Category: 1986


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(A quick aside before this review begins. I watched this movie last night before I went to bed. I worked from 8:30-4:30 and took a 2 hour nap when I got home cause I have to work again from 10 PM to 2 AM. And there’s a reasonable chance that I won’t be able to finish this review before I have to go back to work in an hour and a half. We’ll see. Hopefully, that’s not the case.)

I have a soft spot for classic romances. It’s a theme that’s been explored on here from films as diverse as Giant to Penny Serenade to Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing. Despite my jaded, world-weary cynicism, I’m a romantic at heart, and I like watching a well-crafted romance. Merchant Ivory films (the movies of producer Ismail Merchant and director James Ivory) have a reputation as being lavish, meticulously constructed period romances, and while 1986’s A Room with a View is a beautifully acted and gorgeously shot film, I can’t ignore the fact that it was unequivocally one of the most boring films I’ve watched in ages.

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In the Edwardian era, young Lucy Honeychurch (Conversations With Other Women‘s Helena Bonham Carter) visits Florence with her aunt, Charlotte Bartlett (Gosford Park‘s Maggie Smith), in tow as her chaperone. A slightly rebellious girl, Lucy wanders Florence on her own and plays Beethoven passionately as the curious Vicar Beebe (Four Weddings and a Funeral‘s Simon Callow). Among the fellow Brits in the hotel Lucy and her aunt are staying at are the Emersons. Mr. Emerson (Denholm Elliott) is a loud but well-meaning journalist while his son George (Julian Sands) is moody and brooding, a perfect match for the stormy Lucy.

It isn’t long before Lucy begins to fall for the handsome but aloof George, but when her aunt discovers the two kissing in the Italian countryside, Charlotte ends their Italian sojourn early and they return to England. Not long after, Lucy finds herself engaged to the foppish but well-moneyed Cecil Vyse (Gangs of New York‘s Daniel Day-Lewis). She cares for him although, it’s not the passionate, all-consuming romance she felt towards George. Lucy begins to resign herself towards her life with Cecil though when out of the blue, the Emersons move into a villa in her town and throw her entire life out of whack.

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Despite the nearly constant soporific effect that I felt during the entirety of this film, one would have to be insane to say that A Room with a View isn’t a gorgeously constructed film. I studied abroad in Florence, Italy back in the summer of 2009 and it was a life-changing experience. I could see Il Duomo from my apartment and every day on my way to class I walked by more history and art and culture than I saw in my entire life in the United States. Much like how David Lean’s Summertime captured Venice or Woody Allen’s Manhattan captured…. you know, every single frame set in Florence is a glorious ode to one of the most beautiful cities on the planet, and the scenes in England aren’t too shabby either.

And, A Room with a View is flush with brilliant performances from a truly deep well of great British actors. Denholm Elliott and Maggie Smith received Oscar nods for their turns in the film, and though they were great, they weren’t even the most impressive members of the cast to me. Dame Judi Dench (Skyfall) shines as an almost masculine and vivacious author looking for inspiration in Florence. Helena Bonham Carter shows why she would go on to be one of England’s most consistently under-appreciated stars with this early and mature performance. And Daniel Day-Lewis loses himself (as usual) in the role of the oblivious and possibly homosexual Cecil.

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But despite how well-crafted the film is from a technical perspective and an acting perspective, nothing it did could make me care about the dated comedy of manners on display and the tired/stale romance that sat at the film’s core. Longtime readers know that I have a fairly deep well of patience for deliberate pacing and slower storytelling. But, A Room with a View‘s pacing is absolutely turgid and the characters never seem to go anywhere. I can only recommend this film to the most die-hard fans of period drama and costume fanciness. Everybody else can stay at home and understand that this score is based almost entirely on the technical merits of this snooze of a film.

