182: To Catch a Thief

To Catch a Thief (PG) - 1955 - Runtime: 106 Minutes
Starring: Cary Grant, Grace Kelly
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
This may sound a bit naive, but I thought it was a little weird to see Hitchcock's name attached to this mystery/romance movie. I've always known him to be less the romantic type and more or a horror/thriller director. But what do I know? This is partly the reason I took up this project and I'm glad Maggie suggested this title while we were browsing the store.
Cary Grant stars as John Robie, an ex-jewel thief who has been living honest for quite some time in France. And when a series of robberies of very expensive jewels begins to happen along the French Riveria, it's up to John Robie to clear his name, as the police immediately suspect him. And in order to clear his name, he must catch the thief himself. His plan is fairly simple, to shack up with some rich lady himself and try to catch the thief in the act. However, Robie never planned on said rich lady's daughter (Grace Kelly) melting his heart in the process.
If this movie was released today, this would have had blockbuster written all over it: Two enormous stars at their respective peaks, Hitchcock, an established, well-known (and well-received) director, a dazzling and alluring location and a story based upon a best-selling book. It would have been weird if this movie didn't do well, 1955 or 2009. And it's very apparent that Hitchcock's fingerprints are all over this movie (not that I know too much about Hitchcock) as his signature appearance is in the movie, the cinemotagraphy is fairly stunning and there's enough tension and suspense for those disillusioned by romantic stories to be persuaded to sit through until the final scene.
Cary Grant is supposedly oozing sex in this movie, as we see him topless in countless scenes. Although I was wondering about his sexuality during the first moments of the movie - his choice of shirt and scarf/neck liner/hell if I know what that thing is made him look very effeminate. But then I realized he lives in France, so that explains a lot of the flamboyant costuming. Grace Kelly has always been a looker, but dear God, there were some awful costume choices in this movie (just wait until the masquerade ball). I was definitely shaking my head a few times. It's surprising to find out that this movie was nominated for best costume design. I guess the rest of the movies that year had all their characters wearing hobo outfits or something. But I digress...
Although I found myself getting quite bored during the middle of the movie, it never dissuaded me from wanting to know how things would end up, even though I was fairly certain how. I guess that's the sign of a good movie, where the characters are written so well that you want to spend time with them. But what I love most about movies from the 50s and before was the dialogue. Sometimes there just isn't enough good banter and witty back-and-forth between characters in movies nowadays, and I like how charming the movie stars always come across back then. And this movie has some great dialogue. Add on top of that a good little mystery story and this is an entertaining movie that still holds up more than 50 years later. As much as you can predict the ending and see where the movie is going, it's still fun and definitely worth your time.

Rating: Rent It!


182: Wall Street

Wall Street (R) - 1987 - Runtime: 126 minutes
Starring: Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen, Daryl Hannah
Director: Oliver Stone

I'm pretty sure I didn't know what the hell was happening for most of this movie. I don't know anything about the stock market, why it exists, how it works and why people get so worked up about it. I remain willfully ignorant of this because it just seems too much of a headache to learn about something I don't need or think about. Just reading the Wikipedia page on stock exchanges makes me feel stupid and inferior. Despite all the negatives, I still enjoyed the movie.

Part of me loves Oliver Stone and part of me wants to bash his head in for being so melodramatic and painting his metaphors and images with such large brushstrokes. Sometimes he's too earnest to make his point. And supposedly the message from Wall Street is that the "American Dream" is filled with deceit, envy, greed and lust. Also, cocaine! So if you don't already know, Charlie Sheen (looking somewhat bloated and pudgy in this movie - Stone are you trying to say something about those fat cats on Wall Street?) plays Bud Fox, who despite his name, is nothing but unclever, and the only inspiring thing about this yuppie is his determination. He's just a normal stock broker trying to work his way up the ladder to becoming the next Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), the biggest shark in a sea of fish. Somehow Bud squeaks his way into becoming second in command under Gekko's guided hand. And things are starting to look up for Bud, but he's not too careful about his illegal insider trading shenanigans and they soon come to bite him in the ass.

It's a classic tale about the rise to power and subsequent fall and the obligatory redemption of one man. All told through legal and trading mumbo jumbo that I didn't understand. In it's essence, the movie is good, it's just that I don't know if I could stand watching it again. I had to have the subtitles on just so I could at least keep track of the conversations. But be warned about the subtitles, because the person put in charge was either very intoxicated or didn't give a damn about the actual words being spoken. Too many times there were omissions in the text or it moved too fast or too slow. I hate that - it was quite bothersome.

