Sounds far more interesting than it really is, and as the lead villain, Gene Hackman gets far too little screen time. Prime Cut is Lee Marvin's story, the mob enforcer sent from Chicago to collect half a million dollars in debts from Hackman's "Mary Ann," and decides to rescue poor Poppy (Sissy Spacek in her first speaking role) from Mary Ann's clutches.
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Despite the massive amounts of boob time in Heartbreakers, the film delivers all the goods of a solid comedic vehicle. Max (Weaver) and Page (Hewitt) are a mother/daughter team who swindle rich guys out of their dollars in a con involving matrimony vows, extramarital trysts, and divorce settlements. Sort of like a cross between Anywhere but Here and The Grifters. With the IRS hot on their proverbial tails, the duo team up for one last job, bilking cigarette tycoon William B. Tensy (Gene Hackman) out of his cash. Alas, during the con job, Page ends up falling in love with a local bar owner (Jason Lee), a dead body ends up in their trunk, Princess Leia shows up as a divorce attorney, and a jilted ex-husband (Ray Liotta) shows up waving a gun and advising group therapy for everyone.
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The use of flashbacks is interesting and unique -- replaying scenes over and over with a different spin. And the film truly keeps you guessing, though it goes out of the way to make Hackman look guilty. But what's up with the nonsense ending?
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If you can deal with the notion of Hugh Grant as a doctor, you've probably suspended disbelief enough to buy the whole production. Dr. Guy Luthan (Grant) finds a mystery patient in his trauma room at Gramercy Hospital. When the patient dies from a bizarre collection of symptoms, no one seems to care except for the dashing British doc.
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But movies like The Spanish Prisoner, Things Change, and The Winslow Boy display a roundness to Mamet's innate abilities. And it's almost a crime to witness how all of that goes awry in his latest film, Heist.
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We pick up the story with Los Angeles detective Harry Moseby (Gene Hackman), a P.I. who's hired by a wealthy woman to track down her runaway daughter (Melanie Griffith in her first speaking part and already taking off her clothes), who's run off to the Florida Keys. Almost at random, a secondary plot develops, involving a murderous movie stunt coordinator. Meanwhile, Harry's wife is cheating on him, and Harry confronts the guy on at least two different occasions.
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Or not. The Mexican has the distinction of being a romance that manages to keep its lovey-dovey costars further apart than any film since Sleepless in Seattle. Not that there was any way around it. Brad Pitt's Jerry is a completely hapless bagman for a shifty mob boss (Bob Balaban), sent from L.A. to Mexico to retrieve the titular objet d'art -- an antique pistol.
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Enemy of the State stars Will Smith as Robert Dean, an attorney who is handed a video tape by an old friend running for his life, who just happened to come across Smith in a lingerie store. The problem? It shows an NSA agent killing a congressman. The mastermind behind that murder and others to come is agent Reynolds (Jon Voight). The NSA has Dean's life under 24-hour surveillance. They have bugs in his pants, his cell phone, his pen, (is this beginning to sound familiar?) Dean's only chance of survival is a man named Brill, an acquaintance he used for some of his cases. Gene Hackman plays Brill, and his character is the guy who is just so darn convenient to have around in the time of crisis.
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Thick with director Wes Anderson's unique brand of laughing-on-the-inside irony, "The Royal Tenenbaums" is a bittersweet comedy of bourgeoisie dysfunction in a family of failed prodigies.
The Tenenbaum children each excelled so extraordinarily in their youth that life as adults might be disappointing even if being abandoned by their petulant, pejorative father (Gene Hackman at his grumpy greatest as Royal Tenenbaum) hadn't caused them all to crash and burn psychologically.
Pouty, introverted misery junkie Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow) was an acclaimed playwright in 9th grade. But now in her early 30s, she's moving back home because ennui has taken over her mirthless marriage.
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One would think there could be no way to freshen up a plot as shopworn as the "one last big heist before retirement." By all rights, this should be the stuff of straight-to-video B movies by now.