Final Score: B-

 

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Once upon a time, Oliver Stone was one of the most gifted and beloved directors in America. With a slew of critically beloved films under his belt (including Platoon, Wall Street, and Born on the Fourth of July), he was one of the rare directors who could deliver a film loved both by audiences and by critics. Then, the 90s happened, and with a string of less critically beloved films (The Doors, Nixon, eventually in the 2000s the trainwreck known as Alexander), his stock in the cinematic world disappeared, and it’s never really recovered (though I personally want to see Savages when it comes out). Still, even though he’s not the culturally significant figure he used to be, there was a time when Oliver Stone made great films. I just finished his breakthrough directorial feature Salvador today (previously, he had written the screenplays for Scarface and Midnight Express), and while the film was utterly lacking in subtlety, it was a wonderfully acted and ultimately important film about the horrors committed by the right wing military dictatorship of El Salvador which was financially and militarily supported by the U.S. government. Centered on a fantastic James Woods (in an Oscar nominated role), Salvador hit with the same kind of emotional strength as the similarly themed The Killing Fields and is a must see for anyone interested in the human rights violations in Central America and how the U.S. government bears a healthy responsibility for what happened.

Based on the real life story of Richard Boyle (James Woods), Salvador gives audiences an “in the fox holes” view of the El Salvador civil war and the lives of the photojournalists covering the tragedy. Richard Boyle had covered nearly all of the military conflicts of the 15 years or so preceding the film’s beginning (in 1980) including Vietnam and Cambodia (where he was the last journalist out of the country). However, he’s a drunk, womanizer, and drug abuser with an ego the size of his vices and no one wants to hire him anymore. When the film begins, he’s been jobless for so long that he’s evicted from his apartment and his wife runs away with their infant child. Desperate for cash (and with nothing else to do), Richard gets a loan from his last remaining friend, Dr. Rock (James Belushi), and heads to El Salvador in the hopes that he can get some good pictures of the combat and make some easy cash. When he’s accosted by soldiers of the military junta the moment he arrives, it’s immediately apparent that El Salvador isn’t going to be just another mission. Richard may be a bit of a schmuck but he’s not an entirely heartless guy, and as he pays witness to the increasingly horrific acts committed by the right-wing government against any that oppose them (all in the name of “stopping” communism), Boyle becomes committed to getting the truth of these atrocities out to the world even if his invasive brand of photojournalism threatens to get him and everyone he cares about in El Salvador killed.

As I mentioned earlier, James Woods received an Oscar nomination for this film, and while I’ve only seen one other film that was nominated in that category (The Color of  Money), I certainly think he was better in this than Paul Newman was in The Color of Money (Paul Newman won that year). Unlike the very similar The Killing Fields (ironically enough, Richard Boyle specifically mentions that film’s protagonist, Sydney Schanberg, several times), Richard Boyle does not constitute a particularly sympathetic protagonist. When he isn’t being a complete prick to everyone around him and asking for a never-ending stream of money to pay for his booze and whores, he manages to come off like an arrogant prick even when he’s trying to do the right thing. James Woods manages to capture all of the complexities of Boyle’s character as well as nailing the scenes where Boyle has to react to the horrors around him, whether it’s going to a mountain which is where the government death squads dump their victims or trying to survive a frenzied battle between government and rebel forces. John Savage also gave a great, understated performance as a fellow photog trying to survive in the hellish conditions and with a nearly suicidal tendency to try and get the perfect shot. James Belushi (not a dramatic actor) was slightly miscast as Dr. Rock and the performance of Predator‘s Elpidia Carrillo as Boyle’s Salvadorean girlfriend was also underdone.

Oliver Stone wrote the script for this film (he received not one but two Best Original Screenplay Oscar nominations in 1986. The other film was Platoon but he lost to Woody Allen for both for Hannah and Her Sisters), and while his direction is practically flawless (the abject horror of the atrocities committed by the military as well as the expertly choreographed war scenes), it’s his scriptwriting which provides the film both its best moments and its most overbearing, pompous moments. I applaud the decision to make Richard Boyle (a real person so I’m guessing he’s okay with this truthful portrayal of his behavior) such an unsympathetic lead and it does a lot to temper some of the film’s more self-righteous moments. The film was also obviously, incredibly well-researched and like The Killing Fields, there’s a sense of truth and realism to virtually every scene of the film. However, the film falters when the script calls for Boyle to make grand speeches to beat the audience over the head with messages and themes that the more visual aspects of the film have already clearly established. It’s becoming a pet peeve of mine for movies lately when directors try to insult the audience’s intelligence by doing more “telling” than “showing.” It gives the film a sense of smug self-satisfaction, and Oliver Stone is too insightful and too inherently visual of a director to fall down that traphole. It’s like so many directors are afraid that images and subtle commentary will go over their audience’s head and they feel the need to drop moral anvils on their viewers. It’s incredibly irritating.

