comes sailing into town, is immediately smitten by her and the deed is done.

Robert Mitchum ("Winds of War" and "Ryan's Daughter") has an appealing role as Taylor's brother. Some corny dialogue, but it WAS 1946...


Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

"Mr. Cellophane" himself, John C. Reilly ("Chicago," and "The Good Girl") is Dewey Cox, a fictitious performer whose life story this is supposed to be. This is a send-up of all the musical bios that we have seen over the years. Dewey Cox's meteoric rise to fame and fortune against all odds, is idiotically fast. ...you will recognize situations from "Ray," "The Buddy Holly Story," "Coal Miner's Daughter," "Sweet Dreams," etc.... from the childhood accident (taken from "Ray") that haunts him into adulthood (Dewey cuts his brother in half with a machete...this is in the reviews, it is NOT a spoiler!), to his addictions, ego problems, temper tantrums (every time he gets upset he starts tearing sinks out of bathrooms like Johnny Cash in "Walk the Line"), multiple spouses, personality clashes with band mates, difficulties coping with success, etc., etc., etc.

The creative team behind this project has enjoyed numerous successes: Judd Apatow ("Talladega Nights," "Knocked Up" and "Superbad") and Jake Kasden ("Orange County" and "The TV Set"). This body of work would lead you to expect a goodly dose of raunch, and it doesn't disap- point! Lots of nudity...both sexes, lots of drug use, lots of innuendo.

The part I liked was Dewey's passage through various musical fads; from the Buddy Holly/Big Bopper era to Bob Dylan; from Haight Asbury to the Beatles. The four guys who play the Beatles aren't particularly convin- cing but it's fun, just the same... And so is the clothing for each genre. In addition, they get many, many familiar faces to play well-known per- formers, so you feel you are among friends...you will see John Michael Higgins and Jane Lynch from Christopher Guest's repertory group, Jack Black, Jason Schwartzman, Frankie Muniz and Paul Rudd, who are a few of Apatow's regulars. AND they get people like Jackson Browne, The Temptations, Jewell, Eddie Vedder and Lyle Lovett to play themselves! Amazing!

By the way, Reilly does all of his own singing and he is a very competent singer.

I can't rave about this because somehow I don't find drug use or death-by-machete very funny. There ARE humorous moments and naturally I appreciate having equal time as regards nudity...it's time the rest of us got an eyeful, too!

Don't say you weren't warned....


Away From Her

You deserve to see a review of "Away From Her" simply because Julie Christie will probably be nominated for Best Actress for her lead role of a woman stricken by Alzheimer's. I checked the DVD out of the Seattle Library, so I know it is available on your rental lists. The problem I have with this is strictly personal. I watched a dear friend decline over a ten-year period, ultimately to die this year (2007).

Julie Christie ("Doctor Zhivago," "Hamlet" and "Shampoo") plays Fiona, a classically beautiful patient who, to my chagrin, never deteriorates. She remains beautiful, maybe her hair is a bit more tousled, but taste- fully so, clear to the end. Her thought processes are still cogent when they are verbalized and that part I know to be heartbreakingly UNtrue! I concede that they show her to be less and less verbal, but her insight and her social skills remain untouched.

First-time director, Sarah Polley, is a talented Canadian actress, who may or may not have ever dealt with Alzheimer's on a personal basis. I willingly concede that every case can be different...however...

As you may recall, I recently did a review of "Iris" starring Dame Judi Dench and every centimeter of that film was true to life! - NO contest! The eyes, the mouth, the hair, the physical stance, the tilt of the head, the lightly veiled hostility, the anxiety, all were painfully authentic.

Suffice it to say, it is nice to see an Academy favorite still slogging away, but she needs more authentic scripts. I have no doubt that she could rise to the challenge...


I'm Not There

Tedious drivel...

At risk of alienating some of you, I first of all must admit that I was never a big fan of Bob Dylan or 95% of his music, particularly when it was sung...?...by him. This movie, however, did not use ONE song that I recognized! It is my understanding that this is a quasi-biographical movie about him...Right? "Ruminations on the life..." They never used any actual names, so it was mostly a guessing game. I recognized several things:
  • Small town origins
  • Guitar/harmonica combination
  • Overwhelming sense of alienation
  • Heavy drug use
  • Reluctant publicity conferences
  • Big deal when his "real" name was revealed
  • Accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior
  • Motorcycle wreck
  • GREAT authentic-looking wigs on all the impersonators

I did NOT recognize:

  • The little runaway black boy connection
  • The frolic with the Beatles
  • The wife and two daughters
  • The divorce
  • Who were all those people supposed to be?
  • How was Billy the Kid tied in?
  • Where did Henry Kissinger come from?
  • Why a frontier town?

