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Some great filmmaking but not a great film
on 15 September 2010
Danny De Vito's epic is an uncommonly ambitious, lavishly mounted biopic of the infamous Teamsters Union leader that sadly never lives up to that ambition and adds up to less than the sum of its parts. Jack Nicholson is more restrained than usual in the lead, but that ultimately goes for little as the film never gets close to Hoffa, who remains an emotional and political enigma throughout. Stylistic flourishes abound - De Vito has always been a visually imaginative director - and David Mamet's script delivers some good moments, but not enough of them to justify its scope or length. Ultimately Sylvester Stallone and Norman Jewison's flawed fictionalised take on Hoffa, F.I.S.T., is more satisfying and certainly more critical.
Whereas the Fox laserdisc that came out shortly after the film's release was packed with extras, most of which were carried over to the US Region 1 NTSC DVD - an enthusiastic commentary from De Vito, deleted scenes, news coverage of the Hoffa/Kennedy hearings, anecdotes from Teamster's, storyboards, on-set home movies, shooting script, stills galleries and more - the UK and European PAL releases are completely extras-free with only a decent 2.35:1 transfer going for it.