It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
I wonder if the real problem is that I've seen the original. "Welcome to Collinwood" is a wacky and eccentric heist comedy with many virtues, but it is also a remake of "Big Deal on Madonna Street" (1958), a movie much beloved by me. Some scenes are so close to the original it's kind of uncanny.
Consider the comic climax of the movie, which comes as the gang is trying to break through the wall and get the safe. If you've seen "Big Deal," you'll remember that great scene. If you haven't, I won't spoil it for you. The surprise element, on top of the humor, makes it something like genius. But when the scene came along in "Welcome to Collinwood," I knew exactly what would happen, and so the new movie didn't have a chance. All I could do was compare and contrast.
Would the scene work for a fresh audience? I don't see why not. I heard good buzz about "Welcome to Collinwood" at the Toronto Film Festival, and assume that for those who had not seen "Big Deal on Madonna Street," the scene worked and the movie was a pleasure. The problem is, so many people have seen it, one way or another. Made as a satire of "Rififi" (1955), which is the mother of all heist movies, it is itself the mother of all heist comedies. "Big Deal" is a regular on cable, is in the Criterion Collection on DVD, and has been remade many times before, notably by Louis Malle ("Crackers"), Alan Taylor ("Palookaville") and Woody Allen (the middle section of "Small Time Crooks").
Directed and written by brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, the movie is set in the seedy Cleveland suburb of Collinwood, which looks unchanged since the Depression. We meet members of the hamlet's criminal fraternity, who are incredibly colorful, as if they read Damon Runyon and stay up late taking notes on old crime movies. They have their own lingo. A malinski is a guy who will take the rap for you. A bellini is a lucrative job. As the film opens, a crook named Cosimo (Luis Guzman) hears about a bellini and needs a malinski.
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...
Chaz Ebert highlights films with the potential to get us through the confusing political times of the Trump presidenc...
A review of Netflix's new series, Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events," which premieres January 13.
One of the most audacious American films from the 1960s is now available via the Criterion Collection.