Thursday, January 21, 2010

Movie of the Week

This Week,


Starring- Paul Newman, Tom Cruise, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

The sequel to the 1961 film The Hustler, this movie gave Paul Newman a long awaited Oscar for Best Actor. Newman probably had better performances, but this one is very good. He plays Fast Eddie Felson, who after his fall from pool playing stardom, has settled in as a liquor salesman to local bars and restaurants. In one such bar he sees a young pool junkie named Vincent (Tom Cruise) and thinks he might be able to recapture his lost glory. After some wheedling, Eddie convinces Vincent to come on with him as his protege.

Vincent proves to have the "balls" but not the "brains" that Eddie feels he needs to become a successful pool hustler. The two clash over how best to make money and achieve glory, and in the end they part ways- Eddie now deciding to return to the fold as a player.

Martin Scorsese's direction heightens the drama between the two stars, and makes Newman appear confident and fragile at the same time. Even though he is older, Newman still manages to out cool his younger co-star, as he deftly teaches Vince about the nuances of being a hustler. One almost wishes that Fast Eddie would take us under his wing instead of the compulsive Vincent, and tell us about how to score and make big money. A wild card in the mix is Vince's girlfriend, Carmen who has her own angles and ideas on the business of hustling. She is a nice foil for the two men, and really helps ratchet up the tension.

The Color of Money is by no means Scorsese, Newman or Cruise's best work, but together they make an entertaining movie. I could watch Paul Newman read the phonebook, so that may have something to do with why I like this film, but it provides a good lesson about luck, life and how to navigate them.

Things to Watch for-

Forrest Whitaker as a young pool hustler
A bit of a cliffhanger ending
The Balabushka
Scorsese's cameos
VINCE's T-shirt

"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."

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