Rated R for pervasive profanity
Clint Eastwood Turns Tony-Winning Play Into Scintillating Spectacular
Francesco Castelluccio (John Lloyd Young) was born on the wrong side of the tracks of Newark, New Jersey, where he was raised in a public housing project controlled by the mob. As a rebellious adolescent, he started hanging out with hoodlums in his Italian neighborhood, over the objections of his mother (Kathrine Narducci) who feared her son was either going to wind up dead or in jail.
But despite eventually getting busted for burglary, he managed to evade imprisonment at 16 when a lenient judge let him off with just a stern warning. His saving grace, ultimately, would be that distinctive falsetto that in 1962 catapulted him to the heights of superstardom as Frankie Valli, the high-pitched frontman of The Four Seasons.
His meteoric rise, self-destruction and resurrection are the subject of Jersey Boys, a scintillating spectacular with a jukebox soundtrack featuring all of the group’s hits. Directed by Academy Award winner Clint Eastwood (for Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby), the entertaining biopic is based on the play of the same name which won a quartet of Tonys in 2006, including Best Musical.
The picture stars Tony winner John Lloyd Young (for Best Actor In A Musical) who originated the role of Frankie Valli on Broadway. The rest of The Four Seasons are played by Erich Bergen as Bob Gaudio, Vincent Piazza as Tommy DeVito, and Michael Lomenda as Nick Mazzi.
Other pivotal cast members include Renee Marino as Frankie’s long-suffering wife, Freya Tingley as his equally-neglected daughter, and Joey Russo as his childhood pal Joe Pesci (yes, that Joe Pesci). And Oscar winner Christopher Walken (for The Deer Hunter) steals his every scene as usual as Angelo “Gyp” DeCarlo, the Mafia don who ran the Genovese crime family’s loan sharking operations back in the ’60s.
Nevertheless, the real appeal of the movie rests in the tunes, whose derivations are often implied or expressly explained. For example, Bob was ostensibly inspired to compose “Big Girls Don’t Cry” after watching Kirk Douglas slap Jan Sterling in the face in the film Ace In The Hole.
The cast, here, performs all the songs themselves, from “Sherry” to “Dawn” to “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” to “Rag Doll” to “Who Loves You?” to “Working My Way Back To You” to “Walk Like A Man” to “Oh, What A Night!” and beyond. Who knew The Four Seasons had so many hits?
A nostalgic trip down Memory Lane designed with Baby Boomers in mind.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 134 minutes
The Life And Crimes Of Doris Payne
Dubious Documentary Celebrates Checkered Career Of African-American Jewel Thief
Doris Payne was born black back in 1930 in Slab Fork, West Virginia, where she was raised during the Jim Crow era of racial segregation. Besides having to withstand withering bigotry and racial discrimination as a child, she grew up in a dysfunctional family where her father routinely beat her mother right in front of her face.
That might help explain her turning to crime at an early age, starting with stealing a diamond from a department store, fencing it, and using the funds to help her mom escape the abusive marriage. Unfortunately, Doris didn’t stop there, but took to jewel thievery like a fish to water, gradually escalating to seven-figure takes by targeting upscale retailers like Cartier and Tiffany.
Her modus operandi involved gaining the confidence of a gullible store clerk before resorting to distracting devices such as sleight of hand and dizzying hand jive. That reprehensible behavior kept the sticky-fingered felon forever on the run from authorities as she netted millions in gems over the course of a checkered career spanning six decades and counting.
Specializing in identity theft, Doris was an expert at impersonating wealthy socialites in exotic locales, as she did on Monaco where she passed herself off as the wife of movie director Otto Preminger. Overall, she’s employed at least 20 aliases, 11 Social Security numbers and nine passports in pursuit of ill-gotten gems. Brief stints in prison couldn’t cure Doris’ compulsive kleptomania, which is why she’s presently doing time behind bars for purloining a precious stone worth 22Gs just last year.
