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"Nine Queens"

Directed by Fabián Bielinsky.
Written by Fabián Bielinsky.
Starring Ricardo Darin and Gaston Pauls.
Release Year:  2000 
Review Date:  5/13/02 


Hey, when you are trying to see 100 films in just 12 months, you gotta make some sacrifices.  For me, that means seeing films that look interesting to me even if I know that only about 15 folks on “the list” will even bother reading this review.  So, how can I make this sexy?  Appealing?  Noteworthy?  Funny? 

That’s tough when the film I go to see is just average.  So, we’ll break this into two distinct parts:

A) Props.
B) Mini-review.


First off, let me say thank the good Lord above for people like Tchaka Owen.  I’ve known Tchaka now for three years, and much like me, one thing Tchaka doesn’t do is fuck around.  So, always the attentive listener (at least, to me...I can’t speak to his listening abilities to other friends), Tchaka gave me a call while he was in Indianapolis a couple of weeks ago.  Why?  Because he knew that one of my favorite restaurants was in Indianapolis:  Long’s Donuts, the best donut shop in the nation.  So, he called to get a location from me, so that he could check it out.

He did so, and then he did one better:  he somehow tracked down my work address and sent me a FedEx Pak of six Long’s glazed donuts for my enjoyment.  Yes,


So, to recap the last fifteen months:  I have been sent steaks, burgers, donuts and bacon.  TELL ME your life is better, and I’ll slap you across the chops like the bastard stepchild that you are.  Tchaka, dammit, I love you!


“Nine Queens” is an Argentinean film from 2000 that opened here in San Francisco this past weekend, so I figured, WTF?  I’ll hang out!  The story revolves around a veteran small-time crook named Marcos (Ricardo Darin) and Juan (Gaston Pauls), a rookie small-timer that Marcos meets one day while Juan is trying to scam some money at a convenience store.  Desperately in need of a partner, Marcos recruits Juan for just this one day, to try and sell valuable stamps known as the Nine Queens, a set of 1920’s stamps that are worth half a million dollars.  But, this is a crooks-and-thieves flick, so double- and triple-crosses are the name of the game as the plot keeps you guessing at who will end up with all that dough.

“Nine Queens” suffers from a winding plot that is more likely to bore you than to really get your juices flowing; also, a key plot point early in the film involving consistencies with Juan’s character might clue you into what will happen later if you are sharp.  The acting by the leads is pretty good, even if they don’t seem to have enough to do...and, the lack of a score makes “Nine Queens” way too quiet for a supposedly fast-moving heist film.  Even the crimes that the twosome pulls off in the first half-hour aren’t all that interesting...despite the fact that you probably haven’t seen them tried in a movie before.

So-so.  But, if you are in desperate need of an Argentinean film, this might be great for you!!

Rating:  Matinee


Comments?  Drop me a line at


Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09