Saturday, December 5, 2009


It's Saturday night, and I'm just not feeling writing a big, involved blog. I thought I'd drop another underrated film from the 90's, although this one's hardly unknown like Kicking and Screaming. It's one of the "new classics" on TNT, so there's your stamp of approval.

What's it got going for it? Let me count the ways.

1. Aaron Sorkin wrote it. You know what else he wrote? The tv shows Sportsnight and The West Wing. The movies An American President, Charlie Wilson's War, and a little indie you might have heard of called A Few Good Men. Interested yet?

2. Okay, well how about Nicole Kidman and Alec Baldwin in their physical primes and at the top of their games? Kidman's never been sexier, and Baldwin's at the peak of his arrogant prowess. Even the normally innocuous Bill Pullman acquits himself nicely as the cuckold-turned-avenger husband.

3. The supporting players may be even better. George C. Scott, Bebe Neuwirth (Lilith from Cheers), and Peter Gallagher turn in solid performances, and there's even a "Hey, isn't that...?" moment with a dirty blonde Gwyneth Paltrow. But the late, great Anne Bancroft steals the show as a bitter, alcoholic hermit. She gets off a couple great lines with her raspy purr, including "Single malt scotch. That was classy, mistah. I haven't had single malt since '79." After playing a card trick on Pullman, she shows him what a rube he is by growling "Then how come I got the jack of clubs in my fuckin' pocket!" She also begins the third act of the film with a grudging smile as she congratulates him, "Welcome to the game."

4. It's a film noir movie with plot twists that doesn't fall apart on repeated viewings. The surprises are subtly foreshadowed, and you'll notice things you didn't notice the first time. It doesn't disintegrate with inconsistencies, and the characters behave in a fashion that makes sense. Just a clever, tight little screenplay.

5. Anyone who knows anything about film knows that Baldwin's greatest scene ever is this one from Glengarry Glen Ross. But his monologue in Malice is pretty damn good, too.

Nolanometer final grade: B+


Mama Worker Bee said...

Gotta say, I saw this one in the theaters when I was a freshman in college and I didn't enjoy it then. I thought Pullman was a wimp and nicole was just aching to be a star, trying so hard to do some serious acting (her best movie in my opinion...dead calm. check it out). But perhaps it deserves a new viewing. we shall see.

Nolan said...

I love "Dead Calm!" Have it saved on my dvr.

Kaboom32 said...

I haven't seen this. But Alex Baldwin is the man. Also, I spent Thanksgiving watching the run of Sports night, so I'm on a bit of an Aaron Sorkin kick. I'll Netflix queue this one.

Lance Christian Johnson said...

I remember seeing this one in the theater and liking it. That was like, hella long time ago. It might have even been back in "the day".