Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Cotton Club

The Cotton Club; Crime/ Drama, USA, 1984; D: Francis Ford Coppola, S: Richard Gere, Gregory Hines, Diane Lane, Lonetta McKee, James Remar, Bob Hoskins, Allen Garfield, Nicolas Cage, Laurence Fishburne, Tom Waits, Jennifer Grey

Harlem, late 1920's. Musician Dixie Dwyer saves the life of the gangster Dutch in a night club, and as a gratitude the mobster hires him to work for him. Dixie isn't very happy with that new turn of his life, but complies and falls in love with Dutch's girlfriend Vera. He starts working in the Cotton Club, where mobster Owney Madden convinces him to star in a film and go work for him. At the same time, Black dancers Sandman and Lila try to make it in the club. As years pass by, Dixie decides to free Vera from Dutch, who gets assasinated together with his gang, while Owney goes to prison.

Maybe it's wrong to compare every film of a director with his finest work, but when Francis Ford Coppola once again stepped into the gangster genre for his drama "The Cotton Club", it's inevitable to compare it to his legendary "Godfather's" trilogy. "Cotton Club" is in the end nothing more than a solid film ruined by too many pointless subplots and characters (for instance, Dixie's brother, Sandman and Lila seem more bothersome than as necessary component to the story), chaotic structure and mazy point. Here and there, Coppola creates a few memorable moments, like the neat little subplot about mafia financing some films in Hollywood, while Bob Hoskins is great as the "good" gangster Owney, yet those are not enough to make this overlong film work better, just to save it from turning into a hassle. Some efforts at gaining positive points with sudden outburst of shocking violence or great cinematography work only half way. If anything, Diane Lane once again delivered a great performance as Vera, a tragic woman who got stuck somewhere in underground and can't find a way out. Director Francis Ford Coppola and the film itself as best motion picture - drama were nominated for a Golden Globe, while the costumes won a BAFTA.


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