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American Gangster - 12/11/2007 1:38:11 PM   
Empire Admin

 

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- 12/11/2007 1:38:11 PM   
Evil_Bob


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Totally average movie and I dont' understand why this is film of the week when both Earth and Brick Lane got higher ratings

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RE: - 12/11/2007 1:41:50 PM   
DanCurley


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From: London
Very surprised it got 3/5 - was expecting it to get 4 or maybe a 5. It's actually put me off going to watch it, I'm not watching a film that's eight hours long unless it's bloody brilliant...

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- 12/11/2007 5:11:04 PM   
Jexxon

 

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A decent film, nothing more. The plot is extremely familiar to anyone who's ever seen this kind of film before, and trying to tell both the story of Washington and Crowe's characters just makes the runtime way to long and still without much in the way of characterisation. No way that this one is going to be considered a classic in a few years when all the (undeserved) hype has died down.

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RE: American Gangster - 12/11/2007 5:26:10 PM   
Axel Foley


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Reading this line in the review:

quote:

Even the music sounds second hand (who can hear Across 110th Street and not recall Jackie Brown?),


did make me wonder whether anyone would recall the film that was Tarantino’s inspiration (being Across 110th Street and starring the excellent Yaphet Kotto), rather than Jackie Brown. There is a certain irony in the comment, given that all Tarantino films engender a “second-hand” feeling.

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RE: American Gangster - 13/11/2007 12:46:15 AM   
Mycroft


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Solid but unmemorable. I don't think many will consider this a classic but I defy anyone to dislike it. The focus should've been on Lucas instead of bolstering Roberts' with a divorce storyline, balancing it felt like a concession to star power rather than servicing the story. The pace never really ramped up either, his rise seemed pretty straightforward with no real conflict from other groups. I was expecting more of a cat and mouse game but it's very much at a distance, his downfall is inevitable even without the investigation. You know where things are going and there's no real suprises or conflict in how they get there, it was always going to be a temporary blip before going back to the status quo.  Thankfully then, the end focus is on gutting the police force, but it's more about profiting from an already defeated empire than bringing down someone at their peak, so ultimately the end is less rewarding.

Strong performances from everyone but the story doesn't provide the opportunity for big moments, it's a subdued affair. Still an engaging way to spend 160 minutes

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Post #: 6
Excellent film - 13/11/2007 12:02:46 PM   
Jasper


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Why? Can't be arsed to write a review now,

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RE: Excellent film - 13/11/2007 6:30:21 PM   
doncopey1


Posts: 5000
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Poor old Michael Mann now if he's saw American Gangster i bet he wishes he approached Miami Vice with the same idea because Scott's latest is a bloody fine addition to the genre, and whilst this is better than most of the crime gangster films we've seen in recent years, is still doesn't quite live up to the classic status we'd all hoped for. Ridley Scott the master of the visual filmmaking process should be appluaded for his style, his period detailing may fall short compared to Fincher's Zodiac but there are moments of sheer brilliance when capturing the urban decay of 1970's Harlem. Empire criticised Scott's style for taking a back seat to the plot, ignore such a comment. Whilst the landscape is no Blade Runner, this semi-doc style combined with brilliant cinematic visceral realism is a unique depiction of New York City similar to what we see in Serpico, for example the decaying apartment blocks and the contrived streets have not imitated Scorsese's visions no this is up close and personal. Scott deserves recognition for a picture that will see Denzel take all the plaudits but Scott solely deserves credit for taking a unique approach on a genre which he can easily say he has now conquered too.  The set-pieces are few and far between but they are done with typical Scott panache, airing Black Hawk Down, a true sense of down to earth realism but never un-enjoyable which Scott has always mastered so well.
The star potential of American Gangster  was always its selling point, the on screen titans that are Crowe and Denzel coming together in such a genre and it didn't disappoint. Both are on full form, Denzel in the trailer may seem like a pastiche of his Training Day character but trust me Frank Lucas is cooler, smarter and less of a shouter. His dark and business like precision combined with his un-remorse is totally believable, his character deserves to among the better mob bosses in the pantheon of cinema. Crowe for me however was more than a match, i enjoyed his flawed, over weight cop more than Denzel's spectacle and whilst its Denzel's show Crowe proves why he is as good as any actor working today and is never undermined. The climactic meeting between the two titans may have eveybody whispering Heat rip-off and whilst its similar who gives a shit because the encounter is perhaps the most thrilling scene of the year. The supporting cast whilst giving good performances they seemed a tad under used, especially Cuba Gooding Jnr whose role seemed more like a thrilling cameo than a great performance, which shows you Scott's intentions that this is a Crowe-Denzel face off as opposed to a deep personal life of a gangster which we see in Goodfellas and is ultimately one of the downfalls. However don't expect a cinematic enahnced plot to create a cat and mouse thrill for us audience, its all true so all is kept simple.
The ending is well structured, having read the story of Frank Lucas i was intrigued how the ending was going to be approached, not another Donnie Brasco style ending where it is unfulfilled, it is done to great satisfaction whose cutting between scenes keeps the thrilling pace going.
Overall this will not be one of the peaks of the genre, not as good as Scorsese's best but more Scorsese's second best like the Departed and whilst the Departed gained a load of Oscar nods i don't see why this shouldn't because utimately i found Scott's film a bettter acted and better experience, American Gangster's downfall lies with some empty characters, an unfulling soundtrack and lack of Crowe/Denzel screentime, but this is one of the most enjoyable and thrilling films you see all year. Don't be suprised if people start taking their out of date Scarface pictures down for Frank Lucas.
(* * * *, (4/5)