Despite the film’s occasional preachiness, it’s still a searing look at a page in Central American history that even our own government would prefer go away. The Reagan administration especially (though Carter was almost equally guilty) was complicit in the murder of thousands of peasant farmers and “subversives” in the name of stopping Communism. The millions of people who died in Vietnam (U.S. soldiers, civilians, the Vietcong, others) in the name of the “domino effect” apparently were for naught because the American government didn’t learn its lesson to not get involved in the same kind of strife in Central America. Maybe I shouldn’t complain about the number of big expository speeches that Richard Boyle made in this film because some anvils need dropped. However, there has to be more subtle, less obvious ways to get your point across. Yet, the movie was so haunting and brutal (and true) that I can forgive its flaws. If you have any interest in the history of America making things worse in other countries, Salvador has plenty to teach you.

Final Score: A-

What is there to say about Watchmen that hasn’t already been said a million times before? Easily the most celebrated graphic novel of all time, Watchmen isn’t just a seminal work in the burgeoning realm of graphic novels (that would ultimately allow other celebrated works like Neil Gaiman’s Sandman or Brian K. Vaughan’s Y: The Last Man to exist), but it is simply one of the defining novels of the last 30 years. Simultaneously science fiction, political satire, mystery, superhero (the definitive supehero tale), psychological drama, and a massive deconstruction of every comic book that predated it, Alan Moore didn’t just write the premier superhero story of all time; he made it nearly impossible to look at any superhero tales before or after in the same light ever again. As a child, I was a huge comic book fan, but I grew out of it as I got older because for the most part, the average superhero story wasn’t maturing as I was. Then, my sophomore year of college, I saw that Watchmen was being released in theaters and I felt it was high time to read this story that every one kept praising, and nothing was the same ever since. It rekindled my love with the comic book genre (and produced a drain on my finances thanks to my new comic book addiction), and introduced me to what is simply one of the greatest novels of the 20th century.

At its core, Watchmen begins as a murder mystery but to say its morph into so much more would only be scratching the surface of the various layers of this dense and complex novel. In an alternate U.S. history where superheroes are real (though only one has any actual superpowers and is therefore essentially a god amongst men) and Richard Nixon is seeking his fourth term as U.S. President after superhero involvement led to a U.S. victory in Vietnam, one of the world’s superheroes has been murdered. A caustic and darkly comic man known as the Comedian (one of two superheroes still legally allowed to fight crime) was thrown out of his apartment in New York by an unknown assailant and the remaining superheroes (retired or vigilante) are worried that someone may be gunning for former masks. The remaining superheroes include Nite Owl (an aging millionaire [the Batman stand-in] who spends his days reminiscing with one of his predecessors from the 1940’s, the original Nite Owl), Silk Spectre (the daughter of one of the original 1940’s superheroes who only got into the business to please her mother), Rorschach (a psychotic and violent crime fighter who refused to retire and sees the world in starkly black and white terms), Ozymandias (smartest man in the world and most financially successful of the superheroes as he cashed in on his name post-retirement), and Dr. Manhattan (a former nuclear physicist who was transformed into a godlike being that can alter the state of matter at will among many other powers after a lab accident disintegrated him). As Rorschach investigates the Comedian’s murder, the others deal with personal and psychological flaws until they eventually stumble onto a conspiracy that may destroy the world.

Let’s start with the artwork. This is going to be a long, long review, and I guess art seems like the logical place to begin an assessment of a comic book. I’ve read Watchmen in its entirety about 4 times now, and the simple fact that I notice new things (and a large number of new things) every time I read the book should be a testament to just how much detail is crammed into each individual frame of this story. Whether it’s Dave Gibbon’s artwork simply from an aesthetic view point, which can be both beautiful and terrifying (those who’ve been exposed to some aspect of this piece know how gruesome it can get) or its the many recurring visual motifs and symbols that frequent the pages, it is likely you will spend as much time parsing the images of Watchmen as you will reading Moore’s words (and ultimately that is where the true genius lies). It truly takes a special talent to keep up with the brilliance of Alan Moore, and I honestly can’t think of a better author and artist pairing than Moore and Gibbons in this work. If it weren’t for the fact that there are still literary types that can’t get fact that this is a comic book, I would personally guarantee that academics could spend as much time parsing Watchmen for all of the symbolism and deeper meanings that they could Gravity’s Rainbow or Infinite Jest, and Dave Gibbons’ art adds richly to the symbolic tapestry of this novel.

