Set against the backdrop of a mythic New West, a satire that follows grammatically-challenged, user-friendly candidate Dicky Pilager, scapegrace scion of Colorados venerable Senator Jud Pilager, during his gubernatorial campaign. When Pilager finds that hes reeled in a corpse during the taping of an environmental political ad, his ferocious campaign manager, Chuck Raven, hires former idealistic journalist turned rumpled private detective Danny OBrien to investigate potential links between the corpse and the Pilager familys enemies. Dannys investigation pulls him deeper and deeper into a complex web of influence and corruption, involving high stakes lobbyists, media conglomerates, environmental plunderers, and undocumented migrant workers.
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John Sayles thankfully continues to be one of our most controversial filmmakers in the US (City of Hope, Sunshine State, Lone Star, Secret of Roan Inish, Passion Fish, Casa de los Babys, etc). In SILVER CITY he continues his dissection of America's tarnished underbelly and with his usual techniques of large cast and long screenplay he gives us almost more than we can digest in one film.Not that each of his avenues of story doesn't have merit (clearly not the case! - they do). But with so many agendas to examine through the eyes of such an enormous (and excellent) cast, some of the laser-like punches of his points become blunted. The story is relatively straight forward in the beginning: the simpleton, nerdy, inarticulate fool Dickie Pilager (Chris Cooper at his finest) is being processed as a candidate for Governor of Colorado by his campaign manager Chuck Raven (Richard Dreyfuss) and among the endless grammatical and textual faux pas is an accidental filming of Dickie trying to speak to the endangered environment while snagging the body of an illegal immigrant from one of the lakes in the mountains of Colorado. The smarmy way Raven attempts to hide this hideous discovery includes manipulating the press, the police, and the public all in order to have his grossly incompetent candidate continue in a good light. The discovered body unravels a chain of events that uncovers the corruption in every aspect of the town - and metaphorically in our country!Sayles shines his wise light on the plight of illegal immigrant issues, the gross mismanagement of environmental protection (read destruction), the demise of journalism credibility, the greed of land developers, the stench of the wealthy, AND a not too occult parody of George W. Bush!The large and generally fine cast (in addition to Cooper and Dreyfuss) includes the skills of Daryl Hannah, Tim Roth, Thora Birch, Maria Bello, Billy Zane, Danny Huston, Mary Kaye Place, Kris Kristofferson, and Miguel Ferrer. While the movie wanders along in excess of two hours and feels like the hand of an editor would be welcome, what Sayles has to say and warn us about is very much worth seeing. One leaves this movie with the feeling that a bit more time in the postproduction room would have brought this important film into a tighter and more pungent arena. Grady Harp, January 2005
Limp satire misses almost every mark. The target appears to be Bush,but none of Bush's real weaknesses are underscored with any satiricedge - speeches by Bush himself are funnier than those delivered byCandidate Pillager. In fact the script can't decide whether it's a realsatire or a dramatic comment on political problems faced by illegalaliens. At any rate, the pacing of the comic moments is pretty bad -there's no oomph here, no energy. The acting also lacks energy - it isclear the actors aren't sure what Sayles wants from them - a mattermade worse by the fact that every character is embarrassingly miscast.This film is a shocking disappointment for admirers of Sayles' previousexceptionally fine work. What the heck went wrong here? And now I seeSayles is slated to do a "Juraissic Park" sequel? Obviously something'sgone bad for this man's career - I hope he can pull it back together.But not with a film this incomplete.
SILVER CITY (2+ outta 5 stars) As a huge fan of John Sayles' work formany years now I feel safe in saying that this is the worst movie hehas ever done. That said, the movie isn't exactly *terrible*... justvery uninspired. Sayles throws in familiar elements from his previousmovies (corrupt politics, illegal immigration, the selling out ofyouthful ideals) but fails to bring them together in any new ormeaningful way. Even the dialogue (usually Sayles' strong point) isdisappointing this time around.. sounding clichÃ©d and forced in almostevery scene. The movie looks and sounds like episodes from a TV seriesthat didn't make it past its third episode. There are tons of big starson hand... and they try their best to make their bit parts comealive... but the material just isn't there this time around. Whilefilming a campaign spot a governor-hopeful (a poor and obvious George WBush stand-in) fishes a dead body out of a lake. An investigator ishired to try and warn away people who may have deliberately set this upto discredit the candidate... but he soon finds out that there aredeeper and darker (and more clichÃ©d) secrets to be discovered. Sayleshas made similarly-themed movies so much better in the past ("LoneStar", "Matewan", "Return of the Secaucus Seven", "Men With Guns").It's a shame that he went to the well one time too many and came upwith tainted water. One good line, delivered by Richard Dreyfuss:"Danny, you're a loser. That's already been established beyond doubt.So just try and be a good one, okay?"
