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Jimmy the Saint's business is videotaping the terminally-ill, so that they will be around to give 'Afterlife Advice' to their survivors. He hasn't been doing too well lately and has had to turn to loan-sharks to accomodate his failing business, as well as his expensive personal tastes. When an evil gangster-overlord buys up his note and demands a favor of Jimmy, in exchange for the interest that he can't afford, Jimmy capitulates. Jimmy is to scare someone for the gangster-overlord--really rough them up. Without giving too much away (spoiler), the scene goes down badly and Jimmy and his crew all end up with contracts on their heads for their trouble. Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
It would be hard to dislike a film that opens with a Tom Waits tune and gives hitherto typecast actors a chance to, oh, I don't know: Act. First, Andy Garcia. What can I say about Andy? He's an attractive guy who all too often gets slated to play "the attractive guy." (His shamefully undeveloped character from Ocean's Eleven comes to mind). In this little indy film he gets a chance to actually embody a character and not simply be Andy Garcia (with capital letters). Then there's his love interest, Gabrielle Anwar (who elevated the already immortal tango in Scent of a Woman). Poor Anwar has been plagued with a lot of stock roles in lame movies since then, but here, like Garcia, she gets to explore her role and show the audience she can do more than make "hey I'm famous. Where's my check?" Al Pacino look good on the dance floor. Also fantastic are Treat Williams, Steve Buscemi, and Christopher Walken (who bests his Annie Hall AND Pulp Fiction cameos). The story is simple: Andy's character is an ex-mob guy who's gone legit then pulled back in for one last job, things go wrong, and he's got 2 days before he's going to be killed. In many hands this would be a B movie, but the writing is so clever and unique that this excessively played mob-movie thing seems like it's done for the first time. There are as many quotable lines in this film as any cult classic; my favorites include: "I knew the kid was lunchy, but not that lunchy." and meeting Anwar's character for the first time: "What's your name?" "Dagney." "Dagney? Wonderful name. Everyone should know a Dagney."
If you like films like Usual Suspects that combine the action genre with actual thought and character development rent this film and see if you can watch it only once. In the same ballpark try Way Of The Gun with Benicio Del Toro and Ryan Phillippe, another film where "pretty boys" are actually allowed to explore their craft of acting.
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