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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Welcome to Collinwood (review)

Finding Your Sturges

So every young filmmaker is lookin’ for his Tarantino, right, or his Mamet. A hip crime flick that puts you on the map. Like do any of these guys — I mean the filmschool dorks, not Mamet or Tarantino, though I guess this applies to them too — even know from crime? Have they ever even been mugged? Or is everything they think they know about law and order somethin’ outta an old movie?

That’s cool. Cuz like these Russo guys, Anthony and Joe — who I bet get called Antny and Joey — lookin’ for their Mamet instead found their Sturges or their Capra (before he went all gooey), like a real doozy of an old-fashioned crime caper thingie. So knowin’ a ton of stuff about life only from old movies maybe ain’t such a bad thing.
There’s all these guys, right, like Billy Macy (Jurassic Park III, State and Main) and little Sammy Rockwell (Galaxy Quest, The Green Mile), who’re just, like, guys, trying to make it in the world and is it their fault they weren’t born rich? A man’s gotta do, and so on. And they’re stuck in Collinwood, which is like the Little Beirut of Cleveland and no way out but robbin’ your way out. So can ya blame ’em for takin’ the hot tip about an easy heist? Ya just can’t.

They’re in the job by accident, truth be told, cuz word spreads fast when people are desperate, and people are desperate. They’re stuck doin’ the job with crazy Ike Washington (True Crime, Out of Sight) and crazy Mike Jeter (The Gift, Patch Adams) — who’re crazy in completely different ways, you should know — and Patty Clarkson (Heartbreak Hospital, The Pledge), who was the old lady a the guy who found out about the job in the first place, who would be Luie Guzmán (Magnolia). You know what they say about too many cooks? It’s true about jobs, too.

These Russo guys, they know what they’re doin’ all right. They threw all these people in here and made ’em hopeless and a little insane but not too insane, you know, like you can understand why they’re insane. Stuck in the 1970s and all, with those awful clothes. But it’s also kinda not the 70s, like it could be today and they’re all forced to wear Goodwill cuz they’re so poor, or it could be the 30s, almost, with that feel a the Depression when people were crazy desperate and did crazy desperate things in movies cuz everyone was so poor and yet they were still good people who were just trying to do okay for themselves. So even though you laugh about their predicament and how stupid they are for thinkin’ they’re smart enough to do a job, ya also almost wanna cry for them for how they’re just achin’ for a normal life, like one with your wife’s not in prison for a year just cuz you couldn’t pay a stinkin’ measly little fine for what she did. That ain’t right.

Ya gotta wonder how long these Russo guys been workin’ on this script that they also got to direct cuz damn if it ain’t kinda startin’ to feel like Depression times again, and could they have planned such a thing as makin’ a new Depression movie for a new Depression. I mean, not like I’d know, I’m not that old. But you know what I’m talkin’ about. If ya got a job, it’s runnin’ ya ragged cuz a all the other employees who got laid off and now you’re doin’ their work too. And if ya ain’t got a job, then you probably ain’t had a job for like a year or more, and flippin’ burgers is startin’ to look good if only you could convince the 18-year-old manager that sure a used-ta-be database programmer would be completely fulfilled toppin’ off the french fryer with palm oil twice a day. Or whatever.

But that’s why it’s so easy to love this flick. Ya can’t sit there and say, Get a job ya bum, because we’re startin’ to know again that things aren’t so easy as they used to be. Ya know how really sad this flick is? Guys in it think bein’ a salesman is like a noble calling, somethin’ to brag to the ladies about. People are pretending to be salesmen in the suburbs in this movie to make themselves feel better. Oh God the tragedy.


MPAA: rated R for language

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

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