But this year has seen three such pictures so intelligent, intricate and resourceful that by their very diversity they prove there's a lot of life left in the genre -- if a movie is in the right hands.
Robert De Niro, Edward Norton and Marlon Brando staged a break-in at the Montreal Customs House in thrilling, high-gloss "The Score." Ben Kingsley and Ray Winstone faced off as rival cockney toughs working a bank job in the edgy, oily "Sexy Beast." And now comes "Heist" -- a gritty, exhilaratingly tense thriller that benefits from a most elaborate array of rapid-fire twists and the sharp, delicious, cadence of dialogue by writer-director David Mamet.
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There are enough holes in the legal minutia of "Runaway Jury" to keep anyone with a law degree laughing from beginning to end. But for the rest of us, this fast-paced thriller's twist-crescendo-ing plot and sharp performances should at least delay the feeling of being duped until after the credits roll.
Another popcorny courtroom concoction from a John Grisham novel, the movie is a sensationalized peek into jury tampering during a big-money wrongful-death suit filed against an assault-weapon manufacturer after a workplace shooting.
The film wears its politics on its sleeve: the rich, cigar-smoking, unrepentant gun industry honchos have hired an unscrupulous jury consultant (deliciously iniquitous Gene Hackman) with the high-tech means to dig up dirt and create graphic-intensive computer-screen portfolios on everybody who received a jury summons for the case.
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Keanu Reeves has finally begun to realize what kinds of roles he's right for: grunt cop in "Speed," computer hacker dude in "The Matrix," and now, a rise-to-the-occasion substitute football hero in "The Replacements."
He's perfect for the quarterback role in this entirely predictable but utterly entertaining gridiron comedy about a mixed bag of working class joes and forgotten college football stars rounded up to play again by an NFL team when their spoiled millionaire players go on strike.
Washed-up collegiate rocket-arm Shane Falco (Reeves) is living on a beat-up houseboat and makes a living scraping barnacles off the bottom of yachts when coach Jimmy McGinty (an ideally-cast Gene Hackman) comes calling, hoping Falco will don shoulder pads and a helmet once again and lead the fictional Washington Sentinels through the last four games of their unfinished season.
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"Welcome to Mooseport" is a fusty, rusty, laugh-track-lame comedy about two petty, immature men running for mayor of the same stereotypically idyllic small town and vying for the affections of the same apparently undiscriminating small-town woman.
One of them (an unusually humdrum Gene Hackman) is the newly termed-out President of the United States, who has retired to the little Maine burg and enters the race as a PR stunt that goes awry. The other (torpid TV star Ray Romano) is a plumber who owns the local hardware store and hasn't the backbone to commit to anything -- and yet he's persuaded to run for office. Or so we're told. Even though it's pivotal to the plot, this cajoling takes place off-screen for no good reason.
But the rivals' stations in life hardly matter since, once you get past the screenplay's fresh paint, these two guys are the same stale, odious, infantile jerks that have been pawned off as Everyman heroes in every other ill-conceived comedy from the last 20 years.
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Bosnian Muslims are doe-eyed victims, Serbs are scowling, mangy movie heavies, and American soldiers are the most important people in the world in "Behind Enemy Lines," a self-aggrandizing action movie being released earlier than planned to cash in on the current atmosphere of flag-waving.
Vaguely inspired by the shoot-down and rescue of Air Force Capt. Scott O'Grady in 1995, the film stars ad-libbing wiseacre extraordinare Owen Wilson ("Shanghai Noon," "Zoolander") as a cocky F/A-18 navigator in a flashy "Top Gun" version of the U.S. Navy.
Downed over the former Yugoslavia while on a reconnaissance mission during a fragile cease-fire, Wilson is on the run from evil Serbs who know he photographed a mass grave of slaughtered Bosnian civilians. Meanwhile, onboard his home aircraft carrier, a barking-dog admiral played by Gene Hackman wants to mount a helicopter rescue, but his hands are tied by those nattering nabobs of the United Nations peacekeeping force, who have the audacity to think that not risking the cease-fire is more important than one American flyboy. How dare they!
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