Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|King Of New York |
Actors: Christopher Walken, David Caruso, Laurence Fishburne, Victor Argo, Wesley Snipes
Director: Abel Ferrara
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
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darragh o'donoghue | 04/26/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Some way into Abel Ferrara's 'King Of New York', two gangsters conspire in a small cinema showing F.W. Murnau's 1922 horror classic 'Nosferatu'. Playing the scene where the vampire disembarks his corpse- and rat-ridden ship docked in England, it has clear reference to Ferrara's protagonist, Frank White (Christopher Walken in one of cinema's great, mercurial performances), a drug-smuggler recently released from a long period in prison, hoping to reassert his local criminal power. White refers to his return as 'coming back from the dead', and Walken's long, haunted figure and dancer's movements have some of the aristocratic grace of a famous screen Dracula, Christopher Lee. Mostly seen at night, he gathers new recruits (fresh blood) around him to 'feed' on. One remarkable shot, after a prolonged sequence of speedy violence, has him lit so his eyes shine like some haunted undead; another has the camera following him through a railway station until it is stopped by bars - it can only impotently watch as White glides up the stairs to be swallowed by the night. The film even has as one of his opponents a cop played by future vampire-slayer Wesley Snipes.But the 'Nosferatu' allusion points to something else - Ferrara's strange absorption of silent cinema. In terms of content, 'King' is a gangster film like any other: loud, ugly, violent, brutal, lurid, hysterical. But it has a purity and beauty very different from the stylised melodramas of Martin Scorcese, whose equally bloodthirsty 'Goodfellas' came out in the same year. The first ten minutes is an astonishing, virtually wordless, visual tour-de-force, not simply presenting the main character, his situation and environment, but introducing symbolic motifs that are all the more powerful for being real, a part of Frank's world, and not simply imposed. Bars and grids (in prison, gates, bridges etc.) are the most prominent, signifying initially Frank's literal imprisonment, then his difficulties with the law and fellow criminals, and his frustrated ambitions (including a Guiliani-like zero-tolerance programme to clean up the streets), but eventually, as we might expect from a Ferrara littering his film with religious iconography, something much more metaphysical, outside the confines of genre (hence the references to Melville).After this, there is a lot of talk - noisy, profane, funny, aggressive, threatening - but the best sequences retain this silent aesthetic: the night-club double cross leading to a car chase and man-hunt under a bridge; a police funeral in which a limousine hit provokes the scattering of black-clad, bankside mourners; the 'Le Samourai'-like subway confrontation between gangster and cop [although the film's very greatest scene, Larry Fishburne's Jimmy Jump ordering fast food just before being busted for murder, depends for its effect on the conflict between talk and silence, his bluster oblivious to the soundless arrests playing out behind him]. The use of huge, intense close-ups recall the emotional silent era, as does Ferrara's camerawork, more deliberate and heavy than Scorcese's flash pyrotechnics. The staging of set-pieces is as artifical as Murnau's setscapes in 'Sunrise'; the underworld carnival is more Celine than Scorcese. Even the use of blue filter in key scenes is less a signifier of atmosphere or artifice than a nod to the practise of 'colorising' monochrome silents. By employing this style from a period he clearly loves, Ferrara is able to inject a spirituality and ceremonial gravitas not immediately apparent in the crudity of the genre subject."
Great Film, Revealing DVD
byrd1010101 | South Australia | 05/01/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"KING OF NEW YORK is, for my money, the most valuable (and the most underrated) film of the last 20 years. It is a homage to the classic American genre - the gangster fable - with the depth and subtext of a European art-movie. It's a precursor to urban crime thrillers like New Jack City and Menace II Society (Ferrara points out they first used a rap-score in 1982). An ode to drug-culture. A pitchblack satire of capitalism and its grotesque fallout. It's got a cast to die for, and a close-knit crew at the height of their powers.
It's shot across an array of locations including Sing-Sing, Donald Trump's Plaza Hotel, and various crack-lanes; it weaves seamlessly between an original score, and the music of Vivaldi and Schooly D; the film is meticulously colour-coded (as pointed out by Nick Johnstone in his book) to add up to a cold critique of the red WHITE and blue, the all-American war-on-drugs; the tempo is expertly-managed, the movie simmers for a while then explodes into heavy-metal carnage, and then it dies with a sad whimper. The film is spectacularly violent, but think about the handling of the violence. There's a big Peckinpah slo-mo shootout, then the audacious shootout in Chinatown. But in the 2nd half of the movie the deaths are direct, painful to watch, and pitiful in their execution. And then there's the cast: Walken was never better. He mesmirises you, brilliantly charismatic. And he looks so otherworldy, what with the hair and the deathly complexion, he's like the man who fell to Earth, the oddest looking `hero' you've ever seen. Fishburne reinvented a character imagined for James Russo and the whole movie turns on that transition. Its simply impossible to imagine how it could have worked ½ as well with Russo, or any1 else for that matter. Caruso is a fire-engine red ball of rage. The scene when he rushes from his colleagues funeral is one of the most beautifully played-out expressions of vigilantism ever put on film. Argo as a weary, deflated, pill-poppin' `old man' who has been there and knows the war is unwise and un-win-able.
