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Thread: American Gangster

  1. #1
    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
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    I just saw this movie last night. It was long, over 2 hours, but it was a really good movie. Leave it to Denzel Washington to make a heroin kingpin incredibly likeable and charismatic.

    Not too much violence (my biggest problem was when someone purposely shot a dog), though I did flinch at the needle shoot-up scenes. But it looked like a really good story, good screenplay, good interaction and dialogue for Denzel and Russell Crowe. Amazing how he constantly shows himself to be an asshole in real life, but ends up playing such great, compassion-worthy characters with such depth. Sumbitch is a good actor.

    Denzel was a good actor too, but it struck me how much he relies on his good looks, toothy smile and charisma for many of his characters. After a while he strikes me as a bit of a used car salesman. Like Tom Cruise.

    It was based on a true story, and I really didn't care for how his wife (a limp and unassertive ex-Miss Puerto Rico), his mother and even his brothers were content to never ask questions and accept his drug kingpin status so readily. Until things went wrong of course, then everyone got real indignant and intolerant real fast.

    But anyways, I liked it and I recommend it, worth spending your money on.

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    Elite Member celeb_2006's Avatar
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    I saw it today, pretty good flick. Some of the scenes with the cop's wife was a bit overdone, but overall a compelling movie with great performances. Interestingly, there was an article on how long it took to finally get this movie finished (change of actors, scripts, etc. etc.). The scenes in southeast Asia were cut out before, but for this version they put it back in, and I think it adds to the storyline.

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    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
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    Interesting, I didn't know all that. I do like the scenes in asia, I'm glad they included them. They round the story out nicely, and it showed Frank Lucas (Denzel's character) at work, how dedicated he was to making sure his deal and product all went according to his plan. I especially liked his scenes with the asian military general. It's always exciting to see the back and forth interaction between two power figures.

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    Elite Member msdeb's Avatar
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    i wanted to see it, but i wanted to check here to see if there was any scenes that i couldnt handle. i'm a wuss, but i love Denzel. i'll be going next weekend.
    Basic rule of Gossip Rocks: Don't be a dick.Tati
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    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
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    Well, there's one scene where Denzel shoots someone point blank. Plenty of gun violence.

    I just can't handle needles, so there were plenty of scenes where I had to turn away. Junkies shooting up and overdosing. The dog scene I mentioned. His wife is slapped at some point. Some nudity, as the girls who worked cutting and packaging the heroin were naked so nobody could steal anything.

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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    I forgot this movie was coming out this weekend. I've got to check it out. Denzel & Russell play off of each other pretty well. They haven't worked together since the movie Virtuosity back in the 90's.

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    Elite Member Chalet's Avatar
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    My friend cast it. (RIP) Makes me feel good that you enjoyed it. Friend also cast Lions for Lambs (her last film). I'll see that one and watch her name roll on the credits.

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    Elite Member CherryDarling's Avatar
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    Two thumbs WAY up on this one from me!

    I saw it last night...it was great. Denzel and Russell made this movie. I was riveted the entire film.
    Mischief. Mayhem. Tattoos. Soap.

  9. #9
    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
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    Chalet, your friend did an excellent job. It was superbly cast, down to all the crooked NYPD cops.

  10. #10
    Elite Member sherbear905's Avatar
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    Great movie! I saw it this evening.

    Did anyone here notice the boom mic that was constantly in the shots, at the top of the screen!? I was so distracted, I almost started counting how many times it showed.

  11. #11
    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
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    ^^Nope, good catch, I never noticed that!! But I admit if any needles were in the picture I looked away and ditto for the point-blank shooting scene. I guess I was too distracted by the story going on otherwise.

  12. #12
    Elite Member celeb_2006's Avatar
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    I thought this was interesting news:

