Steal This Review!

Vincent D'Onofrio and Janeane Garofalo in a scene from Lions Gate Films' "Steal thie Movie." (AP Photo/Lions Gate Films, David Milne)
This week John Leonard reviews Place Vendome, starring Catherine Deneuve, and Steal This Movie, starring Vincent D'Onofrio and Janeane Garofalo, portraying the life of '60s radical Abbie Hoffman.
Place Vendome is a silly movie about diamond merchants, jewel thieves, alcoholism, the Russian Mafia and love gone wrong. It's French, so everybody smokes when they need to be profound. But you'll want to go anyway, because it's also Catherine Deneuve, a priceless gem.

Deneuve, when she was barely old enough to vote, was the singing shopgirl in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. At age 40, she was a vampire in The Hunger. And here she is, pushing 57, in Place Vendome, sobering up in a hospital, in a limo after her husband's funeral, and on the run with an old lover who betrayed her once and will again.

The Leonard File
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Great beauty, like great literature, doesn't get older, only better. Now you must imagine that I've just made a graceful transition from Catherine Deneuve to Abbie Hoffman. Impossible, of course, but Abbie once said he favored overthrowing the government by any means necessary, preferably bubble gum - although, he added, "I'm having some doubts."

He was a lot funnier in person than he's allowed to be in Steal This Movie, which also leaves out Cuba, Paris, Belfast, an earlier marriage, a couple of children and his Dennis the Menace-badmouthing of Martin Luther King and feminists. But this country is harder on clowns than Shakespeare was.

Steal This Movie with Vincent D'Onofrio as Abbie and Janeane Garofalo as Anita Hoffman, covers the usual '60s bases from anti-war rallies to dollar bills dropped on the Stock Exchange to the Yippie nomination of a pig for president, to the levitation of the Pentagon. He met his lawyer, Kevin Pollak playing Gerry Lefcourt, after the Pentagon caper.

After the chaos of Chicago '68, which I covered for a British magazine, he would defend himself in Judge Julius Hoffman's court. After his coke bust and bail skip, everybody went after Anita, including the IRS. But when he emerged again from the underground, he was immediately back in trouble and back in court.

The mood swings othis flower-smoking media Apache turned out to be manic-depressive. The bipolar clown killed himself to get out of his head. As a card-carrying member of the straight press, I knew he played me like an ocarina.

On the other hand, I've seen so many documentaries about Abbie's '60s, and now this honorable docudrama, that I've begun to doubt my own Berkeley, my own Chicago, my own Pentagon, and my own head. This is because he had more guts than the rest of us - a crazy salad with a brave heart, whose passing left us deeper in the dark.