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Saturday, November 10, 2007

American Gangster review

Hi guys and girls,

So finally we get to see the much hyped and the long awaited american gangster ! This film sure deserves a red carpet ovation. This film raised my brows and kept me anticipating for more news about its production ever since it was announced, for more than a few reasons. Firstly, the successful oscar winning duo of director Ridley Scott and my favorite actor Russel Crowe were coming together again after the soothing 'A good year'. To make matters more intriguing, it also has the first black man who held the golden statuette, Denzel Washington. And more, Scott delves into the american underworld for the first time with intense character play and an action packed police - robber classic tale.

It takes nerve to call a film "American Gangster": It's more than a movie title, it's the name of a venerable genre that dates to cinema's beginnings. But once you see this finely made and richly satisfying film, you understand it's the only title possible.

In part that's because "American Gangster" is conscious of its place in that tough guy continuum. Visual and thematic references to classics such as "The Godfather," "Once Upon a Time in America" and "The Asphalt Jungle" show that director Ridley Scott and screenwriter Steven Zaillian are quite aware of their film's place in history.

More than that, with Oscar-winning costars Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe joining forces with Scott and Zaillian, two of the best at what they do, "American Gangster" is mindful of continuing another tradition, that of sweeping, old-school epic filmmaking that artfully heightens reality even if it's based on the gritty facts of the Harlem drug trade of the 1970s.

Making this point even stronger is the presence of a pair of documentaries that cover roughly the same territory as "American Gangster." Frank Lucas, the drug lord Denzel Washington plays, is profiled in a BET Networks hour, while Nicky Barnes, Lucas' rival, gets a documentary of his own called "Mr. Untouchable."

Smoothly intercut by editor Pietro Scalia with these events is the story of Crowe's Richie Roberts, a tough Jewish cop at home with both a swagger and a sledgehammer. Possessed of a volcanic temper and a disinclination to wait for warrants if there's crime fighting to be done, the fearless, streetwise Roberts, like Lucas, has his own stern code of behavior.

So when he comes across a huge cache of money he could have walked off with, no questions asked, Roberts instead turns it in, and, like Frank Serpico before him, earns the enmity of those of his co-workers who are deeply suspicious of honest cops.

Being Richie also means royally irritating his wife, Laurie (Carla Gugino, far from "Spy Kids"), and getting into conflicts with connected crooked cops like Det. Trupo (the protean Josh Brolin). His worth is finally recognized, however, as part of a special antidrug task force, and the stage is set for his epochal face-off with Lucas.

Watching "American Gangster" in tandem with those Harlem drug documentaries underlines that this impressive film is less based on actual fact than on movie fiction.

Authorities and eyewitnesses may argue about who did what to whom in real life, but where the big screen is concerned, it matters not. What "American Gangster" is doing is re-creating myths, and it's good to see that the movies haven't lost their touch where that kind of work is concerned.

1 comments:

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