Affleck has learned a bit of action-film technique since his embarrassing turn in Armageddon. His best performance is still as the jock with artistic leanings in Mark Pellington's Going All the Way. Here, he seems less like an actor than the host of a bad party who suffers his ill-tempered guests with a certain grace. Sinise, however, engages in much teeth gnashing before he gets down to chewing the scenery. I admit a weakness for Frankenheimer's huge low-angled close-ups and the way he can send a body or two hurtling down a snowy mountain. Still, that's precious little on which to pin a movie.

Labor pains: Duvauchelle in The Little Thief
photo: Film Forum
Labor pains: Duvauchelle in The Little Thief


The Little Thief
Directed by Zonca
Written by Zonca and
Virginie Wagon

Written and directed by Erick Zonca
Both at Film Forum
Through March 14

Reindeer Games
Directed by John Frankenheimer
Written by Ehren Kruger
A Dimension Films release

Drowning Mona
Directed by Nick Gomez
Written by Peter Steinfeld
A Destination Films release
Opens March 3

Reindeer Games seems like trash with panache compared to Drowning Mona, which looks like a New Jersey version of Li'l Abner without tits or biceps. The more relevant inspiration is probably The Sopranos, where middle-aged Mafia worker bees turn out to have as many neurotic personal relationships as everyone who gets HBO. Drowning Mona is probably only the first of many movies coming down the pike in which people with bad '70s haircuts, living in small towns and letting their homicidal impulses run amuck, expect us to find them cute. Bette Midler and Danny De Vito mug more shamelessly than usual; it's better for the careers of the other actors that they remain nameless. Nick Gomez, one of the most promising filmmakers of the last decade, was chosen for this gig on the basis of his direction of some episodes of The Sopranos. Either they had something on him or he needed the money.

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