It figures "Confidence" is in limited release; it's very clever.
Fundamentally a caper drama about a bunch of slick con artists, it nevertheless holds some serious laughs for the thoughtful sophisticates among you.
To our good fortune, Dustin Hoffman is responsible for the delivery of the preponderance of this scathing black humor. As good as the actor is however, the true credit for his brilliantly perverse dialogue must go to the writer, Doug Jung.
In "Confidence" a great script is enhanced by the film's visual component. This is significant film making.
The significance of this relationship remains paramount regardless of the genre. Consider "Victor/Victoria" for example. It is a superlative romantic comedy primarily because it is so clever and secondarily because its witty script is augmented by its visual splendor.
Hoffman plays The King (No, not that The King, or even that The King), a powerful and dangerous crime boss.
Defined by his delicious moral perversions, The King dwells in a den of iniquity of his own making and I suspect the film is in limited release because many will find this aspect of the film reprehensible.
However, those among you able to appreciate the deliciously witty facetiousness of the film's writer will surely find The King's bizarre reinterpretation of propriety hilarious. Attend to the relationship between The King's moral admonitions to his employees and the purpose for which they are employed.
The director, James Foley, milks as much as he can from Hoffman's character, particularly during his interaction with other cast members, primarily Edward Burns and Rachel Weisz.
In one priceless scene Burns' character, Jake Vig, reluctantly sits in a booth with The King; Vig adopting a body posture so much more revealing of leery revulsion than a simple grimace.
It's worth heading for Phipps Plaza to revel in such thoughtful direction.
This well-conceived attention to detail is evident throughout the film. For example, attend to The King's inherent aggressiveness as he responds to challenges to his authority.
In these situations he spontaneously aggravates what is only potentially incendiary and thereby demonstrates his tenuous rationality. In so doing the director reaffirms The King's dominance not through rhetoric but by revealing a seething, id-driven madness best left unprovoked.
This is excellent character development and provides sustenance for those who seek from film more than rapid-fire editing, bright colors and hot chicks.
And speaking of hot chicks, the director utilizes Weisz to excellent effect. Never focusing on her beauty or employing the camera and makeup to enhance her allure, Foley allows us to appreciate that Weisz's character, Lily, is devoid of self-absorption. Men are attracted to her as she is and she exploits this.
The antithesis of such intelligent restraint may be found in "Chain Reaction" (1996). In this one Weisz's character has been relentlessly pursued by murderous thugs in sub-zero weather.
Hungry and exhausted, following a harrowing escape aboard an open airboat at breakneck speeds on a frozen lake, she falls through the ice, immersing herself in freezing water.
Subsequently she and her companion find an abandoned house, and he draws her a bath. The director uses the moment to feature a lingering tight shot on her radiant countenance as she recovers in the tub.
Though moments ago she was maximally bedraggled she is suddenly gorgeous. It is evident makeup artists spent an hour or more on her eyes alone.
Though the moment is therefore memorable, the movie hits rock bottom.
To his credit, the director of "Confidence" allows us to appreciate a far more interesting quality of Weisz's character. In her interaction with The King boundaries are transgressed and Lily's response proves far more revealing than a recapitulation of the obvious. Thoughtful filmmaking.
The relationship between Jake Vig, Lily, and The King is complex. What is important to understand is that Vig is a confidence man.
Therefore, a proportion of a viewer's attention is consumed with deciding what is real, what is fake, who is loyal to whom, wherein lies the scam, and is someone going to get away with something. Big bucks are at stake.
With regard to the excellent supporting cast, has there ever been a film that wasn't improved by the subtle craftsmanship of Luis Guzm?n?
Also in a supporting role is heartthrob Andy Garcia. To his credit Garcia, like Weisz, subsumes his glamour in service to his role. His willingness to do so is commendable and his contribution to the whole all the more convincing.
For the right audience "Confidence" is a sure bet.
Celluloid memories: When it comes to exceptionally well written and well acted caper flicks you cannot do better than "Sexy Beast" (2000). Ben Kingsley provides a stunning, frightening performance in this adults-only film directed by Jonathan Glazer. It's not for the faint of heart, but if you're looking for superlative filmmaking, start here. Another very good film with significant visceral impact, "The Limey" (1999) is directed by Steven Soderbergh and not only stars Terence Stamp, Lesley Ann Warren and Peter Fonda, but features Luis Guzm?n, once again in a pivotal role. Finally, also featuring deliciously black humor (it was written by Quentin Tarantino), "True Romance" (1993) will be deemed hilarious by the same audience that would appreciate "Confidence." This at times violent film is directed by Tony Scott and features an array of superlative actors including Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, Christopher Walken, Samuel L. Jackson, and James Gandolfini. Top that!