Friday, July 28, 2006

Little Miss Sunshine - Movie Review

Little Miss Sunshine 2006

One of the famed outcomes of the Sundance Film Festival, is the inevitable hipster clickishness and box office failure of each year’s “Sundance Hits!” Which is a shame for a film festival meant to celebrate the best and brightest of independent films. But perhaps now is the time for us to mention that in general, we find most “Independent Films” to be so achingly dull and shoddingly made that perhaps that outcome is a blessing in disguise. And with that, welcome to “Little Miss Sunshine” – this year’s runaway hit (literally) from Sundance, now coming to a tiny, dingy Art House theatre thirty miles near you!

Little Miss Sunshine” concerns the Hoover family. A hodgepodge of comedy clichés and nervous disorders who decide to venture forth on a road trip in search of happiness for their littlest one. Mayhem ensues, their ride – a vintage VW van breaks down, children are left behind at roadside pitstops, much yelling and screaming, an on the road catastrophe and the final denouement at their road’s end that somehow manages to bring this scattershot family back together in time for the inevitable closing shot of them driving off into the sunset.

And you know what? It works. To a point. Thanks to the wonderful chemistry and talent of the six main actors. Kudos to them, in ascending order:

Greg Kinnear as the straightlaced father attempting to start his own self empowerment program inspired to build “Winners” out of “Losers”. Despite his Oscar nominated turn in the average “As Good As It Gets” nine years ago, Greg has failed to ignite the screen. This may be in part to his whitebread non charms, but not due to his lack of acting talent. Here he is perfectly cast as a man who faces financial ruin, but is determined to pull through for the sake of his family.

Toni Collette as the befuddled mother who finds herself holding her family together through attempted suicides, deaths, and daydreams. Toni Collette is a another one time Oscar nominee, for an even worse film than Greg’s – who has managed to eek out a career as a misfit or any of a garden variety damaged goods characters. Here she shines as the stalwart mother who supports her non-supportive children in whatever oddball scheme they decide to embark upon. We have always been fans of Ms. Collette, and she does not disappoint.

Paul Dano as the eldest child, Dwayne who idolizes Nietzsche and has sworn a vow of silence until he is old enough to enter the military to attend flight training school. At first, we assumed we were unfamiliar with young master Dano’s work, but it turns out he once went by the name of Paul Franklin Dano and turned in a stunning performance in the electrifyingly disturbing “L.I.E.” way back in 2001. While he manages well enough the tired role of angry teen mute in the first half, it is in the second half that he soars as the angry with a voice teen who decides to pull it together long enough to support his little sister in her time of need.

Steve Carell as Toni’s brother, a suicidal gay man who happens to be the preeminent scholar on all things Proustian. This is both the worst developed character in the piece, and the most surprisingly well played. While Mr. Carell is no stranger to audiences with his regular gig on NBC’s delightfully underrated Americanization of “The Office”, it was his smash hit comedy of last year “The 40 Year Old Virgin” that has moviegoers clamoring for more. (Sidenote: Color us jaded, but we venture to guess it is Mr. Carell’s current box-office appeal that inspired the successful distribution of this “small” independent comedy.) Here, he makes the most of his wounded character, unfortunately at the mercy of a few painfully unfunny homophobic cracks. "Fagrag". Ha ha. Got it. And yes, we saw the payoff to that scene coming a country mile away. But still, Mr. Carell deserves major credit for rising above the material.

Alan Arkin as the foul mouthed grandfather with a penchant for snorting heroin. Despite two Oscar nominations in his long and extremely varied career, Alan Arkin has never reached the same box office clout as Mr. Carell, and that is a shame for all film lovers. An artful comic and master dramatic actor, Alan Arkin can turn tragedy to comedy on a dime and sell it completely. His scenes with the youngest member of the cast are the films highlight.

And finally the greatest and smallest of them all, Abigail Breslin as the seven year old daughter, Olive who dreams of winning the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. For it is this call to fame that forces the Hoover family to jump into their van and drive pell-mell towards the state pageant finals in a mad dash. What Abigail Breslin does with the role is astonishing. By turns, stage struck tyke to the lovingly understanding and beguiling daughter who learns the most difficult lessons in life through her journey, she never once falters. What a great little performer, this Abby!! Sci-fi lovers may remember her debut turn as the youngest alien evader in M. Night Shymalan’s successful “Signs”.