But if you look very carefully, you'll notice that the movie is quite dated. Like extremely dated in that Michael Douglas carries around a brick. Oh I mean a cellphone (hello Zack Morris!). And all those computers only emit weird blips and bleeps and seem to output only a slime colored font. And we're supposed to believe it's slick - which I'm sure it was more than 20 years ago. There's even a bit about watching television on one of those tiny (I mean tiny - the Ipod has more screen space) portable TV sets. It's pretty distracting at points, which is why I guess Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps (that's the real title, I'm not making this up. It's so deliciously cheesy, no?) is being made. Here's hoping Shia actually fattens up for the role.

And as one last note, Darryl Hannah has officially become the poster child for 80s drag queens. When she first appeared on screen I literally gave a little gasp and emitted "Is that a man?" No, it was just Darryl being Darryl. Seriously, if she was supposed to represent the top cheese you could get in the 80s, I'm just glad I escaped that era only as a child.

Rating: Rent It! Catch it on TV!


182: Where the Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are (PG) - 2009 - Runtime: 94 minutes
Starring: Max Records, Catherine Keener, James Gandolfini
Director: Spike Jonze

This movie really wasn't what I was expecting. Although that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it tremendously or think it's a terrible movie. In fact, it's one of the most raw and emotional kids movies I've seen in quite some time. It's just so different.

I guess I was expecting an adventure story - which thankfully, this is not. If it had ended up becoming some Spy Kids-esque action movie, I think my stomach would have turned. Instead, this movie doesn't pull any punches as far as treating kids' emotions and feelings as carefully as any adults'. This film really does justice to the rollercoaster ride that is childhood. I loved every minute of this movie.

If you don't know already the movie is based very, very loosely on Maurice Sendak's classic children's picture book and it is every bit deserved to be considered a classic just like the book. Spike Jonze took the essence of the book - the wild and crazy thrill of being a kid and their imagination along with the selfish, lonely aspects of being a kid - and ran with it. Max is a younger sibling and troubled son to a single mom, who is struggling to keep a semblance of a family while trying to manage a relationship with another man. This isn't told at all, but shown in the movie. It's a very quiet movie, in that we're seeing things all through Max's perspective, so we get our information through Max. After enjoying throwing some snowballs at his older sister's friends, he gets hurt when they attack him and crush his little igloo he had made with him in it. After so much excitement, he lashes out at his sister, tearing her room apart. And later we see him yelling "Feed me woman!" to his mom. He's not exactly a model son, and soon runs away after biting his mom where he finds a sailboat to take him to a mysterious island. Full of wild things. And it's a fun and honest to goodness, scary place. He declares himself king before being eaten by these giant animals. And they soon bond, but there's cracks in each relationship between Max and the other animals. It's a complicated story (for a kid's movie) and I'm not quite sure which wild thing ties to his real family and friends back home. It's something worth watching again to watch for and notice all the subtle metaphors.

This is a raw and emotional film from beginning to end and something magical - the soundtrack from Karen O. of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs only cements this movie as an instant classic in my mind. It's worth repeat viewings and I highly suggest checking this one out!

Rating: See It!

182: Notting Hill

Notting Hill (PG-13) - 1999 - Runtime: 124 minutes
Starring: Julia Roberts, Hugh Grant
Director: Roger Michell

There's nothing wrong with a grown man enjoying love stories with a comedic bent. I'm one of those guys that thoroughly enjoys a good chick flick. I mean, I really think How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is essential for any rom-com aficionado's library. So it's surprising that I missed this one - Hugh Grant is the quintessential leading man in almost every romantic comedy - but Julia Roberts is really not my cup of tea.

So color me surprised when I started to really enjoy this movie - and it was Roberts that had me falling for her. Although I will say the opening montage with different clips of her and the song, "She" playing was truly god awful and almost made me shut off the DVD player right there. Thankfully, it ended somewhat quickly and the movie got right into the plot. Grant is a travel book shop owner in Notting Hill (what? Just travel books? Obviously the movie points out the absurdity of this idea, so I guess kudos to the writer for knowing that he can't come up with relevant professions for his lead character) who encounters Julie Roberts (I mean, Anna Scott, who is a Julia Roberts, if Julia Roberts took the lead roles equivalent of Milla Jovovich, but instead of tanking at the box office, her movie actually made money. And she's a good actress) on a whim, not once but twice, the second involving spilled orange juice. And they soon can't be without each other, but obviously it takes two hours for this to happen.

