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The Films of Barbet Schroeder

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The Valley (Obscured by Clouds)

Maîtresse

Koko: A Talking Gorilla

Tricheurs

Barfly

Reversal of Fortune

Single White Female

Kiss of Death (August 7/18)

Based on the 1947 film of the same name, Kiss of Death follows David Caruso's Jimmy Kilmartin as he's essentially blackmailed into compiling evidence against a vicious gangster named Little Junior (Nicolas Cage) - with the film detailing Jimmy's efforts at buddying up to Cage's volatile character while also placating a detective (Samuel L. Jackson's Calvin Hart) with a grudge and a sleazy, ambitious district attorney (Stanley Tucci's Frank Zioli). There's little doubt that Kiss of Death fares best in its opening stretch, as filmmaker Barbet Schroeder, working from Richard Price's screenplay, does an effective job of establishing the seedy world in which the various characters reside - with the intriguing atmosphere heightened by Caruso's strong work as the conflicted hero and an impressively solid supporting cast that includes Michael Rapaport, Ving Rhames, and Anthony Heald. (It's clear, ultimately, that Cage's typically idiosyncratic and consistently captivating performance remains an obvious highlight within the proceedings.) Kiss of Death does, however, suffer from an erratically-paced midsection that ultimately diminishes the picture's overall impact, as there's a lack of momentum here that grows more and more problematic as time progress and ensures that the movie runs out of steam before reaching its fairly anticlimactic (and oddly sudden) conclusion. It is, in the end, apparent that the picture benefits substantially from its performances and smattering of engrossing sequences (eg Jimmy and Little Junior's somewhat electrifying third-act confrontation), as Kiss of Death is, for the most part, rarely able to become more than the sum of its parts.

out of

Before and After

Desperate Measures

Our Lady of the Assassins

Murder by Numbers

Terror's Advocate

Inju: The Beast in the Shadow

Amnesia

The Venerable W.

© David Nusair