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Looking for Palladin (DVD Review)

19 Feb, 2011 By: Ashley Ratcliff

Prebook 2/22/11; Street 3/22/11
Box Office $0.01 million
$26.95 DVD
Rated ‘R’ for language.
Stars Ben Gazzara, David Moscow, Talia Shire, Pedro Armendariz Jr., Angelica Aragon, Vincent Pastore.

Looking for Palladin opens with serene visuals of the Guatemalan countryside and inviting faces interrupted by an irritable man yammering with a Bluetooth in his ear. It’s evident he doesn’t belong there.

An obnoxious Hollywood agent (David Moscow) is tasked with finding expatriate Jack Palladin (Ben Gazzara), a once-great Oscar-winning actor, to offer him a cameo in a remake of one of his old movies. The problem is Antigua, Guatemala, isn’t exactly foreigner-friendly for Josh Ross, whose bad attitude gets him nowhere fast.

Jack is well-liked in the community, and the townspeople feel the need to protect him from the arrogant American with unknown intentions. The spry elder is a favorite among the locals who frequent the picturesque El Viejo Café, where he serves as a cook, perfecting sauces and charming the patrons.

The first half of the movie drags as Josh strikes out several times searching for Jack, who happens to be his estranged stepfather. It’s unclear whether this situation was planned or purely coincidental. However, the storyline picks up as the indie film takes a dramatic turn when the two finally meet.

Josh can’t understand why the man who had fame and fortune in the States is so content in a minimalist setting like Antigua. Through their bickering, much is revealed about Josh’s mother and father — and Jack’s strange relationship with them — but many questions go unanswered by the film’s end.

Still, the raspy-voiced Gazzara and the enchanting Guatemalan people and scenery make Looking for Palladin enjoyable.

The bonus material includes cast bios and a 10-minute making-of featurette that adds some color. In it, director Andrzej Krakowski and production designer Mayad Tousi discuss the challenges of filming in a foreign country, and Gazzara and Moscow share how they got into their characters.

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