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James Foley
Edward Burns, Rachel Weisz, Andy Garcia, Luis Guzmán, Dustin Hoffman
Writing Credits:
Doug Jung

It's not about the money. It's about the money.

When professional grifter Jake Vig (Edward Burns) chooses the wrong mark in The King (Dustin Hoffman), he is given two choices: pull off a near impossible heist or lose his life. Needing all the help he can get, Jake brings in beautiful con artist Lily (Rachel Weisz) and a mixed group of "professionals". Nonetheless, with The King riding him and a pesky Special Agent (Andy Gacia) on his tail, Jake and his team look to have the odds stacked against them.

Box Office:
Budget $15 million.
Opening Weekend
$4.563 million on 1871 screens.
Domestic Gross
$12.212 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby 2.0

Runtime: 97 min.
Price: $26.99
Release Date: 9/16/2003

• Audio Commentary with Director James Foley
• Audio Commentary with Screenwriter Doug Jung
• Audio Commentary with Actors Edward Burns, Rachel Weisz, Dustin Hoffman and Andy Garcia
• “Anatomy of a Scene” Program
• Deleted Scenes
• Two Music Videos
• Trailers

Search Titles:

Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Confidence (2003)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 2, 2003)

If we combined the DNA of Michael Bay and Quentin Tarantino, we might end up with 2003’s Confidence, a sporadically entertaining little film noir. The movie opens with the apparent death of its lead character Jake Vig (Edward Burns). Ala Sunset Boulevard, the movie then launches into an extended flashback from the alleged corpse’s point of view.

We go back three weeks and see that Jake killed a guy in a bar during an illicit deal gone bad. Lionel Dolby was the man with the money, and when he sees Jake go gun-happy, he freaks and flees as the police approach. Once this happens, we discover the truth behind the situation: Jake runs a little gang who operate cons. All parties involved – including the police – are part of the scam, and everyone was in on it except for Lionel, who was their mark.

Unfortunately, the con goes bad when they discover whose money they took. Lionel works for underworld bigwig Winston King (Dustin Hoffman). “The King” has Jake’s cohort Big Al (Louis Lombardi) killed, and that freaks out other members of the crew. Lionel ends up dead for his transgressions as well, and Jake decides to take the bull by the horns. He meets with King and the two come up with a deal. Jake will run a grift so he can earn the bucks to repay King and also make some cash for himself.

Jake sets up a scam to go after financial tycoon Morgan Price (Robert Forster). He creates a complicated scheme that involves Gordo (Paul Giamatti) and Miles (Brian Van Holt) from his own gang plus crooked cops Manzano (Luis Guzman) and Whitworth (Donal Logue). King insists one of his own men come along, so they get saddled with Lupus (Franky G). In addition, Jake meets and falls for a sexy pickpocket named Lily (Rachel Weisz), so he decides to incorporate her into the game.

The rest of the movie follows the con’s execution. We see its creation and execution. In addition, we meet Special Agent Gunther Butan (Andy Garcia). Obsessed with nabbing Jake, he creates a potential problem. –

Though director James Foley has a lot of experience behind the camera, Confidence feels like the work of someone with less authority. For example, when I watched Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, I thought it often seemed like little more than an attempt to impress us with its catalog of visual influences. However, since a first-time director helmed it, this didn’t come across as a surprise.

Because of Foley’s substantial experience, it seems more puzzling that he appears to do little more than emulate others. As I alluded earlier, Confidence exhibits a sense of style that feels cribbed from other sources. Mostly the visuals seem like Foley watched too many Bay movies. He uses quick-cutting way too frequently, and these attempts at edginess become grating. They feel pointless and don’t assist the story.

Storywise, the flick exhibits the same kind of offbeat and complicated tone one might expect from a Tarantino offering. However, the characters never really gel and form into anything terribly interesting. A lot of Tarantino shows up along the way, mostly due to the attempted quirks. Again, these are half-hearted and come across mostly like an attempt to make the movie something it’s not.

Confidence reminds me of Confessions in other ways, mostly because both directors enjoy impressive rolodexes. This means we find a serious array of talent in front of the camera that seems out of proportion with the movie’s relatively low budget. While Confidence doesn’t present the “A”-level star power of Confessions, it does feature an excellent cast. It fills almost all of the roles with solid professionals, and they do little to cause problems with the movie.

Unfortunately, the movie’s simple lack of originality becomes its biggest flaw. Frankly, Confidence lacks much to make it stand out from the crowd. It features the standard film noir themes, and its many attempts to take various twists and turns come across like little more than self-conscious efforts to mess with the audience. Some of them indeed work to fool us, but they don’t do so in a terribly honest way, and they feel cheap most of the time. Confidence remains moderately enjoyable, but it often seems like a waste of talent.

The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B+/ Bonus A-

Confidence appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Much of the time, the picture seemed quite good, but it displayed a number of concerns that left it short of greatness.

Sharpness generally appeared solid. A little softness interfered with some wider shots, but those issues were modest. Overall, the movie came across as nicely defined and distinct. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no problems, but I did notice a slight amount of edge enhancement at times. As for print flaws, the movie mostly avoided them. It demonstrated occasional examples of specks and grit, but these weren’t terribly significant.

