starring Robert De Niro, Frances McDormand, James Franco, Eliza Dushku
screenplay by Ken Hixon, based on an article by Michael McAlary
directed by Michael Caton-Jones
by Walter Chaw Leaden with mock gravitas and embarrassing aspirations to the Shakespearean, Michael Caton-Jones's aggressively uninteresting City by the Sea is a purported true story (based on an article by Michael McAlary) that proves to be just another by-the-numbers police procedural crunched with an abortive middle-age romance and a stultifying Oedipal complication. Opening with archive newsreel footage of Long Beach as a place of fun and hope before juxtaposing the burnt-out crack-house dead wonderland of the Long Beach of just a couple of years ago (a conceit carried out with far more grace in Stacy Peralta's Dogtown and Z-Boys), the picture quickly reveals itself to be infatuated with a certain kind of dramatic irony in which the stock characters are unaware that they are clumsy allegorical pawns in a metaphorical landscape.