Comedic fireworks do not stop. Everybody's great. Greg Kinnear, Tea Leoni, Kristen Wiig (absolute riot!). Beautiful cinematography by Fred Murphy: fall in New York has rarely been seen so gorgeous! Awesome script and direction by David Koepp.
Some of the best moments:
Gwen: So, you hate crowds? Dr. Pincus: not so much the crowds, but individual people in them
Dr. Pincus: Yeah. So, um, how would you extract information from a hostile? Dr. Prashar: Well... as a... Hindu person... I would just... ask him... politely...
Dr. Pincus: So, when did you get the horse?
This one's a keeper. Saw this in the cinema, got it on DVD for multiple viewing pleasures.
P.S. Don't waste time on seeing the original '30s "Topper" with Cary Grant. It's a very loose structure for "Ghost Town" and it's a dud.
First, the script and structure. It's 1 hour long exposition when a viewer is just bombarded with very thinly motivated events. Frank Lucas is the bodyguard, driver and sometime enforcer of some crime boss, then his boss dies. Lucas makes a phone call to Thailand and goes there and gets wads of horse. All of sudden without any interference from drug-overlords he becomes a major purveyor of best heroin, which sells for half-market price. At the same time, a story told million times before about a good cop within corrupt police environment, who has some family troubles. Secondly, the acting. Washington just can't play mean types. He lacks a mean streak in him. It's simply unconvincing, especially when in crisis he starts mumbling something frenetically. And this guy shoots a competing gangster in the face in the middle of busy street (again without any consequences). And Crowe just doing his Crowe thing - nervous wrecked action man thing. Thirdly, pretentious attempts to give the whole thing some historical context. Constant reminders of Vietnam war going on in the background. It's so cliché. Was it so necessary to pipe this thing every 15 min or so of valuable screen time? And last but not least, putting an air of deep message behind this razzle-dazzle with statements about America, American dream, etc. It's been done many many times before with much more effective results.
On P.S. Hoffman as Capote. Truman Capote with his queeny mannerisms and lisp voice is an easy target for a character actor like Hoffman. So, what does he actually do with this material? He just replays his ostentatious gay character in "Flawless". Besides the lack of drag outfits, there's not much difference. This would do fine on a comedy show like SNL, but on a feature-length movie, it becomes annoying.
Overall, I would expected much more subtlety and, dare I say, "depth" in portrayal of such a complex individual as Truman Capote.
Based on an enormous praise from the critics and IMDb comments, I had very high expectations before I came to the cinema. Critics were ranting about a deep message on the inherent violent nature that lies under the surface of a common man in America, about a subversive method of violence exploitation in that film. Unfortunately, I did not find in the film anything like that.
The movie is based on a century old formula of a seemingly simple family man, who is forced to meet face to face with his dark violent past. Cronenberg managed to pull some weird laughs out of combination of gory violence and humor. This comes off like something really funny if you forget that Tarantino and many of his followers pulled this kind of tricks a little while ago.
Granted, the story is told very well. Short outbursts of violence and sex are interlaced with spare moments of small-town ordinary life. The actors are all excellent. Viggo Mortensen is very good as coffee-shop keeper and a family man with a dark past, as well as all supporting characters. Ed Harris and William Hurt give outstanding performances as ruthless bad guys. But all this doesn't add up to a truly great picture. Just a fairly good modern film-noir, done with competent hands. One must have a whole different movie in his head to come up with the conclusions and generalizations that many critics came up with.
Ultimately, the movie leaves you empty-handed, or empty-minded as a middle-of-the road thriller, high on promise and low on delivery.
My rating: 6 out of 10.