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Cinema Junkie by Beth Accomando

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (Image Entertainment)  At 83, Sidney Lumet is one of those solid Hollywood craftsmen who came up through the Golden Age of television. He then entered feature films with such serious stage adaptations as 12 Angry Men and Long Day's Journey into Night . Like Stanley Kramer, he frequently dealt with social issues -- focusing on a Holocaust survivor in The Pawnbroker ; nuclear annihilation in Fail Safe ; police corruption in Serpico and Prince of the City ; and the dangers of the media in Network . He's a somber, rooted-in-the-real-world filmmaker who for some strange reason was called upon to bring the musical The Wiz to the screen back in 1978 and sucked any sense of joy out of that Broadway hit. But when he sticks to material that's suited to him, he can deliver the goods, as in such fine work as Dog Day Afternoon . His latest film, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (opening Nov. 9 throughout San Diego) eschews social issues, but focuses on a dark tale of one family's catastrophic downward spiral. There's something about extremes that often prove fascinating and Before the Devil Knows You're Dead is extreme in the way it proceeds to its inevitable bleak conclusion. It is in those extremes that the film proves compelling. As in such earlier Lumet films as Dog Day Afternoon, Long Day's Journey Into Night, The Verdict and Running on Empty , his latest outing deals with characters under extreme pressure and desperate for change or a way out. The character most desperate for change in Before the Devil Knows You're Dead is Philip Seymour Hoffman's Andy.

January 23, 2008 at 07:52 PM
I like this movie better than you do, Beth. The whole story is revolving around the 3 men and I thought it was fascinating and was willing to let a few of the script flaws passed. It was completely unforgiven for any of these men in what they'd done to each other. -----