Confidence featured a fairly stylized palette, especially during club scenes. Those demonstrated over-saturated reds and greens that gave them an oppressive cast. Most other shots came across as more natural. Colors looked solid across the board, as long as we examined them within their stylistic parameters. Black levels also came across as deep and dense, while shadow detail was appropriately heavy without excessive thickness. Confidence lost points mostly due to its light edge enhancement and print flaws, but it still seemed pretty solid overall.

Mostly due to its aggressive use of music, Confidence featured a pretty solid Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The soundfield definitely favored the score. Those elements demonstrated very good stereo spread in the front and also used the surrounds well to reinforce the music. Effects also popped up from the sided and rear as appropriate and presented accurate placement and movement. Nonetheless, the music offered the best use of the various channels and helped propel the movie.

Audio quality seemed positive. A few lines of speech demonstrated light edginess, and the lines spoken in King’s booth demonstrated a weird sense of reverb that made them sound artificial. Otherwise, the dialogue seemed natural and distinctive. Effects appeared accurate and tight, with no problems connected to distortion. As noted, the music dominated, and those parts sounded very good. The track was clear and vibrant, and the music showed deep and rich bass. Overall, the audio of Confidence seemed very satisfying.

The fairly substantial roster of extras that accompany Confidence open with a whopping three separate audio commentaries. The first one features director James Foley who offers a running, screen-specific chat. Foley packs his conversation with a lot of good information. He gets into casting and many issues connected to the actors. The best parts relate the way the performers worked together and crafted their characters, and Foley even discusses one day when he had to get snippy with them. Foley also goes over budget issues and how they affected the locations, changes from the original script, editing and visual decisions. It’s a nicely broad and revealing chat.

Next we get a commentary from writer Doug Jung, who provides his own running, screen-specific discussion. Foley touched upon some character and actor issues, but Jung goes into these more fully. He elaborates on changes from the original script to the screen and really gets into various collaborations quite well. We get a nice sense of the roles and their exposition. Jung goes silent a little more often than I’d like, but this remains a pretty interesting discussion.

The final commentary features actors Edward Burns, Rachel Weisz, Dustin Hoffman and Andy Garcia. Burns and Weisz sit together and offer running, screen-specific material most of the time. However, it appears that Weisz splits and Garcia comes in with Burns very close to the end of the movie; I’m not sure, but it sounds like Garcia’s prior comments – which don’t start until his character first hits the screen – are done solo. Hoffman clearly is alone for his moments.

Whatever the construction of the track may be, it fares intermittently successfully. Without question, Hoffman’s remarks provide the piece’s strongest moments. He offers terrific insight into his working processes and really makes the most of his sporadic statements. Garcia also adds nice notes about the development of his character as he tells us about choices like Butan’s city of origin. Burns and Weisz toss out some decent information as well, but too many of their remarks fall in the “I like that” domain, and they don’t contribute a lot of useful material. Still, enough good stuff pops up to make this piece worth a listen.

After this we find a Sundance Channel program called Anatomy of a Scene. The 27-minute and six-second show largely focuses on one specific scene in Confidence: the one in which Jake details the film’s big scam. We hear comments from director Foley, production designer William Arnold, writer Doug Jung, cinematographer Juan Ruiz Anchia, editor Stuart Levy, actors Edward Burns, Paul Giamatti, In addition to the notes about this scene, we get general remarks about the story, Jung’s inspiration for the plot, casting, locations and visuals

“Anatomy” includes a high percentage of useful information. The participants thoroughly cover the scene in question and provide a lot of terrific details. While not great as an overview of the production as a whole, it manages to really dig into its subject nicely.

Up next we get a collection of three deleted scenes. These last a total of 11 minutes and 53 seconds. The first shows the King as he inspects his strippers and learns more about Jake’s scheme, while the second presents an extended version of the Jake/Lily love scene and its aftermath that includes character details about her. The last one expands briefly on the Morris Chestnut character and his interactions with Lily. None of these seem particularly interesting for their content, but the Hoffman section is a lot of fun because it gives us multiple takes of the same sequence. We get to see Hoffman improvise and vary each rendition, which makes it a great bit to see.

In the Soundtrack Presentation area, we get two music videos. These include one song from Zero 7 and another from FC Kahuna. Two annoying tunes and two annoying videos.

If you click on the Lion’s Gate logo in the main menu, you’ll find the movie’s trailer. This area also includes ads for Godsend The Hard Word, and Finder’s Fee.

One unexpected nice touch: “Anatomy of a Scene” and the music videos include both English and Spanish subtitles. Of the major studios, only Paramount and DreamWorks consistently provide text with their supplements, so it’s good to see Lion’s Gate do it as well, though it’s too bad the subtitles don’t show up for the deleted scenes as well.

At times, Confidence manages to offer a decent piece of work, and it occasionally seems reasonably entertaining. However, the movie remains too derivative of other flicks and never gains a good sense of its own personality. This makes it only sporadically compelling. The DVD presents generally very good picture and sound with a surprisingly robust series of supplements highlighted by an extensive roster of audio commentaries. Fans of the modern noir genre may like Confidence, but the movie made little impact on me.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5833 Stars Number of Votes: 12
3 3:
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