So you know where it goes, is it worth actually going there? Yes and no. I was actually enjoying the first half of the movie, where, surprise to me, I forgot that I was watching Julia Roberts and actually watching Anna Scott. Her character was so coy and subtle, and Roberts plays her deftly. Hugh Grant was spectacular as usual (I mean, when is he not?). But after the halfway mark, there's a huge disruption in their relationship and Roberts rears her ugly head and to me, ruined part of her character. She completely does a 180 to what her character has done the whole movie. I wouldn't say that this surprise totally ruined the movie, but it did diminish it from being a great rom-com to just good.

And I had this discussion with Maggie after the movie where she asked me if I thought Anna Scott deserved Hugh Grant (I totally forgot his character's name. He's just Hugh Grant, okay?) and she thought that she was such a selfish bitch throughout the movie that, no, Anna Scott does not deserve to have Hugh Grant's love and undying devotion. And I would have to agree with that assumption. And that's probably the fatal flaw in this movie - the perfect couple isn't so perfect and you're left with a bitter taste that Hugh Grant is always going to be the bitch to Anna Scott throughout their life together.

But would I watch it again if I caught it on tv? Sure, just as long as I can skip past that awful song.

Rating: Rent It!

182: Drag Me to Hell

Drag Me to Hell (PG-13) - 2009 - Runtime: 99 minutes
Starring: Alison Lohman, Justin Long
Director: Sam Raimi

Holy hell this movie was awesome! I'm not one for horror movies (duh!), but this one was perfect. I'm sick of the current trend in horror movies - lots of sex and blood and guts and torture scenes. I just don't understand the excitement and enjoyment that people get out of seeing such sickening stuff. I like a good scare and Raimi, getting back to his Evil Dead (and Michigan!) roots, definitely delivers on a fun, genuinely scary and sometimes goofy horror movie.

This is what horror movies should be, in my humble, if somewhat inexperienced, opinion. Alison Lohman plays Christine Brown, a loan officer looking to move up the corporate ladder, denies an old gypsy (isn't it always a gypsy?) an extension and basically evicts her out of her home. In doing so, the gypsy woman curses her to be sent to hell, where before the joyful descent, she gets tormented for three very long days by some crazy demon.

And while there is some real good scares in this movie, Raimi's not afraid to have a little fun. And if you are a cat lover, you might be offended, but I was laughing with disbelief as to where this film went. It's a good movie in that you do have to pay attention to every scene - no second was wasted that isn't integral to the story. There's such a good payoff at the end of the movie that although I knew was coming, was totally thrilled and shocked by how crazy it all ended. Great stuff - I can't wait for Raimi to do more stuff like this, but I'm also thrilled that he has (according to him) found new energy to bring to the Spider-Man franchise.

If you're looking for a good scare and some fun, this movie is perfect for a late night thrill. Now if we can only get that Evil Dead sequel going, the world would be complete.

Rating: Buy It!

182: What We Do is Secret

What We Do is Secret (R) - 2008 - Runtime: 92 minutes

This movie has been on my DVR since May. Maggie recorded it knowing I've been wanting to see this (she's the best and is always looking out for me). As you can tell, I've stolen The Germs logo for my own selfish purposes. I love the Germs, they happen to be one of my favorite punk bands that didn't (and in my opinion, still don't) get the credit they deserve for pushing punk to the edge back in the late 70s. Their music was obviously influential but they it also had such a diabolical and destructive tone to the music and lyrics. Darby Crash may not have been a genius, but he certainly had his moments.

So this brings us to the movie about the beginnings of Jan Paul Beahm's infamous and epic desire to bring about a revolution to music. It's too bad that the movie is plain and mediocre, because there's a good story to tell here. It's just told in a convoluted mess of exposition and bad acting. There's never any real sense of urgency or placement of the story. It's just tells the story without any background, history or context of the times and the motivations behind these rebellious kids. Whereas punk music has had some great documentaries, the story of The Germs could have benefited from a more sterile look that a documentary would have given it. Instead, we're force fed a narrative that doesn't really delve too deeply into the story of Beahm and his ambitious plans for a band. The only redeeming thing in the movie was the talking heads provided by the actors portraying their real life counterparts being interviewed supposedly in the present day. It's a good perspective for the movie, which is why I think it would have been better to actually shoot a documentary, but I digress.