'Silver City' is a good idea. It features a politician who isn't toosmart who is controlled by special interest. Sound familiar? Theproblem is that they spend too much time trying to act like adocumentary and not enough time on the players. Danny Houston, MariaBello and Chris Cooper give credible performances but can't competewith the "message". John Sayles is usually a fabulous director (seeLone Star, Eight Men Out and Passion Fish) but like in his movie, Cityof Hope, he spends the majority of the movie preaching. Among the otherpluses for this movie is the beautiful cinematography. It is a movie towatch but if your like me, you'll be saying "All right already" to thescreen.
We just saw this at a free screening, and regretted we didn't sneak into see Garden State.Despite an excellent performance from Chris Cooper and decentsupporting roles from Richard Dreyfuss (who seems to be happy just tohave work) and Sal Lopez, this movie just didn't have it. Danny Hustonjust seemed a little too happy go lucky for the role of Danny (sidenote, hate it when actors play characters who have the same name asthey do) O'Brien, as well as a bit too hapless to be believable as an"investigator" The dialogue was dreadful, and the plot was nearly asmurky as the silver city water.I could go into more detail, with specific examples, but just be gladyou haven't seen this, and regardless of whether you're a fan of Saylesor not (who seems to have had one good film in him), I'd stronglyrecommend you spend your time reading a good murder mystery...it wouldbe two hours better spent.
Good performances don't save Silver City from being sunk by it'spedantic dialog and choppy editing. This could have been a great movie,but rhetoric and bad directing sink this plodding film. The plot wasdecent, the performances good, but the dialog was stilted and thescenes never flowed from one to the next. It's like the thing was puttogether in a rush, in an attempt to get the movie out before the 2004elections, and the editor just didn't have time to make a final cut.You might want to rent it sometime, but don't bother seeing it on thebig screen.
Lost in the glare of Michael Moore's 2004 pseudo-documentary Fahrenheit911 was independent filmmaker John Sayles' far more incisive filmictake on politics called Silver City. While Moore's film was a frontalassault on the George W. Bush administration, Sayles' film was less ajab at Right Wing politics, although it clearly was, and more anassault on the sliminess of politics in general. I was surprised at howgood the film was, considering all the negative reviews it got fromcritics. Is it a great film, in league with Sayles' best? No. But it'slight years beyond typical Hollywood fare- especially bigger budgetedfilms like the Clinton era's Wag The Dog.The film it most resembles is Roman Polanski's Chinatown, although setin contemporary Colorado, and this film having a lighter feel- in termsof the cinematography and humorÂ . t's a shame that this film wasswamped by so many other screechy films, such as Fahrenheit 911 and MelGibson's The Passion Of The Christ, for it deserved it, despite its badending. The best thing about Sayles is that he is unpredictable- savethat he writes and directs stellar adult dramas, and given his lastseveral films, that aspect of his work seems to be in no danger ofdiminishing.
First off, this is mostly directed to the reviewer who compared SilverCity to Chinatown. Silver City may not be a classic but frankly I wasquite impressed with Danny Huston as the investigator.I also thought the supporting cast was quite good and it was especiallyrefreshing to see complex Latinos-not just bad guys or simpletoncharacterizations.As to the script, I HIGHLY disagree with it not being very creative. Itwas textured, funny in places and absorbing. Maybe not OUT OF THE PASTcaliber but certainly with enough memorable lines.But then again, I just happen to think that people need to be remindedthat Bush, Chaney, Rove -and now Palin are not what they presentthemselves to be-or at least, what they promise the country they willbe.
