Saturday, November 17, 2007

American Gangster

Finally, the movie i've been waiting to see since I saw the poster for it at Loews almost 2 years ago, is out. i had been anticipating the movie and building it up in my head for a long time, but it did not dissapoint. Denzel Washington played Frank Lucas, a drug lord and, of course, gangster in Harlem. Like most outstanding crime epics, American Gangster was based on a true story (Goodfellas, Casino, Donnie Brasco, etc.). The movie contained elements of other great movies, but still managed to maintain individuality and a non-cleshe storyline. Frank remined me of Scarface because of the way he started from the bottom and made his way to the top in the world of illegal drugs. Frank Lucas smuggled in the purest heroin that he sold at cheaper prices. Although composed at most times, he was a ticking bomb. He bashed someone's head in on a piano for acting inappropriatly at a party. However, he was ironically a very good family man. Russell Crowe was Denzel's doppleganger. He played the only cop on the force who was "straight" and didn't take bribes or do drugs- reminded me of Serpico (I guess the one thing Denzel and Russel Crowe have in common in this movie is elements of Al Pacino)- but he was a terrible family man.
My Favorite Scene: Its the beginning of the movie. Frank's boss just died, and since there is no oficial way of determinig power in the black mafia after something like this, people are trying to assert their power. Frank Lucas is in a diner, eating breakfast, when he sees a rival who is trying to get Frank to pay him and work under him. Frank excuses himself, goes outside, and shoots the man execution style right in the head. He walks back in the diner and finishes his meal.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Affleck Creates Masterpiece

After such recent flops over the past few years such as Gigi, Surviving Christmas, and Daredevil, Ben Affleck makes his directorial debut in his extraordinary new crime drama, Gone Baby Gone. Revisiting his screenplay writing days of Good Will Hunting, Affleck teams up with Aoran Stockard and Dennis Lehane and delivers a gripping storyline full of captivating twists and turns. Both the writing and directing of Ben Affleck are Oscar worthy. A native of the town himself, Affleck sets Gone Baby Gone in his hometown of Boston, and as a creative way of capturing the authentisity of the area, he recruited many actual residents to play small roles and stand-in parts. Ben took a break from acting in this movie, and gave the main role to his brother, Casey Affleck. His acting was adequate, but it wasn't a terrific performance. 138

Casey Affleck plays a private investigater who is working on a case of a missing girl. Although he isn't the greatest actor, Casey was teamed up with a cast that included Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris. Morgan Freeman's part was smaller than he usually plays as he wasn't present during the whole plot of the movie, however it was a very important role and figured into one of the most important twists in the movie. Ed Harris delivered an extraordinarily impressive performance as a troubled cop who turns out to be corrupt. There is a great deal of conflict in the characters' lives as they are affected by the case of this missing girl, but this straying away from the plot to deal with individual characters' personal lives is done very tastefully, and actually figures into the main plot and presents motivation for their actions in the movie.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Iconic Movie Photos: Taxi Driver and Scarface

The movie Taxi Driver, directed by Martin Scorsese, was released in 1976, and has been considered one of the most influential movies of all time. This still is taken from the movie, and shows the main character, Travis Bickle (Robert DeNiro), who is currently sinking into insanity, buying guns, and training himself to be a killing machine. In this iconic scene in movie history, Travis is demonstrating his loneliness and instability when he looks into his mirror after drawing his gun a few times for practice, and says one of the most known lines in movie history. "Are you talkin' to me?"

This is a picture that shows Al Pacino saying an even more well known movie line, maybe the most well known and overly, poorly, distastefully imitated line from Scarface, 1983, "Say hello to my little friend!" I saw this movie two years ago for the first time two years ago and loved it. Although, I get sick of every tv show and comedy movie ever made somehow incorporating that line into the plot of their stories- the definition of butchering. I saw at least 10 parodies before i actually saw the movie! Nevertheless, that last scene in Scarface is still one of my favorite scenes of all time, and that photo is synonamous with the bloodbath that follows Tony Montana's famous line.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Grindhouse, Part One: PLANET TERROR