Next, the characters. As a grown-up comic reader, when I read a traditional Marvel or DC story, I would say that 75% of my enjoyment from those tales comes more from an attachment to the characters rather than the plotting itself, which is often cliche comic book material. There are so many fun and memorable comic book characters out there, and it takes decades of mythology to turn them into the beloved icons they are today. In 12, 28-page, issues, Alan Moore was able to craft the most complex and distinct characters in the history of the genre. With the possible exception of Silk Spectre (who movie or book remains the least compelling character in the story), these characters all have dense psychological profiles that are explored in-depth and they almost all seem to represent some specific philosophical archetype. Rorschach is the definition of a right-wing deontologist where things are either right or wrong. There is no gray area. The Comedian can also be called a nihilist because he sees how damaged and broken the world is and decides to be a dark mirror of the world. Ozymandias is more of a utilitarian though I can’t get into exactly what that entails without spoilers. Dr. Manhattan is an examination of how an all-powerful deity would view something as mundane as human life (which is to say with bemused indifference). Nite Owl doesn’t really represent one of these philosophies. He was just a bored playboy who had a romanticized fascination with the superheroes of his youth and wanted to follow in their footsteps (which isn’t to say he’s not as emotionally scarred as everyone else).

The way that Moore lays out the story manages to be even more dense (and beautiful) than the artwork itself. Eschewing a linear format, the story jumps all over in time and place, and there is one chapter told from the view point of Dr. Manhattan (whose mind exists outside the normal bounds of linear time) that is arguably the single greatest issue of any comic I’ve ever read in its masterful non-linear story and haunting tragedy. At the end of every chapter, Moore provides several pages of non-comic book material that are presented as either excerpts from books within the Watchmen universe or newspaper articles or similar diegetic material. About halfway through the book, you are suddenly introduced to an in-universe comic book called The Tales of the Black Freighter which seems oddly out of place at first until you reach the end of the story and you realize just how relevant it truly was. The most amazing thing about this comic is that in spite of all of its intellectual pretensions and ambitions (which it fulfills extrrordinarily well), it also manages to stand on its own as an entertaining and engaging superhero story. Even when the mechanics of its ending are a little odd (perhaps the only area where the movie was better), it doesn’t lessen the impact of this story’s brutal and shattering climax.

If you somehow haven’t read Watchmen yet, you have to. Even if you saw the movie and didn’t enjoy it (which a frustratingly large number of people didn’t), you should still read the novel as I know several people who are big fans of the book that don’t like the movie either. It’s one of the most important novels of the last 50 years. It’s really a shame that DC screwed Alan Moore out of the rights to these characters and that led him to sever all ties with the company because considering what he was able to accomplish with a brand new set of characters (though many of these characters are direct responses to certain obscure Silver Age comic characters), I can only imagine what he could have done with established heroes. His The Killing Joke story for Batman remains one of the definitive Batman tales along with Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth and The Dark Knight Returns. I’m very glad that I chose to re-read Watchmen for this blog because each journey into that dark and twisted world reveals a little more of its secrets and I guarantee I still haven’t discovered all there is to know. Who watched the Watchmen? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I sure as hell know who’s telling everyone else they should read them.

Final Score: A+

If you were to take the big four American sports (football, basketball, baseball, and hockey) and ask me which sport would make me prefer to have my tonsils taken out again over watching for pleasure, then it would probably be basketball. I’d rather watch women’s golf than sit down for any basketball game that doesn’t involve the West Virginia University Mountaineers (my college). So, maybe that already had me predisposed to dislike the sports classic, Hoosiers, since I can’t enjoy the sport of basketball itself. However, I would be willing to bet large sums of money that even if I were a die-hard cager fan but still had my film critic sensibilities, I would still recognize this film for what it is which is an admittedly entertaining but cliche-ridden example of the cookie-cutter productions that make up 90% of the sports film market. Had the film adhered more closely to the actual story of the 1954 Milan High basketball team perhaps I could have forgiven cliche as truth, but as the film stands, which is a highly fictionalized account of a true story, I can’t help but think its reputation is a little under-deserved.