I mentioned bad acting, and while the main actors really do a good job (hell, Shane West was so good that he's picked up Crash's mantle and is now the lead singer of the reunited Germs), it's the supporting cast and everyone else that just lowers the bar to mediocre. I mean, there are just some forced lines with no emotion behind them that made me feel embarrassed. It was like I was watching a bad high school play.

So....in lieu of this bad movie, if you have an itch for a good punk movie, watch SLC Punk or watch any good documentaries like American Hardcore or End of the Century.

Rating: Avoid Like the Plague

182: Year One

Year One (PG-13) - 2009 - Runtime: 97 minutes
Starring: Jack Black, Michael Cera
Director: Harold Ramis

Okay, so I totally forgot about this movie. I think that pretty much sums the whole experience watching this train wreck: forgettable. Except train wrecks are more memorable, so I would compare this movie to seeing road kill on the highway. It stinks and there's a lot of messy stuff and you just want to forget that somehow, somebody killed this poor animal because it was too stupid to look both ways before crossing. Although someone should've killed this movie way before it got into pre-production. The jokes are not really funny and Jack Black, as much as he's good in movies like Orange County and School of Rock, his schtick get extremely old after five minutes.

Black and Cera are cavemen who get banished from their tribe and end up wandering into biblical stories. But whereas this could have ended up being a funny and biting satire on the absurdity of the Old Testament (ala The Life of Brian or History of the World Part I) ends up being dick and fart jokes for an hour and a half. There's really nothing redeemable in this movie and it's not exactly surprising that I forgot that I watched it.

Seriously, not Paul Rudd, David Cross, Oliver Platt, Hank Azaria or Bill Hader could save this movie. Yes, they're all in this piece of crap and don't have anything remotely resembling a good joke.

So as much as I could go on writing about how bad this movie is, just take my word for it.

Rating: Avoid Like the Plague


182: Couples Retreat

Couples Retreat (PG-13) - 2009 - Runtime: 107 minutes
Starring: Everyone (I kid, I kid) - Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau...how about you just read the poster to the left?
Director: Peter Billingsley

This movie has a lot going for it: big stars, beautiful setting, sex appeal and a great premise. It's not that this movie isn't funny or bad, it's just expectations were pretty high for this movie (it is written by Favreau and Vaughn, the duo behind Swingers, my all-time favorite movie) and it falls just short of being great.

Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell play an obsessive-compulsive couple who chart out their lives through power point presentations, quite literally. They've come upon a stumbling block in their marriage: trying to make a baby and it's put them on the verge of separation. So in order to get back on the happily married train, they've decided to invite their friends for a group discounted trip to the most wonderful and gorgeous place on earth. It's supposed to be a fun trip, but everyone soon finds out there's work to be done on everyone's relationship and each couple faces the problems they've ignored or neglected throughout their relationship.

This movie is funny and at times is quite hysterical. But there are moments that drag on too seriously. This is not a screwball comedy and the movie deals with each couple's problems in quite a serious fashion. I noticed around me before the movie came on that the audience was quite older - I never in my life would think I wasn't the target audience for this movie, but this movie is obviously (now that I think about it) for an older audience to enjoy. I enjoyed the movie, but I was expecting bigger and more laughs and not for some serious character developments. I feel like I'm complaining about this, but it's just really unexpected in a movie like this.

I wouldn't say this is the funniest movie this year, but it does deliver for the most part. There were times where I just wanted them to stop talking and do something. Don't get me wrong, this is a a fun movie and quite harmless (PG-13 ratings will do that) but it's not exactly a memorable experience. You'll enjoy yourself while you're there, but don't expect to be quoting the movie weeks later.

Rating: Rent It!

