Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Newton Boys (1998)

Directed by Richard Linklater. Linklater is one of my favorite directors, though for the life of me, I can barely tell you why. He's made two of my favorite movies, "Slacker" () and "Dazed and Confused" and since then has made some stuff I enjoy but is not what I'd call deeply affecting. That said, I love him because he seems to have integrity and was instrumental in a cinema renaissance in Austin, TX during the late-80s.

"The Newton Boys" is Linklater's big budget Hollywood film, prior to his remake of "The Bad News Bears" anyway. It's about the most successful bank robbers ever, defined by the amount of money they stole and how little time they got in jail once they were caught. This was due to three things: a clever lawyer, the smarts of the gang leader (played by Matthew McConaughey) and the courtroom charisma of his younger brother (played by Ethan Hawke). It's a very interesting story, and only the B-story, of a romance between McConaughey's Willis Newton and a woman played by Julianna Margulies slows the damn thing down.

Some critics may point to this as Linklater's come-down after a string of inarguably good smaller films, but I think that's only because this movie doesn't have any indie flavor to it. Look, the guy made a more than competent Hollywood dramatization of very interesting story. Well worth seeing.

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