Saturday, March 7, 2015
Written & Directed: Joel Schumacher
Cinematography By: Declan Quinn
Editor: Mark Stevens
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robert DeNiro, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Barry Miller, Chris Bauer, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Rory Cochrane, Vincent Laresca, Katrina Arroyave, Skip Sudduth, Scott Allen Coopper, Mark Margolis, Wanda De Jesus, John Enos III, Winter Ave Zoli, Joey Arias, Jackie Beat
Walt Koontz, a homophobic guy, ends up with paralyzed vocal cords because of an unfortunate stroke. His therapy includes receiving singing lessons from a neighbor who is not only openly flamboyant but also a pre-op transgenderist. Both of them are equally prejudiced; Koontz against homosexuals and the neighbor against close-minded straight people.
If this film had been made in the 70's or 80's it would have been revolutionary and a great time period piece as well as a character study. That would have opened a world up. Not widely known at those times. Unfortunately by the time This film was actually made. More people have been exposed to this world time and again. So that anything special that is in the film isn't as vibrant to an audience that might have felt like they have already seen it before quite a few times. Like a person who catches onto a fad a year late once it isn't quite in fashion anymore. It feels more like a neighborhood movie that tries to include the ambiance while bringing in an ensemble, but focusing on the two main characters the most
Which is a shame, As this film has two great dramatic leads, they are left with a somewhat formulaic script that doesn't really challenge the stars. So they seem to create their own shades to the characters. --It's an eclectic film that feels like it goes flat fast a few times and becomes a sort of strange buddy film. That comes off as an artistic made for cable film. That if they eliminated some of the subplots or at least one this could have been an interesting dynamic and made it feel like a play.
There is a not needed side story I guess to give the film more direction and a bit more conventional story. with having thugs looking for missing money. That while not out of place seems odd. Though I am guessing the cross cultural bonding needed a moment of true caring and togetherness with the culmination of that plot thread instead of it coming together naturally for an ending.
Though this film tries to make the outrageous more normal. It even includes the local color of the wacky neighbors. That all seem to have their quirks, that are meant to represent typical New York living for some reason.
Philip Seymour Hoffman really transforms here in a role that he would never normally be typecast in nor imagined in. He makes the role his own not playing up the clichés and creating a true memorable all around character. He gives the role his all and amazes at his range that truly seems more heartfelt and not like a stunt casting role.
When it comes to Robert DeNiro it seems like that after the film HEAT. He seemed to honk he had played enough iconic and dramatic roles and decided to expand his repertoire to the genre he had avoided most of his career Comedy. He started off well with MEET THE PARENTS and ANALYZE THIS which helped satirize his more disciplinary type characters and roles. But soon it seemed like he was making horrible ones. That seemed more and more to parody his old classic roles then honor or celebrate him. Including sequels to the previous films mentioned and films such as SHOWTIME. Which seemed more like a chance to package a film by matching up a legendary dramatic star with a one time legendary comedic star an experiment to see what would happen though like with this film cursed with a lame buddy film script and scenario. Robert De Niro's face would sometimes ache for days after tensing his jaw to speak in his post-stroke scenes.
Soon DeNiro tried to go back to his old stomping grounds, but a mix of bad scripts and bad decisions seemed to make each new project into unintentional comedies even when they weren't supposed to be in that genre like 15 MINUTES, HIDE AND SEEK, RIGHTEOUS KILL. He is faring better these days then his contemporary Al Pacino but only a little. I'm pretty sure these late decisions have also a lot to do with salary, earning potential and the different ever changing landscapes of film more then rational thought.
Unlike Pacino he has always seemed to stay in the studio system when it comes to his roles and as he branches out and takes in smaller projects such as this film. It shows a willingness to try and show range as well as challenge himself as he is seeking to do with his audience. Let them see him in a different way.
It’s a shame as I always Pull for Joel Schumacher and this film seemed more personal or at least something he felt close to as it has a certain flavor that goes back to films he has written from the 1970’s like CAR WASH. It works, but unfortunately isn’t as dynamic as it could have been as it feels bogged down with a thriller plot. That works but feels shoehorned in