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Updated: Jun 3, 2022

Gangster Flicks With Billy Disaster #1

Last night’s movie was Once Upon a Time in America starring Robert De Niro and James Woods. Directed by Sergio Leone.

So, it turns out there are two different edits of this flick. The 90 minute American edit and the 10 hour European version (actually only about 4 hours). I saw the European version which means I am now much older after watching it.

This one centers on a Jewish mob gang over the course of about 50 years with scenes going back and forth from when they were kids, running around raising hell in the slummed out lower east side of Manhattan, to when they are adults running a speakeasy during prohibition and beyond.

The main character is Noodles (De Niro) who I really wanted to like, but he ends up being a rape-y dickhead who I ended up hating. He’s accompanied by his homie, Max (Woods) who is equally unlikeable. If not more. These two, along with their childhood friends navigate their way through life building up their corrupt activities and, since this was a 4 hour marathon, do so in many ways. All of them intriguing.

The star of this flick is the director, Sergio Leone. This was his last film before he died and it had been about 13 years since his previous one. All of the Leone staples are present. The harsh sounds, the close-ups of character’s faces, the long photographic set up, everything. The way he made the slums of New York look so romantic and majestic was fucking stunning. It actually made the more glamorous sets seem soulless and less desirable places to be.

The co-star of this was the music of Ennio Morricone. This was my favorite score of his in any of the movies I’ve seen that he’s done. There were 2 main themes, one romantic and the other one a slow march. Both of them were beautiful.

I couldn’t help but think that there were some missed opportunities in this flick. Two of the minor characters were played by Joe Pesci and Burt Young, two of the greatest gangster actors of all time. But instead they went with James Woods as De Niro’s co star who I felt didn’t fit the bill as well as so many others could have.

By the way, There are some truly brutal scenes of violence and the last rape scene left a bad taste in my mouth. Also, I’ve heard of opium dens before, but never really knew what they were all about. I guess they’re basically just like full service crack houses where people lie around getting high and wasting time.

As many problems as I had with a few scenes and character issues, this film is such an epic masterpiece, I wouldn’t have minded if it were 5 hours long. 4 Guns for Once Upon a Time

in America 🔫 🔫 🔫 🔫 . Tonight’s movie will be History of Violence. ♥ You

Gangster Flicks With Billy Disaster #2

Last night’s movie was A History of Violence starring Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris. Directed by David Cronenberg.

Apologies to my friend Christopher Swenson who recommended this flick to me...I’m about to tear it a new asshole.

I’ll start with the good. It’s a pretty good story. Everyday small town guy, Tom Stall (Mortensen) is enjoying life with his perfect family and running a diner. The total American Dream. Problem is, he’s not who he says he is. He’s actually Joey Cusack, an Irish mobster hiding from his former gang. Well, one day, he’s working at the diner and a couple of thugs come in to rob the place and “Tom” violently thwarts their attempt and becomes labeled as the town hero, complete with news coverage.

His old gang sees this, finds out where he’s been hiding and comes to his small town to bring him back and expose his true identity. The man in charge of this operation is Carl Fogarty (played by the always excellent Ed Harris) who has a bone to pick with Joey. Before Joey became Tom, he got into a bit of a spat with Carl resulting in Carl losing one of his eyes. Seems that Joey was quite the brutal gangster.

Anyway, confrontations happen, Tom tries to keep his real identity hidden, and blah blah blah. Why did this flick suck so bad?

1st of all, the screenplay by Josh Olson was better suited for an after school show like “Saved by the Bell” or some shit like that. 2nd of all, the direction and editing were borderline embarrassing. There were some sound editing issues that were so bad that it was impossible not to notice. 3rd...with the exception of Mortensen, Harris, and a couple of other gangster characters, the acting was atrocious. I found myself groaning and rolling my eyes more than a dozen times during this.

Roger Ebert’s site gave this 3 and a half stars citing some deeper “Darwinian” meaning and I’m calling total bullshit on that. I’m going to assume that David Cronenberg had some

compromising photos of Ebert or something. 2 Guns for A History of Violence 🔫🔫 .

Tonight’s movie will be Miller’s Crossing. ♥️You. Sorry Chris.

