Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
USA, 1998. First Cold Piece, Fox Searchlight Pictures. Screenplay by Stanley Tucci. Cinematography by Ken Kelsch. Produced by Elizabeth W. Alexander, Stanley Tucci. Music by Gary DeMichele. Production Design by Andrew Jackness. Costume Design by Juliet Polcsa. Film Editing by Suzy Elmiger.
Stanley Tucci’s tribute to silent-era filmmaking is an art-deco delight, one that is short on substance but long on rollicking humour. Tucci and Oliver Platt play two down-and-out unemployed actors who find themselves stowing away on an ocean liner when they have to hide out from an esteemed actor (Alfred Molina) they have badly insulted. Unfortunately for them, the actor is on board the ship too, but so are two con artists (Richard Jenkins, Allison Janney), an angry communist ready to blow up the ship (Tony Shalhoub), an obsessed German steward (Campbell Scott) with a kick for the lovely Lily (Lili Taylor), an abandoned singer who just can’t commit suicide no matter how hard he tries (Steve Buscemi), an old-money widow with a manic depressive daughter (Dana Ivey, Hope Davis, respectively, they played mother and daughter again in Lawrence Kasdan’s Mumford), a sexually repressed wrestler with an obsessive need to get men in their shorts and down on the floor (Billy Connolly), and a beautiful deposed Russian queen who can’t stop crying (). There’s no performance to point out in particular here: they’re all fantastic and each one ices the cake even better than the one before it, and while it is not as brilliant as Tucci and Scott’s previous effort Big Night, I’ll be damned if I didn’t laugh my head off. Tucci’s emphasis on recreating “modern” art of the twenties right down to the last glint off the porthole windows is marvelous, reminiscent of Fellini’s And The Ship Sails On (even the “it’s only a movie” ending). Look for a wondeful cameo by Woody Allen.
Toronto International Film Festival: 1998