Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Peter Falk, John Cassavetes, Ned Beatty, Rose Arrick, Carol Grace
Director: Elaine May
From Elaine May, director of The Heartbreak Kid, comes Mikey & Nicky, a compelling crime thriller with a powerhouse cast, including John Cassavetes (Rosemary?s Baby, The Killers), Peter Falk (TV?s Columbo) and Ned Beatty (... more »
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"Mikey, You've Gotta Let Me In!"
R. W. Rasband | Heber City, UT | 05/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Mikey and Nicky" is a lost treasure, one of those gems that slip through the cracks when a big studio doesn't know what do to with a film that they think isn't "commercial" enough. Director Elaine May shot 1.5 million feet of film ("Gone With The Wind" took only 500,000 feet) and spent over two years tinkering with it before an exasperated Paramount Pictures took it away from her and dumped it into theaters in a butchered version in 1977. A completed. smoothly edited version wouldn't be available until the early '80's and this is the film that is now on DVD.
The film stars Peter Falk and John Cassavetes as two middle-aged gangsters. Nicky (Cassavetes) has stolen a lot of money from his employers and is on the run from a blustery, not-too-bright contract killer (Ned Beatty). A frantic Nicky calls Mikey (Falk), his friend from childhood, for help. Critics have noticed that this film seems almost a parody of Cassavetes' own directed films like "Faces" and "A Woman Under The Influence", and "Mikey and Nicky" does have a sort of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" improv feel to it. But a couple of viewings will reveal a careful structure to the screenplay. Different layers of these wiseguys' characters are gradually and surprisingly revealed until we get an almost literary, rounded understanding of them. Indeed, May is said to have started working on this as a play in the 1950's, and it does help to think of it as a theater piece that thrives on the action of language. (Although it is marvelously cinematic; as the two stumble through their long night together we get a terrific sense of the grungy 1970's urban landscape, so different from the clean, well-lighted convenience stores and mutiplexes of today.)
Nicky is impulsive, immature and wild; Mikey is something of a nerd who is pained that the bosses don't like him. Their relationship does remind you of the Harvey Keitel-Robert DeNiro friendship in "Mean Streets", filtered through the absurdist mob comedy of "Prizzi's Honor." Eventually, though, the laughs begin to stick in your throat as it becomes clear that May is primarily interested in the anatomy of betrayal and back-stabbing. These two know everything about each other from childhood and can't refrain from using that knowledge as weapons. The film eventually builds to a shattering climax that is one of the most effective I have seen in a long time. May's dark gangster fable is a clear ancestor in tone and humor to "The Sopranos", especially in its view of mobsters as working stiffs who play out office politics with guns and knives. If you are a fan of that HBO masterpiece, you should really see "Mikey and Nicky.""
Gut punch: best American crime film of the 70s
LGwriter | Astoria, N.Y. United States | 01/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a truly startling piece of cinema, considering it was directed by Elaine May, half the Nichols-May comedy duo and director of the biting comedies A New Leaf (sadly unavailable on DVD...or even VHS) and The Heartbreak Kid. Mikey and Nicky is unlike any other of May's films and, in fact, unlike any other American crime film, with one possible exception. And that exception is John Cassevetes' The Killing of a Chinese Bookie.
The similarity is seen in the same jarring cinema verite-like style on display. The constant close shots of what the two main characters do throws us right into their problems, their anguish, their mental manipulations. The often sounds-like-it-was-improvised dialogue was, in fact, not improvised--but the two actors playing the title characters, John Cassevetes and Peter Falk, did a lot of improvising while the film was originally being shot. Almost none of it was used, but watching this film, you can't tell that; it feels like they're the actual characters who could say anything based on who these characters are, rather than actors portraying the characters. Brilliant acting.
Cassevetes is a unique talent whose films are unlike any others in American cinema and these no doubt provided the impetus for May's technique here; her inspiration was strong enough to cast Cassevetes himself as well as one of his regulars, Falk, as the two leads. These two play off each other so well it is impossible to stop the film and go to the fridge for a beer.
They're both criminals, close to the bottom of the totem pole for that era--mid 70s (this was actually released in 1977). Nicky (Cassevetes) has made off with a chunk of loot from his bosses and Mikey (Falk), his friend, comes to Nicky's hotel room when Nicky phones him to come and help him out. What ensues is a powerful back and forth of Mikey's allegiance to their mob boss, most obviously shown with his connection to a shooter, played, interestingly enough, by Ned Beatty. Mikey's allegiance to his boss plays off Nicky's paranoia based on what he's done and his fear that he'll get iced.
If this were only a tale of simple betrayal, we could call it quits right here and say, yeah, sure, been there, done that. But Mikey and Nicky have a relationship that's too complex for that. You can feel, when they're together, that they need something from each other, that they can give each other a sense of belonging, even if only to the same underworld connection that no one else can give each of them. This edgy psychological bond is the powerful glue that holds not only the two of them together, but the viewer to the film.
Whether or not betrayal actually happens IS the point, no question. It's really how and why we get there that makes this film a stunning piece of work.
A real gut punch of a film, Mikey and Nicky slams it home. See it."
WARNING:THIS FILM IS NOT LETTERBOXED!
William Treadway | Queens, NY | 03/30/2001
(1 out of 5 stars)
"A word to the wise: those purchasing this video hoping to have a letterboxed version of "Mikey and Nicky" will be sorely disappointed. It was not SHOT widescreen. It was shot in the standard 1.33:1 ratioThe one-star rating refers to the false advertisement, not the film itself, which is a five star classic. A full fledged review will appear another time.Still, it is a pretty good transfer."
HOLY SMOKE - where did THIS come from?
dennis l. brooks jr. | los angeles, ca United States | 01/16/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mikey and Nicky is possibly my favorite film. I've introduced many people to it (by force) and i don't think a single one has afterward not put the film on their top 5 list. Elaine May wrote and directed this but Cassavetes' influence is everywhere. That isn't to take anything away from May who has demonstrated her genius in so many genres. this film, however, almost cost her a career. the studio was outraged at the stark realism and 'artistic nature' of the movie and blacklisted May for years afterwards and tried to bury the film. Peter Falk and John Cassavetes are astonishing, strange and beautiful in this work of art."