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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on June 8, 2003
Summary:
Carlito Brigante (Al Pacino) is an ex-drug lord that has recently been released early from a 30-year sentence because his lawyer, Kleinfeld (Sean Penn), found a loophole. Now that he's out and aging he has decided to retire from the criminal world and become a legitimate business man, pursuing a dream to escape New York and move to the Caribbean where a role in a business venture awaits him. However, Carlito's past hasn't given him permission to let it go. He has to many friends, pseudo-friends, and enemies to get away that easily.
But ironically it is his friendship with the man that freed him, Kleinfeld, that ends up causing him the most trouble; Kleinfeld is a thieving cocaine addict who has betrayed too many people. Not knowing the best way to get himself out of the trouble, he enlists Carlito to help him, who does against the advice of his renewed love interest, Gail (Penelope Ann Miller), who was going to escape to the Caribbean with him. Kleinfeld screws things up and now he and Carlito are wanted men. Kleinfeld doesn't really have a chance, but Carlito does. But there are a lot of people that don't want him to leave town and are willing to risk quite a bit to prevent it.
My Comments:
Somewhat following the Godfather tradition, Al Pacino delivers a great performance in this film. But the even better performer is Sean Penn. Penn is, as always, a very convincing dopehead. He is a great character actor, especially when the character is a druggy. Also good is John Leguizamo whose role as Benny Blanco turns out to be of primary importance.
The story is convincing, well-written, and makes logical sense. You find yourself continually rooting for Carlito to truly pursue his dream and get out of Dodge, but it is repeatedly delayed and as the movie continues you begin to realize that Carlito's chances of leaving for the Caribbean are dwindling. Apparently connections to the underworld of crime are difficult to kill, which is good reason not to get involved in the first place, but the movie begins with Carlito having already been involved so now he just has to try to escape.
Overall, the movie is entertaining. There is a bit of nudity, limited to women's breasts and semi-discrete sex scenes, so if that is a concern you may want to skip it. Perhaps the producer and casting agent did so intentionally to build off his Godfather fame, but Al Pacino is great in this role, not surprisingly, and if you are a fan of Al Pacino or gangster movies this is definitely one to see.
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on June 6, 2003
Carlito's Way stands as a fine testament to brilliant filmmaking. Beginning with the opening credits, De Palma takes the viewer through a black and white color framed death.We know that Carlito Brigante will face a trajic death and yet the viewer will keep his or her eyes glued to the screen as this story develops. Suddenly, the color changes and we are swept away to a 1970's new york city courtroom where Brigante is released from prison thanks to the skills of his diabolical lawyer(Kleinfeld) played by Sean Penn. The premise of Carlito's Way is that a reformed criminial can never survive because of past history. Throughout the movie, Carlito plays his antagonists like a russian chess player. However, Carlito's inability to return to the ethos of the criminial code of conduct eventually seals his fate.
This DVD is fantastic!! Carlito's Way is brilliantly filmed. You definitely feel like you are walking through the streets and Dance clubs of 1970's New York. De Palma provides a fantastic 70's texture to this film. Since I have a stereo system attached to my DVD player, I was amazed at the sound quality when Carlito entered various dance and strip clubs. In fact one of the hidden gems of this movie is the disco soundtrack which underlays this story. In addition to the unique sensory experience, this movie explores the mind of the big time criminial. The viewer witnesses a large amount of calculation and negotiation that Carlito must undergo in order to stay alive and pursue his plan of leaving New York. If I have not mentioned Carlito is surrounded by colorful characters like Kleinfeld(Sean Penn) and Pachanga. In my opinion, the character of Pachanga is fantastically put into the film. Pachanga symbolizes "the old school Puerto Rican gangster" that Carlito must come to terms with. Though De palma might not have intended to do it I found myself laughing at pachanga's quirks and gestures. Overall, I give this DVD 5 stars and would recommend this movie to anybody I know!!
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on January 13, 2003
There are not very many movies I can say that I have seen over and over, but Carlito's Way happens to be one of those theatrical releases. Well-sequenced plots, fine acting, and fantastic music from the 1970's make this a total package.
Though I would not quite put it on par with Scent of a Woman, Pacino's other masterpiece performance from the following year, I nonetheless find it a more all-around, entertaining movie. Just as the chemistry between a significantly older man and a significantly younger woman created by Jack Nicholson and Michelle Pfeiffer was successfully played out in Wolf, the dialogue and intensity between Al Pacino and Penelope Ann Miller were on the same parallel and quite mesmerizing.
I especially loved the "I brought you some cheesecake" scene. Those who have seen this movie know what I am talking about. And if I had to rank all the women who looked great in any particular motion picture, I would put Penelope Ann Miller's portrayal of Gail in the top five.
Along with the eye candy, there is plenty of delight for the ears, as well. Never before was You Are So Beautiful as sung by Joe Cocker ever placed in scenes that could be so passionate and yet so poignant.
For those who might have reservations about some of the adult scenes, Carlito's Way is not exactly your family entertainment kind of picture. But it is a great movie, nonetheless.
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on June 4, 2002
Wow!!! This movie was GREAT! I first saw this film when it came out in 1993 and I really didnt understand it but I just got done watching it and it was just terrific Al Pacino was great and so was Sean Penn and so was Penelope Ann Miller they all work so well together on screen and Brian De Palma has made in my opinion yet another classic. I've only seen one other movie by him "SCAR FACE" but they are both so well made I can't say what one was better all I can say is this is one of Al Pacino's best work and it still proves to me that he is one of the great actors of our time. The movie starts great right from the start.. Sprung from prison on a legal technicality by his cocaine- addled attorney (Sean Penn), former drug kingpin Carlito Brigante (pacino) stuns the local underworld when he vows to go stright. taking a job managing a glitzy , low-life nightclub, he tracks down his onetime girlfriend (Penelope Ann Miller) and rekindles their romance, promising he's changed for good. But Carlito's dream or going to legitimate is undermined at every turn by a murderous former cronies and even deadlier young thugs out to make a name for themselves. Untimately, however, his most dangerous enemy is himself. Despite good intentions, Carlito's misguided loyalties and outmoded code of "HONOR" will plunge him into a savage life-or-death battle against the relentless forces that refuse to let him go.
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on August 15, 2001
Carlito's Way ranks up there with Goodfellas as one of the best gangster movies of the 90s. Pacino is superb as Carlito Brigante, a legendary Puerto Rican gangster determined to leave his past behind after his release from prison, while Sean Penn is a revelation as the attorney who manages to get Carlito released after serving five years of a life sentence. The director, Brian de Palma, uses the unusual device of revealing what ultimately happens at the beginning of the film, but this does not diminish its impact, rather creating an air of incredible tension as we witness Carlito desperately struggling to escape the fate we know is in store for him. In particular, the chase scene through Grand Central Station, and the shoot out on the escalator, is superbly staged and every time I watch it I am left exhausted!
Like all tragic heroes Carlito has a fundamental flaw in his character that is ultimately his undoing. He is still bound by the code of honour of his youth, a code that the New York underworld is rapidly leaving behind, and he finds himself an anachronism in increasingly violent and ruthless times. Carlito's lawyer is on a downward spiral of self-destruction as his delusions of grandeur see him sucked into this world of crime, and due to the loyalty he feels he owes him, Carlito is sucked in as well. When he is implicated in the murder of a "made" Italian mafioso, Carlito's card is marked, and he realises too late that loyalty means nothing when you are the only one in thrall to it. A new breed of gangster, personified by Benny Blanco, is taking over, for whom honour means nothing and power means everything. The crux of the movie comes when Carlito has the chance to kill Benny, and although recognising that "the street is watching" he declines the chance, determined not to be drawn back into a world of violence. By letting Benny live, Carlito has shown "weakness" and in the final reckoning this weakness is ruthlessly exploited.
If I have a gripe with this brilliant film it is the ending. If De Palma could have resisted inserting Carlito's sentimental monologue into the last few frames, when he realises he won't live to see the future he dreams of with his girlfriend (played by Penelope Ann Miller) Carlito's Way would have been almost perfect. However, this is a small point and shouldn't detract from what is otherwise a magnificent piece of film making.
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on April 13, 2001
In one of his best performances ever, Al Pacino is the engine that keeps "Carlito's Way" moving from beginning to end. Recently-released from prison, Carlos Brigante (played marvelously by Pacino) is a former Puerto Rican drug lord who ruled New York City's drug world during the 1960's and 1970's. Assisted by his lawyer (Sean Penn) Pacino is determined to stay out of the trade that landed him in prison in the first place. However, as usual trouble always lurks in every corner.
Deciding to buy and operate a Latin nightclub from an owner who is seriously in debt (played by the famous Argentine comedian Jorge Porcel, who had a cult following throughout Latin America due to his sexually-charged comedy skit show "A La Cama Con Porcel; he is know as the Latin-version of "Benny Hill"). Yet as old faces reemerge onto the scene, newer faces have also started to take a foothold in Brigante's former empire, especially Benny Blanco (played by the ever-wonderful John Leguizamo).
Directed by Brian de Palma ("Carrie"), this is one of the most realistic, and historic accurate pictures of life in New York City's urban jungle during the late 1970's/early 1980's. Penelope Ann Miller ("Adventures in Babysitting" is great as Brigante's love interest, and Luis Guzman always is a scene-stealer playing Pacino's right-hand man.
