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American Gangster

MacGuffin · 19 · 3939

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Reply #15 on: November 11, 2007, 11:48:49 AM
I liked it.  it had enough details about both the policework and the drug business to hold down the fort for 2 and a half hours.  the filmmaking was really sophisticated as well, nothing too flashy or noticeable (aside from the punch side effect in one scene which just sounded like Indiana Jones) and the shootout at the end was quite amazing.  Every working director who knows how to spend money should make a crime film in the 70s right now.  the acting was top-notch.  though it was kinda weird that carla gugino is now typecasted as the woman the main character wants to fuck but can't who is in less than 5% of the total running time.  really weird.
But it didn't have too much to add to the gangster genre, it didn't say anything that was too new.  There was one supposedly great twist at the climax of the film but it was spoiled by every article I've read and possibly in the trailers as well. 
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Reply #16 on: November 12, 2007, 01:01:35 PM
A great form of tremendously excruciating torture would be a double bill of Michael Clayton and American Gangster.  The viewer would have to endure an obnoxious water-tap-dripping like repetition of themes and ideas.  I feel like these movies are the cinematic equivalent to flashcards:  Corporate Attorney and American Gangster.  A severely formal magnification of the basic lifestyles on an extreme end of these two professions.  Michael Clayton does begin, will show you in the first ten minutes, a lawyer driving to a house to discuss cover-up with a wealthy client.  American Gangster will instruct you on both American and gangster in its first ten minutes as we see a man caught on fire and shot and a tidy oral summation of the evils of greedy, faceless businesses. 

Because these films are about the confluence of contemporary capitalistic excessiveness with traditional expectations for morality.  The films might age like those westerns that now feel like civic lessons.  I watch it and there're glimmers of Michael Clayton the person or Frank Lucas the person or Richie Roberts the person but true identification is impossible beneath the weight of the machine of an objective plot driving the films.  The films try too hard and too linearly to clarify the limitations and obstacles of their characters.  Lucas' mother actually verbalizes the principle that will launch the conclusion of the film minutes before it happens.  Clayton summarizes his usefulness at the end of his film.  This is delimiting behaviour for a script and when scripts go beyond this is when I feel they succeed.  So neither of these films do for me.
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Reply #17 on: November 12, 2007, 01:29:00 PM
I was hoping this would be a great comparison to French Connection as Zodiac was to All The President's Men, but it never fully reached that plateau. Scenes felt truncated and leaps to characters motives lacked modivation leaving some lingering questions (How did he get the idea for that? How did he arrange that?) that made for incomplete characters lacking depth. The two leads are great to watch, albeit Denzel felt like he was channelling past performances from Training Day and Malcolm X. All this is not to say the film lacks freshness, because the climax bust is executed nicely and the explanation of Lucas's business as a corporation like General Mills is an interesting take. Beautifully shot and all other departments do nice work of placing the audience in the era.
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Reply #18 on: November 26, 2007, 09:26:59 AM
I like the way this story is presented, how there are two parallel narratives going on, with one side completely unaware of the other. "Who's Frank Lucas?" And Frank has no idea Crowe's character is on his tail until they finally meet. This movie had great moments and structure, but where was the poetry? Why wasn't there anything bigger here? The story is big enough, I guess, but I think there should've been more to it all.

The worst point in the film was definitely that racist guy at the army airport. The minute he started talking, I knew he was gonna drop an n-bomb. It was like this film had avoided the issue of race, that this was a black business man doing this in Harlem, and decided to give this guy a line summing up what was probably a much bigger issue. I liked it, but not a fave this year.