Here as the driving force behind her family’s bonding, she is never too cloying or preternaturally aware as the majority of child actors tend to be. She hits every note spot on. From the wide eyed innocence of one who believes in the sincerity of Beauty Pageants . . . poor thing, she’ll learn . . . to the carefree trusting of a child who not only loves her family, but whole heartedly believes in their protection.

These six actors, are not only uniformly fine in their performances – they accomplish the near impossible. They bring life and vitality to six fairly clichéd characters and some rather clunky and purloined road trip hijinks. For the road trip flick has been a mainstay of moviemaking since Henry Ford unleashed his Model T on an unsuspecting world. Certainly the scenario of a family of kooks has been around, even long before the stage to screen triumph of the Oscar winning “You Can’t Take It With You” delighted 1930s audiences with a smorgasbord of lovable losers.

And lovable is indeed the final verdict on the Hoover family. Despite the many shamelessly lifted moments of slapstick and ribaldry along the way, this film succeeds based on the merits of its finely chosen cast. We would like to credit the debut direction of husband and wife team, Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, but their glory seems to stop at the casting level. The don’t necessarily bring anything new or noteworthy to the plot or humor, they merely stand back and let their cast shine. We were glad we spent time with the Hoover clan, and think you will too. In a summer of idiocy and unfunny comedies, you could hardly ask for better. (Well, you could - but what would be the point?)

But of course we would be letting down our legions of fans if we didn’t touch upon the negative. The finale to this madhop mayhem almost sinks the film. We won’t reveal any finer points about the denouement – suffice to say that it is hardly credible, even in a pseudo slapstick comedy for the main characters to be completely oblivious to the nature of their cosmetic Mecca. The not so subtle commentary on inner versus outer beauty is cartoonish at best and slightly cringe inducing at its worst. We can still recommend “Little Miss Sunshine” as a pleasant diversion, but had hoped that the script were up to the promise of its insanely delightful players. They deserve better than a finale lifted from outtakes of "So You Think You Can Dance". Bless you all!

Directed by Valerie Faris & Jonathan Dayton
Written by Michael Arndt

Abigail Breslin as Olive
Greg Kinnnear as Richard
Toni Collette as Sheryl
Paul Dano as Dwayne
Alan Arkin as Grandpa
Steve Carell as Frank
Bryan Cranston as Stan Grossman
Justin Shilton as Josh
Gordon Thomson as Larry Sugarman

Cinematography by Tim Suhrstedt
Film Editing by Pamela Martin
Original Music by Mychael Danna & Devotchka
Production Design by Kalina Ivanov
Art Direction by Alan E. Muraoka
Set Decoration by Melissa M. Levander
Costume Design by Nancy Steiner

Miami Vice - Movie Review

Miami Vice 2006

Michael Mann has proven his mettle as a fine director. Among his films, we have particular affection for the lush romanticism of “The Last of the Mohicans”, the brilliant layering and storytelling of his Oscar nominated “The Insider” and the surprisingly fine “Collateral” featuring a near perfect performance from Jamie Foxx as the ultimate carjack victim. We just wanted to clear the air about our high regard for Michael’s talent before we tell you how much we disliked his latest film, the film adaptation of the 80s cops in pastel blazers drek – “Miami Vice”.

Now, while that embodiment of late twentieth century flash and pop drivel became famous for exploding the boundaries of a weekly cop show, and driving sales for white linen suits – we never really understood what the hullabaloo was about. And you certainly won’t if you go see this complete waste of time. Which is a shame considering the talent involved. Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx, two fine examples of muscular leading men, Gong Li – our beloved empress of Asian cinema and a supporting cast that includes such favorites as Naomie Harris, Ciarán Hinds and Justin Theroux are completely wasted in a style-less, abrasive, run-of-the-mill drug caper gone wrong that quickly escalates into nothing more than a dingingly photographed snuff film.

What little plot there is concerns two detectives and their team of stereotypically stiff and humorless compatriots working in Miami as an elite undercover cadre. One of their main informants interrupts some sort of high end call girl bust, (Imagine, whores in Miami?) in a panic admitting to blowing the lid off a delicate drug sting operation. Once the informants beloved gal winds up dead, he commits suicide on the interstate by walking in front of an oncoming semi truck to the horrified reactions of detectives Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs. But since the detectives are played by Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx as cardboard cutout bristly he-men, it’s more like a shrug and a nod. (Sidenote: By the halfway mark in this celluloid dungheap, we were praying for that semi to return and wipe out the rest of the cast.)

