24 March 2004 | jotix100
Mafiosi love movies too!
Elmore Leonard's books must be loved by film screen adapters. His characters translate very well from the written page to the moving picture. "Get Shorty" is one of Mr. Leonard's best stories and it gets a very good treatment in the hands of Barry Sonnenfeld, its director, with the help of Scott Frank, who adapted it for the screen.
The casting of the movie was it's greatest asset. John Travolta is so cool as Chilli, the mafioso who loves movies! In his scenes with Gene Hackman, he demonstrates what a good actor he is. On the surface, he appears to do nothing; he works with an economy that is very hard to imitate. Granted, after Mr. Travolta's amazing appearance in Pulp Fiction, this was a confirmation and validation of his talent.
It was surprising, since I didn't remember his appearance on the movie, to watch actor James Gandolfini, prior to his recent fame. He plays a stuntman turned wise guy. Mr. Gandolfini must have gone through a great dental cosmetic transformation, unless he was made up to look very ugly, as Bear, in the film. I have greatly admired his work before his TV series, as a fine character actor, which he demonstrates here the potential he had and was not discovered until much later.
Delroy Lindo is also excellent as one of the bad guys in the film. This actor, who is as great in films as in the theater, deserves much better. He is a man that always gives an honest performance. Not being a Danny DeVito fan, I must confess that he was very restrained here. He can do very good work with the right director behind him, as he shows playing the egotistical actor, Martin Weir.
Also excellent, Dennis Farina. It's unfortunate he doesn't get better choices because he is always very effective in whatever he plays. In this film, he is hysterical as Ray "Bones" Barboni. Rene Russo, as the bit player with a heart of gold, is good.
What can be said of Gene Hackman that hasn't already been said? His Harry Zimm is so accurate that we believe he is this sleazy Hollywood producer. Mr. Hackman is a consummate performer who keeps getting better all the time.
If I had enjoyed the film the first time, looking at it a second time was a revelation.