Friday, March 31, 2017

Matchstick Men

Year 9, Day 90 - 3/31/17 - Movie #2,584

BEFORE: It's raining like crazy today, the kind of rain where I have to check the basement to make sure no rain's getting in, and also go around the outside of the house, in the driveway and the backyard, to make sure all the drains aren't clogged.  Good thing I checked, there was a clogged drain in the lower driveway and about 3 inches of rain built up that could have easily found its way into the basement.  We had some leaks in the bedroom back during the last snowstorm as things were starting to melt, but considering how many icicles were hanging down in front of the bedroom window, I figured out that the gutters probably just froze over, so when the melting started, the water had no place to go but inside.  Nothing's been leaking in the bedroom during this rain storm, so my hunch was probably right.  Still, I should probably get someone to check the roof one of these weekends, such are the joys of home ownership.  Also, I've got to get started on our taxes this weekend, now that I'm done with the office move.

Nicolas Cage carries over from "Stolen", and it's my rule of two again - I only recorded "Stolen" because I wanted to fill up the DVD with this film as a double-bill.  Have been very curious about this one over the years - I must have added it to my list sometime after I watched two other Nic Cage films last August.  I finally confirmed that I've had a complete turn-over on the watchlist since I started, because when I sort my list by "Date Added", I find that there's nothing that's been on the list since before 2014 - almost everything left was added after May 2015.  Oh, there are plenty of films on the list that were released before that date, but they've only been on my radar for a maximum of two years.

THE PLOT: A phobic con artist and his protégé are on the verge of pulling off a lucrative swindle when the former's teenage daughter arrives unexpectedly.

AFTER: At this point, for me to be surprised by a movie, well, that's saying something.  This one caught me off-guard at least, first by successfully portraying a con man as a sympathetic character, which is difficult, as I mentioned previously this week.  How often do you see an "evil" character, someone doing bad things, who you also want to root for?  Not that often - of course, that process is assisted here by showing us all of this con man's problems, tics and neuroses.  It starts with a bad case of OCD (yep, I can sympathize with that) and also includes agoraphobia, borderline personality, a lack of a moral compass, and then obsessive cleaning disorder (the other OCD).

Cage's character, Roy Waller, also has a small fortune in the bank, after years of pulling various cons and switchers.  In his world, it's OK as long as he doesn't take money from people, though instead he convinces people to GIVE them their money.  I suppose it's a fine line.  Here he wants to help his partner pull one last big score before supposedly retiring, but you just know that as long as it's profitable, he's probably never going to stop doing what he does, because then he wouldn't be who he is.  Which is a mess.  But finding out that he has a teenage daughter that he never met is enough to convince him to stay on his meds and to try and be a better parent and a better person.

Then something happens, and I don't want to say it's a "twist", because if I say that, and you go and watch this film, you'll spend the whole time wondering what the twist is, and when it's going to happen - when you should really experience the film cold, as I did.  So please forget I said anything, just let 6 months go by, let yourself forget about anything except the fact that I liked this film, and then check it out.

But the thing that happens sort of colors everything that came before it, and then obviously everything after as well.  Not exactly like what happened with "The Sixth Sense", because it's a whole different sort of plot point, but it could make you want to go back and watch the film again from the beginning, just to see if there are things that you could have, or should have, spotted.  Maybe it's more like if Lucasfilm released a statement saying that Chewbacca was a female Wookiee, always was, and then people would race back and watch the original Star Wars trilogy to see if there was any hint of a romantic relationship between her and Han Solo.  Only, not that.

So I'm surprised that more people don't talk about this film with reverence, or at least respect.  I can only conclude that maybe not very many people have given it a chance - I'm sure glad that I did.

Also starring Sam Rockwell (last seen in "Seven Psychopaths"), Alison Lohman (last seen in "Where the Truth Lies"), Bruce Altman (last seen in "Bride Wars"), Bruce McGill (last seen in "Run All Night"), Sheila Kelley (last seen in "Soapdish"), Beth Grant (last seen in "Flatliners"), Jenny O'Hara, Steve Eastin, Tim Kelleher, Nigel Gibbs, with a cameo from Melora Walters (last seen in "The Master")

RATING: 6 out of 10 water filters

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