Hoosiers, playing very loose with the historical facts, is the tale of a small, rural town’s basketball team in the 1950’s. The Hickory Huskers have just lost their old basketball coach, and in steps Norman Dale (Gene Hackman), a former college coach who a national championship but has been blacklisted from coaching college ball for striking a student. With only 7 players when he arrives (one of whom that immediately quits), Norman is facing an uphill battle to turn this small (both in number of players and player size) team into a winning basketball team. Norman’s unfriendly and abrasive attitude doesn’t win him any friends with the local parents and assorted townsfolk that don’t like an out-of-towner stepping in charge of their hometown team. Dale’s problems only escalate when he signs on the alcoholic train-wreck father (Dennis Hopper) of one of his players as the team’s assistant coach. However, Dale slowly starts to shut up the locals when his team starts winning, and it looks like they could go all the way to the state championship.

First things first. Dennis Hopper’s transformation into the alcoholic Shooter was an incredible thing to watch. Along with his role in Blue Velvet, this performance only cements my opinion that Dennis Hopper at his best is one of the finest character actors around. Along with Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas, this was just one of the most effective and heart-breaking portrayals of alcoholism that I’ve ever seen on film. While I would still assert that Blue Velvet was his best role (HEINEKEN! FUCK THAT SHIT! PABST BLUE RIBBON! [sorry had to do it]), this was definitely a performance that deserved the Academy Award nomination that he received for the film. Gene Hackman was good in his role although he was basically playing Gene Hackman as a basketball coach. There wasn’t anything especially original about his performance. Don’t get me started on the kids on the team who were uniformly awful actors.

My primary complaint about this film is that I feel like if you stuck a bunch of first year film school students into a room and asked them to come up with a sports film with as many genre conventions as possible, their final result would look something like Hoosiers. Let’s do a check-list. Alcoholic father of a team member finds redemption ala Tim McGraw in Friday Night Lights? Check. Smallest member of the team comes through and makes a game-winning play. Check. They win the big game. Check. The curmudgeonly coach finds his own personal redemption in this rag-tag group of players. Oh yeah. The team always looks like it’s about to lose the game but comes through at the last second. Yep. This film is a living, breathing artifact of sports cliches.

While I enjoyed the film and I’ll admit that I teared up a little bit at the end of the climactic state championship basketball game, I simply can’t get over the fact that film didn’t have an original bone in its body. It also suffered from some of the most egregious Dawson casting of any movie I’ve ever seen as all of the high school kids (except for the short one) all looked like they were in their late 20’s. I can only recommend this to hardcore sports fans, although I would be willing to bet my next paycheck that most of you have already seen Hoosiers since it’s considered a classic of the genre. I would easily recommend other sports films like Million Dollar Baby, This Sporting Life, or the TV version of Friday Night Lights well before I would recommend this particular movie.

Final Score: B-

 

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If you want to name a band that is incredibly divisive among the music community, you don’t really need too look much further than Sonic Youth. While there is some general consensus that Daydream Nation was a classic, the rest of their library generates a considerable larger amount of debate. Are they wildly experimental art rock/punkers that pioneered much of what 90’s rock and roll would sound like, or are they as the titular main character of Juno puts it, “just noise.” I feel like I probably fall somewhere in the middle of these extremes. While the grunge movement would not exist without the influence of Sonic Youth and its frontman Thurston Moore, there are times when the band descends into noise rock excess where any attempts at recognizable melody or recurring riffs are discarded in favor of incomprehensible layers of noise. Sometimes the noise works and adds the band its titular sonic effects, but for the most part, it comes off as sort of pretentious and boring.

At times on this album, 1986’s Evol, it’s almost like Thurston Moore had seen into the future, heard grunge, and decided to invent the blueprint from which grunge would rise and yet sound remarkably distinct from his copy cats. Through grunge’s signature use of heavily distorted guitars and disorienting reverb, Sonic Youth are able to fashion an instrumental and sonic landscape that is entirely their own. At times, they even experiment into more avant-garde territory especially on the tracks that feature Kim Gordon on lead vocals that stray even further away from either noise rock or alt rock conventions. At moments like that, you can see the genius that would lead to Daydream Nation. Alas, the highs still aren’t particularly high, and they don’t occur often enough, and when the lows hit, I kept praying for the album to be over.

