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PCR # 181  (Vol. 4, No. 37)  This edition is for the week of September 8--14, 2003.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Matchstick Men"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

One and a half stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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Warner Brothers     
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Sam Rockwell, Alison Lohman and Bruce McGill
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 1 hour 56 mins

This past Monday evening I was honored to host the screening of Matchstick Men, which was included in the Kansas City Film Fest. I was told by others before hand that I had been given "the good one." They were right.

Matchstick Men opens with an introduction to Roy (Cage). Roy is somewhat of a clean freak. He is also very compulsive. He opens and closes doors three times, eats only tuna (discarding of the can by putting it in a plastic lunch bag and then putting it in the trash) and buys items in groups rather then one at a time, all the time standing in the same check out line so he can get a glimpse of the cashier. I may be understating his actions when I call him a clean freak. My uncle Billy, in Seattle, is a clean freak. He showers and changes his shirts at least three times a day and, when my mother is smoking in the house during a visit, he follows her around the house with a can of Lysol and sprays after each exhale. Roy makes my uncle Billy look like Charlie Brown's pal, Pigpen. Roy is so fastidious that he arranges the fibers in a carpet if they get altered. The only thing that gets Roy through the day are the pills he has been buying illegally.

Roy is also a great con man. He and his partner, Frank (Rockwell), have a lucrative phone scam business running that is netting them big bucks. Frank keeps on talking about a big score he has in mind, but Roy always tells him to stick to what they know, the small time game. Frank also keeps on Roy about finding a companion. Roy mentions the wife he left 15 years ago, supposedly carrying his child. He has had no contact with her since the day he walked out the door. Out of the blue, Roy's pill connection leaves town. Learning that he needs them prescribed by a psychiatrist, he reluctantly sees one. The doctor knows what he wants, and promises him he will give him a prescription if Roy will spend time talking with him. After a few talks, Roy asks the doctor to see if he really does have a child. A phone call confirms that he has a 14-year-old daughter. A daughter who wants to meet him.

Enter Angela (Lohman). She immediately bonds with Roy and the two seem to be on the way to a great father/daughter relationship. Until Angela finds out what Roy does for a living. She's not angry.......she's curious. She insists he show her the "family business." He lets her in on a quick scam, but then insists that she give back the money she has obtained. "What kind of good parenting would it be if I let you keep the money," Roy asks. Inspired by his new life and daughter, Roy and Frank set out on the big score.

Hopefully finished with action movies and the idea of playing Superman, Cage is in top form, doing what he does best. Like his Oscar-winning role in Leaving Las Vegas, and last year's Oscar-nominated turn in Adaptation, Cage excels in playing ordinary people with extraordinary quirks. His tics and mannerisms really convey a man who dwells too much on the little things, and his performance will surely earn him a third Best Actor nomination. Rockwell, who was so good in last year's Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, is spot-on as Frank. Like the little fish in a school of bigger ones, Frank is always one big deal away from making it, and Rockwell perfectly portrays the false swagger and hipness necessary. The treat here is Lohman. Her emotions help drive the course of the film, and she and Cage bond in such a way that it's easy to imagine them as a real father and daughter. Credit all of the above to the direction of Ridley Scott. While best known for his stylish, yet fantastic, work in such films as Alien, Bladerunner and Gladiator, Scott has managed to pull real emotional performances out of his cast in his best work since Thelma and Louise.

With summer over, the studios will begin to introduce the films they want you to remember come Academy Awards time. Matchstick Men is one of those films. On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Matchstick Men  One and a half stars

This week's movie review of "Matchstick Men" is ©2003 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2003, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova.