spirits that speak


the good gangster

movie 2 was american gangster. ok, my expectations of this one were high. i wouldn't say i was disappointed...but my expectations weren't exactly justified either.

the movie stars denzel washington and russell crowe. neither of these guys are exactly "amateurs" of their craft. these are 2 very good actors. i will still fight anyone who says that denzel's oscar for training day wasn't quite deserved. i don't care how good you say you think he was in that movie, if you don't say he deserved the oscar you're just flat out wrong. there will be no discussion on this, only curse words and fists (hey...wasn't this blog supposed to be more gentle and sophisticated???). in either case, there's some very good acting represented by this cast.

it's based on the true story of frank lucas, a gangster in 70s new york who, if this movie is even half-way accurate, brought an amazing amount of heroin into new york. this guy was like the sony or nike of drugs when it came to the quality of product he represented. his strategy was simple: make the quality of heroin superior to anyone else's product and sell it for half the price of any competitors. made him a lot of money. until a cop named richie roberts figured out who was behind the drugs and brought him down, the difficulty of which was only complicated by the fact that he had to fight his own "brothers in blue" who had no faith in him and a partner who became a victim of lucas' pure horse. but when roberts does win lucas does something very surprising...you'll have to watch to find out.

it wasn't a bad movie. it was very entertaining and the acting was good. but there's something about it that left the whole of the experience somewhat unsatisfying. i still can't put my finger on it, but i think it has something to do with denzel. it's possible that this character was too smooth. he was even kind of normal, not eccentric like a lot of gang kingpins. there are actually some subtleties about the movie that i'm gonna have to mull over after seeing it again. for instance, there was the fact that both lucas and roberts rose to the top of their game through similar circumstances, their peers were kind of against them...had no faith in them.

anyway, my favorite part of it was at the end when lucas comes out of prison and you get the sense that director ridley scott gave spike lee a call for advice. lucas walks out of the prison doors and all the traffic on the street, the entire world that he's now no longer familiar with, zooms past and around him to the tune of a public enemy song. i love the shot, it's fantastic.

see this movie if you like gangsters, violence, or cops-and-robbers type dramas, you should see this. but, like me, maybe you have to see it twice to appreciate its idiosyncrasies.


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