Romance and Cigarettes John Turturro

Equal parts romantic comedy and musical, John Turturro's Romance and Cigarettes is a picture made interesting wholly due to its misfit cast. Where else but here could you see a musical number featuring both James Gandolfini and Mandy Moore? Problem is, for all its quirky weirdness, it doesn't quite hold together. Gandolfini plays Nick Murder, the cheating husband of Kitty Kane (Susan Sarandon). When his affair is exposed, Murder is forced to choose between his vulgar mistress (Kate Winslet) and his despondent wife and kids. As a way of dealing with their problems, the characters abruptly launch into whatever songs suit their mood, no matter where they are or what they're doing. Tracks by Tom Jones and Janis Joplin animate topics such as love, loneliness and circumcision. It should come as no surprise that this movie was produced by the Coen brothers. Unfortunately, as Turturro's third writer/director credit, Romance and Cigarettes has re-affirmed his pension for creating snappy scripts that have little continuity in tone or pace. Any movie that starts with folks randomly belting out Engelbert Humperdinck songs on the streets of Brooklyn and then gets sombre in its third act, with nary a song to be found, is kind of hard to get a handle on. Still, with all its crassness, hilarious melodrama and one-liners, plus appearances by Steve Buscemi, Eddie Izzard, Elaine Stritch, and Christopher Walken (with the best entrance in the history of the known universe), it's tough not to be entertained throughout. (United Artists)