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Critic's Pick

'2 Days in the Valley'

October 04, 1998|Jack Matthews

There are too many characters, but some are a lot of fun. The tone shifts, from graphic murder to wig-flipping farce, are too extreme, but much of it works. Its style seems to imitate both Robert Altman and Quentin Tarantino yet has an energy all its own. And while it adds up to neither a satisfying thriller nor an effective satire of life in the San Fernando Valley, it's almost never boring. The narrative thread tying Herzfeld's ensemble of characters together is a contract killing that goes awry and sets in motion parallel stories about an icy assassin's search for a $30,000 stash, and his betrayed partner's hostage-holding in an effete art dealer's hillside home. Danny Aiello (right, with Gleanne Headly and Greg Cruttwell) and James Spader star (HBO early Tuesday at 12:35 a.m.).

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