182: Anvil! The Story of Anvil

Anvil! The Story of Anvil (R) - 2009 - Runtime: 90 minutes
Director: Sacha Gervasi

All the praise to the left is well deserved for this rockin', epic and surprisingly tear-jerking documentary. Anvil, for those not into metal (who are you people?!?) at one time (in the innocent year of 1982), was one of the most influential and popular metal bands on the planet (exaggeration is not mine). And after a great start, they seemed to plummet into obscurity. But nevertheless, they've seemed to stay together throughout the years (somewhat changing the lineup in the 90s), releasing an album every so often to make sure the metal gods were pleased. The story picks up around 2006, when the two original members of the band, Steve "Lips" Kudlow and Rob Reiner, best friends since high school, get a call to go on tour in Europe to supposedly excited and sold out crowds. The tour quickly devolves into disaster as most shows are packed to brim with empty air - there was one show with literally 4 guys in attendance and one of them was rocking it out on an armchair - now that's dedication! At one point Lips gets so mad at the club owner for not paying them he's ready to beat the living daylights out of the guy. It's the lowest of the low for the group and they come back with low spirits.

At least for the most part, because as much as life has kicked Lips and Rob in the balls, repeatedly, Lips continues to be the optimist. His attitude throughout the whole movie is inspiring - never once does he take for granted what he loves doing. No matter how shitty his situation is, he's always had his music to go to - and that's what's at the heart of this documentary. It's an amazing story of rising back up - because the story ends fairly happily and continues to do so. They've succesfully released their thirteenth album to critical acclaim and pretty good sales for a metal band. After the movie was released to much critical acclaim also, the band has found new life in touring with AC/DC. It's a testament to the optimistic spirit in all of us and is really inspiring to never give up on your dreams, as cliched as that sounds.

Even if you are not a fan of metal (once again, who are you?!?) or possibly hate the idea of long, complicated guitar solos with fast drums and power ballads, this movie is more than just about a metal band. It's about an indomitable spirit and willpower that all of us have that tells us to never quit. It does sound like I just strung a bunch of blurbs together, but this movie is worth seeing, so make sure to please the metal gods by checking this shocker of a rocker (blurb overload!) out!

Rating: Rent It!

182: The Escapist

The Escapist (R) - 2008 - Runtime: 102 minutes
Starring: Brian Cox, Joseph Fiennes, Dominic Cooper
Director: Rupert Wyatt

This movie was awesome! I find myself thinking about it way after I've finished it. It's a gripping, utterly brutal picture that easily is one of the best prison break movies. Ever. Yeah, this movie did what Prison Break, the TV series that after an inspired first season ultimately petered out with redundant storylines, only dreamed of doing. It's quite visceral and riveting - it takes no shame in depicting prison as pure hell.

Brian Cox plays Frank Perry, a lifer who recently found out his daughter is on the verge of death. This shattering moment sets in motion what will ultimately be the breakout plan embarked upon by 5 men who will do anything for freedom. The movie plays out in scenes that jump from the beginning of their planned breakout to the men making plans and the events that lead up to the day they decide to escape. There's no back story on the men, the story just unfolds without any background on why each man is incarcerated. This is a good thing, otherwise the movie would be bogged down with too much exposition. It would detract from the epic scheme that these five men have created. As much as I loved the events leading up to their breakout, I found myself waiting desperately for the next scene of the escape. Every time they cut back and forth the two scenes complement each other providing clues as to how they got through each obstacle. It's a great way to tell the story and keeps things paced nicely, without overwhelming the audience with action or too much exposition and dialogue.

As for the performances, Brian Cox does a good job, but his supporting cast really shine. Especially Joseph Fiennes, who plays a somewhat insane and suicidal inmate with a thirst for the fisticuffs and Dominic Cooper, who plays the naive (and fresh off the bus) prisoner who becomes entangled in the escape plot by being the pretty boy and prison bitch to one of the prison's most powerful inmates. Although besides Frank and Brodie, two long-time companions, most of the men are put together because of circumstances. But you'd never know this, because when the task is at hand, they work with the determination of a band of soldiers. And although things get a little weird near the end (hint: Ambrose Bierce) it all fits nicely together and the conclusion is brilliant.

It's out now on DVD as a Blockbuster exclusive (you can only rent it at Blockbuster stores or online) so check it out!

Rating: Buy It!

182: Assassination of a High School President

Assassination of a High School President (R) - 2009 - Runtime: 93 minutes
Starring: Mischa Barton, Reece Thompson, Bruce Willis
Director: Brett Simon

These movies are right up my alley. I love a good film noir movie. And this one fits the bill - it's set in (duh) high school and follows the socially inept Bobby Funke, a wannabe, gum-chewing sophomore journalist. He's looking for a big story and when the SATs mysteriously go missing, Funke decides that he's the one to investigate and discover who's behind the whole mess. When he discovers mostly circumstantial evidence that points the finger towards the school's star athlete, he decides to charge head on with his accusatory article. But after becoming the BMOC more evidence pops up that threatens his credible story and points towards a much larger conspiracy.