< Message edited by doncopey1 -- 13/11/2007 6:31:07 PM >


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RE: American Gangster - 15/11/2007 10:42:39 AM   
Dantes Inferno


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Axel Foley

Reading this line in the review:

quote:

Even the music sounds second hand (who can hear Across 110th Street and not recall Jackie Brown?),


did make me wonder whether anyone would recall the film that was Tarantino's inspiration (being Across 110th Street and starring the excellent Yaphet Kotto), rather than Jackie Brown. There is a certain irony in the comment, given that all Tarantino films engender a "second-hand” feeling.

The difference is that Across 110th Street isn't as famous as Jackie Brown. Yeah, lots of things in Tarantino movies can be found somewhere, but most people won't know where.

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RE: American Gangster - 16/11/2007 8:09:23 PM   
Axel Foley


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Dantes Inferno

quote:

ORIGINAL: Axel Foley

Reading this line in the review:

quote:

Even the music sounds second hand (who can hear Across 110th Street and not recall Jackie Brown?),


did make me wonder whether anyone would recall the film that was Tarantino's inspiration (being Across 110th Street and starring the excellent Yaphet Kotto), rather than Jackie Brown. There is a certain irony in the comment, given that all Tarantino films engender a "second-hand” feeling.

The difference is that Across 110th Street isn't as famous as Jackie Brown. Yeah, lots of things in Tarantino movies can be found somewhere, but most people won't know where.

Across 110th Street was actually quite a big deal when it was released, probably as big a film as Jackie Brown. Of course it is a lot older, and therefore less likely to be on folk's minds. At any rate, as Doncopey points out in another thread, Lucas was running the area around 110th Street and as such there is a greater purpose in the song featuring in American Gangster than there was in Jackie Brown.

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RE: American Gangster - 16/11/2007 8:13:18 PM   
Axel Foley


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The worst that could be said about American Gangster is that it is a very good film, which stops some way short of greatness. That one would choose to say such a thing provides an idea of the sort of expectations that have been raised. Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, with a plethora of top-drawer character support in addition, the cognoscenti anticipated an extravaganza to rival a Caesar's triumph - as would befit the work of a director who gave us charging chariots and rampaging tigers in the Colosseum.

It isn't that, but in detailing the game of cat and mouse between the flamboyant gangster, Frank Lucas (Washington), and driven cop, Richie Roberts (Crowe), it is still riveting viewing. The opening is a punch to the guts, as we witness Lucas dispatching an enemy in the first of the film's bouts of hard violence. It's an introduction that we can't forget: no matter how kindly Lucas can seem when with family the thought is always there that at any moment he might explode.

