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Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)

After hearing of director Sidney Lumet’s passing, I wanted to see more of his movies. I saw Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead on the self and I picked it up. I knew very little about the movie except a couple of key plots points. I don’t know if I don’t get it or the movie was not very good.

Nanette (Rosemary Harris) is opening up Hanson Jewelry Store when a robber comes in pulls out a gun and demands her to put the jewels and cash into a pillow case. The robber orders Nanette to stand at one corner of the store where he is trying to get to the last display, but it’s locked. As he struggles to unlock it, Nanette pulls out a gun and shoots the robber. He retaliates. She shoots him again, killing him.

The getaway driver, Hank (Ethan Hawke) speeds away from the scene. What you need to realize is that Hank was a part of robbing his parents store. He does not do this alone. His older brother, Andy (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is the mastermind behind it all.

The movie is a giant jigsaw puzzle that needs to be put together to figure out why the circumstances happened the way that they did.

The genesis behind the plan to get quick money. Andy  is embezzling money from his real estate company. He has problems performing with his wife, Gina (Marisa Tomei) and he has a meeting with his coke dealer, Justin (Blaine Horton) at his apartment.

Hank is the dumb brother to Andy’s genius. Hank is having difficulty paying his rent, behind on child support to his daughter with his ex, Martha (Amy Ryan), because he has to pay for a private school education for his daughter. Hank is also having an affair with Gina under Andy’s nose.

Andy comes up with the idea to rob their parent’s store so it would be a way to get money without anyone getting hurt. They know the safe combinations, the keys to the displays, the code to the alarm system and everything.

But the initial plan begins to change when Andy says that he will not be a part of the robbery and that Hanks has to do it alone. Andy doesn’t want that to happen. He enlists the help of Bobby Lasorda (Brían F. O’Byrne) to pull off the robbery. That’s when the perfect victimless crime goes wrong.

The movie goes forward and backwards, jumping from different perspectives of the main characters. At times, I got really bored. Do I need to see this scene again for one brother’s POV and the other’s POV. It was draining. I could not follow what was happening. I had a lot of questions than answers by the end of the movie. Was Andy gay? What happened to Hank and Gina? How did Andy and his father, Charles (Albert Finney) know the same bookie?

Judgment: It was not a pleasant watch for me.

Rating: 5/10

The Wrestler (2008)

I watched the latest movie from visionary director, Darren Aronofsky, The Wrestler. This film is being vastly overlooked by the Golden Globes, and I hope that this film is nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.

The story centers around Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke), a broken-down wrestler trying to hold on to the glory of his younger days. He is living in a trailer park. He is broke. His body is battered and bruised. His body has almost giving out.

On a typical workday, Randy is working at a minimum-wage job trying to scape money together in order to buy the medicine that he needs to get through the day. Every weekend, he wrestles for the thrill of the crowds that pack the small civic centers and high school gyms throughout New Jersey.

Randy has a health scare that forces Randy to make a decision about what he values most in life. His first love, wrestling or the people that surround him, in particular, his estranged daughter, Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood). There is also his love interest, Cassidy (Marisa Tomei), an aging exotic dancer that is going through the same predicament as Randy. Her customers are not liking her, because she is over forty dancing in order to support his daughter.

I was a big fan of wrestling for a number of years. I knew some of the inter working of the sport, but I had no idea the lengths these athletes go through in order to entertain the crowds every week. Their bodies battered and bloody. Their joints give out. The performance enhancing drugs they have to inject in order to keep up in the ring.

There is also an underlying Christ undertone with Randy being worshipped as a god of sorts. After a hardcore match, you could see the scars on his body. (That scene floored me.) Cassidy actually brings up The Passion of the Christ when addressing Randy about his injuries.

This was a fabulous movie that I implore you to seek out. Wrestling fan or not, go see this movie. Go for Mickey Rourke. Just go.

My rating: ***** stars.

FB Recommendation: In The Bedroom (2001)

On the CW last night, they showed a movie that I loved when it was released back in 2001, In The Bedroom. This movie is vastly underrated as a great film. It was nominated for five Oscars. Deservedly so.

I thought that it was strange that the movie was nominated for Best Picture, but Todd Field was not nominated for directing. The Academy put Ridley Scott and David Lynch in his place. I don’t get that logic.

The movie is about the Fowler family who lives are irrevocably affected a tragic event in their Maine town. Matt Fowler (Tom Wilkinson) is a doctor and Ruth (Sissy Spacek) is a choir director. They are concerned by their college age only child, Frank (Nick Stahl) is having a affair with an older married woman, Natalie Stout (Marisa Tomei).

Their quiet life is rocked to the core when Natalie’s estranged husband, Richard (William Mapother) kills Frank during a fight. The tragedy truly begins when Richard does not go to jail for his crime. This leaves the Fowlers through a path of anger, grief, betrayal and revenge.

A fantastic movie that people should see.

My rating: ****1/2 stars.

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