Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois on May 10, 2002 · 159
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Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois · 159

Chicago, Illinois
Issue Date:
Friday, May 10, 2002
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MAY 10, 2002 FRIDAY SECTION 7A CHICAGO TRIBUNE 3 REVIEW 'Dogtown' unites skateboard team ! ' 1 1 f . .. f, ,. i . - 'f . . v- - . . .,, . .. . , .v ?- ... . . - . .? . . ' ' : ; r . .-..... . k. ... .j - - Ricardo Darin, Gaston Pauls and Leticia Bredice (l-r) star in "Nine Queens," the feature debut of Fabian Bielinsky. REVIEW 'Nine Queens' an ingenious thriller By Michael Wilmington Tribune movie critic Life is a con game, suggests the ingeniously duplicitous Argentine thriller "Nine Queens." Con artists are everywhere lurking in mean streets or expensive hotel suites. Greed is their motive and often their tool and against the ultimate con, even the grifters themselves can be helpless. One of the most cleverest and most enjoyable thrillers in years, this tale of two Buenos Aires con artists one experienced, one not spins out their increasingly complex swindles on one long and continuously unpredictable day. And, as in every good movie of this type, nothing is ever completely what it seems. The duo meet, appropriately, in midcon as baby-faced, young amateur Juan (Gaston Pauls) is caught pulling a bill-changing scam in a convenience store, before being rescued by wily vet- 'Nine Queens' 'A Directed and written by Fabian Bielinsky; photographed by Mar-celo Camorino; edited by Sergio Zottola; art director Marcelo Sal-violi; executive produced by Pablo Bossi. Spanish, subtitled. A Sony Pictures Classics release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:55. MPAA rating: R (language). Juan ...Gaston Pauls Marcos Ricardo Darin Valeria Leticia Bredice Federico Tomas Fonzi Vidal Gandolfo Ignasi Abadal Anibal .....Jorge Noya Sandler ;.. Oscar Nunez eran Marcos (Ricardo Darin) who pretends to be a cop, drags Juan from the store and then proposes a deal. The two hook up for a day to see if Juan has the stuff to replace Marcos' old partner, while Marcos shows him some tricks. In a script as full of surprises as "Nine Queens," it's almost a crime to give anything more away. Suffice it to say that Juan and Marcos pull a series of scams, small and big, the most potentially lucrative one involving the "nine queens" of the title: a set of invaluable Weimar Republic stamps. Much of the action takes place at the swank Buenos Aires Hilton, and the big gallery of characters includes the Hilton's concierge; Marcos' embittered sister, Valeria (Leticia Bredice); a greedy and elusive businessman, Vidal Gandolfo (Ignasi Abadal), and his retinue; an aging stamp-seller and his wife (Oscar Nunez and Celia Juarez); a wizened rich witch and her young boy-toy (Elsa Be-renguer and Carlos Falcone); and many others, legit or not. Both as art and con-artistry, "Nine Queens" seems better than two con-game classics, "The Sting" and "House of Games " with more amazing twists and characters just as engaging, headed by Darin as Marcos, a role that won him the Argentine Film Critics' Best Actor prize. Darin, also the lead in this year's Argentine Oscar nominee, "Son of the Bride," is perfect in this part. Glib, reckless, sarcastically sharp, blessed with a gift of gab and the ability to shift gears instantly, he suggests an expert swindler but also someone who can't rise to the top levels, a second-tier guy who might easily impress the seemingly naive Juan. Pauls, meanwhile, makes Juan a believable Everyman (or Every-con). These two are superb, and there isn't a weak link in the supporting cast. Though it was a huge hit in Argentina and on the festival circuit, "Nine Queens" is, incredibly enough, the debut feature of writer-director Fabian Bielinsky. His film has a shining, almost casual expertise. We can overlook contrivances in the plot because we know from the first scene -that Bie linsky and his cast are tricking and teasing us until the final surprise. Bielinsky admires old pros himself he lists as his major influences the prime American quartet of John Ford, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock and Billy Wilder but this is also a very Argentinean tale, with narrative con games that suggest an artist as rarefied as Jorge Luis Borges. Two suggestions as you watch it: Never take anything for granted, and keep your hand on your wallet as you leave the theater. By Michael Wilmington Tribune movie critic One of the most entertaining sports documentaries in