Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Gabriel Byrne, Albert Finney, John Turturro, Marcia Gay Harden, Jon Polito
Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Leo is the benevolent Irish gangster and political boss who rules an Easter city with the help of Tom, his trusted lieutenant and counselor. But their control of the town is challenged by an over-reaching Italian underbo... more »
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Kendra M. (KendraM) from NASHVILLE, TN
Reviewed on 5/19/2008...
This is not a great movie.
I watched The Coen Brothers' Blood Simple for the first time a few weeks ago and really enjoyed watching Francis McDermott. She was fantastic in Fargo. Fargo was a great movie with all the right moves, excellent tone, bizarre characters, and a flatly affected but very strong pregnant cop played by McDermott. The Coen brothers are known for their slightly off-kilter films. Raising Arizona with Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunter was a very successful and entertaining quirky movie. Strange characters and bizarre situations can be very entertaining. The formula just doesn't work in Miller's Crossing.
Gabriel Byrne stars as a dirtball gangster. He's the slimey no. 2 to Albert Finney in Finney's massive gangster world. Finney is the real power in this mystery city and Byrne's authority and power comes from only the fact that he has Finney's confidence. Finney is the star of the movie for me. In this unnamed city, the mayor and the police chief are in his pocket until his rival "goes to war" with his gang and starts to get the upper hand. Byrne is having a "liaison" with Albert Finney's galpal played ably by Marcia Gay Harden. Byrne is Finney's second in command, so his choice of girlfriend is highly questionable. Over the course of the convoluted plot and where dirtbags of all stripes show up and do their thing, Byrne is forced to kill a man to show his new pals that he is not a mole or traitor. Well, Byrne has a little itty bitty heart and lets the pathetic victim go so long as he disappears from town. The intended victim is his girlfriend's brother so it makes sense not to whack him.
Byrne makes his way between the two warring gangs all the while trying to get some money to pay off his gambling debts. It's all really quite silly and meaningless. There are lots of false deep moments with characters pretending to have souls and more than one layer to their shallow characters but they can't quite pull it off. This is a movie populated with characters who are all essentially the same, completely corrupt-- with little or no ethics or care for anybody else but themselves.
The main problem with quirky films is that they so often end badly. What I mean is that the filmmakers don't quite know how to conclude the story or they purposefully leave the ending obscure just so they can retain their "quirky" reputations.
Why is it seen as something of a failure in modern hollywood films to properly conclude a story? At one time, this was considered the mark of a well-constructed story-- one that has a beginning, middle, and end. Some "artists" apparently find the concept unfulfilling and perhaps even a bit constricting-- well, I want a proper ending to my stories! Why should the audience have to make up their own endings? It's just lazy story-telling disquised as avant-garde "art".
The ending in this movie was completely frustrating. Nothing was wrapped up for the main characters (except those that got whacked) and what seems like a perfectly reasonable option presented to Byrne at the closing is rejected by him for no apparent reason. Finney's character doesn't quite understand the ending and neither do I. But Byrne is apparently motivated by other character traits that unfortunately nobody in the audience knows anything about.
Folks in this movie don't learn alot, and don't change alot. It's just another "slice of life" in this particular weird, bizarro Coen brothers world.
The film is beautiful to watch with lush dark colors everywhere. Everybody is wan and pale and even the scenery is washed out. The direction is excellent and the pacing fine. The performances are all adequate or better, but it's just not enough. The dialogue is stilted and terse. Albert Finney owns this movie and so does Marcia Gay Harden.
Essentially, this approach to filmmaking and story telling is a treat for the filmmakers but a frustration for the audience. At the end of the movie I want to know what happens next, I want the storyline concluded, and I don't want to waste my time guessing and speculating about what happens to the characters after the credits because I really just don't care enough about the film or the shallow one or two dimensional characters to waste my time on the exercise.
0 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
A superbly crafted gangster film.
captlauro | 01/04/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Yes, FARGO won lots of awards, and sure, RAISING ARIZONA isuproariously funny, but make no mistake: MILLER'S CROSSING is thequintessential Coen brothers film. In point of fact, it's flawless, a jewel you can turn over and around in your hands again and again, seeing a new facet every time, each one striking and smooth and perfect.The script is awash with Prohibition-era jargon both historically grounded and whimsically invented, a symphony of phrases and exchanges that linger and echo long after being heard. (It isn't unusual after a viewing to walk around asking friends, "What's the rumpus?", or to complain about being given "the high hat" upon being snubbed.)The performances, as well, are individually and collectively irresistable. I defy you, in fact, to find a single film in which _any_ of the major players has ever been better. There's not a false or miscast note in the whole of the dramatis personae. There's Gabriel Byrne as the inscrutable, Machiavellian Tom Reagan, a trusted advisor to the city's Irish mob lord who falls out of favor and "defects" to the Italian camp to save his own skin...or does he? Albert Finney plays Leo, the aforementioned Irish power broker whose fists of iron, vicious survival instinct, and all-too-vulnerable heart congeal into a simply remarkable, unforgettable character. John Turturro is equal parts pathetic outcast and conniving opportunist as Bernie Birnbaum, the unscrupulous, vampirically pale bookmaker whose shady maneuvers set the whole plot into motion. Marcia Gay Harden exudes fierce intelligence and buckets of carefully-aimed sex appeal as Bernie's sister Verna, whose unflagging drive to protect her brother -- even from himself -- almost excuse her twisted machinations. J.E. Freeman drips evil and impending violence all over the screen as smarter-than-you-want-him-to-be enforcer Eddie Dane. Jon Polito, as hot-tempered Italian ringleader Johnny Caspar, may be the only character at hand to actually feel sorry for, as his oddly consistent ethical code makes it a sure bet he doesn't stand a chance in his environment.There's more to say about the acting, of course, but I'll stop there rather than pour accolades onto the entire cast. And when I say "entire," I'm not exaggerating: every person who comes into frame, from the leads to the smaller parts to the people with one line or none at all, fit together and play off of each other as though they'd been born to do nothing else in their entire lives. The whole of it actually makes it difficult not to notice acting and casting problems in other films.I'm running out of room here, so I can only nod to some of the other perfect elements of production. Barry Sonnenfeld's dead-on photography is measured and seamless where appropriate, frenetic where necessary. Set design and costuming make for such an astonishing illusion that were this not a color film, you might actually forget that it was released 9, not 69 years ago. And even the sound -- from the music (diegetic and otherwise) to the crystal-clear sound effects that pierce the visual and draw you in by the ears, like they're supposed to -- is a _presence_ in its own right throughout the film. I mean, when was the last time ice cubes dropping into an old-fashioned glass or the wringing out of an alcohol-soaked rag into a tinny dish felt truly woven into the designed effect of a scene in a movie?What continues to amaze me about MILLER'S CROSSING is that no matter how many times I see it, regardless of how hard I look, I _can't find anything wrong with it_. That's an extremely rare situation in my experience. It's what we all want out of a movie, and almost never get. MILLER'S CROSSING delivers exactly that feeling, and when Tom Reagan leans against that tree and adjusts that hat in the haunting final shot, he knows it just as surely as we do. He doesn't seem to feel especially happy about it, but that's okay. _You_ will."