Because I have never followed his life, I had no sense of, "Oh! That is supposed to be Joan Baez!" "Hey, that actress represents Carly Simon!" "Oh! I remember when THAT happened!"

I have to agree that Cate Blanchett did the most commendable job of representing him. Christian Bale WAS him, and Heath Ledger had the awkward marriage/divorce segments. One fellow I didn't recognize at all, but I looked him up and he is another UK actor by the name of Ben Whishaw. Marcus Carl Franklin plays the child and Kris Kristofferson never actually appears, he does the voiceover. Richard Gere was pretty much wasted...What WAS that frontier town all about? The 100% thru-line was the chain smoking. I haven't seen an American movie made in the past two decades with so much cigarette smoke. I was sitting conveniently near the exit and had to fight with myself to keep from availing myself of it for at least the last 2/3 of the movie. It became an endurance test.

I realize the gentle nuances of my opinion may be too subtle...let me come right out and say it: I did NOT like this movie...and that puts me in direct opposition to most of the critics in this country who are practically wetting themselves over it!



This one is for fans of foreign films. "Zelary" was nominated for Best Foreign Film - 2004, and although it didn't win, I found it to be affecting and lovely. I obtained the DVD from the local library. I later bought a copy for my own collection.

Our story takes place in early 1940s Czechoslovakia and begins with a nurse and her surgeon-lover who are part of the resistance in that country. As the Gestapo closes in on them, he must flee to another country and she is told she must leave with a patient whose life she helped to save. He is a millworker from the hinterlands and views her with bewildered awe. She is ordered to marry him so she can be con- cealed in his tiny mountain hamlet, where life remains as it was over a hundred years ago.

With only a couple of exceptions, this provincial village accepts her, and slowly she becomes assimilated. He is always courteous, even though her first attempt at cooking is inedible (even the dog won't touch it!), and it dawns on her that there might be more to him that she first suspected. This city-bred, highly educated young sophisticate learns to manage in a cottage with no running water, no electricity, no outside communication; in fact, you know how much she has changed when you see how pleased she is with a new wooden floor he and the neighbors install in their little home. Eventually they begin living as man and wife and you can watch her gradually fall in love with this kind, gentle, barely literate fellow.

There are moments of violence (the Gestapo is involved, after all!), and times when her nursing skills are desperately needed. You become acquainted with the villagers -- good and bad -- and end up very much invested in their fate.

This is a fine film. "The Sea Inside" won the Academy Award that year, but for pure enjoyment, I prefer "Zelary."


The Great Debaters

Every good story is comprised of words. When you are dealing with a story in which the ending is already disclosed, the words become even more important because they are what put the "shine" on a story, the facets on the diamond, so to speak. When it's a movie, the script has to be top notch or things drag.

"The Great Debaters" has an absolutely wonderful script, written by Robert Eisley, who was working from his own story which, in turn, was inspired by true events. The dialog is delicious (it centers around a debate team after all...), and the realities of 1930s Jim Crow south are wrenchingly portrayed. It's legal for vigilantes to hang "niggers" in Texas in the 1930s. Produced and directed by our reliable Denzel Washington ("Antoine Fisher"), this is, in my opinion, his best film yet. The script, the pacing, the humor, the acting, the photography, the depiction of the times, all are marvelously delivered to the audience.

Washington plays Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at Wiley College, a small Texas school for blacks. Mel demonstrates intelligence, insight, wit and ambition, not only for his students, but for blacks in general. He inspires his class to form his school's first debate team and they go on to eventually challenge Harvard University. Mr. W. has never been wittier or more charismatic. I found the debates themselves to be delicious! Both sides are ably represented and no one is demonized. Everyone gives as good as he or she gets.

Forrest Whitaker ("The Last King of Scotland," "Panic Room" and directed "Hope Floats") is James Farmer, a colleague at the school who is much admired by his students, his fellow townspeople, his wife and his family, particularly his son James Jr., played by a young actor, Denzel Whitaker...who evidently is no relation to either of the stars!