So, at first I was skeptical. I thought, oh boy another clichÃ©d jab atGeorge W. Bush. There was some of that but the movie went further andcame out pretty decent. See, Bush isn't my favorite but I'm not soobsessed to want to watch an entire movie about it.OK, so this "fictional political candidate" -- basically Chris Cooperdoing a good George W. impression -- is a bumbling idiot named DickyPillager (oh, my hand...it's so HEAVY!) who is not so much a "bad guy"as the people around him are. The movie is a fun exploration of Dick'sdiverse family and the frightening political machine of his PR team. Itslowly turns into a mystery story, kind of like Chinatown or someprivate eye story with a high angle of a smoky office shot through alazy ceiling fan. This movie has no smoky office with a fan though.It's a decent story. I'm sure there are some "clever" jabs at thecurrent president that we've heard a million times before. "Oh, he'skilling the earth!" kind of stuff. It's not as irritating andself-righteous as it sounds. There are some jabs right back at the"crazy hippies" running a scathing anti-Pillager website. It's good toconsider that what you think is true about your elected leaders is theproduct of spin doctoring and grooming.Good actors, decent story, not bad.
All I knew of "Silver City" is that it was the John Sayles movie where Chris Cooper does a killer impersonation of W. He does. But that's not really what the movie is about. Dickie Pilager (get it?) is running for Governor of Colorado. He's a fairly slow talking, dim-witted, easily confused and easily led caricature of President Bush. While shooting a promotional campaign commercial where Pilager is fishing in a river, Dickie manages to hook a corpse instead. Dickie's Karl Rove like manager Chuck Raven (Richard Dreyfuss) gets to work to protect his candidate and also to find out who did this. He believes that there are forces out to get Dickie and to sabotage his campaign. Raven gets a detective agency to work to find out who is behind it and also to let certain individuals know that "They are being watched." Danny O'Brien (Danny Huston) is the investigator put on the case and "Silver City" is really seen through his eyes as he investigates. We learn, as he does, about the legacy of the Pilager family, their corruption and ties to some big business, and how the power of this family was built on illegal labor, dishonesty, and a poor record towards the environment. While sometimes interesting and amusing (in particular, Cooper's Dickie Pilager just kills), "Silver City" isn't that great of a movie overall. It's really an attack on the Bush Dynasty but it feels unfocused at times. This movie isn't nearly as good as Sayles' "Lone Star" or even "Limbo".Is it bad, though, that I can't see James Gammon as anyone but Lou Brown from "Major League"? The man is an accomplish actor.-Joe Sherry
This story starts off in a beautiful scene in Colorado and a new localpolitician named Chris Pilager, (Chris Cooper) who is suppose to befishing and he pulls in a corpse. It is from this point on that thestory starts to unfold with Chuck Raven, (Richard Dreyfuss) politicalmanager for Pilager starts hiring a former journalist and privatedetective to investigate this person found in the water. This detectiveis a guy named Danny O'Brien, (Danny Huston) who gets himself alltangled up in a political jungle that puts him in grave danger.However, Danny does meet up with the sister of Chris Pilager, (DarylHannah) and they have a romantic scene in bed and then they startfighting. This is definitely a great film to view and also enjoy thegreat acting of Dreyfuss and Hannah. Enjoy.
Never, ever, before in my life have I wanted to take off my shoe andthrow it at the screen while watching a movie--that is, until I sawSilver City. This movie, is by far one of the worst movies I have everseen, and certainly it is the most boring. I swear, this movie had noeditor, and I think the director must have fallen asleep while filming.The plot is so twisted and confusing, and it goes absolutely nowhere.It is not successful in making any of the political points that it istrying to make. I really can not understand why some people praise thisas one of the best films of the year. Really, I don't understand it.Please, don't waste your money on seeing this film. I implore you!Don't! Save yourself the two hours that feel like five hours ofcomplete torture.
Silver city was an ok political satire. Cooper is great as a Bush like Colorado gubernatorial candidate, and the private looks a little too much like Jeb Bush. The movie just isnt that funny and the satire is not that great. At times I felt bored. I was expecting more entertainment, especially since I'm not too fond of the right wingers.
John Sayles presents a remarkable portrait of what goes on behind the scenes in American politics today. Ecology is at the bottom of priorities. Power and money rules.
See this movie, it will give you a intertesting perspective on some current events as well as some concepts to consider at a deeper level in general about our current political system and the place of government in modern life.
I was very disappointed with the movie for the simple fact that thedirector or writer or whoever had a political agenda.Basically, a politician is running for office and a problem surfacesthat could totally destroy him. The politics comes in when thepolitical party's bosses refer to the Democrats as getting them. Thereference as I see it is that big business is trying to win an electionby nefarious means (aren't all political parties nefarious?) and theDems are trying to ruin it for them. Though their party is neverreferred to as Republicans, they do refer to Dems as getting them,hence being the 'good guys' looking out for the average person, and theother party has money, big business, etc, all things associated withRepublicans, caring less about the average person..Had it not been for the Democrat reference, I might have rated ithigher. This seemed to me as a political movie, since the VERY FIRSTpreview of other movies is about "Farenheit 9-11", and the otherpreviews were also left leaning or liberal. If it is a political movie,it should be noted as such.
Generally political messages are done on television, so if you are abig fan of environmental correctness, watch to your hearts content.Most people go to the movies to be entertained, not sold some poppycockpolitical nonsense. The hook here is the big name cast. Unfortunatelythe sum of the performances equals a whole movie that went absolutelynowhere. The two best performances, Chris Cooper, and Richard Dreyfus,have minimal screen time. In short, "Silver City" is to be avoided asentertainment. It is nothing more than a non documentary, ramblingpolitical expose on illegal immigration, pollution, and any number ofother causes that do not belong anywhere except on the small screen. -MERK
I'm not going to sit here and lie to you. I first saw the trailer for Silver City while waiting to watch Fahrenheit 9/11. When I say the trailer I thought what I saw going to see was a movie similar to Primary Colors which I really enjoyed. Never again will I trust trailers.I thought this movie was going to be one of satire, however it was fleeting. Chris Cooper does fall into the roll like he was born to play or run? It's just too bad it was in this movie. Another thing that bugged the hell out of me was the plot line was darting all over the place. Just when you barely get to know a charter, BOOM! Off we go. Fear not, there are no spoilers here. Because there's not much of an ending. In a pre December, 2 I would still have to give this film 3 stars for the effort.
A nice try at educating the public that doesn't quite come off. Thething is like a bolt of lightning with its leader stroke zigzagging allover the place, unable to find earth, until it finally peters out.The many subplots, which other commenter have mentioned, don't botherme so much as the fact that they don't really seem connected to oneanother. There's a good deal of time spent on undocumented workers thathas nothing to do with the main thrust of the movie, which has to dowith a planned community to be built on contaminated land. Romancesthat are clipped and cartoonish.Some very good performers are involved in these goings on. Some, likeDanny Huston, upon whom the plot more or less hinges, don't bring toomuch to the party. He looks a little like Kiefer Southerland and soundslike a disk jockey and has a Hollywood haircut. None of this is hisfault, but it has to be admitted that it all lessens our interest inthe story. He doesn't come across as the role he's been given. Hedoesn't come across as an actor playing the role either. He comesacross as a simulacrum of an actor playing the role.The other actors for the most part live up to their potential. Dreyfusisn't on coke anymore, I know, but he plays the political adviser as ifhe were. Billy Zane is good, as always, as a fishy phony baldingsmiling sleaze bag. Darryl Hannah is coarser, more mature, andscrumptious. She's even cute when she's mad. Kris Kristofferson is hisreliable self. Miguel Ferrer is an angry, husky, shouting, scowlingright-wing media person.The standout performance is by Chris Cooper at the soon-to-be-governorPilage. Sure, the script and the performance poke fun at George W.Bush.Here's Pilage at a Q and A session. Reporter: "So you are in favor of amandatory death penalty?" Pilage: "Let me put it this way. We have tosay to the wrongdoers that there is no place here for them. Get out.You do the crime -- you have to face your lumps." Here's GWB a fewyears ago. "There's an old saying in Texas. Fool me once, shame on you.Fool me twice (puzzled pause) -- you can't get away with it." Butthat's nothing to squawk about. I don't know that it's any worse thanthe number that Travolta and Nichols did on Clinton in "PrimaryColors." And anyway, we don't ask our presidents to be especiallyelegant in their speech, just