"Nobody knows anybody... not like that."
Michael Crane | Orland Park, IL USA | 06/18/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After being very disappointed with "Once Upon A Time in America" this weekend, I decided to watch another gangster movie that I had never seen before. This one gave me hope as it was done by the very brilliant Coen Brothers. And I'm happy to say that this time I wasn't disappointed. In fact, I had to watch it again the next day! "Miller's Crossing" is a hauntingly beautiful masterpiece for all the right reasons.The story gets pretty complex, as this is from the Coen Brothers. It focuses Tom, a cold and smart-aleck lieutenant who works under an Irish Mob Boss, Leo. Things get ugly when Leo gets into a disagreement with an Italian underboss who feels that he is getting a raw deal. Things also get more complicated when Tom falls in love with Leo's woman. Sooner or later Tom's going to have to decide who's side he's on and who his enemies really are. All of this leads to an uncontrollable scenario with the signature Coen twists and surprises.I loved everything about this film. From the very first minute I was hooked. Sure, it starts out kind of slow, but this is almost necessary in all of the Coen movies. There needs to be a heavy build-up so it can all come together. And once things start spinning, it doesn't stop until the ending credits. I loved how well-written the film was too. It relies heavily on dialogue, but we love hearing the conversations these characters get into. There's a lot of dark and subtle humor in it too, although it is a more serious film for the Coen Brothers.The acting is also superb. Gabriel Byrne is fantastic as the cold and heartless Tom, who always has something smart or sarcastic to say. There is no way I could see anybody else playing the role. It suits him that well. John Turturro is also wonderful in his role and really gets to show off his acting ability. One of his better roles, I think. Everybody else in it is also terrific.There's really not much to the DVD, which is a shame. I'm glad that it has finally come out on DVD and all, but it would've been nice to see a few more extras added to it. The special features included are cast interviews, trailers, a still gallery, and an interview with Barry Sonnenfeld. The Barry Sonnenfeld interview I found very interesting as he explains the look and feel of this movie as opposed to the other Coen movies he has worked on. The picture and sound quality is really good and brings out the tone of the movie."Miller's Crossing" is a definite winner in my mind. It is now quickly becoming a new favorite of mine. If you're looking for a great crime film with a story, interesting characters, and an overwhelming plot, this is the one to see. As with some of the other Coen movies, this one tends to get graphically violent at times, but it is never gratuitous and is always appropriate to the story. An excellent Coen film that is bound to give you a new look into the Mafia world."
THE THINKING MAN'S MOB MOVIE
JOEL D. GERSHBEIN | Vernon Hills, IL | 04/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Most people will let the titles "GOODFELLAS", "THE GODFATHER (I & II)", "ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA" and "THE UNTOUCHABLES" roll off their tongues when asked what their favorite movie is in the "mob" genre. Although seldom mentioned, "MILLER'S CROSSING" must take its rightful place alongside the above as one of the definitive treatments of gangster dynamics in American Cinema. I like to call it "The Thinking Man's Mob Movie" because it's a film that requires one to really focus on the action and dialog and not merely sit back in a lounger without attention span and wait for kill. These characters are multi-faceted, the plot is complex and the payoff for the viewer is delivered through outstanding cinematography (perhaps the Coen's best!) and skillful pacing. Coupling their usual stable of actors (Turturro, Buscemi, Polito) with veteran thespo Albert Finney, the exquisitely laconic Gabriel Byrne, and femme-semi-fatale Marcia Gay Harden, the Coen Brothers have assembled a truly great ensemble cast that transcends the brutality and authenticity of the era. Sure, there's great kill! In the good gangster pictures, violence is actually a character unto itself, always lurking in the background until called upon to make a point. In "MILLER'S CROSSING", the Coen Brothers seem to downplay the actual mechanical violence by isolating the factors and sequences that are responsible for it. Betrayal and revenge are important themes in this film. The crisp writing makes the conversation between characters appear effortless and uncontrived. There's a certain casuality in the dialog that belies the Coen's alarmingly accurate renderings of gangland execution. Finally, the enjoyment one derives from viewing "MILLER'S CROSSING" is not related to how much he/she understands the action or knows about the mob lifestyle, but to the appreciation of the filmmaker's art in communicating the brutality and fraternity of these individuals with astonishing beauty and precision."