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Robert Forster in Diamond Men

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After beginning his career with parts in such literary films as Reflections in a Golden Eye, Justine and Medium Cool, Robert Forster settled into character roles, playing stolid, no-nonsense lawmen, most notably in the long-running TV series Police Story. After his career began sagging under the weight of such titles as Maniac Cop 3 and The Kinky Coaches and the Pom Pom Pussycats, his career was revived by no less an authority on 1970s culture than Quentin Tarantino, who cast him as Ed Cherry in his 1997 film, Jackie Brown. In that film, Forster portrayed a nice guy bail-bondsman who falls for Pam Grier's title character, as the layered harmonies of the Delfonics sighed in the background (La la la la la la means 'I love you.').

Forster hasn't slowed down--since Jackie Brown, he has had over 30 parts to his credit. Though some are on the order of Spawn 3, he also made a hilariously deadpan appearance in Mulholland Drive, a film that is shaping up to be one of this era's cinematic landmarks.

Forster's latest release is Diamond Men, set to open this Friday at Cary's Madstone Theater. Under the direction of Daniel M. Cohen (who also penned the script), Forster plays Eddie Miller, an aging traveling diamond salesman. After suffering a heart attack, Eddie is forced to take on a younger trainee (Donnie Wahlberg), who needs to learn how to channel his lady-killing skills into success at the jewelry stores of central Pennsylvania.

The best parts of this uneven comedy explore the contrast between Forster's low-key professionalism and Wahlberg's hot-shot, gotta-have-it-now persona. Forster's gravity could well be a lesson for young actors, as well. No matter if the film is video-bound dreck like Demolition University or the latest gift from the likes of Lynch, Tarantino or the Farrellys, there is honor and self-respect to be found in punching the clock, day in and day out.

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