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The Newton Boys (1998)

Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Matthew McConaughey, Skeet Ulrich, more...
Director: Richard Linklater, Richard Linklater
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Genre: Manhunt, Crime, Quest, Manhunt, Manhunt
Running Time: 122 min.
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish
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Richard Linklater's fifth feature is a major departure from his previous work -- his first big-budget picture, it's also the first of his films since his 1987 Super-8 effort "It's Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books" not set during his signature 24-hour time frame, offering instead a ravishing bankrobber period piece buoyed by a gentleness of spirit rare among movies of any genre. Its true story tells of the four Texas-born Newton brothers, who between 1919 and 1924 were the most successful robbers in the U.S.; led by the newly-paroled Willis Newton (Matthew McConaughey, in arguably his strongest performance to date), the gang -- siblings Jess (Ethan Hawke), Joe (Skeet Ulrich) and Dock (Vincent D'Onofrio), as well as nitroglycerin expert Brentwood Glasscock (Dwight Yoakam) -- embarks on a crime spree which spreads across the U.S. and into Canada, heisting bank vaults only at night in order not to hurt or kill anyone. (As Willis figures it, the bankers -- all covered by insurance -- are merely thieves themselves anyway.) A sweetly contemplative film, The Newton Boys is almost an anti-crime caper -- no one gets killed, and the violence which does occasionally erupt is handled with a light comic touch. By no means a master storyteller, Linklater has instead crafted a movie tailored to his own strengths, among them his skillful direction of actors, his flair for period detail and his unerring sense of rhythm; like all of his work, The Newton Boys is also informed by its maker's deep and abiding love for the film medium itself, complete with any number of striking visual and emotional references to classics ranging from Greed to Jules et Jim. While viewers expecting slam-bang action typical of the genre will undoubtedly be disappointed, those seeking a more humane and poetic alternative will be utterly charmed. ~ Jason Ankeny, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Enjoyable but not Essential by tboot January 19, 2005 - 11:28 AM PST
0 out of 1 members found this review helpful
After his new film hit so many top-ten lists, I thought it was time to go back and check this film out. I was imagining that maybe it was an overlooked gem. And it is, sort of. It's a very amiable and good-hearted film, full of great period detail, exuberant, easy-going performances and a terrific score by the Bad Livers. But it's far from electrifying -- just a good time at the movies.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 5.56)
27 Votes
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Jonathan Rosenbaum's recommendations from 1998
A list of best movies from the year 1998 by Jonathan Rosenbaum. His recommendations, though not always by favorites are definitely a good list to pick movies to watch from.
Linklater Films
Films by the master of early '90's slacker films.

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