Citizen Cohn [1992]

Genre: Drama
James Woods seems to find his most adventurous roles in television movies, particularly this made-for-HBO biography of the late lawyer and powerbroker Roy Cohn. A hallucinatory, impressionistic look at his career and life, the film is comprised of flashbacks by Cohn, who is seen dying of AIDS in 1988 in his New York hospital bed. Woods sinks his teeth deeply into the role of the shark-like Cohn, capturing his arrogance and his insecurity, both at his own Jewishness and his deeply closeted homosexuality, even as he rides Sen. Joe McCarthy's anti-Communism campaign for all it's worth. Woods even manages to make the deeply detestable Cohn vulnerable, if not sympathetic. A strong supporting cast includes Joe Don Baker as an amused and calculating McCarthy, but the film lives and breathes in Woods's flamboyantly nuanced embodiment of the whiny, manipulative Cohn. --Marshall Fine

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