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Matchstick Men - Preview



Preview by: Jack Foley

THE heist/con movie gets another spin in the latest Nicolas Cage offering, Matchstick Men, directed by Ridley Scott.

The former Oscar-winner, turned action star, appears as con artist Roy, a phobia-riddled criminal, who with protégé, Frank (Sam Rockwell), is all set to pull off a lucrative swindle, when the plan is undermined by the unexpected arrival of his teenage daughter, Angela (Alison Lohman), who disrupts his carefully-ordered life and jeopardizes everything he has been putting together.

So what's the buzz? Why should Matchstick Men offer anything new from the current crop of heist movies doing the rounds?

Well, ever since Ocean's 11 re-defined the words 'cinema cool', directors and stars appear to be falling over themselves to replicate the winning chemistry which made Steven Soderbergh's masterpiece such a five card draw.

But the pedigree on this one looks quite promising. For starters, Cage knows how to project quirky, as well as endearing, while Scott is no novice when it comes to directing stylized cinema. Rockwell, too, is no slouch in the cool stakes, having already teamed up with George Clooney (twice) for crime capers, Welcome to Collinwood and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.

The story has also been co-written by another Ocean's 11 veteran, Ted Giffin, who knows a trick or two when he sees it.

The vibe from the set appears strong, too, with everyone falling over themselves to heap praise on each other.

Cage, for instance, describes working with Scott as a dream, stating, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, that, whereas many younger, talented directors tend to overdirect or fix things that aren't broken, 'Ridley can capture everything he's looking for with very few words and without many takes'.

As for his own tic-ridden character, which sounds very much like TV's Monk, in terms of paranoia, he is an 'obsessive-compulsive who likes to keep his life as tidy and low-key as his small-time scams'.

Needless to say, the double whammy of his newfound daughter and Rockwell's more complex scam sets off the behavioural disorders like never before.

Scott, for his part, felt drawn to the project because it offered a change of pace from the epics of late - that of a seriocomic, character piece.

With historical epic, 'Tripoli', alongside Russell Crowe, next up for him, it was the perfect opportunity to do something fun.

Advance word on the film, however, has been decidedly mixed, with leading film website, Aint It Cool News, currently playing host to two, wildly contrasting reviews.

On the one hand, we are offered a recommendation that, if 'you want to be completely sucked into a solid, character-driven', then go see it, but on the other, we have the opinion that it is 'all over the map'!

The latter reviewer, who describes himself as 'Mean Mr Mustard', felt that nothing worked - it wasn't funny, the chemistry was wrong, the characters unlikeable and the tone uneven (ie, too violent to be considered a family film, and too cute to be deemed an R-rated one).

The film is due to open in America on August 8, with a Setpember 19 release to follow in the UK. IndieLondon, of course, will deliver the full US reaction once it has opened there.



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