Monday, November 5, 2007

American Gangster

First off, another great movie. After seeing Michael Clayton not too long ago, this has been a good time to see movies as of late.

The most beautiful part about this movie is that Frank Lucas, played by Denzel Washington, never shows his hand. When his mentor dies in the beginning, when he's out in the middle of the jungle in Vietnam, when his car is shot up in a drive-by, and even on his wedding day, never does he seem to break down and show any signs of fear or uncertainty that could be going through his head. Instead, he is always the picture of cool, calm, calculating and collected. My man.

Two main points stuck with me after the movie ended. First is the subtle but beautifully done foreshadowing. At one point he pulls his cousin aside to tell him that his suit makes him look like an idiot. He lays out the advice that the loudest person in the room is usually the most guilty. But like many figures in history, eventually his own advice is forgotten or ignored.

The second point, the impact and effects of the drug trade, was more of a background in the movie. Every so often you see the effects of heroin use throughout Harlem. When you're making a million dollars a day selling drugs, that money is coming from people throughout society who are beating eaten away by addiction. At one point a scene focuses on a baby crying as the assumed parent lies next to them, dead or at least stoned out of their mind from the drug use. The presumed "good guy" in the movie, Richie Roberts, played by Russel Crowe, at one point tells us that at least 100,000 people are employed by the drug trade.

Similar to Catch Me if you Can, this movie is like a cat and mouse game. The bad guys seem to be living large while the good guys suffer with only their feelings of moral superiority to carry them through the day and towards their obsessive end goal. Sadly, you end up rooting for the bad guy beacuse they act out those dark feelings that you never could, but then you ease your guilt with support of the good guy, who seems to exist only to convince you that in the end bad deeds will be punished. Even though this was adapted from a true story, the question still remains of whether this result is the standard or the exception.

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