As far as Im concerned, every sequence, every line of dialogue ("I'm not the problem, I'm just a businessman") is pure gold. Ferrara's is the cult-of-cults, his movies usually too far-out or nihilistic to get much of a following. But this one I bet Tarantino wishes he'd made. And the DVD package...The documentary is not comprehensive, but it re-enforces what sets Ferrara's films above those of most of his contemporaries, the sheer degree of collaboration involved. Abe's anarchist mentality has freed up guys like Joe Delia (music), Anthony Redman (editor), Charles Lagola (production design) and Ken Kelsch to make exactly the sort of films they want. Kelsch makes the most telling statement towards the end, which might explain why Ferrara hasn't made a film for about five years (after a Woody Allen-esque burst of creativity in the 90s). In fact, as basic as it is, the doco is startlingly honest and revealing about its subject.Ferrara previously contributed a delirious commentary to The Driller Killer, but this time round you kinda feel sad listening to his hazy lack of insight, having the suspicion that his personal curse has robbed him of both his allies and his inspiration at the moment when he's finally getting his dues. But the commentary track is actually a blast! Abel and his best-mate Frankie crack open a few brews, he makes some funny asides about Walken's hair and the reaction to the film on release. And if you get to the credits, you get to listen to Abel bang out Schooly's title-track on an acoustic guitar with a Dylan drawl.Check out the title card on the trailer. Under the title it reads (a Ferrara / St. John original), like the credits on the label of a 45" record. Like Mick and Keef, or Scorsese and Schrader, these guys made dynamite 2gether. KONY is their towering achievement, it's one of the great films ever made."
THE KING IS DEAD...LONG LIVE THE KING
Lawyeraau | Balmoral Castle | 04/01/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Frank White (Christopher Walken) is a crime boss just released from prison. He rejoins his henchmen, headed up by Jimmy Jump (Laurence Fishburne). No sooner does White step out of prison, that the killing games begin. White is out to finance a local inner city hospital that is on the verge of being closed for lack of funding. He is determined to do this by using the ill gotten gains of drug trafficking, his and that of other drug lords. Since the others apparently will not relinguish the money voluntarily, force is used, quite a bit of it as a matter of fact, to get their money and/or drugs.Officers Dennis Gilley (David Caruso) and Thomas Flanigan (Wesley Snipes) are part of a team of cops that are looking to stop White. They are outraged that he is on the street and that they are seemingly unable to stop him by fair means. They decide to resort to foul means and end up all the worse for their efforts. Throughout the film, the line is sometimes blurred between the good guys and the bad guys. There is no happy ending here, and justice may or may not be deemed to have been served, depending upon the viewer's own subjective viewpoint. The performances are good overall, and in particular, Fishburne's manic character, Jimmy Jump, is a good foil for Walker's coolly detached character, Frank White. This is not really a character driven movie, however, but rather a plot driven one. There is a lot of action, a lot of shootings and carnage, and some car chase scenes that will keep the viewer on edge. The violence, when it occurs, is bloody and protracted. Moreover, in addition to being bimbos and sex toys, the women also pack high powered heat and shoot with the best of them. Despite some plot holes, the film entertains, though just how entertaining the viewer will find this film will depend on the viewer's tolerance for violence. The DVD itself is pretty much no frills, offering pretty standard features, such as widescreen, a theatrical trailer, scene access, and a music video. There is no commentary. The picture, though dark, is clear, as is the sound."
SUPA BAD-Intense, brooding and violent
hardestartist | 10/13/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Abel Ferraras' "King of New York" is the story of recently parolled Frank White who decides to try to go straight. Kinda. The cast reads like a roll call of modern day screen bad asses: Christopher Walken, Dave Carruso, Larry Fishburne, Wesley Snipes, Steve Buscemi, Giancarlo Esposito, on and on. What I really liked about the film is the development of these characters. We've all seen Gangster movies so we can pretty much tell what's going to happen. But White's character seems determined to get a hospital built in his old neigborhood-no matter what the cost. He faces resistance from all sides: the Italian mob want's nothing to do with the drug dealing king, Asian gang leaders consider him too unstable to be a good business partner, there's rebellion in his own ranks and finally, the police aren't taking kindly to White's return to his old ways. You can feel the contempt and conflict coming off of the screen. Incredibly violent, profanity, with scenes of wanton sex and drug use. If things like Scarface offend you, you better stay away. I watch this movie at least once every six months."