Friday, February 03, 2006

Serpico (1973) * Top Picks *

Serpico spent most of his career undercover, in hopes that one day he'd become detective.

Genre: Crime Drama (USA, Italy)

Starring: Al Pacino (Dog Day Afternoon; Cruising), John Randolph (Prizzi's Honor; National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation)

Directed By: Sydney Lumet (12 Angry Men; The Wiz)

Overview: This is based on the true story of Frank Serpico, a NYC Police Officer who almost died fighting corruption in the force.

Acting: Right after The Godfather (1972), Al Pacino decides to try this film on for size before doing The Godfather Part II (1974). Holy Oh God did he ever make the right choice. I'm not going to go on and on about how great Al is, you know that. The rest of the cast though? Amazing, and brilliantly directed.
Rating: 9

Cinematography: The cinematography is not all high-art and razzle-dazzle, and you know that for this sort of movie that just wouldn't have worked. Costume design and the editing in those action scenes were totally cool. Could this film have captured NYC in the era any better? Maybe, but not by much.
Rating: 8

Script: "If I'm gonna buy it, I ain't buyin' it from you!" - Serpico, after being shot at by a uniformed officer, mistaken for a thug.

When I heard the way these people spoke, I couldn't help being floored. Sadly, the screenplay writers (one wrote Midnight Cowboy) aren't in the industry anymore, but let me just say that you will be amazed by the dialogue and honesty of this script. I might just want to own this one.
Rating: 10

Plot: The story is so deep and frightening, and moreso because it actually happened. It's so intricate and vast that I have to see this again, it's a lot to take in. The level of corruption and the way Serpico deals with it is terrific and the story is told with perfect focus on what's important. One of the most impressive tales this year, it might just make it to the Top Five. I'd watch this again, no doubt.
Rating: 10

Mood:I noticed the accents right away, the way Serpico was different from all the other cops, the way the corruption starts on his first day, and escalates to a terrifying climax. If this story weren't real, it would have been invented, because it's so good. The whole feel of this film permeates and puts you right there, from giving swirlies to bad guys to feeling painted in a corner just for doing your job.
Rating: 9

Imagine buying a gun for your own protection...from co-workers...and you're a cop.

Overall Rating: 92% (Integrity Was Never This Frightening)

Aftertaste: Waiting to see a film for about three years might make your expectations go up a little, granted, but sometimes when you've got a little experience behind you, you can call 'em before you see 'em. Not only would I see this again, but I want to see this again, and soon. This is why I do this, these sweet treasures of storytelling that inspire. This is what modern film is all about: a good story, some excitement and one Hell of a lesson to be learned. Don't cheat yourself, do yourself a favour.