This concept is most brilliantly illustrated in a couplet of scenes set in a diner. Both are showcases for the effortless cool that Washington brings to the role. Firstly, Lucas harassed by a rival continues with his breakfast calmly shaking sugar into his coffee, as the hood demands a payment. Washington gives his best poker face before standing up, passing over a couple of notes, and delivering a cutting kiss-off. Scene two sees Lucas at the table with his brothers: it's a picture of brotherly love. This time he spies the hood out on the street, strolls over in his kingly, dapper fashion before ending the rivalry in a swift and calculated flash.

Against such a magnetic presence, Crowe has his work cut out making Roberts compelling. However, he achieves this with his customary grit and determination. Roberts is driven and intense, often shown displaying a lack of attention to his family. He can't even have a conversation with his estranged wife without stopping to blast a group of kids messing around in the background. Ultimately, he understands his faults and in a moment of emotional power, he admits that he's not up to keeping his son, Crowe's face crumpling in pain as he does so.

Scott chooses a structure in which the perspective flits from Lucas to Roberts and in doing so, he creates two worlds for each to inhabit. The former resides in plush homes and hangs out in glittery night-clubs, while the latter lives in an average suburban neighbourhood and spends a lot of time waiting in worn out automobiles. During a montage depicting each man's Christmas, dinner Scott uses such backdrops to capture the nature of both men: Lucas and family sit around a kingly table as he carves a huge turkey; Roberts chows down on a tuna sandwich, alone and plotting his next move. It is a scene typical of the director, describing characters without recourse to reams of dialogue, and confirms (unlike some criticisms of the film) that this is clearly his show.

In fact, the hint of the auteur can be found in a number of other aspects in the film. Scott's perennial theme of honour is clearly in place in the lives of both men. Lucas refuses to bow down to any competitors and stands up to the bent cops after his money. Roberts' code involves doing the right thing no matter what. Then there's Scott's penchant for backing an outsider, with both protagonist's on the edge of their spheres in much the same way as a Rick Deckard or a Balian of Ibelin or even a Jordan O'Neill (that's G.I. Jane if you're wondering).

Ok he never conjures up an image as magical as Harvey Keitel staring out across the Dordogne or Roy Batty dropping from a glittering, industrial post-apocalypse L.A., but this still looks better than the majority of its competition. Actually, the best images of the piece aren't epic or glorious. In a departure from his norm (even at this stage of Scott's career he is interested in trying something new) he expertly outlines the grittier side of things. Take the haunting image of a whacked out mother, her leg still bleeding from the heroin intake, inter-cut with Lucas's power trip. He may be indisputably cool, but there's no hiding from his depredations.
In its anti-heroic depiction of Lucas, American Gangster is far from the more realistic approach of a Scorsese or procedural focus of a Michael Mann. If viewers are getting a sense of "seen it before" it is actually to the films of Cagney and the golden age of the gangster that they should look. In mythologising the criminal and creating a stylised world for him to exist, Scott's influences go far. The coda, however, suggests that he could maybe have taken us somewhere else, as gangster and cop come together. Maybe if that had been taken further American Gangster could've been a landmark, but as it stands it is a strong enough addition to the genre.

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This Year's Departed - 16/11/2007 10:24:06 PM   
Ethanial


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Which is why people seem to love it, and it'll probably win all the Oscars this year, whilst at the same time wasting quality actors on a dull and overlong film, with a 90 minute story.

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American gangster - 16/11/2007 11:44:31 PM   
moviemaniac2


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This fabulous looking film has Washington's best part since Training Day. The problem American Gangster faces is in giving him a worthy adversary in Russell Crowe’s Richie Roberts. this is the main reason it falls just short of the classics of Heat ,GoodFellas, or Godfather, and even short of last years Departed.

