City Island


City Island

The cast realizes the catering truck is serving Tuna Surprise again.

(2009) Comedy (Anchor Bay) Andy Garcia, Julianna Margulies, Steven Strait, Emily Mortimer, Alan Arkin, Dominick Garcia-Lorido, Ezra Miller, Carrie Baker Reynolds, Hope Glendon-Ross, Louis Mustillo, Jee Young Han, Sarah Saltzberg. Directed by Raymond de Felitta

Families have dynamics that are often much more complicated than you think they are – or than they have to be. You’d think the dynamics are simple with the people who know you best, but often family members conceal things from other members and before long, you find that they are living lives much different than they let on to their own flesh and blood.

Vince Rizzo (Garcia) is a prison guard who dreams of being an actor. He and his family live on City Island, a spit of land jutting out from the Bronx that has more in common with a New England fishing village than the Big Apple. Embarrassed by his dream, he takes acting lessons in the City at night, telling his wife Joyce (Margulies) that he’s out playing poker with the boys. She’s convinced he’s having an affair.

Vivian (Garcia-Lorido) is the pride and joy of Vince and Joyce, a college girl with a bright future ahead of her. At least, that’s what they think; in reality Vivian has dropped out and is stripping in clubs to make enough cash to pay her own way through school when she’s ready to re-apply. Her brother Vinnie (Miller) has a thing for Internet porn, particularly watching overweight women eat. Yes, a chubby chaser – deal with it.

Vince sees one of the parole candidates where he works is a young man named Tony (Strait) whose last name sounds familiar. When he looks into his file more thoroughly he is shocked to discover that Tony is the son he had with a woman other than Joyce. Tony has no place to go so Vince volunteers to put him up when Tony gets out.

Joyce of course has no clue about Tony’s paternity, nor does Tony for that matter. She’s predictably unhappy about having an ex-con in the house and lets all and sundry know about it. However her frustration at Vince’s secretive behavior is beginning to blow over. Vince’s acting coach (Arkin) has assigned the class into pairs to work on a scene together. Molly (Mortimer), Vince’s partner and he begin to meet up after class – strictly platonically – and Joyce stumbles into their relationship accidentally, believing the worst. Feeling hurt, she comes on to the hunky ex-con in an effort to get revenge. Things are spiraling out of control, especially when Vince is called in for an audition for a role in a Scorsese movie.

This is a movie with a lot of heart, and a lot of soul. Yes, dysfunctional families with lots of idiosyncrasies are staples of comedies but here they aren’t quirks for the sake of quirkiness. These are genuine people, who genuinely care about one another even if they aren’t always able to display it properly. Their bickering sounds like any family and they capture the cadences of a Northeastern Italian-American family perfectly.

Garcia has always been an actor I’ve liked ever since The Untouchables and he’s at his best here. He plays blue collar as well as anybody (his role as the Casino king in the Oceans movies notwithstanding) and he brings Vince’s hopes and dreams to life as well as his failings. Margulies has never been sexier than she is here. This is a role a bit out of her comfort zone, particularly when she’s attempting to seduce Tony but that scene is one of the highlights of the movie and gives you a great deal of insight into Joyce and her bitterness – only a consummate actress like Margulies could have pulled it off.

Mortimer is another actress who has quietly built up a reputation for terrific performances and although she’s not utilized extensively here, she shines in every scene she’s in. She acts as a kind of outsider’s view, not quite part of the community but understanding it.

The filmmakers are successful at establishing a place and time. City Island, which is a real place by the way, comes to life as do the people who live there. Their lives aren’t particularly less or more wonderful than yours or mine, but the way that de Felitta presents them, I think most people wouldn’t mind the life they find onscreen here.

WHY RENT THIS: There is an authentic feeling here that gives you a sense of place and family. The family interacts less like a sitcom family and more like a real one. Garcia, Mortimer and Margulies give fine performances.

WHY RENT SOMETHING ELSE: A few too many revelations near the end.

FAMILY VALUES: There is some sexual content (including a bit on the fetish-y side) and some inappropriate language.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Dominick Garcia-Lorido, who plays Andy Garcia’s daughter in the movie, is…Andy Garcia’s actual daughter.

NOTABLE DVD EXTRAS: None listed.

BOX OFFICE PERFORMANCE: $7.9M on a $6M production budget; the movie lost money.

FINAL RATING: 7/10

TOMORROW: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

New Releases for the Week of April 30, 2010


April 30, 2010
I don’t care what anybody says, I think the right manicurist would do Freddie Krueger a world of good.

 

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET

(New Line) Jackie Earle Haley, Rooney Mara, Kyle Gallner, Thomas Dekker, Kellan Lutz, Katie Cassidy, Connie Britton. Directed by Samuel Bayer

The horror franchise that essentially turned New Line from a tiny independent studio to a mini-major that would eventually release the Lord of the Rings trilogy is being jumpstarted again. New into the role of the demonic child killer Freddie Krueger is Jackie Earle Haley. This new version will delve deeper into the life of the man with the nasty nails and explore his background, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see plenty of the dream sequences that made this one of the most entertaining horror franchises of all time.

See the trailer and promotional material here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Rating: R (for strong bloody horror violence, disturbing images, terror and language)

City Island

(Anchor Bay) Andy Garcia, Juliana Margulies, Emily Mortimer, Alan Arkin. In the fishing community of City Island – on the outskirts of New York City – a corrections officer dreams of being an actor. He keeps this secret from his family, going to the point where he lets his wife think that his weekly acting classes are cover for an extramarital affair. When an acting exercise leads to an uproar in the community, he discovers that all is not as it seems and the truth, as harsh as it might be, is far easier to keep track of in this acclaimed comedy.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Rating: PG-13 (for sexual content, smoking and language)

Furry Vengeance

(Summit) Brendan Fraser, Brooke Shields, Dick van Dyke, Ken Jeong. When a greedy and ambitious real estate developer decides to put a housing subdivision where a forest is, the animals don’t take too kindly to it. Led by a clever raccoon, they put the hurt on the young developer and teach him that what messing around with Mother Nature really means.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Rating: PG (for some rude humor, mild language and brief smoking)