Go to Homepage   Bullets over Broadway: Eavesdropping on Evil

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r rated, four moon iconMiramax Home Entertainment (DVD), ASIN 6305327068
Care to saunter with the devil down The Great White Way? Bullets over Broadway promises its audience this dangerous and yet laugh-filled experience. According to insider Woody Allen, Satan lives and works in New York City. There, a thick-shouldered mob boss played by Joe Viterelli offers a budding dramatic genius a soul-searing bargain: financial backing for his potential hit play. Unfortunately, the hood believes hits require guns. Wit proliferates in this film, in which street-sense knocks intellectualism up 'side the head.

DVD: Bullets over BroadwayA stellar cast acts out the conflicts vexing the wannabe successful playwright (John Cusack) from the attic to the basement of his psyche. Dianne Wiest portrays the seductive superstar, sure to rescue the dullest lines from second-rate delivery. Jennifer Tilly plays the ditzy redhead, sure to murder even the best scenes, because her theatrical talent consists solely of being the girlfriend of a gangster. In this dark comedy, dreams and nightmares collide on the same stage, taking the tantalizing forms of women who tempt, shush and smother men. Long-time fans of Woody Allen will recognize his favorite archetypes, wrought to perfection.

Released in 1994, this film will also charm an audience already in love with the demigods of popular and genre entertainment. As the idealistic hero, Cusack glows with artistic fervor and shrieks in outrage at compromising his absolute independence. Then, along the road to opening night, he discovers that no play goes on stage with a production company of one. Surprisingly, his alter-ego in his battle for quality turns out to be another mobster, Cheech, played by Chazz Palminteri. Cheech idolizes George Raft. According to Allen, only the collaboration of these two polar opposites can launch the right kind of Broadway hit -- and even they can't do it without leaving a few bodies behind.

Dramatic talent flows right down the toughest boulevards. The storyline insists that first-rate plays erupt from the seamiest sides of life. On-stage drama only captures a portion of the deviltry waged on all sides by French pastries, yapping dogs, corsets and even pedicurists. Comic set pieces stud this movie.

As co-writer and director of this film, Woody Allen disappears into his startling characters, yet his brilliant touch shows everywhere. The authentic Jazz Age music sets the mood for Prohibition era antics. A sweetness permeates his starlets, as it does in his stunning Annie Hall. But this tour de force even contains an off-stage Lothario who blimps up like Allen did in Zelig. The musical chair partners of love's mysteries will remind viewers, too, of A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy. Yet here, plots depend on more than neuroses: they are matters of life and death. And a poor performance means a premature exit into a dim passage, where the devil always waits. See Bullets over Broadway, and savor a drop-dead comedy!

Meg Curtis

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