Take a ride through the life and memories of Barney Panofsky, a hard-drinking, cigar-smoking, foulmouthed 65-year old hockey fanatic and television producer, as he reflects on his life's successes and (numerous) gaffes and failures as the final chapters of his own existence come sharply into focus. Written by
The TV studio cameras shown in the latter part of the film, time assumed as probably the 1980's, were modern ped, CCD cameras. Real cameras in their day would have been old plumbicon cameras, which were bulkier. The lenses too were not of their time, they are too modern. See more »
Blair, I'd like to speak with my wife.
Oh, Barney, it's 3:00 in the morning.
Put my wife on the phone.
She's not your wife and I'm not waking her.
All right. Well, then just ask her what she wants me to do with all these nude photos I have of her. Ah, come to think of it, you actually might want them, if only to see what Miriam looked like in her prime.
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Giamatti has got to be the plainest looking leading man out there; yet, his acting ability transcends his anti-matinée idol physiognomy by a significant amount. And, remembering "Sideways," there is nobody who can play a guy half-in-the-bag nearly as well. HIs facial expressions, comic timing, and the way in which he delivers his lines are just brilliant (and if you think he can only do comic turns, see HBO's "John Adams"). Yet, every scene that he was in with Dustin Hoffman, Hoffman stole! The director (Richard J. Lewis) is able to get everything from this very talented cast, and puts together a movie that never drags, is easy to follow even though it uses the flashback, and is punctuated with several laugh-out-louds.
Giamatti's character--although a cad in some ways--manages to also be quite endearing, and character development in the whole movie is excellent. We know these people...some of them are in our family, some are friends or perhaps, live next door. To be sure, there is a Jewish aspect to the individuals and story (it's pretty hard to divorce that aspect from anything Richler has written), but all the issues are universal. If Woody Allen had done this movie, there would have been endless navel gazing, and the characters would have been more 2-dimensional (just a mind game I played since the characters and the themes are similar to those that The Woodman deals with).
At any rate, this is a brilliantly constructed examination of a life that is enjoyable and entertaining; also, a great movie to see and have dinner afterwards so all those who saw it with you could discuss--a lot of meat for that. But, if it's not on a big screen within 30 miles of you, it will play very well on the small screen in a few months; but certainly go out of your way to see it.
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