Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Donnie Scissorhands

Our local half price bookstore has a large collection of used dvds. For a while I have been looking for a copy of Duck You Sucker a.k.a A Fistfull of Dynamite. Not to be confused with I'm Gonna Git You Sucka which is a riot. Duck You Sucker is a spaghetti western in the theme of The Good The Bad and The Ugly. Except it doesn't star Clint Eastwood and wants us to believe James Coburn is a good alternate hero/anti-hero. It did however merit a dub in the Big Audio Dynamite song 'Medicine Show' which I highly recommend. Seeing as how it wasn't as popular a movie as the previous "Man With No Name" movies, it's not common in the used section of the half price bookstore. I did see it at Sam's Wholesale once but didn't get it and I've kicked myself ever since. That being the case I want to see it, partly because it still eludes me.

What I did find was a copy of Donnie Brasco which is a movie I've been wanting to see for some time now. I think the main reason I've avoided it for so long was that it starred the oily Johnny Depp and I haven't cared to see him in anything since 21 Jump Street. Even then it was because I was avoiding homework from High School. Like 21 Jump Street, Johnny Depp plays an undercover cop but this time he's working for the FBI and not in a team of baby-faced cops infiltrating high-school drug rings. This is also based on a true story of Joe Pistone and his undercover work with the Bonanno crime family in New York. The movie didn't tell you that much background info however.

No, this movie was more concerned with 'mobspeak'. The Director, Mike Newell (who should be ashamed of himself) decided that he would use Al Pacino "Lefty" as a visual dictionary delivery system of how "Wiseguys" talk. We learn what Wiseguys do and don't do and what those do's and don'ts are called. Thankfully this fades out after about the first thirty minutes or so. Johnny Depp who is playing Joe Pistone who is undercover as Donnie Brasco (with me so far?) starts the movie with a moustache. I don't remember this from the book but that may be because the director wanted to keep us from picturing Pistone as a baby-faced cop infiltrating a high-school drug ring. It didn't work.

I'd like to spend some time here on the music chosen for the movie as it was as out of place as the wardrobe. The movie was set in the late '70s but much of the attire (swimsuits for example) were lodged firmly in the '50s. The soundtrack on the other hand, constantly encouraged me to expect Hardcastle, McCormick, Cagney, or Lacy to come running around the corner with guns drawn in true 1980s detective show fashion.

The movie braids itself with the three worlds of Mobster Brasco, Husband Pistone, and FBI Pistone. The family angst that Pistone went through seems to be pretty accurate but the filmmaker (Newell) seems to have felt the need to spice up the FBI and Mobster personas. There was a scene wherein the FBI was "hasslin'" Pistone to do it their way or the highway! Hmm. I guess that line doesn't work very well in the second person. On the mobster side there was a scene in which the "crew" to which Brasco was attached had to dismember the "capo" of another crew after a shotgun-intensive misunderstanding. There was also a scene in which two younger FBI agents discussed mobster terminology with Pistone that enabled him to become the new mobspeak delivery system (CURSE YOU MIKE NEWELL!) and it only made me want to scratch my eyes out a little.

I don't remember those events happening in the book. To be fair it does take me quite some time to read books and I could have missed it. I've been slowly wading through my 1975 copy of Black Mafia for quite some time now. Don't worry, when it becomes a major motion picture that slips through the theaters and lands gracelessly in the dollar cinema, you'll see it here.

By the end of the movie Pacino was just "mailing it in" by the way he was telegraphing the next thing(s) his character was going to do minutes before he did them. I would liken this to his other instance of shaking the money tree with Godfather Part III, but I deny that movie's existence. Highlander II doesn't exist either, in case you were wondering.

Trailer for Donnie Brasco
Trailer for I'm Gonna Git You Sucka
Trailer for Duck You Sucker

Monday, April 6, 2009

Oscar Bound!

Looking at the headlines of entertainment news this morning revealed the following to me:

Bon Jovi documentary to rock Tribeca Film Festival
By Steven Zeitchik Steven Zeitchik Mon Apr 6, 1:35 am ET
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – Tribeca is giving itself a shot to the heart. blah, blah, blah.


"Fast & Furious" speeds to No. 1 worldwide
Sun Apr 5, 2:38 pm ET
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – "Fast & Furious," the fourth film in Universal Pictures' hot-rodding franchise, raced to the top spot at the worldwide box office as movie fans with a need for speed snapped up an estimated $102.6 million worth of tickets, the studio said on Sunday. blah, blah, blah.

Those of you who doubt that Hollywood can continue to propel it's audience to and excited tizzy need look no further than the originality and depth provided by these two titles. Either that or it proves Hollywood never really liked it's audience after all.

p.s.-the "blah, blah, blah." was all me.