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Lie. Cheat. Steal. Suck.
Wrt. Doug Jung
Dir. James Foley
Str. Edward Burns, Dustin Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Luis Guzman
Opens April 25th

There's a formula that one has to follow in order to make a movie about grifters and con men. It's imperative when making one of these movies that you follow these simple step-by-step instructions:

1) Take One Sexy Con Artist who hasn't shaved in 4 days.

2) Add two or three Subordinate Con Artists, each of whom has a Special Con-Power (the straight man, the cop, the safe guy, and what-have-you)

3) Start the movie just as they're finishing one con -- so the Subordinates can show off their Special Con-Powers, and the Sexy Con Artist can show off how sexy he is-- and are about to start the Most Important Con Of Their Lives. The one that will let them out of the life of crime they all secretly hate for some reason.

Free Williamsburg
Film Archive


Cowboy Bebop
Better Luck Tomorrow
View From the Top

Laurel Canyon

Ordinary Sinner
Dark Blue
The Quiet American


Hell House
Good Housekeeping
Roger Dodger
Spirited Away
Punch-Drunk Love
Bowling For Columbine
Scarlet Diva
Full Frontal
Sex and Lucia
The Powerpuff Girls Movie
Read My Lips (Sur Mes Levres)
The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Human Nature
Shot in the Heart
Jim Brown: All American
Stolen Summer
Ram Dass: Fierce Grace

4) Kill one of the Subordinate con Artists, or kill someone close to the Sexy Con Artist. Have the reaming guys decide to go ahead with the plan Do-It-For-Johnny-style.

5) Somehow, along the way, the con gets totally screwed up. The Subordinates Special Con-Powers fail them; however the Sexy Con Artist, still looks sexy.

6) Kill some more people.

7) And, in the end, have it turn out that the Sexy Con Artist was (oh my god!) coning everyone, and he walks away with the loot.

8) Roll Credits. Make Money.

Almost all grift-flicks follow this formula. House of Games, The Grifters, Nine Quees, all of them. The trick, then, is to find some ways to be clever and inventive while adhering to this strict recipe. House of Games put the whole affair through the eyes of an uptight psychologist. Nine Queens kept you wondering which sexy guy with the four-day-old stubble was the real Sexy guy with the four-day-old stubble, and which was the patsy, and The Grifters was just plain slick as shit. Confidence takes this template of a movie, and does nothing to it what so ever. It's the wonder-bread of con movies. The characters are all empty; they're not robust enough even to be considered two-dimensional. They're one dimensional, a bunch of straight lines. It's like watching a pile of sticks each trying to trick the other out of millions of dollars.

Most of the dialogue, and the situations feel trite and old. Everything's been done plenty of times before, and usually much better. You really have to wonder why the movie was made at all. It break no new ground, presents no new ideas. It's not smart enough to be a psychological puzzler, but neither is it tense enough to be an action flick.

The Ratings

One black hole of talent

There are some perfectly fine actors peppered throughout this movie. And they all give washed out performances, to a man. Dustin Hoffman, for example, is trying to reinvent himself with sleazily and edgy roles; but if it didn't work for Burt Renolyds, Dusty, it ain't gonna work for you. Ed Burns and his rag-tag bunch of crooks look far too Hollywood to be believed. And Andy Garcia is literally playing a caricature of himself pretending to be an FBI agent.

One rather uncunning little fox

This movie is about as clever and surprising as Michael Moore's speech at the Oscars. Much like the speech, there is a lot of promise to be had, and you really want it to be smart and insightful, if not for your sake then for the reputation of all those involved. But, instead, everything sort of falls flat on it's face. "Shame on you Confidence! Shame!"

Four broken pencils

Four broken pencils? Now that's a pretty pointless movie!
Get it!?
……I'm so funny.

One and a half not-so-smooth, not-so-sexy hipsters

People will probably go see this movie, and probably like it, there's plenty of sexy red heads and lots of money and drugs and guns and all those neat-o things. But they're only liking it because it's a grift-flick, and grift-flicks are inherently fun. When it comes down to it, Confidence lacks a soul, and a heart and a brain and all the other vital organs that make a movie worth watching.

--B.C. Edwards
[email protected]

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[email protected] | April 2003 | Issue 37
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