What happens next is nothing more than a tired rehash of every cop chase thriller, Latino drug czar villain replete with a mysterious Lotus-petal Asian femme fatale cohort, shoot-the-fuck-out-of-everything-in-sight action flick to come down the pike since “The French Connection” came upon the scene thirty five years ago. At least that Oscar winning champ remains watchable today due to its fine performances and stylish direction and most importantly visual flair.

For a director noted for his skill with the camerawork, “Miami Vice” emerges as muddied and cheap looking as the aforementioned Miami whores after a marathon fist fucking in the Everglades.

Colin Farrell somnambulates through most of the scenes with a fortnight’s worth of stubble, greased back highlighted hair, and a “Please, God – no more cop flicks” expression that borders on a Vicodin induced coma. His Sonny Crockett barely seems capable of remembering to apply deodorant, much less handle a gun or outwit some cocaine kingpins.

Jamie Foxx’s muscles outact Colin Farrell by barely a whisper. For an Oscar winning actor who has become famous for his alleged range and versatility – why on earth does he insist on playing the same damn character in all his recent films? His Ricardo Tubbs is no different that the whoo-haa military man in last year’s “Jarhead”, or the whoo-haa military man in the abysmal bomb “Stealth”. At this point, we are looking forward to his early retirement.

Gong Li, who has graced many a great film back in her native China, needs to give up the dream of becoming a star in English language films. Or should we say – Ingrish Rangrage Feerms. Seriously, Gong. Gongala. Gongie. You are a gorgeous, talented actress whose power and skill is without question – unless you are playing some weak variation on the already watered down Geisha Bitch Goddess of last year’s buswreck. Completely wasted. And yes, we are making fun of her Ingrish, ‘cause it’s so fucking hard to understand her! We’ve had better luck asking for cheap knockoff opium in the backroom of a greasy deli in Chinatown.

Naomie Harris, who is quite the up and comer lately and who single handedly stole whatever good there was to take from the horrid “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”, is tossed away here like a broken dildo. Literally. She serves no other purpose than to scrub Jamie’s well toned back in a ridiculous sex-shower sequence and then serve as a kidnap / rape victim and eventual comatose stump. Oops! Did we give away a plotpoint? There would have to be a plot in order to give any points away.

Nobody else in this craptrap deserves mention, due to their overacting, underacting or complete non-usage. The only person who deserves to be brought up again is the director himself, Michael Mann. Michael. What happened? We know you are capable of staging some brilliant set pieces. The on the edge of your seat shoot out at the disco in “Collateral” was a tour de force. We know you can deliver on the grimy, underbelly of the drug world too. But what on earth possessed you to film this piece of shit with nothing but handheld digital cameras in obscure lighting that induces eyestrain and nausea?

For the life of us, we will never understand some director’s love affair with the hand held camera. For some scenes, and even for some entire flicks – it can be used well. But unless you suffer from Parkinson’s Disease or are dodging bombs in Beirut, nobody in the history of the world has ever viewed life through a constantly jiggling filter. It is distracting at the very least, excessively infantile at its worst and the clear mark of somebody who has tossed storytelling to the wind in some vain hope of appealing to attention deprived adolescents whose only source of reference is the latest MTV based reality show.

Do yourselves a favor, don’t go see “Miami Vice”. On second thought, make sure you prevent anybody you know from seeing “Miami Vice”. Actually, take the time to stop by the nearest theatre showing “Miami Vice” to personally bitch slap the people in line to go see “Miami Vice”. This movie is an embarrassment to all the actors, technicians, creators, stagehands, food service delivery people and animals wandering by the set who might have been involved. What a nightmare. The only good we took away from our wasted two hours was a yen for a Mojito and some blow. At least our night wasn't completely wasted. Bless you all!

Directed by Michael Mann
Written by Michael Mann
Based on the TV series created by Anthony Yerkovich

Colin Farrell as Det. James “Sonny” Crockett
Jamie Foxx as Det. Ricardo Tubbs
Gong Li as Isabella
Naomie Harris as Trudy Joplin
Ciarán Hinds as FBI Agent Fujima
Justin Theroux as Det. Larry Zito
Barry Shabaka Henley as Lt. Martin Castillo
Luis Tosar as Arcángel de Jesús Montoya
John Ortiz as José Yero
John Hawkes as Alonzo Stevens

Cinematography by Dion Beebe
Film Editing by William Goldenberg & Paul Rubell
Original Music by Klaus Badelt, Mark Bastón, John Murphy & Organized Noize
Production Design by Victor Kempster
Art Direction by Carlos Menéndez
Set Decoration by Jim Erickson
Costume Design by Janty Yates

La Demoiselle d'honneur - Movie Review

La Demoiselle d'honneur 2004! (Took 'em long enough.)