It does my heart good to see the aristocracy of Black Hollywood putting out such fine movies. These are movies that promote solid values, intact families, respect for others, good manners, doing homework, reading, etc., etc., etc... I have noticed this to be true of Denzel Washington, (some) Eddie Murphy, (recent) Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and others. Despite Will Smith being one of the major movies stars in the world, his color never seems to be an issue in his movies. These guys don't have to stoop to "Bling," gang-banging, Rap, Hip Hop, jewel-encrusted teeth, and low-riders, the smarmy list is endless. When I go to their movies, I see them very, very well-attended, predominantly by black women with their kids in tow. Good for them! Those kids need to see how far we've come and how far we have yet to go.

I really liked this movie!

Sweeney Todd

This is a huge, masterfully filmed version of Stephen Sondheim's bloody classic. Who knew Tim Burton ("Beetle Juice," "Edward Scissorhands" and "Nightmare Before Christmas") could direct a musical? His confidence leaps off the screen and his eye for the eerie and the repugnant has never been so effective. The first solo by Mrs. Lovett, played by Helena Bonham Carter ("Corpse Bride" and "Fight Club"), about making meat pies (don't ask!) is absolutely teeming with cockroaches and her kitchen should be rated Grade Z! 1800s London is dark, dank and repellent, the people aren't quite clean, the streets are full of manure and rats, chimney pots belch soot and smoke, life is cheap, and death is bloody.

Burton shot several scenes with Todd and Lovett in which he used their reflections in a broken mirror. The effect is unique and spooky. Even the glass in the shop windows is wavy, like very old glass! That really impressed me.

You may already know the story...Young, blissfully happy couple has a beautiful baby girl and an idyllic life, but the husband is cruelly framed and convicted of a crime he didn't commit. He is transported to Australia for fifteen long years. When he finally returns to his old Fleet Street digs in London, Mrs. Lovett informs him that his wife is dead, so his sole focus becomes revenge. Revenge for the past fifteen years, revenge for his lost love and revenge for his broken family. Only the blood of the man who framed him, the dastardly Judge Turpin, played by Alan Rickman ("Something the Lord Made" and "Sense and Sensibility"), will squench his thirst.

The members of the cast were predominantly actors, not singers, but the result was surprisingly good singing. Johnny Depp ("Chocolat" and "Finding Neverland") had originally been in a band, so we knew he could play guitar and was musical, but he was untried as a singer. He went into seclusion for a few months and emerged ready to be "Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street." When he holds up the straight razor and extends his arm, he convinced ME as he gloats, "At last, my arm is complete!" In fact, the Bride of Frankenstein streak of silver in his hair makes him seem almost old enough to play this role! Alan Rickman's two duets with Johnny Depp are very well sung and Helena Bonham Carter has wanted to be Mrs. Lovett since she first saw the stage play when she was a child, so she OWNED her pieces. Ed Sanders, the boy who plays Toby, is just loveable enough that you sweat bullets when he is in jeopardy, as Mrs. Lovett croons a liltingly sweet song to him that echoes in the sewer, because YOU know she intends to do him in!

Be warned, there are disgusting body bits, hideous murders and....did I mention blood?

P.S. I Love You

Yup. It's a Chick Flick, but it's tough for me to evaluate. First of all, I really like Gerard Butler ("Dear Frankie" and "300"), so I wanted to SWOON...

As you already know from the trailers, Hillary Swank ("Million-Dollar Baby" and "Iron-Jawed Angels") is Holly, an American college student who is lucky enough to meet Gerry (Butler is Scottish, but playing Irish) on a country road while traveling the Emerald Isle.

Ten years later they have been married for a few years and she is in a snit because he said something to her mother played by Kathy Bates ("Green-Fried Tomatoes" and "Primary Colors") which implied that Holly was not yet ready for a baby. Even though it is true, Holly has a temper tantrum and Gerry tries his best to fix things. All of his attempts fail until he does a comic strip tease, which finally appeases her.

As you know, within two years he is dead of a brain tumor and she starts receiving mysterious letters and packages from him. He has anticipated her reaction to his death and is trying to help her from beyond the grave.

I particularly liked Daniel, played by Harry Connick Jr. ("Hope Floats" and "Little Man Tate") He seems to be suffering from a mild form of Asperger's, so he lacks the internal editor that most of us have which prevents us from blurting out little bits of hurtful truth. He explains to Holly that he is aware of it and is taking medication for it. She ponders that and says, "Pills to cure rudeness?"

