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Palookaville Movie Review

gallo david trese forsythe

What do you call three characters who watch Armored Car Robbery (Richard Fleischer's 1950 film noir classic starring William Talman, Douglas Fowley, and Gene Evans) on television and use it as a blueprint for their own heist in 1995? How about unemployed losers? Sid, Russ, and Jerry (William Forsythe, Vincent Gallo, and Adam Trese) are certainly underqualified for a life of crime. When they try to hit a jewelry shop, they only succeed in breaking and entering the adjacent bakery where they nab a few pastries and the petty cash. When they try to rob an armored car, they fail, but try again after buying toy guns in a grocery store and then CLOSELY watching the aforementioned movie. None of the three stars in this indie are comedians, which makes their life of crime in New Jersey slightly more possible than it would be if they were going for Three Stooges – caliber yucks. They look exactly like what they're meant to be, with Forsythe and Trese having a decided edge on Gallo, whose charm escapes me. Gallo was a model in the heroin chic ads for a Calvin Klein fragrance in 1996. I couldn't imagine why anyone would be inspired to spend money on HIS cologne, but then Palookaville was released and I heard women describing him as GORGEOUS! Say what?! Forsythe shines in a sequence where he tries to launch a cab company for senior citizens and finds out they won't share a taxi with his much-loved pooch. Trese is great in a sequence he shares with Robert (High Stakes) LuPone as his wife's lecherous boss Ralph, later learning that HE has to apologize for getting mad at Ralph or his wife won't get her job back. And Gallo turns on those bulging blue eyes and swipes everyone's heart in the audience but mine. But Palookaville works, anyway. Unlike Louis Malle's Crackers, Alan Taylor's Palookaville succeeds both as a homage to Mario Monicelli's Big Deal on Madonna Street AND as an enjoyable flick in its own right. It's dedicated to Italo Calvino, who inspired David Epstein's screenplay.

1995 (R) 92m/C William Forsythe, Vincent Gallo, Adam Trese, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Frances McDormand, David Boulton, James David Hilton, Gareth Williams, Bridget Ryan, Kim Dickens, Suzanne Shepherd, Robert LuPone; D: Alan Taylor; W: David Epstein; C: John Thomas; M: Rachel Portman. VHS, Closed Caption

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