Gangster Flicks With Billy Disaster #3 Last night’s movie was Miller’s Crossing starring Gabriel Byrne and the SMOKIN’ HOT Marcia Gay Harden. Directed by the Coen Bros. “Close your eyes ladies! I’m comin’ in!” as Gabriel Byrne walks into a ladies dressing room. One of the one million great quotes from this flick. You know the scenes in Home Alone and Home Alone 2 where Kevin loudly plays the old gangster movie to scare off the bad guys? “Keep the change ya filthy animal”...That’s what the dialogue in Miller’s Crossing sounded like, almost every second of the movie. It’s sharp, fast, delivered expertly by every actor. I think I’ve seen every other Coen Bros. movie and this might have been my least favorite, other than “Burn After

Reading”, and I still loved it. (Same as Burn After Reading). Their commitment to their particular art form on any given project is almost second to none and is thoroughly inspiring. This flick does nothing to diminish the entirety of their resume. My favorite character was Johnny Casper played by Jon Polito. He was an absolutely perfect gangster in the most entertaining way. He delivered his expertly written dialogue so well that you could see his fellow cast members feed off of him. Albert Finney was equally as good and watching the both of them perform was something to savor. “If you want me to keep my mouth shut, it's gonna cost you some dough. I figure a thousand bucks is reasonable, so I want two.” - Gabriel Byrne

“You ain't got a license to kill bookies and today I ain't sellin' any. So take your flunky and dangle.” -Albert Finney This was totally one of those films that I would stop and watch when I’m flipping through the channels. However, there wasn’t much of an engaging story. It was almost like they were showing how much the Coen Bros. know about the gangster movie genre without considering the importance of story telling. But it was still awesome. 4 Guns for Miller’s 🔫🔫🔫🔫 Crossing . Tonight’s movie will be Scarface (1932). ♥️You #moviereview #moviereviews #millerscrossing #coenbrothers

Gangster Flicks With Billy Disaster #4 Last night’s movie was Scarface (1932) starring Paul Muni and Karen Morley. Directed by Howard Hawks.

This flick was loosely based on the career of Al Capone and (as legend has it) had some input from Capone himself while being made.

This was everything that you would want from a Gangster Flick from 1932. That old style, tough guy dialogue, the scheming and the violence, and the panache of the confident mob characters and their enemies.

The 1st thing you see is the public service announcement shown with the included photo. It was almost like an “Explicit Lyric” warning on albums, as it was forced to be included by the censors of the distributers. And just like the Explicit Lyric sticker, it just made me more intrigued.

While the story is a bit plain and told somewhat flatly, It was so cool to watch the actors play their parts. For the most part, the men all talked like the mob guy with the cigar in the Bugs Bunny cartoons, with the main exception being Angelo the secretary (Vince Barnett) who had a thick Italian accent and provided the wonderful comic relief.

The story is basically this...Tony (Muni) takes some violent steps to move up the ranks of the Chicago mob during the Prohibition era. He moves in on his boss’ girl, Poppy (Morley) and flaunts his growing power in every moment of his screen time. There’s lots of shootouts, a killer car chase scene and somewhat of a

recreation of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

From what I understand, this is the Gangster Flick that started them all. It’s easy to see why it inspired the entire

genre. 4 Guns for Scarface (1932) 🔫🔫🔫🔫 . Tonight’s movie will be

Killing Them Softly. ♥️ You

Gangster Flicks With Billy Disaster #5

Last night’s movie was Killing Them Softly starring Brad Pitt and Ben Mendelsohn. Directed by Andrew Dominik.

This flick started out awesome! A washed up mob guy named Squirrel (Vincent Curatola) enlists two dumb street guys, Russell the junkie (Mendelsohn) and Frankie to go rob a mob poker game run by a guy named Markie (Ray Liotta). Obviously, this is a risky job and the scene where they pull it off is just as suspenseful and compelling as it should be.

The rest of this movie is about the aftermath’s just not very good. In fact, the moment that this goes south, oddly enough is when Brad Pitt enters it. It’s not that he sucked but the dialogue that he’s forced to say sure did. I think a lot of it had to do with the direction.

And then you have James Gandolfini who was right in his wheelhouse. He’s just so great. Too bad his talent was wasted in this. He plays a hard drinking, coke and hooker hitman who’s supposed to do a job for Pitt, but doesn’t do shit but sit in his hotel room. Kinda pissed me off! And THEN you have the actual film making of Andrew Dominik. It’s like he was making a cool art house, indie film festival flick but with some A-list actors. The artistic visions he employed here were really cool, but they came at the expense of a story telling pace that robbed it of any compelling suspense.