Swank gives it all she's got; everyone is attractive; Ireland is appealing; Butler sings and clowns; Harry Connick Jr. is very funny; so why didn't I swoon? I'd have to (reluctantly) say it's a near miss. Maybe it's because the leads are so clearly playing beneath their regular game....Oh well, rent the DVD when it becomes available; you will still find it mildly entertaining...


Charlie Wilson's War

What is it about watching really smart people doing smart things while we in the audience--with benefit of 20/20 hindsight--know they are out- smarting themselves? Are we smug? Could we do better? I think I will want to own the DVD just for the pleasure of watching all those smart people doing all those smart things...smirk...

In the meantime, this movie has a LOT to recommend it. Great stars, starting with hard-drinking, womanizing, mildly corrupt Congressman Charlie Wilson himself, played by Tom Hanks ("The Da Vinci Code" and "The Terminal"), playing off the great, great Philip Seymour Hoffman ("The Savages" and "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead") cast as an angry operative who spent three years learning Finnish only to be assigned elsewhere. Hoffman actually has most of the funny lines. Those two guys did a spectacularly looooong single take, walking side by side, verbally sparring, strategizing and generally conducting Business As Usual in the approved Washington DC manner. Purely from an acting point of view, I haven't seen a single take that long in years! This was how they made movies in the old days: rehearse an entire scene and then shoot it from beginning to end. Performances these days are cobbled together in the editing room, but these two war horses showed the neophytes how it is done! I was dazzled!

The logic of what Charlie Wilson was trying to achieve was beyond reproach...arm the Afghanis so they could fight the Russians for us without providing arms that could be traceable to the United States. They cobbled together an unholy alliance among erstwhile Middle Eastern foes, by using a combination of coercion, bribery and smooth talking. In the approved arc of government funding, they took an initial $5M budget to $500M and watched as Afghani foot soldiers, finally armed with adequate (Russian) weaponry, brought down Russian aircraft and destroyed Russian tanks.

Julia Roberts ("Notting Hill" and "Erin Brockovich") is the glamorous (but not attractive) Texas socialite who initiates the scheme. She seems to be having a ball with her character's over-the-top clothes and jewelry, her big Texas hair, and her twang; spouting Baptist rhetoric and seeing her original meddling brought to official fruition. She and Hanks take turns fondling each other's tush as they exit their scenes.

Amy Adams ("Enchanted" and "Talladega Nights") is Congressman Wilson's able assistant and I was excited to see Emily Blunt ("The Devil Wears Prada" and "Dan in Real Life") as a constituent's daughter, but her character went nowhere.

A word to the wise, this movie has implied drug use and its share of nudity in the hot tub at the very beginning...up to and including Mr. H himself (but he'd better not quit his day job...).

This script is witty and full of dazzling minutiae (Un-clumping mascara with a safety pin? The names and calibers of various guns? Did Attorney General Rudy Giuliani ever nail Wilson?). 20/20 hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I had to admit to myself that had I been in the same situation, I would probably have done exactly the same thing and would have felt really good about it...right up to the time when I DIDN'T.

The Zen koan is excellent.
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For the preview:
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Les Diaboliques

The DVD for this intriguing French movie is VERY expensive in the catalogs, but Simone Signoret ("Room at the Top" and ("Guy de Maupassant") is mesmerizing as the mistress of a school administrator who is married to an ailing wealthy woman, played by Vera Clouzot ("Les Espions").

This little gem features a scruffy detective who might have provided the blueprint for American television's "Columbo." In European movies at the time (1955), people really COULD get away with murder...or could they?


Avenue Montaigne

This was a film I had promised to myself, based on the appealing trailers I saw in the theaters, but then I missed it and forgot about it. When I saw it on the Seattle Library DVD list, I jumped at the chance to finally see it.

This is a sweet little French pastry, a little flaky here and there, but tasty, just the same. It is written and directed by Daniele Thompson ("La Buche" and "Cousin, Cousine"), so in MY book, it comes highly recommended!

You follow a young women, newly arrived in Paris, heartsick, homeless and unemployed. She has an unfailingly upbeat kind of personality though, and makes the area around Avenue Montaigne  her new "neighborhood," first finding a job in the local restaurant, then scrambling for a place to stay and inadvertently assuming a part in the lives of the people who work (and eat) in the vicinity.