Again with the delayed foreign flicks!!! (Damn distributors.) Especially since the latest victim is a lovely little thriller helmed by the maestro himself, Claude Chabrol, adapted from one of our favorite crime novelists, Ruth Rendell and starring a major hottie, Benoît Magimel with a blistering turn by Laura Smet! (Smet?)

La Demoiselle d’honneur” is a very effective examination into a twisted psyche set amidst a seemingly quiet suburban landscape. And speaking of landscapes, we fell for this well crafted gem’s charms from the opening tracking shot beginning with a washed out color palette whizzing by a spare rural setting, gathering steam and rapidly transforming into an industrial landscape and finally the quiet suburban milieu of the film. Or rather, not so quiet. The opening scene reveals the grief of a family waiting to hear word on their missing daughter. As the camera pulls back, we see this newscast of familial grief being watched by the Tardieu family in the quiet of their home.

The Tardieu family consists of a hardworking mother who runs a small hair salon out of her house and her three grown children. The eldest is Philippe, a salesman for indoor furnishings who helps support his mother and younger sisters. The sisters are Sophie, a bride to be and the rebellious Patricia who enjoys piercings and pilfering loose change. At Sophie’s wedding, we encounter the cousin of the groom, one Stéphanie who prefers to be called “Senta”. As the bridal party is posing for the requisite photos, her smoldering glance lands upon Philippe. And we do mean “smoldering”.

Thus begins a dark tale of a twisted young psyche intent on finding love, capturing it, possessing it and ultimately consuming it. For Senta is no common slutty bridesmaid looking for a quick slap and tickle under the wedding canopy. She is a man eating Lulu of a character, whose fiery imagination and controlling nature threaten to ruin all those around her.

As Senta, relative newcomer Laura Smet (Smet?) sinks her claws into the unsuspecting Philippe and never lets go. We were equally seduced. She is a wonder. A little research revealed the origin of her unfortunate last name – Smet is of course the original last name to the famed French rock idol, Johnny Hallyday – her father who sired the talented Laura with the equally talented actress Nathalie Baye. A great combo, a great parentage and the source of a great young screen talent. Laura never falters along a very tricky terrain. As any lover of Film Noir will tell you, the role of Femme Fatale is a dangerous slot to fill. From Barbara Stanwyck to Lana Turner to Kathleen Turner, it requires the skills of a true actress and sexy screen presence to pull off completely. It is no small measure of our respect and admiration to state bluntly that Laura Smet has the goods to match these infamous Femme Fatales in film history.

As the victim of her deadly charms, the incredibly sexy Benoît Magimel is the perfect foil. The good young man who holds his estrogen laden household together, and is known for his own charm and smooth talking ways with his customers – falls head over heels in lust with Laura and dooms himself to a dangerous game. Magimel has been a sturdy fixture in French cinema for several years, starting out as a teenager at the ripe old age of fourteen. Which is roughly the equivalent of the age gap between himself and his famed Oscar winning Baby’s MommaJuliette Binoche. (The hussy. Good for her! He’s a dreamboat.)

Here he does more than play the foil to a sexy vamp. The film relies heavily on his ability to project calm amidst the storm. When we first encounter him, he seems to be the epitome of reliability. Hard working, dutiful son, concerned brother. But by the end of the film, we need to believe in his complete and total fidelity to a woman whose sole concern in life seems to be her own warped sense of drama. Magimel is wonderful in his ability to ground his character amidst some decidedly grandiose moments.

As with any good thriller, a palpable sense of doom lingers in the air. It takes a true maestro like the great Claude Chabrol to carefully tread between the everyday and the macabre. Chabrol has become legendary for his awe inspiring sense of control over the medium. It is precisely this control that allows him to delve into some very twisted characters and almost absurdist moments without once crossing the line into camp or schlock. His clear, cool hand guides this fairly ordinary group of people across the border into a world of terror.

