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Perhaps the worst "movie" I have ever seen
I have a lot of problems with this film. As has been widely documented, it features some of the most vile, distressing scenes imaginable. Telly is for me the most repugnant character in the history of cinema, and the abuse the female characters in the film suffer by him is heartbreaking. This film was a total endurance test for me, and at the end I felt an overwhelming sense of relief that it was over. I then began to think about the movie a little deeper, and pondered its message. What was Larry Clark saying? Why did he make this film? Of course there are people who behave like the characters in this film. Everyone who is likely to watch the movie knows this, so what was his purpose in creating such a cauldron of wonton debauchery? He neither explains how the youths got to be this way, or how the social problems can be best tackled. Having thought about it for some time, I am at a loss to explain why this film was made, and as such I say this is a sick, totally pointless exercise in shocking an audience. Depraved.
...and justice for all. (1979)
Most Complete Courtroom Drama I've Seen
This movie is compelling. It is not just a supremely entertaining courtroom drama, but more so a brilliantly detailed character study. Al Pacino, predictably, is just class, and the other characters give him some very competent support. The interweaving of secondary cases with the main one is seamless, and keeps the pace moving at a pleasing level. The ending, which is so often talked about, is terrific, if a little sudden, and not totally satisfying. The script is faultless. My only criticism is that the disco soundtrack is incongruous with the serious issues at hand and at times pretty comical. But I guess the time period is perfectly evoked through it, not that the issues are exclusively relevant to the late 70s/early 80s though. 9/10.
Carlito's Way (1993)
One of THE Greatest Gangster Movies of All Time
Since making his name for his role as Sonny in 1975's Dog Day Afternoon, Al Pacino has grown into of one the pre-eminent actors of his or any time. The Godfather trilogy, Scent of a Woman and Heat punctuate a golden filmography for the charismatic Puerto Rican, but it is in one of his lesser-known films, Carlito's Way, that Pacino gives one of his most impressive performances.
Brian De Palma, who directed Pacino in Scarface, chooses to begin his film at the end, which allows him to use the eponymous Carlito himself as narrator. In the opening sequences we see Carlito released from jail on a technicality 5 years into a 25-year sentence for narcotics smuggling. He is intent on going straight, but a corrupt lawyer and his old drugs cronies among other elements stand in the way of his dream, an `escape to paradise.'
Loyalty is the most profound theme the film explores, as Carlito's anachronistic code of honour and the resuming of his relationship with Miller, after a 5-year hiatus, dominate the picture.
Carlito's Way is a film that will largely appeal to a male audience, as it explores a man's adjustment to a changed world, and his one-mindedness in attempting to escape that cruel world. That world, late-1970s New York, is well created in the picture, with an early disco soundtrack doing much to craft that setting. There is terrific range in De Palma's movie: the set-pieces are highly memorable, the script, adapted from two Edwin Torres novels very sharp, and Miller is adequate as the necessary love interest. Pacino is as charismatic as he ever has been, delivering his lines with characteristic flair.
Carlito's personal narration, which gives the viewers insight into his hopes, fears, mistakes and dreams, ensures that Carlito's Way will have universal appeal. Excellent.
***** (5 Stars)
Sophie's Choice (1982)
Quite Simply the Most Superlative Performance in the History of Cinema
Director Alan Pakula must have been falling over himself with delight at the presence of his three main actors. Each give impressive performances, but it is Streep's that takes the breath away. So much has been written already about her flawless depiction of Sophie, who has to be the most heartbreaking character ever seen on film; I can only add my support to the view that Streep here gives the best performance ever seen by an actor.
Additionally, I agree that the Academy should look at this performance as the watermark of the Best Actress Oscar. Inevitably, no one will ever match it, but to think Gwyneth Paltrow won the same award for her role in "Shakespeare in Love" is laughable.
Kevin Kline is brilliant as the chilling yet endearing Nathan, whilst Peter MacNicol is the character whose superb narration and acting transmits us into the movie.
I noticed that the morose Pauline Kael, the most ludicrously over-respected film critic of all time, once again shows her cynicism in finding much fault with the movie: I will have none of it: it is utterly moving, without having to resort to cliché or overloud, haunting music to influence our emotions. Quite simply, the subject matter - Sophie's tragic life and (in)ability to come to terms with what has happened to her - is enough to do this on its own.
The final frame is to me, perhaps the most beautiful I have ever seen, and the film will stay with the viewer long after.