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11. Kill the Irishman
I always enjoy films that are based on real life stories, so gangster films are no exception.
This film is well directed, has a stellar cast and most importantly is very true to the real life story of Danny Greene, a Bad MF'er, in the true 20th century sense of the word.
10. Carlito's Way
I remember seeing this film in the theater with a girlfriend and I remember her being way more into the drama than I was. I was fixated on Brian DePalma's signature filmmaking style and Al Pacino's very underrated performance. I think it holds up over time, in that the realest aspect of true gangsters is that they always want out of the life, as opposed to getting in even deeper.
9. Donnie Brasco
I ran through a lot of love hate emotions with this film. I always really liked the genuineness of the mob characters, but I always despised the hero creation and worship of so-called "law enforcement" as if being a rat is the most courageous thing one could ever do... and also, as if that made a difference in the long run. But it is what it is. Great cast and performances.
8.The Long Good Friday
This film has been seriously winding me up since I was a kid. It's horribly violent, but compelling and intoxicating in terms of the character content. It's a view of the underbelly of British society seldom seen during that era or since.There is a great combination of both nuance and clear-cut visual imagery. Watching British TV shows will probably help with translation.
7. The Krays
The Krays is one of those films that is hypnotizing from start to finish and was a home video title that when recommended, never seemed to disappoint. I remember having a renewed respect for the brothers from spandau ballet for playing the role of the Kray Twins. I had a theory (which has yet to be debunked) that the Krays were involved in the death of Beatles Manager Brian Epstien, as well as any eventual cover-ups that resulted from the whole Paul McCartney/Billy Shears charade.
A sentimental and dramatic fan favorite, especially because of the portrayal of the enigmatic character Bumpy Johnson by Larry Fishburne. The special effects don't stand up to the test of time, but the screenplay and performances are solid and Tim Roth turns in an extremely believable performance as Dutch Schultz.
It has a long run time, even for a Scorsese film, but it's a very complex story. For purposes of artistic license, the screenplay deviated from the real story , sometimes significantly, but the reason for that was to create drama and suspense. That it accomplished. The continuity errors can be easily overlooked because of the masterful cinematography.
4. American Gangster
This title comes in at #4 because of Denzel. Hands down. There are some really good performances from Idris Elba, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Chiwetel Ejiofor, but Denzel Washington commanded the screen every moment he was on it. I didn't care for the "cops and crooks" style ending, but it is what it is.
3. Millers Crossing
A textbook lesson in brilliant filmmaking. Which happened to come in the form of a flapper-slag riddled neo-noir gangland masterpiece. Its absurdities lend just as much credibility to the story as the wholesale violence and nihilism of a prohibition era Northern US. Many critics point out that it is not the Cohen Brothers best film and my response is that it doesn't need to be.
Goodfellas is one on those defining films for fans and filmmakers alike, not just in the sense of genre, but the way culture is presented on the screen and between each other. It's a film that you definitely want to see again right after you watch it the first time, and anyone who tells you that Joe Pesci was seen as a joke playing the role of a tough guy is a lying sack of sh*t. He was an absolute psychopath on screen and gave nightmares to anyone who had that type of friend in their inner circle.
1. Godfather Trilogy (all 9 hours)
All 3 films; Godfather, Godfather II and Godfather III, are intimately yet indirectly telling the saga of one character, Michael Corleone. All of the other characters, some of which were flawlessly acted out, are merely ancillary figures and scenery for the stage play that is the tragedy of Michael Corleone. He never wanted in, and then, when he had to get in, all he ever wanted was to get out.
The irony of the trilogy is that the conclusions are inevitable. It's like cheating on a test that you knew the answers to. Watch all 3 films back to back. It's the only way to really understand the saga.
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Skip Pulley ~ Wildcat Kahuna
Skip Pulley ~ Wildcat Kahuna