Directors: Joe and Anthony Russo
The debut film of writer/director brothers Joe and Anthony Russo begins as a lively, vibrant and eccentric American remake of the classic Italian heist film where everything goes wrong, Big Deal on Madonna Street. While Madonna Street is still the far superior telling of the tale and it’s always refreshing to see anything other than those completely smooth, slick and overly hip Ocean’s Eleven or Thomas Crown Affair styled crooks, the Russo brothers benefit heavily from its stellar cast and production team, George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh (ironically two men affiliated with the Ocean’s remakes). Featuring William H. Macy, Isaiah Washington, Andrew Davoli, Sam Rockwell, Michael Jeter, Luis Guzman, Patricia Clarkson, George Clooney, Jennifer Esposito and Gabrielle Union, the film, which premiered to great buzz at the Toronto Film Festival and was later an Director’s Fortnight Official Selection during the 2002 Cannes Film Festival tells the story of an unlikely group of misfits who band together for the score of a lifetime, they call a “Bellini.” Reminiscent of Swingers with its own inventive language filled with slang and double-speak, some of the film’s jokes, including the unique dialogue play even better on a second viewing. While it feels like an admittedly old-fashioned live-action version of an old Warner Brothers cartoon, one is instantly aware of just how much fun the actors had on the set and their energy is contagious, even though we’d have to wait for the ultimate comedic payoff from the Russo brothers when they went to work directing episodes of the groundbreaking, unfairly canceled sitcom Arrested Development. A lot of fun—Welcome to Collinwood is a wonderful choice for a brainless night in, and plays even better especially if you haven’t seen Big Deal or are a fan of indie stars such as Clarkson, Rockwell and Macy.