Monday, April 19, 2010

Film Review - The Color of Money

Film #45 of 2010 - The Color of Money

In The Color of Money, directed by Martin Scorsese, Vincent Lauria (Tom Cruise) is discovered by Fast Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) when Vince plays pool for money in Eddie's bar and Vince's girlfriend Carmen (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) collects the cash. When Eddie sees how talented Vince is, he convinces the somewhat dim guy and his "street wise" girlfriend to go on the road with him for six weeks under his sponsorship, hustling for money in pool halls before the big pool tournament in Atlantic City. Along the way, Eddie, who has given up the game, starts to get his mojo back and Vince begins to learn the art of the hustle.

I wish I could say there was more to the story than this, but I've actually put a little more depth into the story than was really there. Though I was pleasantly surprised by an opening scene narration describing the art of nine ball by Scorsese himself, and later, John Turturro in a bit role, those were really the only things I could appreciate throughout the film. The Color of Money is a really basic movie, full of trite montages and closeups of pool tables and rolling balls. Probably as a defense mechanism, I concocted a whole subplot in my head about how Vince was actually hustling Eddie the whole time but just found myself depressed when that never actually came to fruition.

There are never any super slow moments in The Color of Money, but I suspect that you really have to like pool in order to appreciate the film because that's kind of all that happens for the majority of picture. I didn't actually like the music used in the film, but once again, Scorsese used it well. In terms of the acting, I was really surprised to find that Paul Newman won a Best Actor Oscar for his role because all he really did was growl his lines, to the point where I had to keep turning up the television in order to understand the guy. This was early in Tom Cruise's career, though he was already a screen idol and a complete spaz, but to his credit, his character called for that behavior for the most part. When he wasn't spazzing he just had a deer in the headlights look, which was mildly humorous.

I can't leave out the fact that The Color of Money commits one of my personal mortal transgressions: it ends in a freeze frame, which is probably how my face looked during the closing credits - frozen. I guess I have come to expect so much more out of Scorsese films that I am surprised that he would have produced something so straightforward and banal. I realize they can't all be home runs, so my feelings about The Color of Money don't color my opinion about Scorsese the man, but at least with dialogue like, "Pool excellence is not excellent pool" I at least got a few laughs out of the deal.

2 out of 5 stars

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