The DVD version contains production notes, cast biographies, and the original theatrical trailer and the sound and picture quality are excellent. Pacino (a Bronx native) masters a perfect Puerto Rican accent in the same way he mastered his Cuban-emigre accent in "Scarface". "Carlito's Way" is guaranteed to keep you entertained due to thrilling performances by the entire cast, amazing cinematography, great directing, and most importantly, incredible realism. Destined to become a modern urban classic.
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on November 10, 2000
One of my top ten favorite films. Certainly not without its flaws, but most are minor (except that accent problem... Pacino has the acting talent to have refined it). I love movies that examine characters trying to escape difficult situations ("Menace 2 Society" being another example). Just about everything else has already been said by other reviewers, but I wanted to add how moving the final scene is in the movie when the "Paradise" poster comes alive and deepens to purple (signifying something I won't spoil for those who haven't yet seen the movie). I was lucky enough to see the film on the big screen, and started weeping just at that point. Also, "Carlito's Way" is one of those movies that are really a collection of incredible scenes that collaborate with each other and finally come together to form the "big picture." Again, I love this kind of movie, because that's the only type of film that can be watched again and again without ever getting boring. 9/10, or 5/5 stars.
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on November 10, 2000
One of my top ten favorite films. Certainly not without its flaws, but most are minor (except that accent problem... Pacino has the acting talent to have refined it). I love movies that examine characters trying to escape difficult situations ("Menace 2 Society" being another example). Just about everything else has already been said by other reviewers, but I wanted to add how moving the final scene is in the movie when the "Paradise" poster comes alive and deepens to purple (signifying something I won't spoil for those who haven't yet seen the movie). I was lucky enough to see the film on the big screen, and started weeping just at that point. Also, "Carlito's Way" is one of those movies that are really a collection of incredible scenes that collaborate with each other and finally come together to form the "big picture." Again, I love this kind of movie, because that's the only type of film that can be watched again and again without ever getting boring. 9/10, or 5/5 stars.
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on July 5, 2000
The amazing Al Pacino plays Puerto Rican drug lord Carlito Brigante in this stylish Brian De Palma film. Parolled after serving 5 years of a 30 year prison term, thanks to a legal technicality exploited by his lawyer friend Dave Kleinfeld (Sean Penn), Carlito vows to go strait, returning to his old neighborhood. Things aren't how they used to be as Carlito discovers, and he must try to find a way to make an honest living. But his old neighborhood crowd haven't forgotten him, and soon he finds himself involved in a drug deal gone bad. Carlito is determined to stay clean, and seeks refuge running a popular night club, hoping to quietly raise the $70,000 he needs to realize his dream of renting cars in the Carribean. He also looks up his old girlfriend Gail (Pennelope Anne Miller), a jaded but hopeful stripper who is Carlito's one true friend and confidant. Try as he may to stay out of trouble, he can't avoid his old habits. His loyalties to his sleazy lawyer friend Kleinfeld, and his contempt for the young punks who have taken his place in the drug trade prove to be his downfall, and he must risk everything to make it out alive. The performances are fantastic, particularly from Penn as the coked-out lawyer who is in way over his head, and by John Leguizamo in a small but pivotal role as Benny Blanco, a young "wannabe wiseguy". De Palma successfully blends style, action and drama, anchored by Pacino's solid performance. The camera-work is terriffic, and the final shootout at Grand Central Station is a thrilling climax. We ultimately learn the lesson that our past sometimes catches up with us, and that the street "never forgets". A great movie.
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on July 1, 2000
This is definitely DePalma's finest film to-date. Although I love Tony Montana's tough, single-minded (and loony) character, Scarface has a dated feel to it - I think this has a lot to do with the soundtrack; Scarface was set and made during the 80's, whilst Carlito's Way was set in the 70's but made in the 90's. I think it's a lot easier to choose the best music from a decade with the benefit of hindsight (and certain clothing fashions can be conveniently omitted at the same time).
DePalma did a great job with a fine plot and shot the film in his usual highly charged style. He managed to re-create a very atmospheric time and place - glamorous, seedy and dangerous at the same time. Whether this is realistic or not I can't answer, but I liked it. Performance wise, Pacino and Penn were on sizzling form and the supports were great too - in particular, John Leguizamo (Benny Blanco) and Luis Guzman (Pachanga).
I can watch this film again and again - those heavyweight performances, storyline and attention to detail make it entertaining on many different levels. Unusually, even though the viewer is aware from the outset that the main character will ultimately not make it and that his quest for escape from his past life is fruitless, this isn't off-putting as one would expect. The film is so compelling that it draws you in - outstanding.
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