By the time we realize that Senta not only lives in her own daydream existence, but she is so convinced and convincing regarding the lies upon lies she spins, she feels the need to draw all those around her into her delusions. We watch helplessly as Philippe surrenders completely to her wishes and together they begin to live out her nightmare. “La Demoiselle d'honneur” is one of the best films of the year and a tight wire trip through a modern Film Noir landscape. A gem. Bless you all!

(Endnote: If you enjoyed "La Demoiselle d'honneur", and you will, we encourage you to rent his earlier classic "La Cérémonie", another brilliant thriller taken from the pen of Ruth Rendell! Enjoy.)

Directed by Claude Chabrol
Written by Claude Chabrol & Pierre Leccia
Based on a novel by Ruth Rendell

Benoît Magimel as Philippe Tardieu
Laura Smet as Stéphanie “Senta” Bellange
Aurore Clément as Christine Tardieu
Bernard Le Coq as Gérard Courtois
Solène Bouton as Sophie Tardieu
Anna Mihalcea as Patricia Tardieu
Suzanne Flon as Madame Crespin
Eric Seigne as Jacky
Thomas Chabrol as Lieutenant José Laval
Isild Barth as Rita
Mazen Kirwan as Pablo

Cinematography by Eduardo Serra
Film Editing by Monique Fardoulis
Original Music by Matthieu Chabrol
Production Design by Françoise Benoît-Fresco
Costume Design by Sandrine Bernard & Mic Cheminal

Friday, July 21, 2006

Lady in the Water - Movie Review

Lady in the Water 2006

“Oh but if I went 'round sayin' I was Emperor, just because some moistened bint lobbed a scimitar at me, they'd put me away!”
- Monty Python & The Holy Grail

One of the most peculiar film career trajectories in recent years has been that of modern day suspense guru, M. Night Shyamalan. His breakthrough film in 1999, “The Sixth Sense” earned millions at the box-office and reaped in six Oscar nominations. And we hated it. We found it to be an overblown episode of “The Twilight Zone” with little dramatic thrust and a prolonged bang-the-audience-over-their-collective-heads “twist ending” that was completely useless to anybody who paid attention from the beginning. His follow up was less successful to the populace at large, but we found “Unbreakable” to be a darn good spin on the nature of heroism.

His take on U.F.O’s,Signs” was well regarded by some – us included – and lambasted by others for its routine “alien reveal”. With his next film, Night faced his first real critical trouncing. “The Village” was a simple take on group of Luddites who escape the modern world by forging their own village. Despite the clear explanation that poured forth throughout the storyline, Night was taken to task for his very brief (Thank God!) reveal ending that punctuated what we all knew beforehand. And here is where we disagree with the critical consensus. We found “The Village” to be his most mature, atmospheric and effective film. With a dazzling turn by Bryce Dallas Howard as a blind villager overcoming her own fears of darkness to rescue her true love, played brilliantly with a sly comic twist by Joaquin Phoenix.

Well, the good news is that the lovely and talented Bryce Dallas Howard returns to work with Night on “Lady in the Water”, and co-stars with one of the most talented actors around today, Paul Giamatti. Their combined talents almost save the day in this modern amalgam of various myths and legends. Almost. The problem here is that Night has begun to infuse his films with a bizarre self-mockery combined with a vitriolic lashing out against any naysayer that doesn’t thoroughly bow to his will. It’s a very strange and ultimately disappointing experience to say the least.

The “Lady” in the water is a nymph of sorts who has crossed over from the “Blue World” into our own to help guide the lost and foundering. She emerges from a suburban apartment complex swimming pool straight into the arms of their resident nebbish superintendent played with vim and vigor by our Paul Giamatti. What follows is his desperate attempt to help return this fair nymph to her watery world unharmed from demons that lurk in the underbrush.

And that’s as simple a plot reduction as we can provide. For in this film, Night has blissfully avoided any “B-I-G” twist endings – but unfortunately has decided to scatter about a million little twists throughout the film that rely too heavily on plot complications, red herrings and a need for an additional volume of Joseph Campbell’s fabled “Mythology” series. Now, we don’t mind the use of the fantastical and certainly with the right blend of artists and director we are fully prepared to enter a complex imaginary world. But not when they begin with the lead actress being called a Narf. “That’s no Lady, that’s my Narf!” Thud.

