Keith Snyder
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Romance and Cigarettes

Films like this are why I got a region-free DVD player.

This is John Turturro's musical, starring James Gandalfini, Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet, Steve Buscemi, and Christopher Walken.

The first 80% of it is exactly what it should be, altering the technique used in THE SINGING DETECTIVE and PENNIES FROM HEAVEN so the actors can be heard singing along with the original tracks, and referring to MGM musicals in odd, glancing ways. There's a spinning umbrella in it, for instance, done almost as a throwaway on Christopher Walken's shoulder. And beyond all that, it's simply a terrific piece of work, funny at odd angles, unexpectedly and outstandingly shot, and unlike most of what we have a chance to see.

I think it's brilliant--and I also don't think the ending works, which really bothers me, because the rest of it--cinematography, acting, choreography--hits exactly the right notes, and I'd prefer to focus on THAT. But an ending that doesn't work is harder to get past than almost anything. There's an A story and a dramatically lightweight B arc that barely qualifies as a story. The B arc is what gets the ending. He goes out of his way to shore it up all the way through, but it's just not the point, and the weight brought to it by the lingering shots in the final 20 minutes can't compensate for the lack of story structure.


I really admire it. What a piece of art. If you've got a region-free DVD player, get it.


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