If this were an indie art house flick I’d give it a 4 or a 5, but this is a Gangster Flick 2

Guns for Killing Them Softly 🔫🔫 . Tonight’s movie will be Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing. ♥️You

Gangster Flicks With Billy Disaster #6

Last night’s movie was The Killing starring Sterling Hayden and Marie Windsor. Directed by Stanley Kubrick.

Even though I would call this more of a heist flick than a gangster flick, it was still an awesome gangster flick. There were a slew of cool characters and the noir style filmmaking of Stanley Kubrick is so good. Everything from the pace of the suspenseful setups to the overall storytelling was just perfectly perfect.

It’s basically about a dude named Johnny (Hayden) who recruits a crew to rob a horse racetrack of $2,000,000 cash during one of the races.

One of his crew members, George (Elisha Cook Jr.), is a teller at the track who is married to a gold digging asshole named Sherry (Windsor) who openly despises him because...well, he’s a teller at the racetrack and she’s a gold digging asshole. She’s also two timing him with a guy named Val (Vince Edwards). So George tells Sherry about the robbery scheme in hopes that it’ll make her happy that they’ll finally have some money and the bitch turns right around and starts scheming with Val to steal the money from George. Are you following me? It’s ok if not, I just wanted to go off on how bad of a person Sherry was. It made for a great scenario in the story, as rooting against Sherry and Val was so much fun.

Anyway, this movie was kind of like a 1956 Kubrick version of Ocean’s 11 but at a racetrack instead of a casino and with a more artistic and serious vibe. Oh! And it also has a narrator (Art

Gilmore) which I love!! 5 Guns for The Killing 🔫🔫🔫🔫🔫 . Tonight’s movie will be Carlito’s

Way. ♥️You

Gangster Flicks With Billy Disaster #7

Last night’s movie was Carlito’s Way starring Al Pacino and Sean Penn. Directed by Brian De Palma.

It’s weird, I’m not the biggest Brian De Palma fan but whenever one of his movies is on, I watch it. They’re kind of comforting because they’re a bit on the predictable side and you don’t have to pay super close attention. However I’ve always found them a little cheesy and I generally hate the music in his films. Especially Scarface. But they are still really entertaining.

This flick was probably my favorite De Palma flick. It’s about Pacino as a Puerto Rican ex drug dealer who just spent 5 years in prison and wants to live a clean life now that he’s out. He was supposed to serve 30 years but his crooked lawyer friend (Penn) gets him out early on a technicality.

Predictably, Pacino can’t stay out of trouble for long. He gets caught up with his old gang who reveres him as a big timer and he’s robbing and killing in no time. And then, UNpredictably, he gets involved in a scheme with Penn to bust one of his clients out of jail. And here’s where we run into a MAJOR problem.

The guy that they’re busting out is this high level mob boss named Tony Taglialucci played by the incredibly awesome Frank Minucci. This is one of the very best gangster characters I’ve ever seen and Minucci is fucking amazing at playing him. Why is this a problem? BECAUSE HE’S ONLY IN THE MOVIE FOR LIKE 5 MINUTES! Man! What a missed opportunity!

Let’s talk about the other main characters. Pacino is in one of his over acted, over the top roles that’s actually perfect for this flick. Sean Penn shows his incredible versatility as the sheisty lawyer with his still youthful Spicoli face before he aged. And finally there’s the SMOKIN HOT Penelope Ann Miller who was also terrific even though I hated pretty much every scene she was in. Why did there have to be such a major emphasis on the love story between Pacino and Miller? The scenario was certainly necessary but those scenes were long and boring.

And De Palma just had to get the cheese filling in with the use of “You are so Beautiful”. God he has the worst music. 3 Guns for Carlito’s Way 🔫 🔫 🔫 . Tonight’s movie will be City

of God. ♥ You

Gangster Flicks With Billy Disaster #8

Last night’s movie was City of God starring Alexandre Rodrigues and Leandro Firmino. Directed by Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund

Set in an impoverished outskirt of Rio de Janeiro called City of God, between the 1960s and 1980s, this is about a group of kids that grow up with little choice but to get into the drug and crime game.

