Saturday, December 29, 2012

Film Review: Miller's Crossing

The Coen brothers have produced a number of extremely memorable films (Fargo, True Grit, The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, etc.) and now I've seen three of them (No Country for Old Men, True Grit and Miller's Crossing).

Miller's Crossing may be my favorite of these as this prohibition era gangster tale is an incredibly well done piece with great acting and a fantastic story.

Gabriel Byrne plays Tom who serves as the right hand man for his Irish crimeboss, Leo, portrayed by Albert Finney.  Complications ensue when Tom begins a relationship with Verna who has already latched on to Leo while the fast rising Italian organization lead by Casper (the always slightly nutty Jon Polito) begins competing with the Irish and looking to eliminate the Jewish bookie Bernie (a career defining performance by John Turturro), who happens to be the gay brother of Verna.  Got that??

The story is complicated but well thought out and contains no obvious holes and demands a viewer's attention in order to keep up.

Fortunately the competition and language between the Irish, Jews and Italians is brilliantly crafted by the Coens.  Violence is a typical Coen highlight and it is no exception here.  The blood flows, faces are smashed and brains are blown out but its not gratuitous (at least not to me), its just a typical a gangster film in that regard.

Watching Tom manipulate all those around him with his brain rather than his gun is great fun though one is left thinking that the only honorable person in the film was Casper who stubbornly sticks to his "ethics" throughout, leading to his eventual death.

Miller's Crossing didn't leave me cold the way Goodfellas always has and I enjoyed this one much more.  In the long run I thing Miller's Crossing will be viewed more favorably and Goodfellas, less so--particularly in regards to the acting as Goodfellas seems overwrought at times and cliche at others.

I wouldn't put this up there with my favorite movies of all time but its eminently watchable and contains numerous famous sequences and sections of dialogue.  "What's the rumpus?" anyone?

No comments: