Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Movie: The Last Shot (2004)

This movie, loosely based on an FBI sting operation in the ‘80s, is definitely a minor effort. But it’s not without its charms. Agent Alec Baldwin sets up a fake movie company so he can bribe the gangsters controlling the Teamsters union. But in order to make the plan work, he needs a fake movie. And an aspiring director (Matthew Broderick) who has no idea that his big break is actually a complete sham.

It’s a dynamite premise, but Jeff Nathanson opts for a low-key approach that doesn’t take full advantage of it. It does yield other rewards. Baldwin and Broderick work well together in scenes that contain an undercurrent of sadness. Both of their characters have been plugging away at their trades for a while now with little success, and are convinced that this project is their, well, last shot for glory. Baldwin – is there a more entertaining actor in movies? – is particularly strong, never more so than when he begins to believe that he really is a producer.

A solid cast (Toni Collette, Tony Shalhoub, Ray Liotta) helps the film go down easy. Joan Cusack has the equivalent of Baldwin’s role in GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS: she appears unbilled to deliver a profane speech that brings down the house.

Take a gander at the movie’s poster. It’s a garish throwback to the one-sheets from the ‘70s. All it’s missing are photographs of the cast members across the bottom, a la THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE. It’s ugly as sin, but I love it.

Miscellaneous: Links

Here’s an inspired answer to the NHL lockout. Defamer offers an early review of the new musical version of The Ten Commandments starring Val Kilmer. My favorite line: “The burning bush went out a few times as well.”

As for the big changes coming up in late night, Slate’s Surfergirl does a fine job of analyzing Leno’s five-years-early farewell address and summarizing the challenge facing Conan O’Brien.