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Review(s) by Honest Abe



NOTE: The screenplays we review are often in development and may experience many rewrites, some could end up being completely different than what is reviewed here. It is our hope that our reviews generate more interest in the film. Thank you.

CITY BY THE SEA (positive, major spoilers)
Screenwriters: Frank Pierson, Ken Hixon, Michael Caton-Jones

Robert DeNiro in a gritty drama/thriller about a cop trying to escape his past and survive his future. Vincent LaMarca (DeNiro) is as tough as they come. A seasoned veteran cop who's seen it all and eeking a out a decent living. He's divorced but has a steady girlfriend, Michelle (a waitress). He also has a son he hasn't seen in over a decade. Joey is a strung out junkie who continually tries and fails to get clean. One night out trying to score some drugs, Joey and his pal Snake get invovled in an assault and a local drug dealer named Picasso gets knifed to death. Now Joey's on the run and running out of options. Picasso's boss, Spyder is coming after Joey after Snake ratted himout. Once Vincent learns of his son's invovlement, he and his partner Reg do what they can to locate him and bring him in safely. Joey's girlfriend Gina tries to help him but she's too far gone to be of any real help. She does tell Vincent where to locate Joey but not before bringing Joey's son to his doorstep. As the heat steps up, Vincent's past is reawakened. It seems his father was executed for kidnapping and killing an infant. The cops took in young Vincent under their wing and he rose proudly through their ranks. Of course, the press gets wind of this and the case gets blown wide open. While there are a lot of characters invovled here, the main ones are given just enough to keep our interest. DeNiro should prove great to watch as a tortured soul reaching out to the son he abandoned many years ago. (I especially found the scenes of Vincent with his new grandson to be touching.) I was never a real fan of junkie type flicks but Joey isn't the main focus here. After his string of comedies which I enjoyed for the most part, it's nice to see DeNiro return to form. It is a bit difficult to classify this though. I mean, I liked it. It was a good read. I don't see this necessarily attracting a mainstream audience. Personally, I'm up for a good drama when I can find one. I think I may have found one here...and that's my bottom line.

THE RUNAWAY JURY (positive, minor spoilers)
Screenwriters: Gregory Poirier, Matthew Chapman, Tom R. Pearson, Brian Koppelman, David Levien

I have not read the novel this script is based on but I am aware that the script involves the gun industry as opposed to the novel which discusses the tobacco industry. That aside, this script isn't necessarily a courtroom drama but a drama about the people involved in a particular case...on both sides. The defendants are GT Tech, makers of a handgun used in an office shooting spree. The plaintiff is one of the victim's widows. The argument is that a gun store owner illegally sold the weapon in question and that GT Tech knew something was up with regards to sales in the area going up sharply but did nothing about it. The oddball in the mix is Nick, a young man who seemingly wants out of jury duty but once on the case, is revealed to have ulterior motives for wanting to be invovled. Enter Marlee, his apparent silent partner who applies pressure to both teams of lawyers, again for some unknown ulterior motive. It would be easy to say that the reason is simply money. Of course, there's more to it but we don't find out what until the very end. It's very interesting to read how people in the jury can be pressured without them knowing it, to vote one way or another in a trial, particularly one of this magnitude. I'll admit I was afraid that the ending was gonna be a letdown. Something like, oh Marlee got screwed over by one of the lawyers so this was her way at payback. Something totally hokey like that would have seriously pissed me off. Just the opposite though is here because I was continually theorizing what could be the driving force. The story itself has character to it even though some of the supporting players are enigmas. I know that doesn't make too much sense but it does play out nicely. Bottom line: for the most part, John Grisham hasn't disappointed me and I see his string of hits continuing here. A nice, tight courtroom drama...without the courtroom....for the most part. Confused? That's ok. I was too. But I have no complaints with the aftermath.

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