This is a classic detective, film noir story. Even down to the cheesy narration by the lead ("Clara was one tough cookie. All I wanted was a taste."), and instead of smoking constantly, chewing gum is the norm for this gum shoe (yes, pun intended). It's a lot like Brick (which I've mentioned before), but instead of deadly serious, this movie has a bite and dark sense of humor. It's never ashamed to "go there," whether that be showing a school shooting (although done with a paintball gun, nevertheless it is chilling) and the hooligans in the school are more or less treated like prisoners, a metaphor that isn't lost on me.

Reece Thompson, whom I've enjoyed in another indie high school dramedy, Rocket Science, plays Bobby perfectly. You know he's in way over his head but thinks he has everything under control. He finds his new super stud status as something inevitable for him even though it's manufactured. He's such a dork, though and everyone around him is super cool. Most of the supporting cast are pretty good and deserve some credit for creating a relatively realistic prep school setting. Of course there's a femme fatale in this movie and despite all of her bad PR, Mischa Barton does a pretty good job of playing every boy's dream girl both as enigmatic and approachable. She's both an imposing figure in her scenes and also simply charming. I'm not saying she deserves awards, but Barton is a pretty good actress. And Bruce Willis plays the school principle pretty awesomely (yes that's a word). He's a war vet who doesn't give a hoot about the students, just as long as they're obedient and don't disrupt his domain.

It's darkly funny and skewers the power regime among the students and teachers. But this isn't a satire or assessment of school cliques, it's just a good mystery set within the four walls of the hell that is high school. It's not a bust-your-gut type of movie, but you will be grinning the whole time at the clever dialogue and hilarious antics of the main characters. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and it's too bad it never really caught on. I'm sure it will become legendary among fans of this genre (much like Election). But this movie was made in 2007 (when Barton was still fairly relevant) and the distributor of the movie filed for bankruptcy, so it never saw an actual theatrical release. It's finally out on DVD this week and it's a gem. If you're looking for a good mystery and a dark comedy, this is definitely one to hold onto!

Rating: Buy It!

182: The Brothers Bloom

The Brothers Bloom (PG-13) - 2009 - Runtime: 113 minutes
Starring: Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel Weisz, Rinko Kikuchi
Director: Rian Johnson

I was anxiously awaiting this movie ever since I fell in love with Johnson's directorial debut, Brick. His first movie is something that I consider one of the best movies of 2006; it's something that I recommend to a customer whenever they're looking for a good drama or thriller. It was pretty amazing that for his second movie he pulled together such a terrific cast. Although The Brothers Bloom never received much praise as his first, this movie is definitely a keeper.

The Brothers Bloom, simply put, are con men. They've grown up without any supervision and have consequently managed to con their way through life. That is, until Bloom (Brody) decides he wants out for good and leaves Stephen (Ruffalo). A few months pass and Stephen finds Bloom to offer him one last con: Penelope Stamp, a rich, socially reclusive woman who collects hobbies (Weisz). Of course things get complicated and Bloom obviously falls in love with Penelope. It's a fairly predictable story that's told, but as with Brick, it's not necessarily about the ending but how it arrives there.

It's like Johnson's winking at the camera the whole time. This sounds negative, but it's better for the movie. It never takes itself too seriously and the film has a light hearted air to all the cons and double crosses. But make no mistake, the final con (which encompasses most of the movie) is epic and you never know what might happen next. Weisz plays the awkward and sometimes crazy Penelope with a bit of clutzy charm and cute sexiness. It's one of her best performances because it's so different from most of her roles. Ruffalo and Brody have good chemistry together - Brody the straight man and Ruffalo, the ever oppressive older brother who is leader of their rag-tag group, which includes the very silent Bang Bang played with a mysterious danger by Rinko Kikuchi.

Things swell to the grand finale; the final payoff of the con. But if anything, it feels anti-climactic and without spoiling anything, it's kind of the point of the movie. The whole movie hinges on the relationship between Stephen and Bloom and things come to an inevitable conclusion, with subtle metaphors included. It's a fun ride across the country and worth checking out!

Rating: Rent It!