Monthly Archives: May 2013

50 posts

Movie still: Carlitos Way

100 Greatest Gangster Films: Carlito’s Way, #20

Brian De Palma was worried about doing another Hispanic drug kingpin movie after Scarface. But the story and the acting in Carlito’s Way go in such a different direction that there ended up being few similarities between the two films. This is a personal look at one man’s attempt at redemption. Scarface, on the other hand, is a saga about one man’s one-way trip to hell.

100 Greatest Gangster Films: The Pope of Greenwich Village, #21

To appreciate just how well director Stuart Rosenberg and writer Vincent Patrick captured wiseguy street corner ethos in this classic mob tale, you have to understand the meaning of an Italian phrase that has come to define the way certain mobsters act. The phrase is faccia una bella figura. Literally, it means “make a good impression.” But in fact the phrase conveys much more. It describes an attitude, an approach to life that is more typically found in the southern half of Italy, especially in Naples and points south.

Revolution Recap: ‘The Love Boat’ (Season 1, Episode 16)

If there’s one thing Revolution has done wrong, and it’s done so, so many things wrong, it’s been the sidelining of Captain Tom Neville. Thankfully, “The Love Boat” at least attempts to remedy this problem by putting Neville close to the forefront as he joins Miles as a representative from the Georgia Federation.

Movie still: Gangs of New York

100 Greatest Gangster Films: Gangs of New York, #22

Before there was John Gotti, before Carlo Gambino, before Lucky Luciano, there was Bill “the Butcher” Poole. The 19th-century boxer, fixer and, yes, actual butcher, was a forerunner of the mobsters who later controlled New York City.

Movie still: The Public Enmy

100 Greatest Gangster Films: The Public Enemy, #23

Cagney, along with Edward G. Robinson, Paul Muni and, later, Humphrey Bogart, invented the film gangster. Each brought a sense of the street and gritty realism. For Cagney, that came naturally. He grew up on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and had to drop out of college after one semester when his father died. He knew how to be tough, in an argument or in a rumble.

Movie still: Sexy Beast

100 Greatest Gangster Films: Sexy Beast, #24

Sir Ben Kingsley becomes the ruthless Logan in Sexy Beast, and he’s 90 percent of the reason to watch the movie. The plotline here is straightforward, nothing special really. The action is sporadic. The supporting cast is strong—led by British veteran Ray Winstone, who’s actually the film’s lead, and Ian McShane, who can always dial up ominous. But it’s Kingsley—throwing off Gandhi’s loincloth and round spectacles—who becomes the savage bully you’ll remember long after viewing Sexy Beast.

The Office Recap: ‘Livin’ The Dream’ (Season 9, Episode 21)

One of my favorite aspects of The Office (both incarnations) is that we are watching sad people. Not damaged in the way the gang from Community are/were, but normal and pathetic. Painfully average. When the show started obtaining some popularity around the second or third season, this aspect kind of floundered. But “Livin’ The Dream” brings it back and moves forward many long-running story lines.

Alec Baldwin in Orphans

Broadway Review: Orphans

In the early 1980’s, Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater and others with a similar aesthetic, gave American theater a shot of testosterone it desperately needed at the time. Self-identified as “rock and roll theater”, Steppenwolf’s style was raw and confrontational, its narratives populated by virile, troubled archetypes. The language was rooted in the American lexicon, a poetry of the streets.