“Tom Violence” sounds like it could have been a B-side for Daydream Nation. It was a great melding of their growing proto-grunge style with the distortion and reverb that is partially noise rock as well. “Green Light” was the best track on the album as it was entrancingly sonic in nature. Much like a great Radiohead track, I found myself incredibly lost in the dense instrumental landscape that the distortion effects had caused. “Shadow of a Doubt” features Kim Gordon on lead vocals where she displays her knack for breathy, almost ethereal vocals as well as exploring some uncharted territory for Sonic Youth which is a light electronic sound which really works in the context of the song. Tracks like “Marilyn Moore” and “In the Kingdom #19” were virtually pure noise, and I just couldn’t find myself engaged with those songs or other tracks that relied overly heavily on sheer walls of noise. There was no place for me to enter the song emotionally or intellectually and to engage myself with the music.

I’m admittedly not a fan of noise rock. So, perhaps, I’m not qualified to review this album. Yet, at the same time, I know the potential and talent they have because of Daydream Nation, and so, Evol is extremely disappointing in comparison. I hated Kid A and Person Pitch the first time I listened to them, and I love those albums now, so maybe this one will eventually grow on me, but for now, it stands as an unfortunately uneven undertaking that shows flashes of future genius without ever really tapping into what will eventually make this band the legends of alt rock that they’ve become. To all fans of Sonic Youth, please don’t hate. It’s just how I feel.

Final Score: B-

 It took me 99 films but I finally got to a Martin Scorsese film for this blog. He’s always been one of my all time favorite directors and Taxi Driver is one of my five favorite films of all time. As much as I enjoyed The Departed, the Academy chose to reward him for the wrong film when there are at least three other films that he deserved the Best Director honor for more. While I wish that the first Scorsese film that I had reviewed for this blog was a classic like Goodfellas or Gangs of New York, his 1986 sequel, The Color of Money, to the classic Paul Newman pool picture The Hustler was an interesting if flawed character study of an incredibly talented man in the twilight of his life facing the end of his own era. Even if you’ve never seen the original The Hustler (which I haven’t), this is an accessible and interesting film that you might want to give a go.

The Color of Money takes place 20 years after the climactic final pool game of The Hustler where “Fast” Eddie Felson (Paul Newman in an Oscar winning turn) finally beat Minnesota Fats and was blacklisted from playing pool again. Now, “Fast” Eddie runs a bar and is a liquor salesman and makes his money by staking young pool talent that catches his eye, like John Turturro in a small cameo role. One day, a young pool shark named Vincent Lauria (Tom Cruise) walks into Eddie’s bar along with his girlfriend played by the talented Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. It is quickly apparent to Eddy that Vincent is one of the most talented players that he’s seen in years, but he doesn’t have the first clue how to properly make money in a pool room. Eddy takes Vincent under his wings and teaches him the art of the hustle as they make their way across a number of seedy billiard halls training for a big 9 ball tournament held in Atlantic City. Along the way, Vincent learns that sometimes you have to lose to make money and Eddy is bit with the billiards bug that got him in trouble twenty years before.

Paul Newman is one of the biggest stars in Hollywood history. Along with his long time partner, Robert Redford, he was one of the most visible and guaranteed draws in Hollywood for about thirty years. This is one of Newman’s last big roles, and while I’m not necessarily this was truly an A+ performance, I’m perfectly okay with the Oscar who won for this role as an acknowledgment of his long and storied career. Much like Clint Eastwood in Million Dollar Baby, this is an actor at the end of a spectacular career going out in a fantastic blaze of glory. Tom Cruise played his role well enough, but let’s face the fact that Tom Cruise is not a great actor. However, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio was stellar as his tough as nails girlfriend. There was a wonderful chemistry between her and Paul Newman that was visible in practically ever scene they have together. She had more chemistry with Newman than she did with Tom Cruise.

The movie had some problems. The story was pretty predictable (although it had some nice turns here and there). It also could you have used some trimming down. At the same time, the story of an old pro passing the torch to a new young buck also isn’t particularly original. The cinematography was phenomenal though, and there were just a ton of original and inventive shots in the film that are pure Scorsese. Anyways, if you’re a fan of pool, you need to watch this. If you like Paul Newman, this is the film he won an Oscar for so it’s practically a no-brainer. I’d say the same thing for Tom Cruise. While Born on the Fourth of July and The Last Samurai are much better films and roles for him, this is still a good picture.

 Final Score: B+