Reviews written by registered user
|5 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I decided to watch this film because I'm a huge Pacino fan and thought
Lumet did a great job in 'Dog day afternoon' and 'Serpico'; I don't
have any further experience in Lumet's filmography, but thought I'd
give it a try.
Well it turns out the entire thing is a huge mistake. Not only is it pretentious, but the film is actually appalling in many moments. I was pretty surprised to find that it has such positive reviews in IMDb.
'Before the devil knows you're dead' is about two brothers who in the need of money decide to rob their parent's business, a small, suburban jeweller's. The heist goes wrong when their own mother is in the store in the morning of the robbery and accidentally gets shot. The brothers then try to get away with the crime and move on with their lives, but things start to fall apart.
First of all, what's up with the opening scene? An awkwardly explicit sex scene between Philip Seymour Hoffman and Marisa Tomei that has no connection whatsoever with the rest of the movie. To say the least it's unnecessary.
After the viewer gets to watch the actual heist going on, the film starts to lose it's pace and gets completely uninteresting. The fact that it was chosen for the story not be told in a chronological way, but following the characters point of view, making everything even more repetitive, doesn't help much either. But it was Lumet's fault other directors, such as Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, do it wonderfully. The film is just way too long, tiring, could've been edited better. Other than that there are the ridiculous passages from one scene to another, the pictures popping in the screen with a noise on the background, remembering usual TV series effects.
As pointless as the sex scene in the beginning of the film are the many nude Marisa Tomei shots, the scene where Andy (Hoffman) gets heroin injected into his arm, the scenes in the end when he's lost it and starts shooting everyone and last, but not least, the scene when the father smothers his own son (I can't believe he actually went there).
The ONLY good thing about this movie is Philip Seymour Hoffman's acting. The way he changes from a person who's got her act together to a complete psycho is amazing. Ethan Hawke is shallow and unconvincing. Marisa Tomei makes no difference. Albert Finney is well, but isn't really helped by his character, which makes him look almost caricatural.
Overall the film was a huge waste of time. There isn't even one likable character, the film is pretentious and at times so bad it almost made me laugh. On the same line of subject, I'd recommend Woody Allen's 'Cassandra's dream' that shows the anguish and guilt of two brothers who committed a crime, and this time actually builds up some tension any day over 'Before the devil knows you're dead'.
'Two for the money' is based on the story of Brandon Lang (Matthew
McConaughey), a promising football player who suffers a serious injury,
and while recovering and trying to make a living discovers he has a big
talent in guessing how the matches turn out. He's hired by Walter
Abrams (Al Pacino), the owner of a big betting agency, who helps
turning him into a personality and earning loads of money. But as he
gets more and more successful, things get out of control and he doesn't
know who he is anymore.
Well, for me the whole thing just didn't work at all. The plot is absolutely shallow and predictable and there are just too many clichés. I can't believe anyone still bases a movie on the 'how-far-will-I-go-before-I-lose-myself' routine. The pace of the film is awful, being exciting only in the beginning; the viewer will quickly lose his interest in the continuity of things. There's also what for me seems to be an unrealistic fact in the film how come a beginner in the betting business gets to rise so fast and gets so much investment out of nowhere? it's either an incoherence or more time should've been spent in explaining Brandon's career beginning.
To add up to the terrible script there's the fact that Matthew McConaughey is absolutely untalented and just doesn't have what it takes to lead a film that isn't a chick flick. Perhaps that is even more transparent when you're acting beside Al Pacino. His entire character is a cliché. On the other hand there's Al's part which he plays as well as usual. It's not a special or unforgettable performance, but in my opinion he was prejudiced by his character. Both his and McConaughey's parts are poorly built; Al's the most, and I got completely confused on what I was suppose to think about Walter Abrams. Is he a nice guy with a gambling problem and some psychological issues or is he a greedy, lying bastard who will do anything for his benefit? I didn't know whether to root for the leading man or the supporting actor though I'll always pick Al, that's for sure.
The only good couple of moments in this film in my opinion were the ones that focused on Al and Rene Russo, who although barely appears in the film, works well. Their relationship is one of the few convincing facts in this movie. Other than that there is actually a nice message at the end of the film regarding self-destruction.
Al can't perform miracles !
I actually had pretty low expectations for '88 minutes' since Al
Pacino's parts in 'two for the money' and 'ocean's 13', for instance,
didn't exactly impress me, but it turned out I had more good things
than bad things to say about this film after watching it.
In '88 minutes' Al Pacino plays Dr. Jack Gramm, a forensic psychiatrist known for handling cases of serial killers. This time, a convicted psycopath is hours away from his death and raises doubts on Jack's veredict on him, claiming he's innocent, and Jack receives a call warning him he has 88 minutes to live.
