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As youths in Azusa, Vinnie, Carter, and Rosie pull off a racing scam, substituting winners for plodders and winning big bucks on long odds. When an official uncovers the scam, they set him ... See full summary »
This is a dramatic, narrative film by Martin Bell, the director of the excellent documentary "Streetwise". And while it is obvious Bell was a little uncomfortable with the narrative format, it is one of the few independent films of the 1990's that doesn't suffer from the Quentin Tarantino syndrome--i.e. it is not just a pastiche of other movies the director has seen. It's clear Bell based a lot of this movie on real life. In fact, many of the characters here were obviously based on real people in "Streetwise"--the kid and his ex-con father, the tomboy lesbian, the 14-year-old amateur hooker. The movies suffers a little in comparison to early Gus Van Sant films ("Mala Noche","Drugstore Cowboy", "My Own Private Idaho")which had similar down-and-out characters and were also set in the American Northwest. But many will find this film refreshingly honest and less pretentious, at least, than some of Van Sant's films.
What really makes this film is the acting. It marked Jeff Bridges return to independent film (five or six years before "The Big Lebowski"), and his performance here makes one forgive him for the Hollywood crap he made in the 80's like "Against All Odds". Edward Furlong is also very good. I remember reading some alarmist claptrap about him in Premiere magazine around the time of this movie, about how he was dating a 30-year-old woman (oh, the horror! the horror!) and about to become another young Hollywood casualty. Well, starting with this film he ended up carving a nice little niche for himself in independent film (i.e. "Pecker", "Animal Factory"). Turns out that just because you're not starring in "Terminator 3" it doesn't necessarily mean you're sharing needles in a crack house with guys named Corey and girls named Shannen. And as a little icing on the cake this movie has a great Tom Waits theme song which you can't find any of his albums. Definitely a recommended movie.
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