Film Club: American Gangster, Rendition, Control, Finishing the Game
Ridley Scott's take on the gangster movie opens in theaters this weekend. We'll also talk about a comedy called Finishing the Game, Ben Affleck's directorial debut and a new biopic about Joy Divis
Tom Fudge: Joining me in studio to review four new movies are Beth Accomando and Scott Marks.
American Gangster is a new Ridley Scott movie and, as the title suggests, it's a gangster film. The movie stars Denzel Washington in the larger-than-life role of Frank Lucas. Lucas is a notorious drug lord in 1970's Harlem, based on a real character. He builds his empire by cutting out all of the drug trade's middle men.
Lucas goes to Southeast Asia himself to buy heroin and then smuggles it stateside in the coffins of Vietnam soldiers. His ambition allows him to put out the best product on the street, and his ruthlessness makes him feared by all. Russell Crowe plays Richie Roberts, a straight-laced cop who is obsessed with putting Frank Lucas in prison.
Director: Ridley Scott ( Blade Runner , Gladiator , Alien )
Starring: Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Chiwetel Ejiofor ( Talk to Me , Dirty Pretty Things , Inside Man )
American Gangster opens in theaters this weekend .
Rendition is a movie whose name refers to an infamous practice in the American war on terrorism. Rendition occurs when U.S. officials ship a terrorist suspect to an allied county, often in the Middle East, to be interrogated. The idea is to put them in places where local customs allow torture. And that's what happens to the central character in this movie.
The character, Anwar, is an Egyptian-born American resident who works as a chemical engineer. He has one child and another on the way. Due to cell-phone records, he is suspected of aiding in a terrorist plot. He's seized in an American airport, shipped to an unidentified county in North Africa, held and tortured.
His wife, played by Reese Witherspoon, starts investigating his disappearance. Her search begins to reveal the truth, which implicates a very high-level intelligence official, played by Meryl Streep.
The movie is directed by Gavin Wood, and it has quite a number of well-known actors, including Jake Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard and Alan Arkin.
Director: Gavin Hood
Written by: Kelley Sane
Starring: Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal, Peter Saarsgard, Alan Arkin, Aramis Knight.
Rendition is currently playing in theaters.
The next movie we're going to talk about is called Control . It tells the true story of Ian Curtis who was the lead singer of the British band Joy Division. The band was part of the legendary Manchester music scene of the 1970s. It pioneered what was called a post-punk sound. In 1980, Ian Curtis committed suicide by hanging himself. He was only 23 years old.
This musical biopic is directed by Anton Corbijn, a photographer and music video director. His early photographs of Curtis contributed to the musician's fame and melancholic personality. The film is co-written by Deborah Curtis, Ian's wife and the author of a memoir recounting their relationship. Control stars Samantha Morton as Deborah Curtis and relative unknown Sam Riley as the troubled singer. The movie is in black and white.
Director: Anton Corbijn (Directed music videos for U2, Depeche Mode, The Killers)
Written by: Deborah Curtis (wife of Ian Curtis and author of a memoir on his life), Matt Greenhalgh
Starring: Samantha Morton, Sam Riley
Control opensat Landmark's Ken Cinema on Friday (Nov. 02).
Finishing the Game
Kung Fu movie star Bruce Lee died in 1972 in the middle of a film project. He'd been involved in shooting just 12 minutes of a movie called Game of Death . Today, filmmaker Justin Lin has made a movie comedy about the possible aftermath of Bruce Lee's death. It's called Finishing the Game . In it, Lin imagines what would have happened if auditions had been held to replace Lee and complete the original movie.
The actors auditioning for Finishing the Game include a C-level actor named Breeze Loo, a washed-up TV star and a white guy who insists he's half Asian.
M.C. Hammer also stars as a talent agent specializing in actors of color. The film plays with Asian stereotypes and parodies ‘70s-style martial arts films.
Director: Justin Lin ( Better Luck Tomorrow )
Written by: Josh Diamond and Justin Lin
Starring: James Franco, Roger Fan, Sung Kang, M.C. Hammer
Finishing the Game is currently playing at Landmark's Ken Theater until Thursday (Nov. 01) .
- Beth Accomando, KPBS film critic.
- Scott Marks, writes the film blog Emulsion Compulsion.