Nothing Is Invisible

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Posts Tagged ‘Gangster Films’

A Bronx Tale – Directed by & starring Robert De Niro

Posted by the editors on Wednesday, 25 January 2012

A Bronx Tale (1993)  Directed by and starring Robert De Niro, Chazz Palminteri, who also wrote the screenplay based on his play of the same name, Lillo Brancato, Jr., Francis Capra and others.  A Bronx Tale is a bildungsroman of a film, following the life of a young Italian-American, Calogero Anello, from the age of about 8 to 16 years old, who looks up to both his father, Lorenzo (De Niro), a bus driver, and Sonny (Palmenteri), the local Mafia strong man, the two often in counterpoint, but not as entirely as one may imagine.  Though the setting is the Bronx rather than downtown New York City’s Little Italy, there are, quite understandably, echoes of Martin Scorsese‘s Italian-American mobsters, met in his iconic classic Mean Streets, and in his film Goodfellas, and so much the better.  Funny, touching and sad, filled with colorful characters and fine dialogue, A Bronx Tale is set in the 1960s, notably from 1960 to 1968, starting with a-capella do-wop and ending with, among others, the Beatles classic Come Together and passing through Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, John Coltrane, and The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s rendition of All Along the Watchtower, a wonderful musical context, indicative of the social changes at work in the epoch.  De Niro is excellent, subtle, solid, sensitive and modest both behind (A Bronx Tale is his first film as director) and in front of the camera, Palminteri’s writing and acting are inspired as well, as is the strong yet sensitive performance of Lillo Brancato Jr., and, as the young Calogero, Francis Capra; in fact the entire cast offers commendable performances.  A Bronx Tale is a gangster film, yes, in a way, but much more a film about the choices and values at work in a young man’s life.  Definitely a must-see film. (PR)

(Note: A sad, and ironic note, Lillo Brancato Jr. is currently in prison, convicted of armed robbery, narrowly escaping murder charges.  He is up for parole in 2014. The Editors.)

See our posts on the films The Good Shepherd, directed by, and with, Robert De Niro, Mean Streets, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel, and Guilty by Suspicion, starring Robert De Niro.

We recommend that you buy your DVDs.  Have a great personal film library..  Here are links to amazon.com (Amazon Instant Video, DVDs and Blu-ray Disks, in that order, when available):

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Road to Perdition – Starring Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law & Daniel Craig

Posted by the editors on Saturday, 14 January 2012

Road to Perdition (2002) Directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty (1999), Jarhead (2005), Revolutionary Road (2008)), starring Tom Hanks (Cast Away (2000), Charlie Wilson’s War (2007), Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011), and others), Paul Newman (The Hustler (1961), The Verdict (1982), Nobody’s Fool (1994), and, of course, many, many other excellent films) , Daniel Craig (Casino Royale (2006), Quantum of Solace (2008), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)), Jude Law (partial filmography below) and others.  This gangster drama, a Hollywood interpretation of the graphic novel of the same name by Max Allan Collins, set in and around Chicago in the winter of 1931, features an excellent Tom Hanks, as a father, hitman, and yet another man of few words, working for regional mob boss, John Rooney, a superb and essential Paul Newman, in his last theatrical screen appearance, who in turn works for Frank Nitty, an underboss for the legendary Al Capone.  Featuring some excellent acting on the part of Hanks, Newman, and to a lesser degree Daniel Craig, as Connor Rooney, John Rooney’s (Newman) deviously corrupt, violent and spoiled son, it must  be said that the exquisite cinematography by Conrad L. Hall is almost the real star of the film: rain, especially, and water in general, is used as an almost ever-present motif, with snow magnificently used to filter the light and create a general Hopper-esque  darkness with discrete pockets of light, and creates an ominous sense of environment, illuminating characters in ways that underscore their moral ambiguity. Yet, with the simplified moral structure of a traditional western, heaven, hell, the possibility of redemption, the film also adheres to the epigrammatic nature of the graphic novel on which it is based, and to the character of its graphic images: much is half in shadow, people, their faces, rooms, streets.  However, it must be said that the Hollywoodian character of the production does at times dominate, with a rather sentimental and falsely moving voice-over and some equally sappy music.  Jude Law, though adequately repulsive as a photographer/assassin necessary to the logic of the screenplay, once again shows his severe limitations, especially in contrast to the performances by the rest of the cast, and it’s a shame the character portrayed by Daniel Craig wasn’t further developed; it may have given the film the edge it somehow lacks despite all of the film’s remarkable qualities.  Nevertheless, for the wonderful acting of Hanks and Newman, and the superlative cinematography, Road to Perdition is a film very much worth viewing. (PR)

See our post on the films Sherlock Holmes, Repo Men and Closer, starring Jude Law.

