Carlito’s Way

Review Date:
Director: Brian De Palma
Writer: David Koepp
Producers: Martin Bregman, Michael Scott Bregman, Willie Baer
Al Pacino
Sean Penn
Penelope Ann Miller
Great stuff! I guess that I can tip-toe around this as much as I want, but it’s pretty obvious from many of my favorite films that the “crime” genre is one that has always seemed to hit me harder than the rest. Not exactly sure why, cause I ain’t a criminal or anything (although I’ve stolen a couple of hearts along the way ), but I really get into this flicks, especially the greater ones like RESERVOIR DOGS, GOODFELLAS, DONNIE BRASCO, THE GODFATHER, etc…

And here’s another one to add to the pack. Director Brian DePalma and Al Pacino team up once again after putting together one of the better “crime” films in the 1980s called SCARFACE (ever heard of it?). Anyway, this time around, they leave the Cubans at home and bring out the Puerto Rican gangsters, and once again, the results are rock-solid. But unlike SCARFACE, this film isn’t packed with action or violence, and reflects more on the looks of people, the things they say, the “angles” in the street. Very cool stuff.

But the cocaine is still here (natch!) and added to that is one of the greatest actors of our generation, let’s put our hands together, ladies and gentleman…SEAN FUCKIN’ PENN!!! Wow, yet another amazing performance. You know, I remember seeing this movie for the first time a few years and I REALLY didn’t know that it was him until the end. Tremendous make-up job on the guy and an even greater showing given here by the man who likes to diss “acting” every now and then (c’mon Sean…stop with the knocks and appreciate your fuckin’ talent already!).

Of course, it goes without saying that Pacino was also very good here (reminiscent of his understated role in DONNIE BRASCO) and Penelope Ann Miller really surprised me as well (dang dude…what ever happened to her?!?).

But the cornerstone of the picture is about honor amongst thieves and the ride that this guy takes just breaks your heart. He loves and trusts and tries REAL HARD to go down the straight and narrow path (and I mean real hard!!!), but he gets caught up a little here, trips a little there and in the end, well…a fateful conclusion.

One thing I will fault the flick with is that it does run a little too long (close to 2 1/2 hours) and it slows down here and there, but the last 15 minutes give you one of the greater chase scenes put to film (at least, in terms of suspense). There are also many memorables scenes and lines in the film, including the one in the pool room early on in the movie, that still blows me away everytime that I see it.

I would also go on record believing that P.T. Anderson “borrowed” some of the stuff in this film, to incorporate into his own BOOGIE NIGHTS a few years later, starting with some shots, the disco vibe and…let’s not forget…LUIS GUZMAN, BABY!! (this ain’t a put-down on P.T., since he openly acknowledges his “influences” in his own DVD commentary tracks).

Anyway, this review has gotten too long as it is, but suffice it to say that if you dig really solid crime movies, some groovy visuals and solid acting, don’t pass this one up!

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian