After an auspicious start as a hot-shot cinematographer on films such as Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, Three O’clock High, Big, When Harry Met Sally, Miller’s Crossing, and Misery, Barry Sonnenfeld switched to full-blown director, with a bunch of mixed-bag credits throughout the last 25 years. From where I sit, Get Shorty is easily his best film, and one of the finest Hollywood comedies ever crafted. The remarkable cast included a perfect John Travolta as a Miami mob-enforcer turned wannabe Los Angeles player, Gene Hackman in a wily and hilarious performance as a has-been B-movie producer scoundrel, the alluring Rene Russo as Hackman’s ex who falls for Travolta, Dennis Farina (“They say the fucking smog is the fucking reason you have such beautiful fucking sunsets”), David Paymer, James Gandolfini, Danny De Vito, Delroy Lindo, Jon Gries, and many more familiar faces and character actors. Released in 1995, this came hot on the heels of Pulp Fiction, and became a box office success and critical favorite. This is an endlessly re-watchable film with snappy dialogue courtesy of tremendous screenwriter Scott Frank (Out of Sight, Minority Report, The Lookout) who adapted Elmore Leonard’s novel, excellent visual design from shooter Donald Peterman, a jazzy soundtrack, and splendid acting from a top-flight ensemble. I wish there was a new movie like this one coming out this weekend.


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