Thursday, March 23, 2006

Two to Tango

It takes two to tango, and that's just what Al Pacino and Matthew McConaughey do in TWO FOR THE MONEY.

Tango was initially danced in bars, cafes, gambling houses, and quilombos (prostitution places).

Two for the Money is danced in the boiler rooms of gambling touts who use the telephone like verbal pornographers to seduce their johns into laying down bets and then sending a taste of their winnings to the touts. Of course, a little relief for their losses never moves in the other direction.

Gambling is a fool's game, and Two for the Money makes no bones or apologies about that. If the gambling disease is your problem, then that's just what it is--your problem, not ours.

The main thing about Two for the Money is that it is interesting and entertaining. The characters are rich, the performances are delicious and the production is a professional delight. Pacino and Macaughney perform a spicy and engaging pas de deux.

Julie and I screened it on DVD and when it was over we wondered: what was that all about? About two hours, I think. Two hours better spent that most in front of our Toshiba Cinema Series TV monitor. But I think you might get even more out of it that we did if you take one piece of advice. On the DVD is an interview between the screenwriter and the real life McConaughey character on whom the screenplay was based. I suggest that you view this interview before you screen the movie. There are no spoilers, but you will gain certain knowledge about the characters and the evolution of the film project that will, I believe in retrospect, make the behavior of the characters and the performers more interesting as you watch the story unfold.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Rights of the Accused

What's going on here? Suddenly I find myself in an agreement with Antonin Scalia. It's pretty obvious to me that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is much more devoted to protecting "scared" women than the U.S. Constitution. The worst murderers, rapists and war criminals are allowed to face their accusers, but not a belligerent spouse.

According to a couple of lower courts, hearsay evidence of spousal abuse is enough to railroad any male partner into prison and debt. In one of the two cases, the only evidence against the defendant was the recording of a 911 call the female victim made to claim that her ex-boyfriend was violating a restraining order. She never appeared in court testify, accuse and be cross-examined. Who knows if her 911 call was even serious? Ruth Bader Ginsburg knows. She knows everything. It's the awesome power of the Black Robe.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Between Arrests

Bill is almost six months out of the South Carolina prison system. At age 54 he has spent a total of 17 years behind the wall.

He was born in Venice, California, a few blocks from where, currently homeless, and mostly drunk, he struck up this conversation, but he was raised in Washington and started doing booze and crime at an early age.

It is well beyond the Statute of Limitations, so he related with glee the night he backed-rammed a Chevy Malibu into the Radio Shack, across the parking lot from where we sat, in a smash-and-grab stereo heist.

Between booze and bone injuries, Bill is not likely to find paying work in Southern California. But it doesn't seem to bother him that he probably won't have more than another six months before he's behind another wall. When I started to take his picture, he asked what I was doing. I told him he had an interesting face and I like to take pictures. He said okay, but only if I took one of us together. I said, sure. But he must have forgot to hold me to it.

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