By the time the Narf has escaped the clutches of the moss covered grass demon dog labeled a Scrunt, who fears the all powerful tree dwelling Tartutics who are on guard to help the Narf regain her freedom via a giant eagle – we were praying they were all actually dead and that the film had been a bad dream. We might have been with Night and his crew, if were not for the total lack of a storytelling thruline. Is this film meant to be a fantasy film? A horror film? A fairy tale for adults? And when did Night completely lose his sense of humor? One of the things we enjoyed most about “Signs” and “The Village” was the gentle humor that ran throughout without becoming slapstick or forced. And believe us with such fine comic talent as Paul Giamatti, Bill Irwin, Jeffrey Wright and Tovah Feldsuh on board, it was a true waste of talent.

Paul Giamatti has finally broken through the acting hordes with his back to back brilliant turns in “American Splendor”, “Sideways” and last year’s Oscar nominated turn in “Cinderella Man”. Here, he is in very fine form as the befuddled building super whose daily dealings with his kooky cast of hundreds leaves him equally frustrated and exhausted. He manages to sell the wounded loser bit, combined with a hit-the-rafters stutter that might have sunk lesser actors. When the Narf . . . ahem . . . arrives and begins to beguile him with her wounded charms – exquisitely played by Bryce Dallas Howard, we understand what this film could have been. A truly adult fairy tale that reached out to the kid in all of us. Unfortunately, Night begins to smother any charm or magic with a series of bizarre characterizations and stereotypes that begin to sink the film with far less than the desired comic effect.

A young Asian student comes off much more “Two-Dollar-Make-You-Holler” whore than book lover. Her scowling mother who harbours all the secrets to the Narf world is straight out of a Margaret Cho act.

The young muscled lunkhead who only develops one side of his body, to what purpose we have no idea is completely thrown aside until his big moment arrives by which point we could care less. The elderly Jewish couple who apparently live in their own private Boca Raton kvetchfest from the 1960s is straight out of a retired Mel Brooks sketch. And worst of the clichéd bunch, the new resident who turns out to be a film and book critic used only as a punching bag by Night to vent his anger at his own critics.

What might have been a dazzling display of lurking shadows and mysterious omens turns into second rate digital monsters composed of shrubbery and ridiculously circuitous explanations of the fairy tale come to life with more updates than needed. By the hundredth time we have been updated with the particulars of the story, we simply throw our hands up in despair and pray the damned demon grass dog will devour them all.

It also doesn’t help that Night likes consider himself an actor, and not only in the brief cameo style of the true master of suspense and horror, Sir Alfred Hitchcock. At least Alfie’s narcissism extended to “blink-and-you-miss-him” long appearances in his film. Here, Night casts himself as one of the turnkey characters with the only other emotional arc to the piece. Let’s just say this simply. Night, you sir are no actor. He is only capable of portraying numbness and befuddlement on the level of an elementary school pageant. Which is fine if you’re one of the three little pigs in your local Red Riding Hood performance, but deadly in a major motion picture. His scenes fairly grind the film to a dead halt.

But by the point Night has his “big” dramatic scene to a response of crickets and yawns, we have failed to give a hoot about any character or situation. Be they Narf, Scrunt, janitor, racial stereotype or unfunny comic relief. This “Lady in the Water” is probably not the final chapter in Night’s film career, but it definitely deserves to be labeled his most dreary. And for a filmmaker known for his ingenuity in the retelling of mystery genres, we pray it is his last such venture. The source of all this mess is apparently a story Night created for his own children’s bedtime story. They should demand a new nanny, one with good storytelling abilities. Bless you all!

Written & Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

Paul Giamatti as Cleveland Heep
Bryce Dallas Howard as Story
Jeffrey Wright as Mr. Dury
Bob Balaban as Harry Farber
Sarita Choudhury as Anna Ran
Cindy Cheung as Young-Soon Choi
M. Night Shyamalan as Vick Ran
Freddy Rodríguez as Reggie
Bill Irwin as Mr. Leeds
Mary Beth Hurt as Mrs. Bell
Noah Gray-Cabey as Joey Dury
Jared Harris as Goatee Smoker
Tovah Feldshuh as Mrs. Bubchik

Cinematography by Christopher Doyle
Film Editing by Barbara Tulliver
Original Music by James Newton Howard
Production Design by Martin Childs
Art Direction by Stefan Dechant & Christina Ann Wilson
Set Decoration by Larry Dias
Costume Design by Betsy Heimann