06 November 2007

Watching American Gangster last weekend, there were moments when I thought that it was the first movie in a long time that deserved to be compared to L.A. Confidential. In the days that have followed, my memories of the movie have faded a bit (due partly to the film's only major flaw, an oddly listless color palette that had me squinting at the screen), but it's still the most muscular job of acting, writing, and directing that I've seen this year, a movie that absolutely nobody should miss.

Between this film and the final cut of Blade Runner, which I saw last month at the Ziegfield, I may need to revise my opinion of Ridley Scott, whom I've always found hard to love. David Thomson seemed to get it right: "He has no character: it is as difficult after fifteen years and eight films to guess the kind of person he is as it was before he started." But Thomson also points out that, for Scott, collaborators are vital. As a case in point, Steven Zaillian's screenplay for American Gangster is the best that Scott has ever had—it's also the best script of the year—and he turns nearly every scene into something bloody and glorious.

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