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All visuals, but no interesting story nor interesting characters
Just recently, I was flipping through the channels on my television and also looking up what time Alphabet City was going to be on. I've heard of this movie a little bit. It has no score on the movie critic website, Rotten Tomatoes. Before I saw this movie, I saw a Siskel and Ebert episode that was filmed in 1984 and they actually reviewed the movie and disliked it. From there on, my suspicions began to rise. I had to see what this movie was or is about.
What a real letdown. Alphabet City is about a New York City teenager named Johnny, (Vincent Spano), who works for the mob in the lower East Side of Manhattan called "Alphabet City". Johnny has a wife, (Kate Vernon), and also a baby. He also has a loving mother, who begs him to go straight and also a sister who is part of a escort service. But, Johnny's arrogance gets the better of him when he is asks to burn down his mother's house. Johnny ignores this task and decides that the only way to solve this problem is to take his wife and his baby out of the apartment and flee the mobsters. The mob now want the streets back, but Johnny isn't willing to give it up. He also wheels and deals in his wife's Trans-Am and on several occasions, visits the local crack den called "The Store".
After seeing Alphabet City, I was very disappointed for a lot of reasons. The visual style of the movie looks very overdone with the amount of colors that the filmmakers use during the production of this movie. Furthermore, the visuals is the only thing that I liked throughout this movie. But, it isn't anything special or interesting. The way that the actors' faces are illuminated with lights make you think that their own faces were lit by cheap neon-lights. At certain times during the viewing of this movie, I found it very difficult to see through the thick fog that was shown entirely throughout the film. One sure example of that would be the scene in which Johnny pays a visit to his drug dealing friend at "The Store." I guess the filmmakers really had to get their hands on a fog machine to created a lot of fog in the movie.
I never really care about Johnny or his troubles. I think what I expect to see in a movie like this is conviction. Vincent Spano is a very good actor when it comes to getting the leading role. He had made a good movie before Alphabet City, which was "Baby, It's You." But, here, I didn't really think he played Johnny really well.
All of the supporting characters are not the least interesting. Johnny's friend, who's a drug dealer, isn't the least bit interesting or appealing because we never care about him. I believe that if Johnny's friend was more careful in his actions, we would've care more about him. Instead, there isn't a single moment in Alphabet City, where we take the crime matter seriously. In comparison to Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets, the crime matter and the characters were interesting because we care about them and also lacks predictability. Harvey Keitel's character in Mean Streets was believable because he was guilt- ridden and never wanting to let go of his wrongdoings. Here, it's almost as if the actors were playing dress-up time and wander through an aimless plot and story.
Beyond that, the other supporting moments in the movie don't work either. There's a shootout in a elevator that isn't really thrilling or exciting. The climax of the movie is so laughable that I wouldn't really dare to tell you what happens in the end or tell you. There's too many scenes involving Johnny driving around in the middle of the night in his wife's car. Not at all the least interesting. The scenes all look like they would work in a MTV stylized music video. It doesn't work in a motion picture, especially in this. I think what I expected from Alphabet City is a sense of grittiness and realism rather than a fantasy. Now, that would've worked. ★ 1 star.
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