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20th Anniversary TLDR: Matchstick Men (2003)
One of Nic Cage's best performances.
Plot: A phobic con artist and his protege are on the verge of pulling off a lucrative swindle when the con artist’s teenage daughter arrives unexpectedly.
Direction: Ridley Scott is best known for his genre epics like Blade Runner, Gladiator, or The Martian, but he's just as good at "smaller movies" (this still cost over $60 million - remember mid-budget movies like that?) He's elevating a movie with moderate expectations to one that's way better than you think it'll be.
Screenplay: Based on the novel of the same name by Eric Garcia, brothers Ted Griffin and Nicholas Griffin adapt this story for the screen - it's snappy, it's sentimental, and it's sharp.
Performances: Breakout star Alison Lohman is just as endearing as you want her to be, you get a great supporting performance from one of our greatest supporting performers in Sam Rockwell, but it's the Nicolas Cage show. Playing a man with both Tourette's and severe OCD, he does a great job at portraying both without making it goofy. Isn't that what he does best - make something heartfelt and honest out of something that could be silly in any other hands?
Cinematography: Scott teams up with John Mathieson, who did a lot of his movies around this time, like Gladiator and Hannibal. I love that this movie looks and feels like 2003 - it's awesome.
Best moment: Everyone's favorite line, "Have you ever been dragged to the sidewalk and beaten till you PISSED... BLOOD!"
Fun fact: Spielberg turned this movie down to direct Catch Me If You Can.
Imaginary accolade: Most Popular "That Lady in That Thing" goes to Beth Grant as Laundry Lady!
Everything is too long. Is it too long? No! Its 116 minutes are fun and well-earned. There's also something special around minute 100 that makes it all worth it.
Rating: Three and a half carpet stains out of five.
Credit: Plot synopsis from Letterboxd via TMDb.
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