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Friday, July 28, 2006


Sexy rock 'n' roll world of crooks and cops

Starring: Jamie Fox, Colin Farrell

Miami Vice Miami Vice
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Synopsis: Ricardo Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) is urbane and dead smart. He lives with Bronx-born Intel analyst Trudy (Naomie Harris), as they work undercover transporting drug loads into South Florida to identify a group responsible for three murders. Sonny Crockett (Colin Farrell) [to the untrained eye, his presentation may seem unorthodox, but procedurally, he is sound] is charismatic and flirtatious until - while undercover working with the supplier of the South Florida group - he gets romantically entangled with Isabella (Gong Li), the Chinese-Cuban wife of an arms and drugs trafficker. The best undercover identity is oneself with the volume turned up and restraint unplugged. The intensity of the case pushes Crockett and Tubbs out onto the edge where identity and fabrication become blurred, where cop and player become one - especially for Crockett in his romance with Isabella and for Tubbs in the provocation of an assault on those he loves.

After a tragic security breach in the Joint Inter-Agency Task Force (JIATF), the FBI ask for help from the Miami authorities, who are not part of the compromised group. This assignment goes to Detectives James 'Sonny' Crockett and Ricardo 'Rico' Tubbs. Going undercover as offshore boat racers and outlaw smugglers Sonny Burnett and Rico Cooper, they take on the narcotrafficking network of the mysterious Archangel de Jesus Montoya-Londono and his Cuban Chinese banker Isabella. The intensity of the case pushes Crockett and Tubbs out onto the edge where identity and fabrication become blurred, where cop and player become one - especially when Crockett falls for Isabella, and when there is an assault on Tubbs's loved ones.

Miami Vice
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Review: (Los Angeles, California) Unlike other recent film versions of TV shows like The Dukes of Hazzard, Starsky & Hutch and Bewitched, which toyed with the innate campiness of their source material, Miami Vice plays it straight.

Deadly straight, actually.

It's so self-serious at times, it'll prompt you to laugh out loud at moments that aren't supposed to be funny. Which is a total letdown because, theoretically, this is Michael Mann's pure, true vision, now that he's free from the television decency standards that constrained him when his series was at the height of its pop-culture prowess in the mid-1980s.

The film looks fantastic, though - shot in intense, intimate high-definition like Collateral, in which Mann explored the seedy side of Los Angeles with Jamie Foxx in the driver's seat.

Miami Vice
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It's still a sexy, rock 'n' roll world of crime and corruption that the ever-fashionable vice cops Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs inhabit. And a couple of shootouts are inordinately creative in their violence and bloodshed. You truly feel as if you're in the back seat when high-powered rifle fire pierces the windshield, then the bad-guy driver, then the leather seat. It's disturbing and, at the same time, extremely cool.

But the story is simultaneously convoluted and forgettable (it has something to do with the duo infiltrating a drug cartel to determine the source of an intelligence leak, in case you care). It's actually quite easy to lose track of what these people are supposed to be doing while they're zooming around in expensive convertibles and slashing by speedboat through Biscayne Bay.

This time, Foxx rides shotgun as Tubbs to Colin Farrell's Crockett. And he's woefully underused, even though he clearly serves as the film's sole source of depth, while Farrell gets the corny lines.

Miami Vice
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No pastel T-shirts or white linen suits like Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas used to wear; everything in this modern-day Miami setting comes in dark, understated shades of steely blue and grey. The most striking style statement is Farrell's hair: You'll sit there mentally debating, is that a mullet or not? And does playing an undercover detective dictate that he has to wear that porn-star moustache?

These guys don't screw around, though, and that can be thrilling to watch. They bust in, kick butt, blow things up and leave, all in time to grab a couple of mojitos afterward. But don't expect any buddy-cop banter from this incarnation of Crockett and Tubbs. They're all business, and Mann, as writer-director, has made a refreshing choice by not trying to force a cutesy friendship on them.

Tubbs has his partner's back when Crockett gets involved with the dangerous Isabella (Gong Li), the cartel's money launderer. Gong, long a favorite actress of Chinese director Zhang Yimou, is stunningly gorgeous as always but often incomprehensible in a rare English-language role. (Many actors are, though; the frequently muffled dialogue seems to have been intentional. It's definitely off-putting.)

But her scenes with Farrell, which include an impromptu jaunt to Havana for all-night drinks and dancing, exude an undeniable heat.

Crockett knows it's stupid to get involved with Isabella, who's already involved with the deadly Montoya (Luis Tosar), who runs the cartel. The question that lingers throughout Miami Vice is: Is he really into her? Or merely wielding his sexy-bad-boy wiles to get close to her and extract information? The duality of his identity, and the few moments of introspection he allows himself, result in some of the film's most cringeworthy moments.

But they're not as bad as the entire performance from John Ortiz, who clearly watched Scarface too many times in preparation for his role as midlevel drug runner Jose Yero.

He never asks you to say hello to his little friend, but you suspect he could at any moment.

*Review by Christy Lemire, Associated Press

¹: "One Sheet" Size: 27" x 41" (typically pre - 1985); 27" x 40" (typically post - 1985)

Type: Printed on paper stock. Before 1985, usually folded; after 1985, usually rolled.