We recommend that you buy your DVDs and Blu-ray Disks.  Have a great personal film library..  Here are links to amazon.com (Amazon Instant Video, DVDs, and Blu-ray Disks, in that order, when available):

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Brother (Aniki) – Starring & Directed by Takeshi Kitano

Posted by the editors on Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Brother (Aniki) (2000)  Written, directed and edited by, and starring Takeshi Kitano (see partial filmography below).  In this Japanese/American Yakuza film, the first part set in Tokyo, the second in Los Angeles, an exiled Yakuza captain, Yamamoto, played with his signature, and captivating, explosive impassivity by Kitano, joins up with his half-brother’s drug dealing gang in Los Angeles.  Kitano, as writer, director, and editor, plays the density and ritual of Tokyo and the Japanese Yakuza against the space and marked lack of respect of Los Angeles and its brutal gangs.  This is Kitano’s first film set in the U.S., (and his last) and one cannot help but be impressed by the way he is channeling the myths of the American west, its wide open spaces, lawlessness and rugged individuality, reminiscent of early Eastwood, through his vision of the codes and life of the Japanese underworld.  Though perhaps not his best film, there is some very good acting, and excellent writing and directing, Kitano’s distinctive humour, and superb music by Joe Hisaishi, making Brother (Aniki) a must-see for anyone interested in Japanese or world cinema, and especially for those who are fans of Kitano’s work. (PR) (Note: As expected, there is a good deal of rather bloody violence.)

See our posts on other films by and/or starring Takeshi Kitano: his latest film Outrage – Way of the Yakuza, Violent Cop, the excellent Fireworks (Hana-Bi), Boiling Point (Jugatsu), the superb Sonatine, Zatoichi and Battle Royale.

We recommend that you buy your DVDs and Blu-ray Disks.  Have a great personal film library..  Here are links to amazon.com (Amazon Instant Video, DVDs, and Blu-ray Disks, in that order when available):

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Miller’s Crossing, by the Coen Brothers

Posted by the editors on Monday, 17 October 2011

Miller’s Crossing (1990)(DVD)   Written by Joel and Ethan Coen, produced Ethan Coen and directed by Joel Coen, starring Gabriel ByrneAlbert FinneyJohn Turturro, and others.  In Miller’s Crossing, a gangster film set in the 1920s, the Coen brothers (Barton Fink (1991), Fargo (1996), O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), No Country for Old Men (2007), A Serious Man (2009), True Grit (2010), (!!!!)) have created what Time critic Richard Corliss called a “noir with a touch so light, the film seems to float on the breeze like … a fedora sailing through the forest.”   And it’s true.  A tough, violent, and intelligently light and complex film, with very good, wonderfully non-sensational, performances by most all of the cast, Miller’s Crossing offers hard reality and ambiguity in just the right balance.  Watching it more than once is all that more rewarding. (PR)

We recommend that you buy your DVDs and Blu-ray disks.  Have a truly wonderful personal film library..

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Gomorrah (Gomorra)(Film 2008)

Posted by the editors on Monday, 28 March 2011

 Gomorra Italian theatrical release poster

Gomorrah (2008) (DVD) (Italian) directed by Matteo Garrone, starring Toni Servillo and others. Based on the book of the same title written by Roberto Saviano.  This astounding, subtly sophisticated film, said to be part of the New Italian Epic of cinema, depicts the complex, and deadly brutal action of the Camorra, the Neapolitan mafia, through the deceptively simple interweaving of the fate of five people whose lives are, at best, torn apart in this horrific archipelago of extreme violence.  These five are, of course, far from alone in their suffering.  Excellent acting, excellent cinema, impressive musical sensibility, simple, crude, hard, powerful.

Gommorah won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008, and was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film in 2008, and can be found on many critics’ top-ten list of films for 2008. (PR)

We recommend that you buy your DVDs and Blu-ray disks.  Have a wonderful personal film library..

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