Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead Directed by: Sidney Lumet Written by: Kelly Masterson (screenplay) Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Marisa Tomei, and Albert Finney
We didn’t know until recently that Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead would be the last film from the masterful director Sidney Lumet. Few saw it when it was released back in 2007, which is a fair summation of Lumet’s later career. Though the all-important edge remained in his work, especially this ferocious indictment of American family dynamics, the “classic status” of films like 12 Angry Men and Dog Day Afternoon was not achieved.
By no means does this make Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead lose merit, but it is not a classic. All directors don’t get to end on masterpieces (Stanley Kubrick didn’t), but Lumet had the distinction of making them.
The Lincoln Lawyer Directed by: Brad Furman Written by: John Romano (screenplay), Michael Connelly (book) Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, and William H. Macy
Matthew McConaughey is one of the most knocked around actors working in the modern Hollywood studio system. He’s so derided by critics that people forget that he can actually act. So here he is in The Lincoln Lawyer, putting on a shirt and a serious face and earning back some street cred.
Directed by Brad Furman with a keen sense of what thrills and what doesn’t, The Lincoln Lawyer is a court procedural that stresses politics outside the courtroom as much as in them. It’s a movie with a story to tell (one originated by Michael Connelly), one that isn’t watered down to the basics or drowned out by explosions.