This is a theatre district, so you meet a slap-dash TV soap star who is doing a Feydeau comic romp but wants to play Simone de Beauvoir in a movie directed by Sydney Pollack (whom she confuses with Martin Scorsese!). She has a real knack for getting herself into embarrassing situations.

You meet a piano player who was originally a child prodigy and is now a world-renowned classical pianist...but who has become weary after a lifetime of dressing up, traveling, abiding by contracts and commitments. His wife has been his business manager, so if he retires, she will be unemployed.

You meet a self-made billionaire, a widowed taxi driver who, along with his late wife, had amassed a business empire and made a second career out of collecting modern art. He is preparing to auction off a lifetime of treasures.

You meet a woman who always wanted to be a performer but had no talent, so she worked behind the scenes in theatre all her life; she has met all the "greats," but is preparing to retire.

This is a Show Business sort of a show, with rehearsals, line readings, set decorations, backstage paraphernalia, egos, costume problems, you know the drill....

I enjoyed every minute of it.


Elvis, The Miniseries

In case any of you doubt the abilities of Jonathan Rhys Meyers ("Bend it Like Beckham," "Match Point" and "Vanity Fair,"), take a look at this 2005 STARZ television miniseries, the only biography authorized by the Presley family. Rhys Meyers won a well-deserved Golden Globe for his portrayal of The King that spans from his early days at Sun Records to his Las Vegas beginnings.

Along with Rhys Meyers, Camryn Manheim ("Dark Water," "An Unfinished Life" and a couple of TV series) is flawless as "Mama" Presley, doting on her Mama's Boy, Elvis, and Robert Patrick ("Shawshank Redemption" and "Terminator II") as Vernon Presley, the overlooked Daddy. Randy Quaid ("Brokeback Mountain" and "Goya's Ghosts") is absolutely smarmy as "Colonel" Tom Parker in all his devious glory.

My only disappointments were that Priscilla wasn't nearly as pretty in the movie as she was in real life and the actress playing Ann-Margret didn't come CLOSE!

Rhys Meyers has the voice, the delivery and the attitude down pat. He is close enough in his appearance that they were able to use clips of the real Elvis on occasion and it didn't grate. You see the beginnings of Elvis's "posse" and how he dealt with almost paralyzing stage fright. You also see the beginnings of his drug usage by doctor's prescriptions. He even had a Pharmacy Guide to keep from making any mistakes! You will appreciate that Rhys Meyers' lip-synching is spot on and his stage movements have been carefully learned.

I'll bet the rental places have this treasure. Give it a try!


The Golden Compass

...The Adventure Begins...

This is clearly Part 1. The end of the movie makes no bones about it, so I hope you are a fan of the book and have a glimmer about this story. In our jam-packed audience last night, there was a significant number of fans of the book. They knew the characters and cheered at the appropriate times. I was as interested by the audience as I was by the Computer Generated Imaging on the screen.

From book to screen, this project has had more ups and downs than a Duncan yoyo; the director was hired, fired and hired again. The adaptation was completed, thrown away, a new adaptation done but modified by the director; young voice actors hired and fired as their voices changed before filming started.

This world is very different from ours and quite complex. Each human is always accompanied by his or her own personal "daemon" who perishes when the human does; if the daemon is choked, the human suffers, etc., etc... The daemons for the men have female personas and vice versa. Ya got that? The main character, a charming little girl named Lyra, played by Dakota Blue Richards in her first film role, is accompanied by her daemon named Pantalaimon, voiced by Freddie Highmore ("August Rush" and "Finding Neverland"). She is entrusted with the eponymous Golden Compass by Lord Asrial, played by Daniel Craig ("Layer Cake" and "Casino Royale") who is in only two or three scenes. It is clear from the ending of the movie however, that he will be playing a significantly larger part in the next chapter.

The villainess is Marisa Coulter, played by Nichole Kidman ("Cold Mountain" and "Birthday Girl"). She is in cahoots with an organization called "The Majesterium" which is a thinly disguised version of the Catholic Church, as they do battle against "independent thought." The plan, which is very convoluted, seems to be that they are kidnapping children, and separating them from their daemons which is horrifying to all parties involved. There is an army of polar bears with the "head bear" (Did I just say that?), Iorek Byrnison, voiced by Ian McKellen ("X-Men" and "Lord of the Rings") leading the final charge into the final (CGI) battle of the movie. The voiceover makes it clear, however, that more battles are to come.

