SPOILER ALERT !!
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with gobs of reviews from the SEATTLE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, which seems to have been kicking all kinds of ass lately. Below you’ll find our man Vern’s look at a flick from Clooney and Soderbergh’s production company, Section 8, called CRIMINAL. I love me some John C. Reilly and Diego Luna is fast becoming one of my favorite young actors after his groundbreaking performance in Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN and his love-struck puppy dog character in THE TERMINAL… Not that I have seen that yet… ahem… Here’s Vern for more on this damn cool sounding flick!
I’m sure you’ll get more reviews on this one so I’ll keep this one short. Also because I’m a chump and haven’t ever seen NINE QUEENS, the picture from the land of Argentina which this is a remake of. Anyway CRIMINAL is the americanized version which premiered tonight in Seattle. The movie stars John C. Reilly (who was there) and Diego Luna. It’s directed by this guy Greg Jacobs, who was assistant director on an assload of Steve Soderbergh movies, but this is his first as a non-assistant director.
Like I said, I’m too ignorant to tell you how this compares to the original picture, but I’m gonna guess it holds up pretty well. It’s a very well made con man picture. Your usual story about one con man taking a young rookie under his wing and showing him the ropes. This time Reilly has graduated from the student role he played in HARD EIGHT and this time he’s the teacher, or the yoda in Newsie language. This is a different kind of role for this guy who is so good at playing dumb guys. In person he seems like he’s much sharper than he usually plays and he is in this movie too, passing himself off as a business man to pull small cons that build to a larger and more complex one involving counterfeits of rare currency.
Like I was saying just the other day, con man pictures are a genre where you pretty much know what’s gonna happen from the beginning. You don’t know what all the specific cons are gonna be and you don’t always know who ultimately will get fucked over in the end, but you get the basic gyst of it from frame 1. But if it is executed well enough you don’t care. It is always enjoyable. And this one is well executed.
Reilly does a great job in the lead, as does Mr. Luna (apparently he is a hunk now, I thought he was a nerd in Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN [or FUCK YOU AND THE HORSE YOU RODE IN ON in english]) as his young student, and Maggie Gylenhaal is in there also as Reilly’s sister. Also there is a hotel and in one part they chase a dude through the street. There is a fence that gets climbed. It is the kind of huge action movie that audiences love, in my opinion.
Actually I’m jerkin your chain on that last part, what I like actually is this is the kind of small, down to earth crime movie I’ve been yearning for lately (although this is a straight con picture and not a tough guy picture. No arms get broken and no teeth get swallowed. But you can’t win ’em all). I love Soderbergh’s crime movies especially THE LIMEY but also OUT OF SIGHT, and their influence on this one is clear. (Soderbergh and G. Clooney are also executive producers). The Jacobs styles is very natural, lots of hand held camera (but not the kind that makes you puke), all shooting on real locations with people walking around that appear to be real people, not extras. When you see a shot of people on a bus or when there are two dudes standing in the background holding skateboards, it looks like they just happened to be there, not like it was set up for a movie. It is a very L.A. kind of movie, not in the sense that there are dudes with ponytails walking around talking loudly on their cell phone about “blah blah blah ICM very talented blah blah blah,” but in the sense that you really get the feel of L.A. in the scenery and the people. Which is probaly the main way this differs from the original, is my guess.
Also the music is bouncy and funky, I was sure it was David Holmes who did OUT OF SIGHT and OCEAN’S 11, but it turned out to be another guy who shall not be named. (Because I don’t know his name. Tough luck, bud. But you did well.)
Anyway, enough out of me, but this is a solid crime picture and must see for John C. Reilly fans. I hope Greg Jacobs will keep directing although I’m sure he’s good at assisting too. Not that Soderbergh should go around on his own not being assisted, I’m not saying that. I’m just saying this guy is good and shows promise and what not.
Originally posted at Ain’t-It-Cool-News: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/17781
View the archived Ain’t-It-Cool-News Talkback
June 14, 2004, 3:53 a.m. CST
June 14, 2004, 4:17 a.m. CST
A ‘Criminal’ ending
I won’t spoil anything of course, but although I really dug Nine Queens, I felt the ending took it just that one step too far. If the film would have ended at the bank, it would have made a much bigger impact. Then again, most of the film wouldn’t really have mattered, but still. Also, while I love Reilly, I can’t quite picture him in this, since he’s such a different character than the guy who played the role originally. But hey, I’m ready to be pleasantly surprised by officer Jim Kurring!
June 14, 2004, 5:47 a.m. CST
just saw a little bit of Garden State on “anatomy of a scene” on the sundance channel, looks like it’s gonna be entertaining, seems very good for a first time director, and natalie portman? i’m there
June 14, 2004, 12:05 p.m. CST
Check out a film from last year’s SIFF.
by Optimus Prime
My horror/comedy short eRATicate played SIFF and many other festivals last year. Check it out online at: eraticate.com – I know you’ll enjoy it!
June 14, 2004, 8:09 p.m. CST
saw Reilly at a noodle house in L.A. several months ago…
anyone that bows out of a Von Trier project has to be slightly crazy
June 14, 2004, 8:40 p.m. CST
Hadn’t watched cable in 8 years…
and then one month Time Warner offered a few months free so I ran my own personal project to find something entertaining on TV (since everything on basic cable sucked 8 years ago). Well, it was interesting, yet not surprising, to find that basic cable still sucked as it had years ago. But there were a few gems and “Scrubs” actually stuck out out the most from dung heap out there. If trailers can be any indication, it seems that Garden State is, at the very least, honest. I’ll drop the 100 bucks for the opener ticket. Hopefully I wont be let down.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.