In the first place, the initial scene is absolutely unnecessary and predisposed me into thinking the film was going to be a huge mistake, where Al would be behaving like a young man, which is kind of ridiculous at his age. But it wasn't so; it was an isolated scene.
The plot is well built, coherent, and there are no unbelievable facts in it. The atmosphere around the time fading until Jack's death is overwhelming; there isn't a moment in which the viewer won't be excited, waiting for the next move.
Al's acting isn't special; at times I felt like he was numb, sleep-walking, with no reactions whatsoever, but his acting does get better throughout the film, as the suspense gets more intense the interesting part is he does show that old energy from his classic films every now and then.
What really doesn't do it for me, actually, is that, lately it seems that, with very few exceptions, Al's characters not only have pretty much the same personality, but the same looks. He's always tan and wearing black, even in real life ! It sucks because to me, one of the greatest things about Al is his great capacity in characterization. He gets deep into every little detail in his parts, which is why each character looks and acts so different from one another. It seems like that's been lost lately.
Overall '88 minutes' is a good thriller, but I'd recommend it mostly for Pacino fans.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Scarecrow features Al Pacino and Gene Hackman as Lion and Max, two
strangers that meet on the road and develop a friendship as they travel
throughout the country. Max dreams of opening a car wash in Pittsburgh
and Lion plans on meeting his child for the first time in Detroit.
I would recommend 'Scarecrow' to all viewers who are interested, as I am, in knowing better Al's earlier filmography, or his filmography in general, because it is different than most of his movies.
Lion is a comical, yet sentimental and shy character. In his essence, he resembles Sonny Wortzik, in 'Dog Day Afternoon' when it comes to his good intentions, pure heart and complex nature. Al seems to have gotten the comedy and sensitivity part right, and at times his performance is really touching, as the scene when he's playing with the children by the fountain. My problem with Lion is that, unlike Sonny Wortzik, for instance, he seems unrealistic - he's way too childish and innocent for a man his age, and seems to lack any sexual interest. Max, played by Gene, seems kind of caricatured in the beginning, but eventually becomes more believable, and the friendship he develops with Lion is beautiful in some parts of the film.
The problem is this friendship starts out of nowhere, with Lion agreeing to be in Max's car washing business even though they only knew each other for a few hours. And the film continues with inexplicable scenes of them together, that are way too long, and yet, leave the impression that the friendship could've been better explored. Not to mention how painful it is to see Al in such vulnerable positions as almost being raped by a cell mate. The end is an unbelievable anti-climax, that makes you wonder if there really was a thought given to the meaning of this film, or to the continuity of the plot. Of course, not all plots have happy endings, and it shouldn't be expected from 'Scarecrow', but the story seems to have been interrupted, rather then ended. If anything this movie should be watched for Al's and Gene's endearing performances.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Most people don't highlight 'Carlito's Way' among Al Pacino's gangster
movies, but in my opinion it's an instant classic. It's not as hyped as
'The Godfather' or 'Scarface', but it's an extremely honest and
captivating film, that wins you over exactly because it doesn't seem to
have been created to make it into film history.
All the characters are very well defined, so there are no ambiguous or contradicting behaviors. Al Pacino is extremely charismatic, convincing the viewer that as well as he can play an Italian or a cuban, he can play a puerto-rican. And his complete change from one character to another is what makes this movie so special among the other great gangster movies.
Carlito Brigante is a more mature gangster, reformed from his years spent in jail. Differently from Tony Montana, Carlito doesn't feel, or needs to feel isolated. He reaches out to the people around him. He wants to trust, and mainly, love. Gail, his love interest, is put on a pedestal, as the person with whom he wants to escape to 'paradise', and the entire film revolves around the expectations and the hope that the viewer feels for this romance that along with Carlito's way out of the crime world would lead them both to the dream life. If Michael Corleone's essence was in honor and Tony Montana's in money, Carlito Brigante's is in this sensitivity, that make's you forget about his ethnicity or his background, which isn't so in 'Scarface'. His body language and his looks as a Latin-American also change amazingly compared to Tony Montana.
The supporting actors were also amazing, mainly Sean Penn, that really embraced his character, Kleinfeld, a stressed-out, corrupt lawyer, who betrays everyone around him. John Leguizamo is also great as 'Benny from the Bronx'.
Overall the film is very well paced, as it begins with a bit of action, when Carlito returns to his neighbourhood, goes on revolving around him getting his life back on track and making plans with Gail, and ends with the thrilling and greatly edited scenes of the Grand Central Station chase. Finally, when he's shot, you're left wondering if there was any way out to begin with, and if there's really a possibility of 'paradise', even for a reformed gangster like himself.