Saturday, January 18, 2014
Written & Directed By: James Toback
Cinematography By: Michael Chapman
Editor: Robert Lawrence
Cast: Harvey Keitel, Tisa Farrow, Michael V. Gazzo, Jim Brown, Mirian Seldes, Danny Aiello, Ed Marinaro, Tanya Roberts, Tony Sirico, Dominic Chainese
Harvey Keitel plays the lead in this schizophrenic movie in which he is continually pulled by the two conflicting sides of his personality, on the one hand that of a quiet piano virtuoso and on the other a ruthless debt collector for his mobster father. Keitel is introspective as only Keitel can be, really making the audience feel for him and his pained existence.
Just like the main character of this movie. The film seems to be torn in two opposite directions. It's a beautiful character study which the writer-director usually excels in. It is also in some scenes a nail biting thriller, but then there are a bunch of scenes that just seem to be there in excess. That at times feels both debaucheries and misogynistic.
Harvey Kietel plays a young man who is practicing for a piano audition something his late mother had always dreamed of for him. He also works as muscle for his father a small time gangster/loan hark who is having problems with one particular hood who is connected and refuses to pay him back for his father it's not about the money it's the integrity. The son refuses to go bust up the guy who is very well protected, but he does get his own kind of revenge non violently. That is not good enough for the father also the young man falls for a girl who seems unattainable for him even though she possesses all the qualities he is looking for in a girl and he doesn't usually have a hard time finding ladies to be with him as the story goes on. Somewhere in there Jim brown cones in as a charismatic pimp though not in the traditional sense and thankfully not in wardrobe.
The stakes in everybody’s life are raised and are all in a way connected like dominoes so that when one falls. It effects every character, but not in a good way. This film is a revelation. Its more dialogue based then action based. It allows you to really get to know the character.
It could almost be a Cassavettes film. Harvey Keitel here proved he was one of the best actors of his generation. As this film just shows him go from happy go lucky to emotional raw shell of what used to be a man.
The final shot says it all and will be one you won't forget his character could apart be the cousin of Travis Bickle or if you really want to have some fun watch this and then watch BAD LIEUTINENT. I like to think of it as a unofficial sequel. Maybe of why became of his character 20 years later going down the wrong path still. This is essential viewing I you are a movie lover.
His movie totally lived up to It's own reputation as I saw this film after seeing other James Toback films and this is his best a film I never thought he had in him and what his career has more or less been based on which is why I always usually see his films and sometimes end up disappointed hoping he comes back to this greatness. Not make the psychology of the characters and philosophy of the films so obvious and just blatant as after awhile it seems more like he is making a film purely of his interests and making films to entertain himself more than anything.
The film inspired a worthwhile French Remake THE BEAT MY HEART SKIPPED.