A-Z challenge – update

My self proposed challenge continues and is going fairly well. When going into this I didn’t intend it to be one of these movie marathons , generally taking a moderate pace to it whilst still intending to get it done well before my June 30th limit. I think I’ve done well so far and have reached letter F next, which is going to be one of three movies, depending on mood.

So for letter C I went with the underrated Al Pacino gangster thriller ‘Carlito’s Way’, a movie that offers up a rather romantic take on the crime thriller and boasts a solid turn from Pacino as well as Sean Penn. Director Brian De Palma is on fine form delivering his signature style, if somewhat toned down compared to other works, and a whimsical vibe aided by Pacino’s reflective narration. Next was D, and here I went for one of the less appreciated Die Hard sequels, namely ‘Die Hard 2’ which to be fair is a solid entry, with a similar tone to the first movie but on a bigger scale with Bruce Willis again on wise-cracking form. For E I went with the Tom Cruise sci-fi actioner ‘Edge of Tomorrow’, a clever and particularly fun movie with a great central concept and good support from a badass Emily Blunt. Director Doug Liman takes the classic Groundhog Day premise and marries it perfectly with alien invasion battle sequences to deliver solid thrills.

So onto letter F which should be interesting. It’s been good rediscovering movies from my Blu-ray collection, but also see myself discovering some movies I happen to own but haven’t got around to watching. So there will be a few first-viewings during this challenge. I may write full reviews for those entries, we’ll see.

Carlito’s Way

Viewed – 15 June 2013  Blu-ray

This is one of those gangster thrillers that for some reason, I’ve never managed to see since the first time it hit VHS a number of years ago.  From that viewing, all I recall was that whilst good, it lacked a bit of action, and for me I found it a tad boring.  Now I suppose with more mature eyes, I was happy to sit down to this and take in the story and the acting with much more appreciation than I previously expected.


Al Pacino plays Carlito, a recently paroled hood who is attempting to go straight.  Helped by his friend and lawyer, Sean Penn who pulled more than a few strings to get him an early release, he is soon helping run a nightclub and getting reluctantly re-acquainted with the local mobsters.  At the same time he tracks down his lost love, who he previously dumped when he got nabbed and thought he was looking at 30 years.  Directed by Brian De Palma (Scarface, The Untouchables) and with a confident, complex turn from Pacino who makes a violent crook and former drug dealer sympathetic, this was quality viewing from the off.  De Palma has always been a very stylish and imaginative film maker, and here his talent is on fine form, with clever camera work (if not quite as showy as he’s known for), good choices of music and a gradually building momentum, leading to a very thrilling conclusion.

Penn although good, is a touch too weaselly for my liking, although Penelope Ann Miller is perfect as Carlito’s potential salvation.  I’m not a fan of John Leiguizamo either, but at least his part is only small here.  It’s also not as violent or as hard-hitting as other movies of the genre, but this isn’t about gangster’s doing gangster-shit, it’s about performance and story – and overall I enjoyed it a lot.

The Blu-ray, whilst a little light on extra features (we get a making of and a photo gallery … but no commentary?) the picture thankfully, is nicely detailed for the most part, despite a little fuzziness in some scenes.  The soundtrack, in 5.1 is more than acceptable too, and this remains a great movie to listen to.  Not the best Blu-ray out there, but as HD treatments, this was still pretty decent.


(the movie) 4 / 5

(the Blu-ray) 3.5 /5