Although it was a box office flop, this double feature by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino is one of the best times i've had at a movie theater. Grindhouse is a throwback to the 70's type grindhouse double feature movies that i was never around for. I got the idea of it though, and the style the movie was presented seemed authentic- they had certain parts in the movies when the screen looked like the film was ripping or burning, and a few times, a scene would cut out, replaced by the words "missing reel". Robert Rodriguez's film, "Planet Terror", my favorite out of the two, came first, and it started things off with a powerful kick. The song in the opening credits will be engraved into your mind for weeks and it will make you want to go see GRindhouse agian. The whole idea of this movie, as well as Tarantino's movie, "Death Proof", was to push the limit of gore, profanity, horror, etc. so far into the sky that it was literally hilarious. When you see this movie, you will laugh so hard that you want to puke. Or, for those with a weak stomach, you might just puke. In Planet Terror, Rose Mgowan plays a stripper in a town that is becoming overrun by zombies, who loses her leg and replaces it with a machine gun that she uses to kill zombies while riding on the back of motor cycles. If that isn't enough, Bruce Willis plays a small role of an ex: American soldier who fought in Iraq and killed Osama bin Laden, but is now back in the states, infected with a virus, and causing all sorts of havoc. Quentin Tarantino has a cameo as well as a rapist who gets killed by Rose Mcgowan. i dont think i need to say any more.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Departed

The Departed is easily the best film of this decade so far. Its no wonder why it won the Oscar for best picture in 2006. It had an all- star cast of Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin, Marc Walburg, and Leonardo DiCaprio (my opinion of him, which was mostly based on Titanic, completely changed after his performance in this). Out of all of his movies, Jack Nicholson's role in The Departed is my favorite. His character, Frank Costello, is the boss of the Irish Mob in Boston. The part was originally supposed to be played by DeNiro, but he was working on something else. From the very beginning, he hooks you in with the opening monologue. A really great part was when he came out of the back room with blood dripping from his hands to his forearms, also when he was having a conversation with DiCaprio with the decapitated hand in his hand- Both times, he was having conversations as if everything was normal. The sountrack to this movie was phenominal, and I really liked that Scorcese used "Gimme Shelter" by The Rolling Stones again after using it in both Goodfellas, and Casino, 2 of his other best crime dramas. The Departed locked in Martin Scorcese as my favorite director of all time. The only downside to it is I doubt there will be another one that matches this in a long time.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


Crash is a movie by Paul Haggis that came out in 2004 that got great reviews but not many people saw. The movie revolved around about 5 different main storylines that connect into one, and the writing was brilliant. it was basically about racism in LA, which sounds boring, but it was really very powerful and lots of good stuff happens to keep you interested. When the Middle Eastern man shot at the Spanish guy, and his daughter ran in front of her father to shield him, and you thought the daughter got shot, that was one of the most memorable moments in the film, and if you are an emotional type, you would burst into tears watching it. However, it turned out that the bullets were blanks. This great twist is exactly the kind of thing that this movie is about- things aren't what they seem. Every character that seems like a "bad guy" or a "good guy" in the beginning is the opposite by the end. The poor Chinaman who gets hit by Ludacris in his car is actually a slave dealer, the racist cop(Matt Dillan) who molests this black lady winds up saving her life, a young police officer who thinks he is a tolerant guy compared to Matt Dillan, winds up shooting a black man. I consider this movie to be extremely underrated. It won the Academy Award for Best Picture, and nobody saw it! I got it NEW, unused, not on sale, at blockbuster for 9.99! Ridiculous.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Eastern Promises: A Russian "The Godfather"

Organized crime movies don't come around that often (good ones, anyway), and they are my favorite genre of film. When i saw The Departed last year, I was blown away, even though the movie strayed away from the traditional Italian mafia storyline to a Boston Irish one. I didn't think there would be another awesome one like that out in a long time. But lately ive been seeing alot of preveiws for the new Denzel Washington movie American Gangster, which is about a black gangster, and it looks insanely good, and i am definetly seeing it when it comes out. Also, there is this movie Eastern Promises, about the Russian mob in London. i saw this movie last night, and it was truly a great one. that Russian mob, vory v zakone, is definetly brutal. the boss wanted to have a baby killed, and it was his daughter! Right from the start of the movie, you know its gonna be insane, because there are three people sitting in a barbershop, a boy, his father, and a customer (all in the mob) and out of nowhere the dad makes the son kill the customer in an extensively brutal and gory way with the scissors. Apparently, the guy who got whacked was cooperating with the police. Anyway, the movie had all the makings of a grade A mob movie- betrayal, suspense, violence, brutality, twists, etc. It was one of those movies where there is alot of plot buildup before the action scenes, so you dont exactly know when they are coming, but when they do, it takes you by complete suprise. Towards the end, Vigo Mortinson (the main character) did probably the best fight scene i've ever seen in a movie- better than that one in the Bourne Ultimatum. the only problem i had with this movie, even though it added to the brutality, was that this whole fight scene was done with Vigo Mortinson in the nude. But dont let that scare you away. Although it may not be in my top 10, it was definetly in my top 20 and it is very much worth owning when it comes out on DVD.