Co-directed by Matthew Pond and Kirk Marcolina, The Life And Crimes Of Doris Payne is a documentary of dubious intentions which futilely endeavors to paint an empathetic picture of an unrepentant octogenarian who simply fails to earn the audience’s respect. After all, her odious line of work has serious consequences not only for herself but for others, as was the case with a tearful clerk seen here who was fired for being fleeced by the wily old recidivist.
Doris Payne, an unappealing, un-role model who stole millions from the rich and simply frittered it away on herself in decadent fashion.
Very Good (2.5 stars)
Running time: 74 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening June 20, 2014
Think Like A Man Too (PG-13 for profanity, drug use, crude humor, sexual references and partial nudity) The principal cast returns for an eventful sequel, set in Vegas, where the couples convene for bawdy bachelor and bachelorette parties which almost derail Candace (Regina Hall) and Michael’s (Terrence J) wedding plans. Ensemble includes Kevin Hart, Gabriel Union, Michael Ealy, Dennis Haysbert, Meagan Good, Taraji P. Henson, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Kelsey Grammer.
Code Black (Unrated) Adrenaline-fueled documentary offering unprecedented observation of the life-and-death situations handled by doctors on a daily basis inside L.A. County Hospital’s C-Booth, America’s busiest emergency room.
Exhibition (Unrated) Character-driven drama, set in theChelsea section ofLondon, revolving around a cash-strapped couple of middle-aged artists (Liam Gillick and Viv Albertine) whose careers and relationship are jeopardized when they have to put their house/studio on the real estate market. With Tom Hiddleston, Harry Kershaw and Mary Roscoe.
Fonzy (Unrated) Baby-daddy comedy, set in Paris, about a 40-something former sperm donor (Jose Garcia) with a pregnant girlfriend (Audrey Fleurot) who suddenly finds out he’s the father of 533 children born decades earlier via artificial insemination. Support cast includes Lucien Jean-Baptiste, Gerard Hernandez and Laurent Mouton. (In French with subtitles)
The Last Sentence (Unrated) Historical biopic about Torgny Segerstedt (Jesper Christensen), the Swedish journalist who put his life in jeopardy in the 1930s to warn the world repeatedly about the threat posed by the imminent rise of Adolf Hitler. Featuring Pernilla August, Ulla Skoog and Bjorn Granath. (In Swedish with subtitles)
Miss Lovely (Unrated) Bollywood docudrama, set in Mumbai in the ’80s, chronicling the downfall of a couple of sleazy, sibling film producers (Anil George and Nawazuddin Siddiqui) after one decides to turn his porn star girlfriend (Niharika Singh) into a legitimate actress. With Menaka Lalwani and Zeena Bhatia. (In Hindi with subtitles)
Norte, The End Of History (Unrated) Mistaken identity drama about a woman Angeli Bayani) forced to fend for the family while trying to clear her falsely-accused husband (Archie Alemania) who’s been framed for a double murder committed by an embittered law student (Sid Lucero). Support cast includes Soliman Cruz, Miles Canapi and Hazel Orencio. (In English and Filipino with subtitles)
Northern Light (Unrated) Diminished dreams documentary, set inNorthern Michigan, examines the plight of three working-class families affected by the economic recession as they prepare to compete in their icebound hometown’s annual snowmobile race.
Third Person (R for profanity, nudity and sexuality) A trio of romance dramas each set in a different city and revolving around a couple in crisis. (1) A recently-separated writer (Liam Neeson) leaves his wife (Kim Basinger) for a rendezvous inParis with a mistress (Olivia Wilde) hiding a big secret. (2) A NYC socialite (Mila Kunis) suspected of attempted murder fights her ex-husband (James Franco) for custody of the son supposedly she tried to kill. (3) An American (Adrien Brody) inRome on business falls for a gypsy (Moran Atlas) who says her sister has been kidnapped for ransom. (In English and Italian with subtitles)
Venus In Fur (Unrated) Roman Polanski screen adaptation of the David Ives play of the same name about a director (Mathieu Amalric) who finds himself seduced by an aspiring starlet (Emmanuelle Seigner) auditioning for the lead role in his highly-erotic, upcoming production. (In French and German with subtitles)