I've made it very clear on this blog just how disgusted I am with the current state of music (or rather what passes for "music" these days. Rock and Roll however, is not the only entertainment industry that I have utter disdain for. I also have serious beefs with Hollywood and the film excrement they try to pass of as cinematic excellence. I used to be addicted to going to the movies and hitting up Blockbuster for the latest rental releases. Now I'm lucky if there is one movie a year that I am truly impressed with. A truly classic flick that above all is highly rewatchable. Any movie can be enjoyable once, but a Rad flick can be watched over and over again, and never gets old. Timeless flicks are a rarity these days, so I'm adding a new feature to The Lawn where I will showcase a Rad flick each week, while angrily shitting on other non-Rad films. This week's Sunday Evening Rad Flick: CARLITO'S WAY.
If I were to say to you, "Quick name me a super Rad movie directed by Brian De Palma, starring Al Pacino as a Latin-American drug kingpin," what would your first answer be? It would obviously be "Scarface" right? Wrong answer. I award you no points and may God have mercy on your soul. If you were a true connoisseur of Rad flicks you would have quickly responded "Carlito's Way." I'm sorry but Scarface is one of the most overrated gangster flicks ever and certainly Al Pacino's most overhyped role as an actor. Just like every other dude in the world I obviously "like" Scarface. It's hilariously over the top 80's cheesedick entertainment, that rates about a 17 out of 10 on the unintentional comedy scale. It is not however, a "good movie." And Al Pacino's ridiculous Cuban accent and coked up machissmo is not "good acting." Saying Scarface is the greatest gangster movie ever is kinda like saying you consider Poison the greatest rock band in history. For truly Rad gangster entertainment featuring Pacino as a far more subtle badass you should turn to Carlito's Way.
Carlito's Way is such a fucking Rad flick. Most gangster flicks follow a familiar formula: Watch the badass main character as he rises from humble beginnings to a position of power in the crime world, and then watch his fall from the top that eventually leads to his incarceration/death. Carlito's Way however is one of the few flicks that focuses on a gangster that has already experienced all of the highs and lows of his illegal profession, and is now actually making an effort to get out of the game and get involved with legitimate business. Basically a retired Rad dude, that is now trying to get his shit together. In Carlito's Way we have newly released from prison Po-Rican drug kingpin Carlito Brigante ("The JP Morgan of the Smack business"), making a return to his old streets. Only now he's trying to go straight. Yeah well clearly that shit ain't happening. Not when you have a coked up scumbag attorney (A sleaztastic Senn Penn with totally Rad Jew fro) holding you in his debt for getting your ass out of the pen early. Not when you got District Attorneys with a hard-on for you, waiting for a slip-up. Not when you got chain-snatching, jive-ass maricon motherfuckers like Benny Blanco (From the Bronx) and Pachanga looking to make a name for themselves. Even as a legit club owner Charlie will have to look over his shoulder everytime he blows his nose. His plan for getting outta the game is completely fucked from the get-go.
Carlito's Way has all the essential elements needed for a classic Rad flick. First of all, it has totally badass dialogue. Remember all those awesome intros on the old school Jay-Z albums?
"OK I RELOADED! You Muthafuckas think you big time?? Fuckin wit me you gon' die big time! Here come da Pain!"
"Somebody's pulling me close to the ground...I ain't panicked.."
Yeah people generally assume these lines are from Scarface. They're not. They're from Carlito's Way. Carlito's Way also benefits from following the inner dialogue narration format (ala "Goodfellas"), where Carlito cracks eggs of knowledge all over your ass throughout the film, in talking about the pitfalls of the hustler's code and how hard it is to lose your gangster instincts. "He don't invite this shit..it comes to him..he runs, it runs after him.." This is another rad element of the flick. Our hero's constant inner-conflict. Rad flicks never have a boy scout for a hero. The main dude has gotta be flawed in some manner, walking the fine line between right and wrong. Brigante has to toe the line between staying out of trouble to avoid a return to incarceration, while also maintaining his rep as a badass amongst the mobsters, drug dealers and thugs. At every corner he's gotta pick between firing back and running away from the shootout. He's gotta decide which low-lifes he needs to kill and which ones just need to be sent a message by being hurled down a flight of stairs. He's gotta figure out how much he can truly pay back his cokehead lawyer David Kleinfeld, without putting his own ass on the line. After all, "A Favor gon' kill you faster than a bullet." These are the dilemmas that drive every moment of this Rad flick.
Perhaps the most important element of any Rad flick is "The Scene." I don't mean just a cool movie scene. I mean a moment in a flick that is truly memorable. You know where you're flipping through your TV and you land on that one scene in a movie that you HAVE to watch. I don't care what I'm doing, I am not leaving this couch till this scene is over. THAT scene. In "Carlito's Way" The Scene is the extended chase scene through Grand Central/Penn Station (check the IMDB goofs section on the film for further explanation). This scene is totally Rad. You are on the edge of your seat the entire time. How long can Carlito hide out behind that pillar? Can he get on this subway train and duck his pursuers? How many bad guys can he possibly take out with his one Baretta? Will he make the last Amtrak to Miami with his pregnant girlfriend in tow? Has he truly tied up ALL loose ends in his life, or is there one base he left uncovered? As Carlito himself tells you earlier, if you can't see all the angles...you're in trouble. Anyways I can't delve any deeper without spoiling this rad flick for you.
So just take an evening off from watching your limited edition platinum 20th Anniversary copy of Scarface for the zillionth time, and rent/Netflix a far better gangster pic. Carlito Brigante motherfucker to the max. Go along for the ride..the whole ride..all the way to the end of the line wherever that is.