Actually, I thought I was in Narnia with Aslan the Lion, being voiced by Liam Neeson...which by the way, is coming out with its second chapter in 2008. They showed the trailers last night.

I think you had to be a fan of the book...


The Host - 2007

Here's another movie that is totally out of character for me to watch. I read so many glowing reviews of it when it was released in 2006 that I became curious, so when I saw it on the Seattle Public Library list, I decided to take a chance...

The opening scene takes place in a laboratory where the man in charge is instructing one of his underlings to dispose of some controlled substances by emptying them into a sink where they will drain into the Han river. After much debate, the underling is forced to do it and we know that something bad is gonna happen.

This is a Korean SciFi/Horror film that is definitely a notch above the regular run-of-the-mill movies of this ilk. The focus is on one small family: Grandpa runs a snack bar/food shack on one bank of the Han river. One of his sons is supposed to be helping him but he is truly a dim bulb, with a possible case of narcolepsy. Another son was given a college education but isn't sure what he's going to do with it. The daughter is a high-ranking amateur archer who, at the very beginning of the film, misses out on a gold medal and has to settle for a bronze. A ten-year-old granddaughter, the daughter of the dim bulb, helps grandpa with the snack bar and attends school.

This movie has two major assets: 1) The family members clearly love each other. You see them constantly nattering among themselves, arguing and quibbling, but as the chips go down, they will do anything for each other. 2) The film contains a LOT of humor, so as this family squabbles, even their contentiousness is humorous. Grandpa chides his son, saying he had to sell lots of "Pot Ramen" to put him through the university, so he hopes he'll find a job soon. Later in the film as the mutated monster is ransacking the waterfront, they take shelter back in the snack bar. After pouring boiling water into the containers, they all sit patiently, waiting for their ramen noodles to "cook." Then they peel back the tops, grab their chopsticks and dig in.

The movie takes place in contemporary Korea, so the ubiquitous cell phones play major roles, even when the batteries aren't fully charged. Bureaucratic bungles are typical of governments everywhere... In this movie, Korea is no different. The powers-that-be are off on a tangent, searching for a virus that doesn't exist and herding crowds of people into holding tanks where they can try to isolate it.

I suspected I'd like it when I started out with the extras and listened to the director apologizing to a number of people: Soccer fans in a scene that took ten takes and then they didn't use the scene. The two actors who played fishermen but their faces aren't clearly discernable. The actor who had to hang from the monster's tentacle through several painful takes. The actors who played technicians in hazmat suits but their faces are obscured. I saw many, many subtle bits in numerous scenes that might be overlooked but added to their authentic "feel" and more humor. The guy is a GOOD director!

No blowie uppie stuff, but exciting, just the same.


Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

For me to really enjoy a movie, there MUST be someone I can root for. I've thought long and hard about this one and the only character I felt even a smidgeon of empathy for was as messed up and cruel as the others. What a tragedy!

First of all, you have a sterling cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Capote" and "The Savages"), Ethan Hawke ("Hamlet" and "Before Sunset"), Albert Finney ("Tom Jones" and "Erin Brockovich"), plus LOTS of Marisa Tomei ("My Cousin Vinny" and "In the Bedroom"). The movie is directed by Sidney Lumet ("Running on Empty" and "Find Me Guilty") so who am I to find fault?

The two main characters in the movie are totally screwed up. Both of these adult brothers have fouled their own nests, have money troubles, and seem to be amoral as well. Their parents, despite being in their sixties, are still very much in love and dote on each other. Evidently their childrearing left something to be desired: they both showed preference for their more handsome son (Hawke) and this has resulted in BOTH sons being damaged. Hoffman is ambitious, needy and has a bad drug habit. Hawke is indolent, divorced and broke. He also has a drinking problem.

Tomei spends as much time nude as clothed in this thing! It's hard to believe how long it has been since "My Cousin Vinny" but she looks GREAT! She is married to one brother and having an affair with the other.

The plot, which is discussed in all the reviews, consists of the sons' plans to rob their parents' well-insured jewelry store, the idea being it would be a victimless crime. Because each son acts within the constraints of his own personality, the thing goes horribly wrong.

I can't recommend it as entertainment, but this is a bloody, tragic and extremely well-acted movie.