9 items from 2015
Twenty years ago today, Bryan Singer, the director of the “good X-Men movies” (read: all of them except X3), and writer Christopher McQuarrie (Mission: Impossible – Rogue One) rounded up five thieves for the heist of the 90’s. It all starts out with a seemingly harmless lineup, but Keyser Söze – bogeyman of the criminal underworld – has very specific (and sinister) plans for The Usual Suspects’ Dean Keaton (Gabriel Byrne), McManus (Stephen Baldwin), Fenster (Benicio del Toro), Hockney (Kevin Pollak), and Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey). Bonus points to Singer for casting Giancarlo Esposito (“Breaking Bad”’s Gus Fring), who looks ridiculously young as one of the FBI agents after Keyser Söze.
From pool sharks and grifters to tricksters, card cheats and American hustlers, here’s our rundown of the most memorable con artists in movie history.
Warning: Spoilers ahead.
One of the finest fraudster films to ever »
- Daniel Bettridge
Marc Streitenfeld — the composer of “Prometheus,” “American Gangster” and the upcoming “Poltergeist” — can trace his musical roots back to a 19th-century troubadour whose family was executed after he wrote a song mocking the emperor of Germany.
“Which is funny, you know?” he says, laughing in his spacious, comfortable Venice, Calif., studio just days after completing the mix for the “Poltergeist” soundtrack. “That’s the only family musical connection I can find.”
It must have been enough.
The 40-year-old German native has joined the ranks of billion-dollar composers with five films for director Ridley Scott, including “Gangster” and “Prometheus,” and four more for other directors including “The Grey,” “Killing Them Softly” and “After the Fall.” He’s now scoring the series “Hand of God” for Amazon.
It seems like a meteoric rise, considering he’s only been composing for nine years. But this ex-guitarist has been working in various capacities in »
- Jon Burlingame
Read More: Exclusive Poster from SXSW Film 'Mania Days' is Like a Psychedelic Dream Roadside Attractions has acquired distribution rights for Paul Dalio's debut film "Touched With Fire" (previously entitled "Mania Days"), with Spike Lee serving as an executive producer. Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby ("Take This Waltz") star in this deeply emotional drama as two bipolar poets who meet in a psychiatric hospital. When their paths cross, they find themselves exploring all different dimensions of their condition until they are put to the ultimate test of choosing between sanity and love. Griffin Dunne ("Dallas Buyers Club"), Christine Lahti ("Swing Shift") and Bruce Altman ("Matchstick Men") also co-star alongside Holmes and Kirby in the film. The film premiered at SXSW earlier this year, and was a critical and audience favorite particularly because of Katie Holmes' powerful and stirring performance. "'Touched with Fire' »
- Sarah Choi
Ridley Scott is well known as a prolific and versatile director with a deft visual modus operandi. His filmography, full of unforgettable classics, solid efforts and utterly forgettable mediocrities, amounts to a mixed bag over the last four decades. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a video tribute to Scott’s vast body of work is equally awe-inspiring and awkward. Vimeo user Martin Kessler switches from Hildegard of Bingen’s groovy 12th Century church tunes to Public Enemy’s “Can’t Truss It" while quickly editing tons of quality footage from Scott’s oeuvre. Of course there are a butt load of images from “Blade Runner” and “Alien," and the tribute begins with the famous Rutger Hauer speech from the former. What’s refreshing to see is that Kessler also gives some love to underrated Scott flicks like “Matchstick Men” and “Body of Lies." We also get »
- Oktay Ege Kozak
Ridley Scott has worked in many genres over his career —period pieces (“The Duellists”), war movies (“Black Hawk Down”), con man movies (“Matchstick Men”), sword and sandal epics ( “Gladiator”) and even soggy, feel-good pap (“A Good Year”). Last year’s “Exodus: Gods and Kings” had a small faction of staunch vocal supporters, but his landmark sci-fi masterwork “Blade Runner” marks the last time the director made a film that could credibly be described as visionary. I’ll never forget the first time I saw the film on VHS: the images of those towering, terrifying billboards adorned with ghastly, smiling faces burned into my impressionable young mind forever. Woefully misunderstood upon its 1982 release, Scott’s film has since found a devoted following: in fact, a sequel has recently been announced —it's to be directed by “Enemy" and "Prisoners" helmer Denis Villeneuve and with Harrison Ford confirmed to reprise his terrifically grizzled turn as. »
- Nicholas Laskin
It’s the first acting gig for Hirsch following his Jan. 25 arrest for allegedly choking a female executive at the Sundance Film Festival. Hirsch checked into a rehab facility following the incident and is due in court on March 15.
Im Global’s Octane genre division will fully finance “Jane Doe.” Producers are Fred Berger (“La La Land”) and Eric Garcia (“Matchstick Men”) under their Impostor Pictures banner with Rory Aitken and Ben Pugh at their 42 shingle.
Cox and Hirsch will play father and son coroners who receive a mysterious homicide victim with no apparent cause of death. »
- Dave McNary
Exclusive: Emile Hirsch (Lone Survivor) and Brian Cox (The Bourne Identity) have signed on to star as co-leads in The Autopsy Of Jane Doe, the English-language debut of Norwegian director Andre Øvredal (Trollhunter). Stuart Ford’s sales-finance-production powerhouse Im Global will fully finance the film through its Octane genre label. Fred Berger (La La Land) and Eric Garcia (Matchstick Men) produce under their Impostor Pictures banner alongside Rory Aitken and Ben Pugh… »
In Focus, Will Smith's first film since 2013, the superstar plays Nicky, a long-time conman who is planning his last big score, but ends up reuniting with a con woman who he trained years before.
The film, which performed mildly at the box office in its debut this weekend, joins the ranks of Hollywood's long love affair with the art of the con.
In celebration of this newest entry in the grifter genre, here are nine of the best conman movies ever made.
(Note: This list doesn't include movies about heists that happen to involve conmen -- i.e. Ocean's Eleven or The Heist -- just films that celebrate the age of tradition of swindling.)
9. Matchstick Men (2003): Nicholas Cage and Sam Rockwell play con artists who are planning one of the biggest scams of their careers. Things get complicated when Cage's teenage daughter shows up and »
In the midst of veteran con man Nicky’s latest scheme, a woman from his past – now an accomplished femme fatale – shows up and throws his plans for a loop.
The fundamental problem with films like Focus lays in how many similar films like Focus you may have seen. You know exactly what you’re in for (namely, a con) but the fun is always in how the con is pulled off and how the film can gain the confidence of the audience only to trick us at the end. Unfortunately, even if you’ve seen just one similar film chances are it’s far better than this.
When I think of all the best con artist movies I »
- Gary Collinson
9 items from 2015
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