History: Traditionally, the one-sheet (OS) is the "standard" size for movie advertising in North America. The one sheet is undeniably the most popular size for collectors and consumers alike. Most new movie releases since 1985 were advertised using this size

In addition to the regular release One-Sheet poster produced for most movies, there are also "special" versions made for some films. They are as follows:

Advance: Sometimes called "Teasers", Advance One-Sheets are released before the film comes out. Some of the Advance posters have completely different artwork than the poster accompanying the final release version. Some are identical to the release One-Sheet, with the only difference being the word "Advance", "Coming Soon", or a specific date will be printed along the bottom.

Anniversary: These one-sheets mark the anniversary of the original release date of an all-time favorite movie, such as "Casablanca" or "Gone with the Wind". They can be elaborate with different artwork than the original release One-Sheet.

Awards: Award One-Sheets indicate somewhere on the poster that the movie has either won an award, or been nominated for an award.

Different Versions: Sometimes a film will have a series of One-Sheets as part of its advertising campaign. You might see many styles of One-Sheets for the same film, called Style A, B, etc. Each of these styles will have different artwork.

Double-Sided: Many of the One-Sheets that are currently produced are double-sided, meaning that they have printing on both the front and the back of the poster. These can be used in light boxes in movie theater lobbies.

Lenticular: Lenticular posters are three-dimensional, holographic designs. An example of a Lenticular poster is "The Lost World: Jurassic Park"

Limited Edition: Limited Editions contain original artwork and are released in limited numbers. Some are even individually numbered.

Re-Release: If a film is re-released, you will often find different artwork for each release. Examples of this are "Gone with the Wind" and "Star Wars".

Review: These One-Sheets have very little artwork or credit information, and contains mostly quotes from movie critics, newspapers and magazines.

Video Release: Often the artwork on a poster that is produced for the Video Release of a film differs from the One-Sheet artwork produced for the theatrical release.


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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Little Man

Starring: Marlon Wayans, Shawn Wayans

Little Man
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Synopsis: In the hilarious comedy "Little Man," Shawn Wayans plays a man so anxious to become a father that he mistakes a short-statured, baby-faced criminal on the run, played by Marlon Wayans, for his newly adopted son.

Review: 'Little Man' is inanely entertaining
By Wesley Morris, Boston Globe Staff

Frankly, the prospect of a movie starring Marlon Wayans as a 36-inch-tall ex-con pretending to be a toddler did not excite me, but the film's enthusiasm for the lowest imaginable humor and Marlon's seemingly boundless skill at bringing it off are contagious. (His head has been digitally snapped on the lively little bodies of Linden Porco and Gabriel Pimental.) Everybody looks like they're having fun in "Little Man," another inane outing from the Wayans brothers. And with some ineptly made comedies, that's good enough.

I laughed at the Wayanses' movie, and I don't even hate myself for it. The truth about the family's brand of comedy -- Keenen Ivory directs, Marlon and Shawn act, and all three usually write the script -- is that they like their audiences. We're not insulted, and we're not pandered to either. One major surprise in "Little Man" is how it quietly takes up the cause of proud black paternity -- Shawn plays the guy eager to adopt Marlon's impostor baby -- without saying, "Look, we're taking up the cause of proud black paternity!" A heart beats beneath the obligatory collection of breast-milk spit takes, toys to the groin, and urine and flatulence gags.

When Marlon's 3-foot thug, Calvin, steals a huge diamond that ends up in a handbag carried by Kerry Washington, he acts like the child she and her fiancé, Darryl (Shawn), sort of want. She's an upwardly mobile career woman; he's ostensibly careerless -- and broke, too. (The pitiful engagement ring he gives her has a vacant setting.) When Calvin arrives, dropped off by the uniquely funny Tracy Morgan, as Calvin's vividly stupid right-hand man, they can't help falling in love with him. Washington is especially good at registering baby Calvin's freakish qualities (that tattoo, that shank wound, those muscles!), then forgetting about them in the very next scene. That's bad moviemaking. But it could also just be pure love.

Little Man
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With the Wayans'es , it's hard to tell the difference. 2000's "Scary Movie" was as close to a masterpiece as bad filmmaking is likely to come. Ugly and haphazard as it was (Keenen Ivory's style is ruthlessly point-and-shoot), the original "Scary Movie" was part Mad magazine spoof, part acute social bulletin: the best film ever made about black people experiencing popular culture. There was nothing haphazard about its sense of perception -- the Wayanses knew how to tell a joke. (They dumbed the movies up.) "White Chicks," from 2003, should have been even better, but the gags never rose to the level of the conceit -- Marlon and Shawn dismantle "white culture" by going undercover as Beverly Hills ditzes. "Little Man" is superior to "White Chicks" because it's not really going for anything. It's brazenly mindless farce.

The brothers get antic support from Molly Shannon and Alex Borstein, from Wayans regulars Lochlyn Munro and Brittany Daniel, as a 'roid-raging dad and his bodacious wife, and from "In Living Color" vets Kelly Coffield Park and David Alan Grier. Playing Washington's Calvin-suspicious father, the expertly grizzled John Witherspoon, in his least crass film role, steals the movie. But the Wayans es are disarmingly egoless comedians. They want everybody in their films to be funnier than they are.

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