My favorite thing about this 2002 Brazilian flick was the way it was told. It uses the flashback tactic better than most movies I’ve seen and gives really cool backstories of the main characters. And these are some seriously interesting characters.

Let’s start with Rocket (Rodrigues). This guy has the best opportunity to get out of the City of God, as he has the talent and ambition as a photographer and is relatively well adjusted. He also has an amazing smile.

The polar opposite of Rocket is Li’l Dice who later renames himself Li’l Ze. This guy was born with the Devil’s horn. He was brutally ruthless as a small child and remains so throughout the story. He pretty much knows that he’s in the crime game for life so he owns it with full force.

There are quite a few other characters and a plethora of events that lead up to a killer culmination at the end. I want to tell you what happens but I’ll let you find out for yourself.

The frantic pace along with the ever present danger make this a thrilling experience. It’s so well done and acted that I forgot I was watching a movie and not something in real life. It really throws you into the slums of Brazil and was loosely based on a true story. 5 Guns for City of God 🔫🔫🔫🔫🔫. Tonight’s movie will be Dead or Alive (1999). ♥️You

Gangster Flicks With Billy Disaster #9

Last night’s movie was Dead or Alive (1999) starring Sho Aikawa and Riki Takeuchi. Directed by Takashi Miike.

You know that (then controversial) Prodigy video of the song “Smack My Bitch Up” where you see the fast paced point of view of the chick who does about 10 shots, a couple lines of coke, gets into a bunch a fights and then goes home with a stripper? Well, the director of Dead or Alive must have been inspired by that video to make the first 8 minutes of this flick. Those first 8 minutes are a fast montage of violence, sex and drugs with a killer soundtrack. It had me super stoked for whatever came after. Unfortunately it ended up being a total let down.

Set in Tokyo, this is about a plainclothes cop who has to deal with a couple of mob gangs and ends up having to borrow money from one of them because his daughter needs surgery. One of the gangs is made up of a couple of brothers and their childhood friends headed by a Clint Eastwood style character. The other gang is more of a professional outfit with a more Godfather style leader.

While there are a few really cool shootouts where they don’t hold back, there are a few scenes that cross the line from questionable taste to unforgivable depravity. Like when they drown the

hooker in her own..🤢.I (gag) just can’t get through that sentence . Or when they make the dog do a... 🤢...I just ! It’s so awful and disgusting. Whoever finds shit like that entertaining or

artistic can go straight to Hell. You’re sick and wrong and you’re a bad person.

AND THEN...there’s the final scene where you think they might have pulled it together with a compelling ending and WHAM!!...they decided to go to such a ridiculous height that it felt like they just gave up on this being considered a serious piece of work.

This could have been such a cool flick had they not turned it into such a pile of shit. One Gun

for Dead or Alive 🔫 . Tonight’s movie will be Gomorrah. ♥️You #moviereview #moviwreviews #deadoralive

Gangster Flicks With Billy Disaster #10

Last night’s movie was Gomorrah starring Gianfelice Imparato and Toni Servillo. Directed by Matteo Garrone.

So this flick was so good that I stood up and gave it a round of applause at the end even though I watched it at my house by myself.

Set in the Naples area of Italy and based on true stories, this one is basically about the effect that organized crime has on the people in the region. It intertwines the stories of 5 different people ranging from a hustler delivery boy of about 12 (Salvatore Abbruzzese) to dangerous older men with long dark histories. There is no glamour in any of their lives. They all live with more of a purpose of survival than of gaining fortunes. The results are painfully heartbreaking. The circumstances for everyone in this all stem from inept local governments and poverty, a lot like “City of God”. Another parallel this has with “City of God” is how real the whole thing feels. Perhaps it’s because many of the cast members were actual gang members from Naples. It’s almost like you’re watching a documentary.

The gritty violence and the emotional depth give this an easy 5 Guns 🔫🔫🔫🔫🔫

The deeper I get into this Billy Disaster project, the more I discover the dramatic differences

between foreign flicks and Hollywood. The foreign films I’ve reviewed in the last 2 years have been some of my favorites (Parasite, Pihu, La Vie en Rose, Train to Busan etc.)...Therefore, I hope you’ll join me

for the next series...The heavily requested French Flicks! Recommendations please!!! ♥️You


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