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Swordfish, Tailor of Panama and The Man Who Cried: 3 Short Reviews
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Swordfish
starring: John Travolta, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle

by david

One hour, 39 minutes. Explosions. Machine guns. Car chases. Computer hacking. Barbarino. Wolverine. Halle Berry's tits. Swordfish is my fucking dream movie.

I will admit that, while I insisted on seeing this movie in its opening weekend, I had serious doubts that it would be any good. Travolta has been, well, a bit of a boob of late. Jackman, while great in his first US appearance as Wolverine in X-Men, is early enough in his career to be ripe for a really bad action flick. Cheadle has made some seriously excellent films in the past -- it is about time for a stinker. And, while I was looking forward to seeing Halle Berry's breasts, I've never really looked forward to seeing Halle Berry act.

Fortunately, I was very pleasantly surprised. The flick was great ? wonderfully timed and shot in a most pleasing and entertaining (if a bit eccentric) fashion. The plot is good and engaging, even though the "hacking" bits are weak, extremely so in some cases. The absurdity of some of the computer stuff can be easily excused, though, by realizing that, for the average movie-going audience, watching some geek typing furiously in 25 open command prompts on a patched-together Linux box is not all that captivating. And the rest of the film is just so, well, tight that it just doesn't matter. Travolta is good, if a bit cartoonish, and Hugh Jackman continues to show himself a solid and likable actor. Halle Berry is passable ? she does a good job most of the time, but other times she is clearly trying so hard to act that it hurts. And the real stars of the movie are the action sequences which I think may well be without peer this summer (we'll see when Planet of the Apes appears). This is the best action flick I've seen since in quite some time ? I recommend it highly.

A word about Berry's boobs. They are lovely ? no question ? round and perky. But they are totally unnecessary in this movie ? they have no relevance to the scene in which they are shown at all. If the producers really did pay Berry $500,000 to show them, they were out of their minds. If you go in expecting a steamy, sexual scene in which Berry bares it all, you'll be disappointed. Just letting you know ahead of time.

Tailor of Panama
starring: Pierce Brosnan, Geoffrey Rush, Jamie Lee Curtis

by jeremy

I saw Tailor of Panama last night. I really liked it. Unfortunately, it got almost no attention whatsoever. It's John Boorman's re-entry into show business and it stars Pierce Brosnan, Geoffrey Rush, and Jamie Lee Curtis. Brosnan is awesome, playing a very diabolical character. Rush is terrific, as always, and Curtis is solid. I was especially pleased at being able to see Curtis' boobies--twice! Pierce got to cup one of them very firmly. It must have been nice.

As for the story, it's kind of a Wag the Dog meets the Human Factor. You probably all know Wag the Dog (if you don't, go rent it. now.). The Human Factor is a 70's film based on a Graham Greene novel. It stars Nicol Williamson, Derek Jacobi, Richard Attenborough, and several other great English actors. It's about the Africa division of MI6, which as I'm sure you all know is Britain's CIA. Anyway, Tailor of Panama is John LeCarre, whose work overall doesn't impress me that much, but this screenplay is strong and was very craftily done. After having lived and worked in countries with intrigue and corruption on this level, seeing Panama in this light was readily comprehensible.

I imagine that some intelligence people would say that Tailor of Panama couldn't happen the way it's presented in the movie, the same way I say that Wag the Dog could never happen to the extent it happened in that film. I won't say anymore because I don't want to ruin anything, but I'm sure you'll enjoy it. At the very least you can appreciate Jamie Lee Curtis' breasts.

the Man Who Cried
starring: Christina Ricci, Cate Blanchett, John Tuturo, Johnny Depp

by david

I'm trying to see more indie films. Sometimes, I pay my money, go into one of Los Angeles' many small "arthouse" theaters, and come out 2-3 hours later cursing myself, the director, the theater, and that guilty part of my actor soul that insists I try to support independent works. But, sometimes I see a movie like The Man Who Cried that makes all those lost hours seem more meaningful.

The film is about a young Russian Jewish girl whose father leaves for America to make money for his family in the 1920s, just months before the Jews begin to be driven out of Russia. When her village is burned, she (about 5 years old) and her brothers set off for America. They run out of money quickly and she ends up adopted by an English family. Her dreams of saving money enough to go to America and find her father never fade, and take her from England to France, where she performs first as a dancing girl, and then as an opera chorus girl, and meets a beautiful Russian wannabe socialite (Blanchett), a self-important opera singer (Tuturo) and a displaced Gypsy (Depp). While all this is going on, Naziism is sweeping across Europe, and her Jewish heritage begins to catch up to her.

Acting in this movie is superb, sometimes heartbreaking. The writing is really solid, too, as is the direction, but it is truly the actors who steal this film. While there are barely 20 pages of dialogue in this movie, all of these actors take the long silences and wring them for everything they've got. They are captivating, all, and I'd pay to watch any one of them (including the little Hungarian girl who plays Ricci's character at 5) shopping for canned goods at the supermarket.

This movie really does make up for all of those crappy films (indie and studio) that have stolen hours and hours from my life. Plus, I'm a little in love with Ricci, and think it is important we all support her career. You should go see it.

end of essay
David Nett Portrait David is an actor, writer and producer in Los Angeles. He's the founder and editor-in-chief of CSP, and a founding producer of the acclaimed Lucid by Proxy theater company. Despite all this, he still has to hold down a day job in the dot-com world, where he does product and interaction design. His acting has been called "committed," "detailed," "fearless," "hilarious" and "heart-rending" by the LA Times and Backstage West. His writing has been called "articulate and commanding" and "eminently readable" by Flak Magazine. His tenth grade Geometry teacher said he "does not work well in groups." | more essays by David
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