years, "Dogtown and Z-Boys" takes a slice of the past a few golden years in mid-'70s Venice, Calif. and makes it come alive. That was the time when the "Z-Boys," the 12-person Zephyr skateboarding team from "Dogtown," the beachfront urban area of Venice and Santa Monica, revolutionized their sport and wrote a new chapter in pop culture. They were only in their teens when they became famous at the 1975 Del Mar Nationals, a competition where the Z-Boys' reckless, stylish, innovative skateboarding wowed the judges. They were celebrated eloquently in a series of articles in SkateBoarder magazine, with photo and text by Craig Ste-cyk also one of three founders, with Jeff Ho and Skip Eng-blom, of the Jeff Ho & Zephyr Production Surf Shop, which brought the Zephyr team together. Its heyday was brief. The team split up shortly after Del Mar, when a few members Tony Alva, Stacy Peralta and Jay Adams became superstars. But it was a time most of them 'Dogtown and Z-Boys' Directed by Stacy Peralta; written by Peralta, Craig Stecyk; photographed by Peter Pilafian; additional photography by Modi, Paul Stukin, Kevin Roberts, Glen E. Friedman, Don Behrns, Stecyk; edited by Paul Crowder; production designed by Stecyk; music by Terry Wilson, Crowder; music supervisors Debra MacColluch, Mark Reit-er; produced by Agi Orsi. With the original Venice Zephyr Skateboard Team. Narrated by Sean Penn. A Sony Pictures Classics release; opens Friday at the Century Centre Cinema. Running time: 1:30. MPAA rating: PG-13 (language and some drug references). could later say was their best, until this film. "Dogtown and Z-Boys" was directed and co-written by Peralta, who moved into movies first as an actor, became a director and decided to make this movie when a Spin magazine article on the Zephyr team whipped up studio interest. Peralta recruited Stecyk as his co-writer and designer, reassembled 10 other members of the Zephyr team for interviews (minus only one Z-Boy, missing in 4 Z-Boy Tony Alva was part of the 12-person skateboarding team that revolutionized its sport in mid-'70s Venice, Calif. Mexico) and found priceless footage of the Z-Boys in their prime. He's told their story in a jazzy, free-form, zoom-happy, shamelessly self-congratulatory style, laced with '70s rock 'n' roll, narrated by ex-skateboarder Sean Penn. Among the interviewees, Alva has attitude to spare; friends call him "both the Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman of skateboarding." Adams, the super-star-who-might-have-been (others call him the most naturally gifted), tells candidly of the mistakes (drugs and a wild life) that derailed him. Peralta recalls their past with suitable wonder. His memorable vision of decaying '70s Venice, with the ruins of the old, closed Pacific Ocean Park dangling off Venice Pier: "It was dirty; it was filthy; it was paradise!" The movie has all of the vir-; tues and some of the flaws of be-; ing a self-told story. "Dogtown" misses something 1 by not focussing more on the ' supporting cast especially ; the Zephyr team's lone female ' member, Peggy Oki (now a pain-' ter and activist), who could , have modified the impression that this is too much a guys' film about a guys' world. But it ; is. The Z-Boys were lower-class kids from mostly broken homes carving out identities as skate-; boarders in an area falling apart. Few sports films catch their , time, place and sport so well. ; For skateboard fans, this is a must. But it's also a great ride if you know nothing about the sport ( or what it meant. At the end of ' this movie, you will. ', Ijlnwmp. n-T-i - nr,-- -t wrTTm-r----nr - ' ,.- :5s. v . " I: 'AMAZING. Will Keep You Thinking Long After It Ends. Richard Gere Is Outstanding! BILL ZWECKER, WFLD-TV, CHICAGO STUNNING. Diane Lane Is Brilliant, Giving The Performance Of Her Career" steve oldfield, wofl-tv, orlando "1 SHOCKING. Powerful, Provocative'.' DAVID SHEEHAN, CBS-TV PROVOCATIVE This Film Will Have You Talking About It For Weeks'.' TONY TOSCANO, KJZZ-TV, SALT LAKE CITY OUT S TAND I NG Intense. A Must-See Film'.' JIM FERGUSON. KMSB-TV, TUCSON UN F O RG ETTAB LE You Can't Help But Leave The Theater An d Talk About This Movie'.' sam rubin, ktla-tv 11 RICHARD GERE DIANE LANE OLIVIER MARTINEZ N FAITH AsADRIANLYlFLM TUT IT JT FROM THE DIRECTOR OF FATAL ATTRACTION HClESaHCyaiPBiBi Lira MIDGE KUI RMAFJ1NEZERIKPERSULUVA1 m mm m PRODUCERS S by SCREW 1 laMMfeI3l RESTRICTED Q) UN0HI n RF0INRFS ACCOMPANYING I PWNt on Aitim giiatoiaij Si KUAI ITV, LANfitJAtiC ANO A. 5C1 'II Or VI-". t N' C tSfaS STARTS TODAY! 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