Monday, 15 August 2005

Small Time Crooks (2000) - ickleReview (DVD)

Woody Allen movie in which Allen and Tracey Ullman play a married couple, Ray and Frenchy, from New Jersey, unusually for Allen, working class. Ray is a bit thick, nicknamed sarcastically "The Brain" when in prison. He has a plan, however, to rent a shop a few units down from the bank and tunnel into the vault. Frenchy's cookie business, intended only as a false front, is so successful, however, that they make a fortune out of that instead.

This early part of the movie, covered mostly in the trailer, is over very quickly. Despite all their money, they do not fit in with the New York socialites, so Frenchy hires David (Hugh Grant), a private art dealer, to educate their manners and cultivate a taste appropriate for high society. Frenchy wants to become a patron of the arts but Ray would rather eat turkey meatballs and watch TV in his underwear.

The beginning is it its strength: there is a wonderful rooftop scene at sunset over Manhattan, beautifully composed with Ray and Frenchy visible in the mid-ground through a gap in the washing hanging on the line in the foreground. It's refreshing to see Allen writing and performing about a different strata of society, more down to earth, but a little cartoony, yet not without a great deal of affection for the way they talk and behave.

Nugget: a weaker Woody movie in the writing, perhaps a little too ambitious, but not without its glorious moments.

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