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Post #: 13
RE: American gangster - 17/11/2007 1:59:06 AM   
mackey

 

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**Spoiler Warning**

American Gangster is an engrossing entry into the crime film genre from Ridley Scott. The rise and fall of New York heroin dealer Frank Lucas, and that of Richie Roberts, the honest cop who brings him to justice, is a riveting tale from start to finish.
I'm not going to go into too much detail except maybe to comment on some of the criticisms that have been levelled at this film; basically, most negative comments seem tor revolve around the fact the the film seems to lack Scott's usual visual style and that Crowe's Richie Roberts is not a worthy adversary to Washington's Frank Lucas.  I think these are largely unwarrnated.  The film is based on a true story and as such Scott has decided to present the film in as realistic a tone as possible; there is no need for any unnecessary flamboyance here as the tale itself has enough colour to see it through. 
Whilst the role of Frank Lucas may be the more obvious show stopper, Denzel never allows it to slip into a charicature and proves why he's one of the most charismatic, natural actors working today.  Russell Crowe's turn as the flawed cop Richie Roberts is equally, if not more, impressive.  
So the finale may invite unfavourable comparisons with the brilliant 'Heat' but when Denzel Washington walks out of that church with the camera over his shoulder and as he turns to his side we see Crowe standing in front of his car waiting............well, personally speaking, I found it to be an utterly brilliant cinematic moment.
I can understand why the film might leave some people disappointed but for me it was an excellent film and one that will rate quite highly when it comes to my end of year list.  

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RE: American gangster - 17/11/2007 12:18:31 PM   
Haiku

 

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Excellent film. For a movie that was nearly 3 hours long, the whole thing just flew by. If anything, I wished the film were longer. With a few more scenes, added detail and additional character development for some of the secondary characters, American Gangster could be a masterpiece. With Ridley Scott's penchant for tinkering with his films, here's hoping we'll see an extended "directors cut" edition of American Gangster. I wanted to see more of Frank Lucas.

Denzel Washington was outstanding as Lucas. I wasn't sure what type of performance to expect, but I was worried that he'd re-hash his Training Day character (ie a loud, brash villain). Instead, he pretty much goes in the opposite direction. Washington plays Lucas as a quiet, calculating shark of a man, capable of unpredictable acts of rage and violence. A man that seemed to lack a soul. It's an incredibly nuanced and understated performance, where Washington does a lot of acting with his eyes. No Scarface/Training Day style theatrics in this performance. Even when Lucas says nothing, you can see his intelligence and cunning at work. Somehow Washington manages to convey the numerous contradictions of Lucas, and make it credible. I got the impression that Frank Lucas was a bit of a cold-blooded sociopath. He gave the impression of being a genial family man, but it seemed that he just wanted to present his image that way (perhaps taking a cue from the succesful Italian mob, whom he emulated to an extent). When Lucas "joked" to his flash-dressing brother, that if he wasn't his brother....he'd put a bullet in his head, it was instantly apparent to me that Lucas was not joking, even though he said it with a grin and a laugh. Lucas is the kind of man who would kill his own brother with little hesitation, and in Washington's performance, this was easy to see.

Russell Crowe was very good as Richie Roberts, but with all the will in the world, his character was never going to be as fascinating to watch as Frank Lucas. So despite Crowe's best efforts to play the honest cop, I often found myself wanting to return to the story of Frank Lucas. I know that the character of Richie Roberts was given a larger (almost equal in size to Lucas) role to accomadate a star of Crowe's stature, but I'm almost disappointed that the film didn't keep more of the focus on Lucas. This is not really Crowe's fault, but the domestic troubles/sex life of Roberts aren't particularly interesting compared to the goings on in Lucas' world.

Special mention to Josh Brolin, who shined as a sleazeball corrupt cop.

< Message edited by Haiku -- 17/11/2007 12:20:18 PM >

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RE: American gangster - 17/11/2007 8:57:57 PM   
doncopey1


Posts: 5000
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From: Liverpool: Age 25
quote:

ORIGINAL: moviemaniac2

this is Washington's best part since Training Day. The problem American Gangster faces is giving him a worthy adversary in Russell Crowe’s Richie Roberts. this is the main reason it falls just short of the classics of Heat ,GoodFellas, or Godfather, and even short of last years Departed.



so because he had a good opponent the film is not as good?


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RE: This Year's Departed - 18/11/2007 6:01:42 PM   
Bruce Wayne


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Ethanial

Which is why people seem to love it, and it'll probably win all the Oscars this year, whilst at the same time wasting quality actors on a dull and overlong film, with a 90 minute story.


Dull? really? I wasn't bored once within the 3 hour duration. Best film of the year so far for me. Performances were brilliant, fascinating and gripping storytelling.

