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Diary of a City Priest (2001)
Invisible heroism without sentimentality
David Morse captures without overstatement the persona of a dedicated priest who follows his calling to serve in an inner city community parish. There is no sugarcoating the frustration and sorrow he must embrace in order to love and serve people on the distant frontier between urban poverty and mainstream America. The portraits of the priest, his parish staff, and his parishioners are so true to life that the director must know this scene first hand. No attempt is made to beatify the priest or to create artificial and unrealistic tales of triumph and redemption among his parishioners, and consequently the viewer's experiences of both tragedy and hope arise from what feels like the substratum of true human experience.
Prizzi's Honor (1985)
An amoral tale of macabre humor, flawlessly rendered.
Prizzi's Honor enthralled me with masterful performances by Jack Nicholson as the enforcer for the Prizzi mob family; Kathleen Turner as the mysterious blonde he falls for and who turns out to be a professonal assassin; and Angelica Huston, as the daughter who struggles to regain the honor of a Prizzi and the love of her life. The paradoxical outcome of the Mafia's ethic of loyalty which leads to the killing of those we love, raised to the level of tragedy in The Godfather, here unfolds in a black tale of macabre humor, rendered with flawless timing of its unfolding twists and turns. The humor does not demean the genre of Mafia gangster films, but rather pays tribute to the legacy, replacing tragic irony with dark humor. A masterpiece without a false note or weak performance.