Exhaustively exhausted: Ben Affleck’s Live by Night

Has any topic been more exhaustively dramatized than Prohibition-era gangsters? Live by Night seems especially redundant so soon after HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, which covers a lot of the same ground: the Florida/Cuba liquor pipeline, the Irish/Italian mob conflict, the pivot to legal gambling, etc. The explanation being pretty simple: original novelist Denis Lehane also contributed […]

Relentless Withholding: Michael Mann’s Public Enemies

Khoi Vinh rightly observes in Minimalism, Michael Mann and Miami Vice that “Mann has produced a taut, stylistic and often brutally impersonal filmography that seems most interested in the concept of work” (via Daring Fireball). I wholly understand and laud the aim of a minimalist, “relentlessly withholding” narrative, but I don’t believe it’s ignorant or […]

I Call First: Who’s That Knocking at My Door?

Martin Scorsese’s first feature film Who’s That Knocking at My Door? was shot over the course of several years, and was originally released in 1967 as I Call First. Its piecemeal origins are betrayed by two discrete sequences: one recounting the misadventures of a group of slacker friends in downtown New York, and a very […]

Tea Leoni clings to the menacing Ben Kingsley in You Kill Me

The first thing to say about You Kill Me is to give props to Ben Kingsley, if for no other reason than my fear that he will break my kneecaps if I don’t. Even after his terrifying turn in Sexy Beast, it’s still a surprise to see it is perfectly natural for him to take […]

Paul Muni: Original Gangsta

The Onion AV Club’s How’d it get burned? 22 film remakes dramatically different from the originals piece points out that while Al Pacino’s Scarface has become a modern gangsta icon, nobody slaps the original Paul Muni incarnation from 1930 onto t-shirts, posters, and cheezy mirrors for sale by street vendors. A quick Googling confirmed that […]

Ben Affleck’s pervasively grim Gone Baby Gone

Good ol’ Bahstuhn Cahtholick Ben Affleck is an all grown-up, big-boy director now, and lookit, he made himself a pretty decent movie. That said, Gone Baby Gone is a big plate of grim, with side order of depressing. Affleck makes excellent use of location footage and local color. And not surprising for a movie directed […]

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