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The great director Steven Soderbergh’s latest film, No Sudden Move, was recently released on HBO Max.  The film stars Don Cheadle as Curt Goynes, a man just released from prison.  Needing cash, he takes a job along with another criminal named Ronald Russo (Benicio del Toro).  They each take an immediate dislike to the other but are forced to rely on one another when the job goes wrong and they find themselves on the run from a mess of other criminals, both of the gangster type and the rich white collar type.

This film has a hell of a cast.  It’s great fun seeing Don Cheadle back in a leading role.  Mr. Cheadle (who previously appeared in Mr. Soderbergh’s Oceans 11 films, as well as Out of Sight and Traffic) is great as Curt.  He plays Curt as tough and brave but flawed; this is a classic noir protagonist for whom we’re not sure things are actually going to work out.  I love the oil and water pairing of Mr. Cheadle and Benicio del Toro, and some of the best parts of the film are when the two get to bounce off of one another.  Ronald Russo is another in Mr. del Toro’s collection of scummy but still lovable characters.  David Harbour (Stranger Things, Hellboy, Black Widow) is fantastic as Matt Wertz, the poor sap who has access to the documents that the criminals want/need.  I haven’t seen Brendan Fraser (The Mummy films, The Quiet American) on screen in years; it’s fun to see him here as Doug Jones, the criminal fixer who connects Curt and Ronald for the job.  Jon Hamm brings his perfect Jon Hamm square jaw and charisma to the part of Joe Finney, the detective assigned to investigate the events that go wrong at Matt Wertz’s house.  Ray Liotta and Bill Duke are both terrific as dueling crime bosses.  Matt Damon pops up late in the film for a critical scene as a wealthy businessman who is just as much a criminal as the street-level hoods we’ve been following for much of the film.  Amy Seimetz has a small but important role as Matt’s wife Mary Wertz.  Julia Fox (Uncut Gems) is great as Vanessa, the wife of Ray Liotta’s crime boss Frank Capelli.  Kieran Culkin is great as an unhinged criminal, Charley.  What a cast that is!!

I liked No Sudden Move, though I didn’t quite love the film the way I’d expected to based on Mr. Soderbergh’s being at the helm and the incredible cast he assembled.  Frankly, the film’s sort of generic title (which doesn’t really mean anything, nor does it seem to me to connect … [continued]

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Well, the summer is winding down, but I’m taking advantage of the lull to catch up on some movies!  Here’s what I’ve seen lately:

Tropic Thunder — Just saw this tonight, and let me tell you it is phenomenal.  Ben Stiller stars in and directed this tale of a group of self-absorbed hollywood actors filming a big-budget Vietnam action-adventure movie called Tropic Thunder who, through a ludicrous series of circumstances, wind up in an actual Vietnam action-adventure.  (Hmmm, that description makes it sound sort of like Space Camp, but rest assured that it is not.)  The movie is hilarious, and I mean every scene is hilarious.  The cast is terrific.  Ben Stiller is Tugg Speedman, the action movie star looking for some respectability after the flop of his oscar-bait role as the mentally challenged Simple Jack…and Stiller plays forlorn self-absorbtion to a tee.  Jack Black plays drug-addled Jeff Portnoy, known for playing all the roles (in a variety of fat-suits) in the obese family movie series The Fatties.  As you’ve probably read by now, Robert Downey Jr. keeps his summer of success rolling (after Iron Man) with his portrayal of Kirk Lazarus, an actor so devoted to Method that he, well, transforms himself into a black man to play African-American Sgt. Osiris.  Those are the stars, but there are so many other juicy roles that are very winningly embodied by a variety of other talents.  Brandon T. Jackson plays rapper-turned-actor Alpha Chino (I laughed and laughed at that rapper name), and Jay Baruchel (so great as the lead in the great-but-cancelled Judd Apatow TV series Undeclared) is the requisite baby-faced soldier, Kevin Sandusky.  Danny McBride (who’s also having quite a summer, with the long-awaited release of his feature film The Foot Fist Way a few months ago, as well as his role in The Pineapple Express) is the somewhat psychotic pyrotechnics expert Cody.  Steve Coogan (Coffee and Cigarettes, Tristan Shandy, and the upcoming Hamlet 2) plays the desperate director Damien Cockburn trying to get his spoiled stars to behave.  Nick Nolte is genius playing… well pretty much himself, or at least the world’s perception of Nick Nolte, as the addled “Four Leaf,” the man who wrote the book Tropic Thunder being adapted by these Hollywood dim-wits.  And, of course, I cannot forget Tom Cruise, under a you-need-to-see-it-to-believe-it bald cap and hairy chubby suit, playing the gleefully profane studio mogul financing the production.  OK, do you want to see this movie yet??  Let me just add that this film is also enhanced by a trio of fake trailers even more enjoyable than the ones in Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse from last year.  (Speaking … [continued]