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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Two for the Money




Paging Michael Mann.....Mr. Mann, Mr. Pacino needs your assistance.

Wow.....where do I begin?

I guess I have to begin by saying that Al Pacino is one of the most beloved actors of all time, certainly one of my all time favorites. His resume includes some of the most memorable performances in cinematic history.

Brother....we're a long way from that here.

In all honesty, I don't think he even cares anymore, and seriously I don't think he should. At his age, he shouldn't be putting his body through a draining, stressful, physically and psychologically demanding movie shoot. He would probably be the first to admit that the days of Dog Day Afternoon are WELL behind him. I think that at this point in his career he's content with just having fun, making obscene money, and doing mediocre work with no effort.

The sad part is that I don't think the people working with him, feel the same way.

I think all the actors, and creative team TRY to bring their A+ game to the projects he's working in because the guy is still Al FUCKING Pacino. What results is even more unfortunate because even when mediocre talent tries to do excellent work, the results are still mediocre..... or worse.

The sad fact is the only reason why this movie was made in the first place is because Al Pacino was attached. It really has no business seeing the light of day.

Two for the Money tells the story of Brandon Lang (Matthew McConaughey), who after suffering a career ending football injury, becomes a sports betting expert. His uncanny ability to predict winners catches the eye of Walter Abrams (Al Pacino), one of the best betting handicap's in the business. He invites Lang into his profitable company to try, and capitalize on Lang's lucrative run. Problems arise when Lang's run of luck seems to run out.

The movie basically follows the structure of a lot of Al Pacino's recent work. He basically plays a elder tutor,with a hidden agenda, to a younger ward. Devil's Advocate, Donnie Brasco, The Recruit, Any Given Sunday, City Hall, Scent of a Woman, Two Bits the list goes on and on. It seems like the only time he stretches away from that formula is when he works with Michael Mann, or when he does Shakespeare, which is obviously something he feels passionate about. As far as I'm concerned that's the only thing worth watching from Pacino nowadays, Michael Mann movies and Shakespeare. Stuff like this movie just feels like Pacino is showing up to collect his paycheck.

As I said earlier the movie feels like it wants to be important. But in reality the material, and creative team are not up to the task. The result is unintentionally humorous, and just plain horrible. One can tell that Matthew McConaughey and Renee Russo are excited to work with Pacino, but it's a one way street. They are running in circles, Pacino is on automatic. It's sad to watch actually, and the excitement is not limited to just the actors. One can tell the script was altered to make Pacino's part more appealing to the actor. For instance, for some strange reason, Pacino's character has an unspecified heart ailment which makes him prone to strange, chest grabbing, panic attacks that are remedied by magic pills. The moments play out like a comedic SNL type recreation of his Diabetic attacks in The Godfather part III. The three times they occur in the movie, I let out hysterical laughs of disbelief. It's obvious that they were put into the movie to showcase Pacino, because there is no payoff in the movie. Just a random quirky tick that the character has. The character also has long winded philosophical speeches about man's nature, and the business that just feel like the writer padding the character's dialogue.

The script is apparently based on a true story. There's even a feature on the dvd of a conversation between the real "Brandon Lang" and Script writer Dan Gilroy.

The fact is there MIGHT be a good story in the script. Some of the stuff in the movie is kind of interesting....maybe. I'm thinking if it was a small independent film, with two solid character actors in the lead, and a cold feeling, gritty look to the film, with an exciting, talented, director there MIGHT be something interesting there. But the whole movie feels like it's been run over by the giant HOLLYWOOD machine truck.

A perfect example of that fact, is the look of the film. For some strange reason the movie is shot in this glossy, soft light that makes the movie almost feel like it's a dream. Which is a strange choice because the film feels like it WANTS to be dark, and gritty. The character's talk and act gritty, the movie has prostitutes, deadbeats, mafia types and goons. But they are all running around in this absurd soft light that makes me think of Christmas.

Needless to say the movie is horrible.

But just to drive home the point of how absurd the movie is. At one point in the film, Armand Assante, who plays a mafia type, tracks down Matthew McConaughy's character after losing tons of money on his picks. Assante puts a gun to his face after pushing him to the ground, a goon holds him down, and then Assante proceeds to.........urinate on McConaughy's chest.

He URINATES on McConaughy.....I think the pee was clear.

The moment is supposed to be powerful, but it plays like something from The Naked Gun. Something O.J. Simpson would have to endure while he's in a coma.

Two for the Money is now available on DVD....rent it at one's own risk.



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