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RE: This Year's Departed - 18/11/2007 6:06:14 PM   
Timon


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There is something inherently cool about gangsters. I’m not talking about the likes of 50 Cent and co. who look like blinged-up tits, I’m talking about Ray Liotta in Goodfellas, Pacino in The Godfather, De Niro in Heat – men who do what they do for money and power and to look after their own, not to buy jewellery.

With the lifestyle of such extravagance, it always makes the cops going after them seem dull and drab by comparison and this is the problem with American Gangster. Washington’s Frank Lucas is a smooth talking, all powerful king-pin who kills those who cross him whilst buying a lovely house for his mum. The man dedicated to taking him down, Russell Crowe’s Richie Roberts, is going through a divorce and doesn’t have a friend on the force since turning in a million dollars worth of drug money. Even his fellow cops respect power more than honesty and it’s the reason why Crowe’s scenes tend to drag more than his criminal counterparts. He may be righteous in his quest to clean up the streets but is he jetting off to Thailand, buying huge quantities of heroin and having the gall to ship them back in dead GI’s coffins?!

Director Ridley Scott’s (Gladiator) take on this 70’s crime epic is very much like Michael Mann’s Heat. There are two sides of the story and we get the chance to follow both the cop’s and the criminal’s. However, when you’ve got two acting titans like Crowe and Washington, you really want to see them face off, to share a scene like De Niro and Pacino’s in Heat, even if it is for a short while. The thing is you don’t get it until the end and you can’t help but think you deserved more. Both actors are fine in their roles but it is Denzel who holds your attention – a man who tolerates no mistakes, no interference, and no intimidation and only really comes to the attention of the authorities because of a god-awful present that he should have burned immediately.

It’s a fantastic crime thriller with a great cast but it is a case of ‘missed opportunity’ as you just feel Scott could have woven the storylines together better simply to create more of a dynamic between his two leads.

3.5/5

< Message edited by Timon -- 28/11/2007 9:28:15 AM >


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RE: This Year's Departed - 18/11/2007 8:19:42 PM   
tarantinofan

 

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Lacks a certain suspence in the end since Crowe doesnt really solve the case, so much as one of Washingtons brother's goons screws up and we all knew of course how he was smuggling the drugs as well as the eventual outcome.

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Post #: 19
American Gangster - 18/11/2007 8:25:57 PM   
trotter3000

 

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Not quite in Godafathers league be deserves to be 4/5. a truly remarkable tale, that keeps you inthralled from start to finish.

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Post #: 20
RE: RE: - 18/11/2007 11:26:00 PM   
kenada_woo


Posts: 1668
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I'd have to agree with most of the peeps here to say the film is good/okay/decent/ but never great.

Everything is 100% solid.  Story, characters, direction, acting, pace, action - its a film made by pro's who have been doing this shit for years so it is never ever bad.  Its just never amazing.

Dezel Washinton steals the film being that he has the "firework" role, stealing each scene he's in.  Russel Crowe is, intentionally, the opposite - quiet, laid back - and it never changes, which is a shame cos you can see him wanting to bust out and inject some engery into his character.

Other than that - Ridley Scott is pretty much on cruise control really, and while it doesnt drag it never gets going (minus a intense drug bust) before finishing like you'd probably guessed it was going to finished if you know the genre (seen Goodfellas, Donnie Brasco etc)

Overall, top star talent on cruise control.

***/*****


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Post #: 21
- 19/11/2007 12:36:33 PM   
mattchoman


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This is one of those films that is not perfect, but it has such pace and great performances and an interesting (if slightly unoriginal story) that you can't help but enjoy. Denzel, in particular, warrants the admission price on his own. I can see why Empire would give this 3 stars as they were probably expecting more from the epic combo of talent (possibly the same reason they gave The Departed 4 stars), but for me it was so goddam enjoyable and throughly recommendable that it has to be a 4 star movie. It's another of those examples that goes to show the when you put that level of talent together, if they aren't firing on all cylinders, they still produce a better result than lesser directors working their asses of.

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Post #: 22
Amercian Gangster - 20/11/2007 12:35:05 PM   
BigStew

 

Posts: 2
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Read a few of the reviews and to be honest I think you were all watching a different movie . Why compare it to classics like The Departed and Goodfellas when these were movies were telling a different story about gangster life . Amercian Gangster is a superb movie in its own right with some superb stories told through the eyes of Washington and Crowe . I prefer 2 or 3 hour films because you can grasp the whole story , not just guessing what happened . In response to the slating of 50 cent being a tit , may I remind you that Al Pacino , Ray Liotta and Robert De Niro are ACTORS playing roles as gangsters . THEY ARE NOT REAL

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Post #: 23
Amercian Gangster - 20/11/2007 12:35:11 PM   
BigStew

 

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Read a few of the reviews and to be honest I think you were all watching a different movie . Why compare it to classics like The Departed and Goodfellas when these were movies were telling a different story about gangster life . Amercian Gangster is a superb movie in its own right with some superb stories told through the eyes of Washington and Crowe . I prefer 2 or 3 hour films because you can grasp the whole story , not just guessing what happened . In response to the slating of 50 cent being a tit , may I remind you that Al Pacino , Ray Liotta and Robert De Niro are ACTORS playing roles as gangsters . THEY ARE NOT REAL

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Post #: 24
RE: American Gangster - 20/11/2007 5:06:14 PM   
filmnutrob

 

Posts: 19
Joined: 20/11/2007
Enjoyed the film, both denzel washington and russel crowe were excellent. One slight complaint. Had the feeling i'd seen it all before only better. Felt more like a scorsese movie than a rildey scott movie. Still, thank god it was at least better than the godawful virtuosity. In places it reminded me of serpico, especially the scene where russel crowe refuses to keep the money found in the boot of a car.

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Post #: 25
RE: American gangster - 20/11/2007 11:55:42 PM   
m_er


Posts: 3966
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Istanpool
I dont know about you and dont care how cool or bad reviews this films got. I did like it, to tell you the truth best drug-trafficing film I've seen so far. And lemme tell you this : I've seen this types of film alot. But this one's great.
As for actors I think D. Washington's getting greater, he's superb in this film. I enjoyed it thoroughly and gave 5/5 !

Besides, I dont understand the comparison to Goodfellas, Heat, The Departed or even The Godfather. For me these mentioned gangster movies are great and I gave straight 10 along with American Gangster.

< Message edited by m_er -- 21/11/2007 12:01:08 AM >


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RE: American gangster - 21/11/2007 7:56:50 AM   
simonmckergan1


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I thought this was excellent, well acted and very gripping, though for some reason the ending seemed a bit rushed.  I could have happily have watched another 30 mins. 8 out of 10 (excellent)

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RE: American gangster - 21/11/2007 9:22:21 AM   
m_er


Posts: 3966
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Istanpool
quote:

ORIGINAL: simonmckergan1

I could have happily have watched another 30 mins.


Me too. Felt never bored during the whole film. Not even a minute. So engrossing and thrilling. Thumps up !

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Post #: 28
RE: American gangster - 21/11/2007 9:37:43 PM   
benmharper


Posts: 2242
Joined: 15/12/2005
From: Carlisle
quote:

ORIGINAL: m_er

quote:

ORIGINAL: simonmckergan1

I could have happily have watched another 30 mins.


Me too. Felt never bored during the whole film. Not even a minute. So engrossing and thrilling. Thumps up !


I'll third that. Loved it. Denzel was class, as usual.
Had my expectations dampened by the reviews i'd read/heard so thats maybe why i enjoyed it so much. Makes a change from going in with high hopes and having them dashed.

< Message edited by benmharper -- 21/11/2007 9:38:21 PM >


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Post #: 29
RE: American gangster - 22/11/2007 10:35:06 AM   
elzupasmonkey


Posts: 277
Joined: 30/9/2005
Very good film, but I couldn't help thinking that it should have been two movies.

Both men, in real life, seem fascinating enough to have their very own film.

Really enjoyed Russell Crowe's portrayal, but having read the article about Frank Lucas, he seems to have been more of a character than the somewhat stern face that Denzel brings to the character.

Loved the production design. There was one scene where money is being put in a bag next to a phone. And beside the phone was an A to Z phone index. One of those that looked like a thermometer!

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Post #: 30
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