luis guzman: the puerto rican buscemi

Luis Guzman: he's like a short, rotund, Puerto Rican Steve Buscemi. And like Buscemi, Guzman is kinda funny looking; his face always has that permanent frown which makes him look skeptical, and slightly angry. He usually portrays minor Latino characters in shitty movies, but sometimes good filmmakers put him to use, like Steven Soderbergh, who, as you'll see, loves him quite a lot. And like Buscemi, while there may not be a whole lot of variation in the way he plays a character, what he does he does exceptionally well.

• Traffic (2000) I really hate to recommend this glorified after-school special, but it does pair Guzman with the excellent Don Cheadle. While the two are often in films together, this time they're F.B.I. partners and have lots of interaction. Unfortunately, you have to sit through schlock like Traffic to see two great actors get the screen time they deserve.

• Out of Sight (1998)--Guzman plays a Cuban thief in this highly stylized Soderbergh romantic thriller. Luis' part is unfortunately small, but Cheadle does have a meaty role. Guzman and George Clooney escape from prison, but when the plan goes to shit, Georgie bails with J.Lo. A love story ensues. Guzman chases after Georgie (for revenge); Georgie chases after J.Lo (for love); Cheadle chases after Albert Brooks (for money/love/revenge). Guzman shines.

The Limey (1999)-- Terrence Stamp plays an aging British thief, recently released from prison, who has come to L.A. to discover the truth about his daughter's death. Nicky Katt, "that male-monkey-motherfucker" Clint in Dazed and Confused, plays a psycho hitman with an acerbic wit, and Peter Fonda is great as a sleazy record producer. Finally, The Limey contains the ultimate tribute to Mr. Luis Guzman: a breathtaking shot of his majestic belly shrouded in a stretched wife beater adorned with a portrait of Che Guevara. It's beautiful. You've never wept like this before. M. WILLIAM HELFRICH