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Silver City (2004)

DVD Cover (Sony Home Entertainment)
Drama, Mystery, Political Satire, Political Thriller
John Sayles John Sayles
Chris Cooper Chris Cooper
Richard Dreyfuss Richard Dreyfuss
Cajardo Lindsey Cajardo Lindsey
John C. Ashton John C. Ashton
Elizabeth Rainer Elizabeth Rainer

6.1 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: July 29, 2005
Completely restored and renovated to its original luster, the Alabama Theatre looked better and brighter than ever before. Nestled in the nucleus of the typically conservative Heart of Dixie, this would not be the typical location for a scathing stab at the Bush administration. I guess this film goes to show that the appeal of cinema holds no bounds. For this second evening of the Sidewalk Film Festival, "Big Fish" author Daniel Wallace was on hand to open the night by presenting the first Kathryn Tucker Windham Storytelling Award to Ms. Windham herself, the famed author and Southeastern storyteller. This was followed by John Sayles' political docudrama "Silver City", a film that is not the typical genre that opens up a lively festival like the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival. For the next two hours, I sat amazed at how such an amazing director could misfire so badly with a film.

The film centers around Colorado gubernatorial hopeful Dickie Pilager, a man who makes 'simpleton' seem like an understatement as he stands before the press, staring blankly at the ground, fumbling for something official sounding to say. Richard Dreyfuss is Chuck Raven, his right hand man, and the real brains behind the whole operation. During one of their ad shoots, a body surfaces in a Colorado lake and Raven hires former reporter Danny O'Brien to find out where it came from and how it ended up in the lake at that exact moment, without leaking to the press that it was involved with Pilager in any capacity. The remainder of the film deals with O'Brien tracking down the name and origin of the body, while piecing together a tale of corruption, greed, and power hungry politicians, all entangled in a real estate mess known as Silver City, Colorado.

With films like "Lone Star" and "Limbo", director John Sayles' has proven his immense talent for both writing and directing. "Silver City" demonstrates that even the greatest of directors can screw up...and screw up big. This film was so uninteresting and uninvolving that I actually thought about walking out of the theatre. The pacing was intentionally bogged down, it seems, and the editing by John Sayles' was some of the worst I have ever seen. At a film festival, typically, the film has not been finalized, so re-editing might be possible; however, this film has been in release for a couple of weeks now and I can only assume that this was the final draft. Ouch. I am surprised at all of the positive reviews I have been reading for this film. I cannot help but think that most are contributed solely to Sayles' and not to the plot and totality of this mess of a picture.

When you're dealing with such a large ensemble cast, it is very easy to waste good actors and spotlight bad ones. That is certainly the case here. Whereas brilliant actors like Tim Roth and Mary Kay Place are given minimal screen time with interesting characters, Danny Huston is woefully miscast in the lead role, as is Chris Cooper as Dickie Pilager -- his George W. Bush impersonation is not nearly as refined as Will Ferrell's. Richard Dreyfuss and Daryl Hannah, however, are fantastic in their roles -- especially Hannah, who continues to show that her comeback is all but signed, sealed, and delivered. Maybe if we actually cared about the characters, the film would have turned out better. Chris Cooper's character is a person we cannot sympathize with because of his political absurdity, and Danny Huston's character is just a total waste of a human being. The only character we remotely care about is Ralph Waite's depiction of a mine operator, and he is given too little screen time to even mention at length.

"Silver City" is a total disappointment from a phenomenal director and does very little to poke fun at George W. Bush and his administration. I think Sayles' & Co. tried a little too hard to get their point across and faltered as a result. When you're beating around the bush and trying to get at someone, especially someone like the President and his administration, it is almost impossible to succeed. Michael Moore was able to do it by going straight for the jugular, and I guess that is how you have to be. So, the Sidewalk Film Festival is fully underway with two nights of pretty bad cinema under its belt -- things can only go up from here. And, with films like "Rick" and "Dead & Breakfast" to come, I'm sure up is about to happen. "Silver City" is a waste of talent and a waste of time. You should only go to see it if you need a background for balancing your checkbook. 2/10.
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