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ACTION Flicks > American Gangster (2007)

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message 1: by Ranata (new)

Ranata Clark (thatchicknata) | 169 comments I thought this was a great movie. Denzel was good, Russell Crowe was good and the story remained true. Crazy that one man could accomplish all what Frank Lucas did and nobody ever even know who he was.

I didn't think it glamourized drug lords but I could see how it would be construed that way. Frank Lucas was pretty scary but he was pretty amazing at the same time. I think Denzel captured that PERFECTLY.


message 2: by Kim (new)

Kim robinson (kimrobinson) | 3 comments I think that Frank Lucas was a liar, there is a book that was released this year by Ellsworth Bumby Johnson' widow. In this book she calls Frank a lying phony.

Frank said he drove for Bumpy for some years. Bumpy was never out of jail for years at a time.
Also he was selling death to his own people and in the end he was a snitch. Back in the day you did not rat on others to reduce your sentence.

Do you realize that Lawrence Fishburne played Bumpy Johnson in Hoodlum and Cotton Club
Link from the mod squad played him in this movie

I love history but I like it portrayed accurately


message 3: by Phillip (last edited Sep 23, 2008 12:50AM) (new)

Phillip | 10781 comments I heard quite a few people rave about this film, and I did think it one of the better examples of Ridley Scott's more recent work. He didn't go over the top with any of the violence, which he could have been inclined to do. It wasn't overly stylized, but captured the feeling of the time period in a nice way. The acting was fine, and yeah, Denzel offered us a great performance.

I haven't read any background information on the characters, so I am not able to share Kim's criticisms. At the same time, you always have to be aware that film makers are making a film, and they tell the story they want to tell, which isn't always the "truth". I think someone cited this in the recent discussion on The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - it was Alex, I'm fairly certain - that story telling and film making usually wins over "facts".

If you want facts, it is important (as you have done) to read books or the accounts of journalists (who, as we have seen over the past few years, are not entirely reliable either!). While you're at it, make sure you pay attention to the writer's bias - none of them escape it, so you might as well try to determine what the writer's angle is or the confessor's angle. No matter how much you may think you're getting the truth, you're reading someone's impression, or opinion, or at best, a highly well-informed story that someone is telling in a way they believe to be most suitable for the subject. Either way, it seems nearly impossible in today's world for us to establish objective truths when the subject is human behavior.

Solomon Volkov states this in his preface to his book on Dmitri Shostakovich (he is trying to describe how hard it is to tell someone else's story) - he tells the story of how a law professor in Moscow always started out his class with an "event" - he would hire police to break into his lecture hall during class and arrest someone (who ran into the hall as if in pursuit). And then he would have his students (who didn't know there were part of an "act") tell what happened. Each student gave his or her own version of the story....as it happens in the game Telephone, the students gave wildly different accounts of the arrest. He did this in order to show these potential lawyers how difficult it is to establish *truth* with any kind of objectivity.

This is human nature, it would seem, and artists are a kind of meta-human, who amplify and exaggerate in order to do their job. There are, of course, enormously varying degrees...


message 4: by Ranata (new)

Ranata Clark (thatchicknata) | 169 comments I think you should see it. I've been watching it as much as I can and I've only been doing that with one other movie..Transformers! LOL. Blame it on me being an 80s kid but I love that movie.

I'm really intrigued about him. That's terrible but damn. That was brilliant how he supplied Harlem with "Blue Magic". And how he got the supply there in the first place. Definitely a movie worth watching!


message 5: by Ranata (new)

Ranata Clark (thatchicknata) | 169 comments Kim, in this day you can't rat on someone to get your sentence reduced. It's an instant death sentence to do that.

I find it funny that Nicky Barnes is suppose to be in the witness protection agency but he still talks to the press and everybody knows who he is. He was a huge snitch as well. Honestly, I would have done it too. Fuck that. I might get it one day but oh well, i'm out, you're in, i'm going to hell anyway so it doesn't matter!

I have honestly never seen Hoodlum or Cotton Club. I haven't even seen Harlem Nights. LOL. I'm interested in Laurence as Bumpy Johnson though.


message 6: by Heidi (new)

Heidi While I also wonder about the veracity of the tale told from Frank's view... I still thought it was a well-made movie and that both Denzel and Russell were believable characters... I did feel it had some timing issues (speed up, choppy), but that's probably because we saw the director's cut with extra scenes. This was also a movie that had an excellent supporting cast, as well as really recreated 70s NYC/NJ superbly.


message 7: by Candy (new)

Candy "My company sells a product that's better than the competition at a price that's lower than the competition". Frank Lucas. American Gangster: There are two moments I could watch over and over...and sometimes I have paused the dvd player to look at them. One is when Denzel Washington's gangster hugs his wife after she gives him a fateful gift. His face is outstanding. Washington is a master. The other scene I especially love, and what the movie leads us to...is the interogation room scene with two actors at the peak of their abilities. My husband and I LOVE this movie. We've watched it a few times and we bought the 3 dvd set. We've watched it entirely with directors commentary too. The movie was promoted as an action film and not released according to the directors preferences. I believe this harmed it's reception with many viewers. The director's cut is incredible and once you realize this isn't an action film, but a character study, you can see how marketers sometimes really screw up a movie. Unfortunately character studies aren't sexy to the mainstream and action sells. It's not that this crime drama isn't exciting, it does have some cool moves. I love when Crowe is entering the projects to bust everyone, there is a lot of tension and confidence in his body work. I could watch this double study of these two men again and again...little did we know it was a buddy film. Director Ridley Scott riffs on classic gangster movies, the more gangster films you've seen, the more you appreciate how he did this and also genre-bent it to create a buddy film in the last five minutes. Who cares what fucking bridges are in the background shots, this is a beautifully constructed story. Or at least the directors cut is. Too bad corporate suits don't trust artists. Score: buyer beware. Unrated extended version, 10/10.

From the booklet in dvd set: In the early '70s, police corruption was rampant in New York city. The Vietnam War was taking a devastating toll overseas and at home. Soldiers were brought back to the US either in body bags or addicted to an opiate called heroin-which they shared with curious experimenters who became instantly hooked. With the assistance of law enforcement, the Mafia operated with relative impunity in this noncompetitive market, selling thousands of kilos of smack to addicts hungry for their product. A priveledged and untouchable class of white men paid hundreds of millions to New York judges, lawyers and cops to keep quiet about this mutually beneficial relationship. La Cosa Nostra and their underlings were unbeatable.

Until a black entrepreneur named Frank Lucas took over the game.



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