literate enough to read. Look atEisenhower.On top of that, Cooper doesn't simply take aim at Bush. Cooper'spresidential candidate may stumble over the English language, but he'snot a self-confident, strutting caricature either. He brings anunderstated touch of pathos to the role. He's out riding withKristofferson's millionaire and Kristofferson waves at the majesticmountains around them and says, "People miss the big picture. You knowwhat the big picture is?" And Cooper, bemused, at a loss, looksuncomfortably at the ground and stutters a bit before Kristoffersonenlightens him -- "Private enterprise." Cooper's politician is not aman who has grown too big for his britches, just a guy who's getting inover his head and, at some level or other, realizes it.There are some good non-didactic lines in the film too. Amatter-of-fact sheriff shoots a Mexican villain who is holding a gun onHuston, then wanders over to the dead body, rolls it face up, andremarks, "He has that wanted-for-questioningshot-while-resisting-arrest look about him." And I can't help butdisagree with comments that argue we don't need the lesson proffered bythis movie to be drilled into us. Maybe those who argue this can see"the big picture," but as a collectivity we seem to have beenparticularly lax in paying attention to the social problems the moviedeals with. We are, as I write this, in the process of selling off ournational forests to private interests and leasing to the timberindustry thousands of acres that belong to us. Many of our leaders arefighting with all their resources to open the Arctic National WildlifeRefuge to oil drilling, which may add two percent to our domestic oilsupply beginning eight to ten years from now. And there is hardly apeep out of us.Anthropologists have delineated three possible kinds of relationshipsto the natural environment. (1) We can be subjugated to it, as mosthuman beings who have ever lived have been. (2) We can live in harmonywith it, treating it as a trust fund or stewardship for futuregenerations. Or (3) we can attempt to conquer it and exploit itregardless of consequences, some of which are unforeseeable. The choiceis a monumental one and deserves attention, even in an obvious polemiclike this movie.
I remember watching Lone Star for the first time and realizing that I have seen one of the best films ever. From that point on, to say that I have been a fan of John Sayles is putting it lightly. What I love about Sayles' works are that they are large tales but are told from places of small intimacies. And their outcomes are not given like most Hollywood films, but are earned.Silver City is such a film, a polished political satire that wants to be much more. The problem with this film is that since it wants it's cake and eat it too, it gets fat and in places, a little sloppy.The film centers around three major stories, and then a few sub-stories. The three major stories are these; 1) Colorado Govenor hopeful (Chris Cooper in his finest role since Adaptation) accidently reels in a dead body while doing a political ad which 2) brings in investigator (Danny Huston)to find out where the body came from (it is initially concieved that it was a hatchett job by the opposition or some "unstable characters". 3) involves a land deal on what used to be a mining town called Silver City, which will be built into an assisted living community. The main performances are some of the best. Cooper takes John Pillager (I KNOW that's not coincidence) and makes him a unique character. He's a likeable guy because he was built to be likable. You can see what his real purposes are even without being told. Richard Dreyfuss, who has made a career of making roles for himself that tailors to his personality, sinks his teeth into the role of advisor for the future govenor. Unfortunately, the role of Danny, the investigator, plays in almost two opposite directions, being a smart and calculating man one scene, then turning into the world's biggest dunce in the next. And since he's on camera a good 70% of the time, his part is the most important. But he does have a little help. Maria Bello, Tim Roth, Daryll Hannah, Mary Kay Place, and tons of others help make this character a little easier to swallow, but it's still a chore.John Sayles directs this film with the eyes of a satirist, but with the heart of a storyteller. Most of the time, I would say that they would go hand in hand, but this isn't. One wants to butt into the other in this film like kids in the back seat. It never really meshes completely, but the story still holds up. The conclusion to this tale realizes that there is no big revelation, and that good doesn't always conquer evil. And perhaps that's for the best (what else would we be able to complain about?). You don't go to a Sayles movie for the ending, you go for the characters and to be caught up in a community of good and bad people. One more note, I must say that I like Haskel Wexler's natural look for the film. It's not crisp or standard Hollywood fare. It blends together, just like the story's characters.