PCR past banners
Now in our eighth calendar year!
PCR #399 (Vol. 8, No. 46) This edition is for the week of November 12--18, 2007.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Before The Devil Knows You're Dead"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

theater seats

The Tampa Film Review for November  by Nolan Canova and Chris Woods
The Tampa Giant Comic Con and Toy Show for November  by Nolan Canova
"Before The Devil Knows You're Dead"  by Mike Smith
Tampa Comic Con Report - Nov. 11, 2007  by Andy Lalino
DVD Review: "Mothra vs Godzilla"  by ED Tucker
Next Week .... Passing On .... Now I Can Concentrate On World Peace .... Golden Globe Time .... Should I Get In Line Now? .... .... .... .... Whatever Happened To--? Chapter 33: Sean Connery  by Mike Smith
Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Archives 2007
Archives 2006
Archives 2005
Archives 2004
Archives 2003
Archives 2002
Archives 2001
Archives 2000
Email PCR

Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Marisa Tomei and Albert Finney
Directed by: Sidney Lumet
Rated: R
Running Time: 1 hour 57 mins

50 years ago Sidney Lumet directed his first film, the courtroom drama “12 Angry Men.” It earned Lumet his first Academy Award nomination for directing, though he lost to the great David Lean for “Bridge on the River Kwai.” Since then, Lumet has been nominated for directing three more times (“Dog Day Afternoon,” “Network” and “The Verdict”). Some of his other films include “Serpico,” “Equus,” “The Wiz”, “Prince of the City” (for which he was Oscar nominated for co-writing the screenplay) and “Running on Empty.” He finally received an honorary Oscar in 2005. Now, five decades after he started, Lumet should earn directing nomination number five with “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.”

Andy (Hoffman) and Hank (Hawke) are brothers. Andy is making six figures at a real estate firm while Hank is three months behind on his child support. The one thing they have in common is Gina (Tomei), Andy’s wife and Hank’s lover. Though Andy appears successful, his closet drug habit is costing him thousands. Andy devises a plan to put both he and Hank flush, suggesting to his brother that they rob a “mom and pop” jewelry store. Hank agrees, then is shocked to find out that the store in question is owned by HIS mom and pop (Rosemary Harris and Albert Finney). Finally agreeing with the plan, Hank sets in motion a series of miscalculations that will have dire consequences for himself and his family.

With so many “directors” making movies today, it is inspiring to see a master like Lumet, still going strong at the young age of 83, leave most of them in the dust. Lumet has always been able to tell a story like nobody else, and here he produces some of his greatest work ever. By showing the robbery in the opening few minutes, and then piecing together the film with flashback, Lumet shows a masters’ touch behind the camera. And he has chosen a cast that is more than equal to the task at hand. Hoffman, in his first true lead role since winning the Oscar for “Capote,” is a bull of a man, a walking ball of furious energy. If I had to compare him to more familiar actors, it would be Lee J. Cobb or Brian Denehey. In fact, I can see him in another ten years (he just turned 40) following those actors in the role of Willie Loman in “Death of a Salesman”. Hawke is his equal here, showing a range only hinted at in “Training Day.” Tomei brings a sense of sadness to her role, one that is even braver as she’s often in various stages of undress. As the father who attempts to find out the truth, no matter what, Finney proves to be a wounded bear of a man. Lumet’s “Network” earned an incredible five acting nominations come Oscar time (three wins) and I wouldn’t be surprised to see “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” earn a solid four.

A film that is easily one of the year’s best, I give “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead”

This week's movie review of "Before The Devil Knows You're Dead" is ©2007 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2007, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.