    Yahoo! Movies: Movie News -

    Fabrications Plague `American Gangster'
    Friday January 18 8:32 AM ET



    In "American Gangster," which is "based on a true story," Denzel Washington as the `70s drug lord Frank Lucas confidently marches deep into the jungles of Southeast Asia as the Vietnam War rages in the background. He is looking for drugs.
    Later, we see police break open the caskets of Vietnam casualties flown back to the States, searching for the heroin Lucas has audaciously hidden beneath the corpses. Then Lucas is shown as the dope dealer-turned-reformer as he exposes legions of corrupt police.
    Except none of the above ever happened.
    The Harlem kingpin's infamous "cadaver connection" a pipeline of top-grade Southeast Asia heroin smuggled in GI caskets has always been at the center of his considerable and enduring mythology.
    But it turns out that the casket story is just that a myth. And after revelations that "American Gangster" fabricates Lucas' role in rooting out police corruption, the film's credibility could be damaged just as the Oscar race launches with nominations on Tuesday.
    "Everybody always thought the caskets (carried heroin) even I thought it," says federal Judge Sterling Johnson Jr., who as special narcotics prosecutor was instrumental in Lucas' arrest and trial.
    "The picture is 1 percent reality and 99 percent Hollywood," Johnson says. "Frank was illiterate, Frank was vicious, violent. Frank was everything Denzel Washington was not."
    On Wednesday, several former Drug Enforcement Agents who investigated Lucas filed a class-action lawsuit against General Electric Co.'s NBC Universal claiming the film defames them and grossly misrepresents the truth. Produced by Brian Grazer and directed by Ridley Scott, the film has grossed more than $129 million at the box office and won largely positive reviews.
    Johnson says Lucas wasn't capable of securing a drug connection from the infamous Golden Triangle. Instead, it was Leslie "Ike" Atkinson, a sometimes supplier for Lucas, who was recently released from prison after serving more than 30 years.
    Atkinson has said he shipped drugs in furniture, not caskets.
    "It is a total lie that's fueled by Frank Lucas for personal gain," Atkinson said by e-mail. "I never had anything to do with transporting heroin in coffins or cadavers."
    Author and journalist Ron Chepesiuk is currently working on a biography of Atkinson and co-authored "Superfly: The True, Untold Story of Frank Lucas, American Gangster." He blames the media for allowing Lucas' story to go unchecked.
    Chepesiuk says his research found no evidence or court records to substantiate the cadaver connection, "the biggest hoax in the history of the international drug trade."
    The story of Lucas' supposed connection first flourished on the streets, and was widely spread in a 2000 New York magazine article by Mark Jacobson. His article was the basis for the movie.
    "The magazine piece is a presentation of this guy's story and that's what he had to say," Jacobson says.
    Even Lucas, now 77 and living in New Jersey, now claims he only smuggled heroin through coffins once. "I had a false-bottom coffin made."
    New Jersey police detective Richard "Richie" Roberts (played by Russell Crowe) is elevated to Lucas' foil in the film. Though Roberts, now a defense attorney, did play a role in the prosecution of Lucas, on screen he's a composite of many detectives and prosecutors.
    "They wanted a white boy," Lucas says of Roberts character.
    Lucas is shown to turn informant, specifically against corrupt police officers. A legend at the end of the movie claims three-fourths of New York's Drug Enforcement Agency were convicted thanks to Lucas' cooperation.
    On Wednesday, former DEA agents Jack Toal, Gregory Korniloff and Louis Diaz filed their lawsuit, represented by Dominic Amorosa, a prosecutor in the 1975 federal case against Lucas.
    "(Lucas) was my informant for years," Toal says. "He never mentioned any crooked DEA agent or cop."
    A DEA spokesman in Washington, Garrison Courtney, confirmed that no agents were ever charged with wrongdoing in the case.
    A Universal Pictures spokesman, Michael Moses, has said the lawsuit is "entirely without merit" and that the film "does not defame these or any federal agents."
    The day before the lawsuit was filed, a spokesperson for the studio gave a statement to The Associated Press stating: "Universal Pictures has every confidence that the material facts are conveyed truthfully in 'American Gangster,' from abundant research with direct sources and from the public record."
    Grazer, who bought the story and shepherded the project for years, declined to be interviewed for this article.
    Lucas can only recall informing on a police detective he called "Babyface," but denies informing on other gangsters or drug dealers: "I never testified on nobody," he said.
    Prosecutors involved in the case have contradicted that. Roberts, who prosecuted the superseding indictment in New Jersey, says of Lucas' insistence that he didn't inform on fellow dealers: "Absolutely not. He gets mad every time I tell the truth." (Roberts and Lucas later became friends and Roberts is even the godfather to Lucas' youngest son.)
    Toal says those Lucas informed on were "unanimously" criminals: "He never talked about a dirty cop or a DEA agent. He never gave up anybody like that. It was 100 percent drug dealers."
    Lucas's sentence of 70 years was reduced to five years after his informant work. Once released, Lucas was quickly arrested again for drug dealing, but on a much smaller scale. He served seven more years and got out of jail in 1991.
    Lucas remains full of vitriol for the Special Investigations Unit, which he calls "nothing but a shakedown." Many SIU detectives were indicted in the `70s following an investigation in which NYPD detective Bob Leuci went undercover among his colleagues, though there's no evidence that Lucas' collaboration had anything to do with the charges.
    Leuci's story has already hit the big screen. Robert Daley's book about Leuci, "Prince of the City," was turned into the 1981 film of the same title by Sidney Lumet.
    But Lucas' legend has only grown since "American Gangster" was released, leaving some like Roberts to wonder if they've helped glorify a villain.
    "I'm glad this over," Roberts says. "I'll tell you that."

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