Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday's Featured Film - 3/13/09

New movies are usually released to theaters every Friday, but who’s got 10 bucks these days to drop on a movie that may well be a load of crap? Given those odds, each Friday I offer an alternative on DVD that you can rent at your local video store (or in some cases, avoid at all costs). Some will be new releases, others you may have to hunt for, but all of them are available to light up your small screen should it be a lazy Friday night.

Matchstick Men

I was having a conversation the other day with a friend about Ridley Scott's 2003 film Matchstick Men that reminded me 1) just how great a film it is, and 2) that I really need to sit down and watch in again. The movie landed at #2 on my top 10 of 2003 (behind only The Return of the King) and is one of my all-time favorites. It's funny, charming, smart, and has some great things to say about what's important in life. I don't know when I'll get around to giving it another spin through my DVD player, but I recommend it to you wholeheartedly.

The movie tells the story of two con-men, Roy (Nicolas Cage) and Frank (Sam Rockwell). Roy is the crafty veteran, though hampered by a laundry list of phobias, ticks, and a nasty case of OCD. Frank is his partner and protege who, concerned for Roy's well being, suggests he sees a therapist. Over the course of therapy, Roy decides to confront his failed marriage a decade earlier. When reaching out to his ex-wife, Roy discovers he has a 14-year old daugher (Alison Lohman) he's never met. He seeks to reach out to her and enter her life as he and Frank plan their most ambitious con yet.

I'm a huge Nicolas Cage fan (though yes, he occasionally makes some really dumb career choices), and this movie features him at his absolute best. Roy is a character who is strange, likeable, sympathetic and distant all at the same time. I was really surprised his performance (and the film in general) wasn't more widely recognized. The rest of the cast is superb as well, especially Lohman, who injects Angela with just the right combination of rebelliousness and innocence. The writing is magnificent, and Scott pulls it all together into a seamless and riveting story (as he seemingly always does). What starts as a simple cat and mouse con game takes on an entirely new scope as Roy begins to see his daughter taking after him - and suddenly what was perfectly acceptable in his life seems problematic, if not downright dangerous. Matchstick Men is the type of film that starts off quick, witty, and light but pulls on your heart by the end - all without ever feeling plastic or contrived. No matter what your taste in movies, this is a film that I think has something to offer everyone. Give it a shot. - **** (out of 4)

Matchstick Men is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, violence, some sexual content and language.

1 comment:

Darius said...

I second your recommendation, it's a fantastic movie!