HE reader James Kent saw Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead last night in Pheonix as part of a special screening series, and says that he came out believing that “pretty much everything” I’ve said about this Sidney Lumet film “is true. Intense, tragic, awesome direction, powerful performances…in a way that reminded me a lot of A Simple Plan. Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke were great. As a matter of fact, when was the last time Hawke was so good?

“The crowd was primarily over 60 (the over-60 crowd in Phoenix will go to anything that’s free), maybe 6 people in their 20s, and the rest, like myself and my wife, in their 30s.

“The guy running the program told us that this was the first U.S. screening of the film and that it had just played Toronto and was getting ready to play the New York Film Festival next. He warned the audience that there was sex and violence and that if anyone can’t handle that type of thing, they should probably leave. He warned that he expected a few people to walk out anyway due to the violence ( I guess he’s used to these namby-pamby Phoenix crowds or something), but that he hoped people give it a chance because it is an amazing and powerful film.

“A lot will depend on how the rest of the year end films shape up, but this one could nab Lumet another Oscar nod for director, and you may see Ethan, Phillip and Albert Finney up for awards too. I’d throw in the editing and screenplay in that pool as well. The marketing push should be all about the great critical reaction. I give this film three and a half stars out of four.”