Dead Man Down (2013)

US / 118 minutes / color / FilmDistrict, IM Global, WWE Studios, Original, Frequency Dir: Niels Arden Oplev Pr: Neal Moritz, J.H. Wyman Scr: J.H. Wyman Cine: Paul Cameron Cast: Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Terrence Howard, Dominic Cooper, Isabelle Huppert, Luis Da Silva Jr., Wade Barrett, Franky G., Declan Mulvey, John Cenatiempo, Roy James Wilson Jr., Myles Humphus, Stephen Hill, Aaron Vexler, James Biberi, F. Murray Abraham, Andrew Stewart-Jones, Beata Alexandra Dalton, Accalia Quintana, Saul Stein, Armand Assante, Robert Vataj.

Two years ago, on June 17, Delphine (Quintana), the little daughter of Hungarian immigrants Anka (Dalton) and Laszlo Kerick (Farrell), was killed by a stray bullet as the thugs of racketeer landlord Alphonse Hoyt (Howard) attempted to clear the tower block in which they lived. Anka and Laszlo were determined to help the DA bring the hoodlums to justice, but Alphonse hired an Albanian gang led by Ilir Brozi (Biberi) to murder them. Ilir’s mob succeeded in killing Anka and, they thought, Laszlo; but in fact Laszlo survived.

Now, having taken the name Victor, Laszlo has, with the aid of Anka’s uncle, Gregor (Abraham), succeeded in infiltrating Alphonse’s crew. (As Sam Juliano has pointed out, Victor Laszlo is the name of Paul Henreid’ character in CASABLANCA [1942].) He’s secretly playing a cat-and-mouse game with Alphonse, sending him photographs of Alphonse’s hoods with their eyes crossed out, plus small cut squares from another photograph with the obvious implication that, jigsaw-pieced together, these will reveal the identity of Alphonse’s tormentor and the reason for the torment. Alphonse sets his henchman Paul (Vexler) to trying to find out who’s behind the unsettling campaign. Paul deduces the guilty party is Victor and confronts him in the latter’s apartment but, before he can tell anyone else, Victor strangles him.

Dead Man Down 2013 - Beatrice explains her deal to Victor

Beatrice (Noomi Rapace) explains her deal to Victor.

Unknown to Victor, this crime was witnessed by Beatrice Louzon (Rapace), who lives with her mother Valentine (Huppert) in the Continue reading

American Gangster (2007)

US / 176 minutes (unrated), 158 minutes (rated) / color / Imagine, Relativity, Scott Free, Film Rites, Universal Dir: Ridley Scott Pr: Brian Grazer, Ridley Scott Scr: Steven Zaillian Story: “The Return of Superfly” (2000 magazine article, New York) by Mark Jacobson Cine: Harris Savides Cast: Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Cuba Gooding Jr., Josh Brolin, Ted Levine, Armand Assante, Clarence Williams III, John Ortiz, John Hawkes, RZA, Lymari Nadal, Yul Vazquez, Ruby Dee, Idris Elba, Carla Gugino, Joe Morton, Common, Richie Coster, Jon Polito, Kevin Corrigan, Roger Guenveur Smith, Malcolm Goodwin, Ric Young, Roger Bart, Tip Harris, Kadee Strickland, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Norman Reedus, Melissia Hill, Bari K. Willerford, Skyler Fortgang.

A gangster movie that claims to be based on a true story although, by all accounts, it’s largely an exercise in mythopoeia.

In Harlem in 1968, ruthless yet philosophically inclined, intelligent and often goodheartedly generous gangster Bumpy Johnson (Williams, bizarrely uncredited) dies of heart failure while he and his chauffeur and right-hand man Frank Lucas (Washington) are staring in dismay at the contents of a discount store. Assuming Frank is just a nobody, gangsters like Tango (Elba) move in on Bumpy’s old turf, little realizing they’re up against a criminal genius. It’s not long before Frank hits on the notion of dispensing with the middleman in the heroin racket, instead buying it directly from sources in Southeast Asia and bribing US service personnel to bring the dope into the US aboard military transports returning from the still-raging Vietnam War. His other major import is of his extended family from North Carolina to be his employees/partners, a job that his brothers willingly take on after they witness him coldbloodedly murdering the arrogant Tango on a crowded Harlem sidewalk.

American Gangster - In search of a drug supplier

Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) goes in search of a drug supplier.

At the same time, Newark cop Richie Roberts (Crowe) is earning himself the undiluted loathing of the rest of his PD through being honest. When he and partner Javier J. Rivera (Ortiz) come across nearly $1 million in unmarked bills and Continue reading