Three Businessmen (1998)
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Critic Reviews for Three Businessmen
Audience Reviews for Three Businessmen
It's interesting that "Three Businessmen" is credited as "An Exterminating Angel Production," because the film's debt to Luis Bunuel is obvious -- particularly in light of "The Exterminating Angel" and "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie," Bunuel's two masterpieces about mysteriously interrupted activity. "Lost in Translation" fans also will see some familiar turf here. Directed but not written by Alex Cox ("Repo Man," "Sid and Nancy"), "Three Businessmen" was shot in five different locations including Liverpool, Rotterdam, Hong Kong and Tokyo. But you may not notice the transitions (after all, so many cities have Asian districts). A motley cast drifts in and out of the frame, but most of the film's scant 80 minutes rest upon just two actors: Cox himself and Miguel Sandoval (who has appeared in most of Cox's projects). They play art dealers who happen to meet in a posh Liverpool hotel. Bennie (Sandoval) is a restless, overly friendly sort who strains to charm people with smarmy nicknames and comic accents. His part is somewhat overwritten, and this is the film's worst flaw. Meanwhile, Frank (Cox, quite solid as a performer) is the straight man who's a bit impatient and irritable. He likes to carefully tear articles out of newspapers. We don't know why. The two are frustrated with their hotel's lack of restaurant service, so they trek into the surrounding streets to find a meal. Their attempts to eat ("discreet" attempts, perhaps?) are repeatedly thwarted and they soon lose their bearings. They have many conversations along the way, though -- some intriguing, some dull. And wherever they go, they see posters advertising someone named Daddy Z. We don't know why. Stick around, even if the lack of plot irritates you -- there's a clever, absurdist ending that perfectly wraps up the story. And rest assured, the film's title eventually will make sense.
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