Mister Tee wrote:By the way, the hidden headline for me here is that you haven't see the film. You passed on an Eastwood movie? That rocks the foundation of my world.
I'm sure I'll get to it eventually, but I just couldn't bring myself to it after the reviews were so overwhelmingly negative.
I posted this in the morning, and what did I do this afternoon?
Went to see Gotti
, of course.
Its 0% on Rotten Tomatoes makes The 15:17 to Paris
seem well-received in comparison, so all I can really say is that curiosity got the best of me. Let's be honest, this is not good (any time you see over forty credited producers listed in the opening credits, beware), but it's also not bad in any unique or interesting way. (Well, one exception maybe, which I'll discuss later.) It mostly just suffers from a baseline incompetence and half-assedness. Lots of little, stupid things that take you out of the movie every time: The dialogue will mention a character who's present, for example, "That guy's name is Sammy Gravano. They call him The Bull", and then it cuts to him, with text on the screen labelling him "Sammy 'The Bull' Gravano". It does this with several characters, and with dates as well (which veer between oddly specific and maddeningly unclear).
Early in the film it shows a sick-and-dying Gotti meeting with his son John Jr. in prison. (Credit where it's due, Travolta's makeup in this sequence is pretty good, and there are some times where he does look generally like Gotti.) It then cuts back to Gotti in prison when he was in his thirties--his wife and four children (two boys, two girls and the boys look to be between the ages of 8 and 10) are visiting him. So, logically, you would assume that one of those boys is John Jr.. But then, a few scenes later, John Jr. appears, and it's the same actor from the meeting with dying Gotti. And, although this scene is set over 20 years before, the actor doesn't appear to be one day younger. He goes from roughly 15 to 45 over the course of the film, and never looks any older than mid-20's (which the actor--who isn't bad, all things considered--actually is). John Jr. also has basically the same exact shaved-on-sides, long-on-top hairstyle for the entire film, except for one blink and you miss it scene. Soon after John Jr. appears, one of the actors playing one of Gotti's younger sons completely disappears from the narrative. So I was thinking that maybe the second boy in the prison scene was just a neighbor or something, not a son. But then, after the death of Gotti's son Frank, he tells his wife that she "still has four kids", which means the kid was apparently still there, just out of the family narrative. Maybe the child actor was suddenly not available. It's just a lot of things like that through the whole movie. It feels like there was a longer movie that was either left on the cutting-room floor, or never filmed because they wanted to cut it the story down to its essence. I'm not sure that movie would've been a lot better, but it might've at least made more sense. So many storylines seems to come out of nowhere: Aniello Dellacroce's character announces he has cancer as abruptly and nonchalantly as that character in The Room
; a mob war breaks out and ends so quickly that it's hard to figure out who's shooting at who; the Paul Castellano murder--Gotti's giant power grab--is woefully underdeveloped. (It's hurt by the fact that Paul Castellano only appears once before he's assassinated, and I don't remember him having any dialogue.) Sammy Gravano barely has any screen time before he takes the stand against--there's no sense of the betrayal that Gravano's testimony must have been for Gotti. Also some crazy use of music--who hasn't wanted to see a mob hit carried out to "Silent Night", or a funeral procession to "House of the Rising Sun", or Gotti walking out of court (after one of his acquittals) to "Walk Like and Egyptian"?
So maybe the one interesting thing about its badness is a really questionable moral stance it takes, but also doesn't develop very much: It uses what i assume is genuine newsreel footage from the time of Gotti's conviction and funeral, where people are arguing for Gotti as everything from a modern-day Robin Hood to some kind of secular saint. The movie never totally develops this idea fully--there's one scene of Gotti throwing a neighborhood block party, but nothing else really. If the people truly did love John Gotti, it might have been interesting to show why they loved him. It also bends over backwards to whitewash John Jr. (Not surprising, given that he was a consultant on the set) as a victim of government persecution. Ummm...not quite...He's believed to be responsible for something like eight murders, although the movie only links him to one (which it pawns off as a fistfight gone wrong). I don't know the merits of the racketeering cases, exactly, but it's pretty well-established that even in the 2009 trial, Gotti was trying to intimidate witnesses in the courtroom.
I've probably given this more thoughts and more words than it merits, so I'll stop.