Saturday, February 23, 2008

More Oscar Week

Don't bother! American Gangster is a mess, a bloated film barely held together by subpar performances from amazing actors. I love Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, I think they're both among the best actors around. But not even they can save this film from Ridley Scott's heavy-handed direction and Steve Zaillian's predictable script.
The film follows the rise and fall of Frank Lucas, a Harlem drug dealer who makes a fortune for himself importing heroin from Vietnam. Right from the start the story loses its way, stuttering along aimlessly. Montage after montage show Lucas rising at the expense of junkies everywhere. I can't help but be reminded of Team America's jokes about montages in action films substituting for an actual story. Denzel Washington does the best he can with the one-dimensional portrayal of Lucas in the script, but I don't think any actor alive could have presented Lucas as anything but a stereotype. When the film finally did get around to making a point, I couldn't help but think, "Really? That's it?"
Ruby Dee has about five minutes of screen time. She has one good scene, and she does it well. Unfortunately I haven't seen any of the other films in this category, but I've heard wonderful things about all of the other performances except Saoirse Ronan's. I simply can't justify pulling for Ms. Dee as a substitute for a "Lifetime Achievement" award. It's an unfortunate practice of the Academy that I hope doesn't happen this year as well. However, as Tara argues, she is an "adorable little 83-year-old lady," and it's hard to root against her! I guess I'm going to have to pull for Tilda Swindon here, she always impresses me and I've heard she's amazing in Michael Clayton.


Blogger Tara said...

I'm glad Tilda Swinton won. She deserved it! You should check out Michael Clayton - it might remind you of the good old days at Cadwally!

9:28 AM  

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