All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1177. An easy way of seeing how…
King of New York
Not everyone who runs a city is elected.
A former drug lord returns from prison determined to wipe out all his competition and distribute the profits of his operations to New York's poor and lower classes in this stylish and ultra violent modern twist on Robin Hood.
"I thought people like me were the legal system."
One of the seminal films of the 1990's...almost perfect as a stylistic exercise yet concurrently filled with such political commitment that it's simply overwhelming. Everything Ferrara hates is in this movie, including it's form which he criticizes in the commentary. "This is so uptight I can't even breathe. I'm glad I made this film because I would never make a film like this again. This is fascistic filmmaking." He's partially right, the film is incredibly tight, so tight that nearly every shot, every cut, every object has a specific purpose and function. It's some of the most "perfect" mis-en-scene I've ever witnessed, even down to the sheen on the wineglasses near…
You could imagine during production that Abel Ferrara must have felt that his stylized neon saturated gangster film, complete with his biggest budget thus far, may prove to be his most mainstream and accessible feature, harking back as it did to the similar celluloid criminal mayhem that James Cagney would feature in in earlier days.
But upon its release in 1990, critics and audiences alike didn't see it that way at all. They gave it a resounding thumbs down, whilst some even booed the cast at screenings and demanded the profit went to drug rehab programmes in the titular city. Such reactions only further served the notoriety of Ferrara as an enfant terrible of American indie cinema scene. And so…
Abel Ferrara's best looking film. It's a film of dualities.
The photography captures the contrasts of the decadence of elite Manhattanite dwellings to the filth of the streets. Ferrara's direction teases out the similarities between the two vastly different settings. Then he paints both worlds with a thick coat of sleaze and corruption.
Scenes are filled with well dressed men who suddenly explode into violence, their blood a fresh color on the grim tapestry of the city. The cops who are willing to bend and break the law. The crooks who clean up the streets by force. By the time it ends the moral lines have blurred.
Walken looks skeletal, ghostly. His face is gaunt and plastered with subtle expression.…
Dark and gritty and sleazy in that way Abel Ferrara has perfected up to this point, KING OF NEW YORK features Christopher Walken at the peak of his acting powers, calling the shots and taking out his rivals. Ferrara flips the tables though, as a lot of Walken's violence seems strangely justified, like a robin hood gangster with a heart of gold. That doesn't prevent cop David Caruso (in a possibly Boston accent) from hating his ever-loving guts though. Despite a great performance from Laurence Fishburne, including some great toe-to-toe scenes with Wesley Snipes, I feel like his performance was the one thing holding the movie back. In most of the early and middle portions of the movie, he lays…
Ferrara gets a budget and makes a meandering B-grade gangster flick with A-grade style. An irresponsible portrait of irresponsibility. Or so it seems: is this really just a coked-up cliché rolling in a pile of cash, indulging in its genre with sneering crassness, or is it exploiting these tropes in an effort to say something meaningful? It's tough to say, and the real pleasure of this film lies in its coarse complexity and the way it withholds easy identification with any of its characters. The final act does veer away from the decadence and corruption to go out on a more operatic note, but Ferrara would be thoroughly shown up by De Palma with Carlito's Way just a few years later. Still, it's just "off" enough to make for a compelling watch.
This is the point in the venn diagram where Taxi Driver and Goodfellas overlap. And it ain't pretty.
Cannot recall the last time I was as shocked at a moment of cinema than the scene in which Laurence Fishburne's character, having been shot several times, lies on the floor convulsing and laughing hysterically for about three minutes.
Christopher Walken plays a New York Robin Hood, where he works with drug dealers and murderers, and then somehow (the movie is not entirely clear on how he earns his money) gives 16 million to a hospital for Children. There is a gritty story underneath some contrived performances from bit players and unlimited ammo for every gun. If you thought the bank robbery scene in "Heat" was reckless, "King of New York" makes it look authentic. Also, characters are shot point blank and take 20 minutes to die.
The Good: Walken dancing and endless ammo.
The Bad: Walken dancing and endless ammo.
Strong plot and script, weaker directing, particularly of the abundant action scenes.
Christopher Walken rules the Streets in the The Godfather of sleazy gangster films. Initially booed upon release, the film was criticised for leaving no cliche unsnorted, a bigger story of the cycle of violence upon turn of the century and a change in culture leads to a change in dynamic.
The film starts off wonderfully with Walken being driven through the streets upon his release from prison looking on the changes of his city, as we see Laurence Fishburne taking out rivals for revenge. Both Walken and Fishburne are having the time of their lives here. Although it must be honest here, Walken's dead eyes are more creepy here than they have been in anything else he's done.
The dreamy tracking shots, artificial lighting and strategic restraint of dialogue move this into the rarefied territory of the auteur. For those expecting more superficial pleasures, though, it might be a mild disappointment. Walken's motivation, which is frankly bizarre, isn't explained until the penultimate sequence, which undercuts our ability to identify with him. Similarly, Ferrara keeps the police that pursue him at arm's length by making their scenes much less dynamic than those of the gangsters. This results in a shift in morality that's interesting but at odds with the seeming intent of the director. The final tragedy here is a questionable one.
Let me dream a little longer...
Utilização de trilha sonora com função quase "lynchiana" de embelezamento e romantização do que se expõe na tela ao mesmo tempo em que se vê uma cruel e realista composição novaiorquina em luzes azuis. Christopher Walken está absurdamente perfeito.
Christopher Walken and Larry Fishy-B carry this transient and ethereal trip through the Big Apple's underground, grimy and destitute world of sins and vices. King of New York has the seeds to be something great. In theory, it should combine what makes Tarantino films shocking, and what makes the classic tale of Robbin Hood so intriguing. This film would have -- should have -- been a conglomeration of different messages and aesthetics, but it fell far short of that.
Sure, we all enjoy watching Laurence Fishburne pimp walk for close to two hours, but unfortunately that's not all that this was. King of New York explores its Tarantino side a little too much, and loses sight of what makes it…
Abel Ferrara #1
There have been many (perhaps too many) films which attempt to explore the increasingly blurred line between cop, criminal and civilian, but none have been as ruthless, as fatalistic, as downright nihilist as Ferrara's King of New York. The titular city is an infected ecosystem where the heroes are part of the problem, and the villains remain convinced they're the 'good guys'; Ferrara and his cinematography bathe the film in reflective surfaces and neon lights, an electric nightmare which seems to radiate a kind of modernist toxicity. The performances are mostly fantastic (although Fishbourne is probably miscast), with Ferrara giving each actor and actress the time to indulge in their own theatrical eccentricities - watching Christopher Walken bust a move is pure movie magic.
A gangster arthouse film is probably the simplest way to describe Abel Ferrara's film. It has all the grit and grime and New York accents that has been established as tropes of the genre since the gangster film noir of the '40s.
However, their a cold sensitivity to light in this dark world. The main character's name is Frank White and the first time we really see him his face is bathed in stark white light foregrounded against a totally dark background.
The moral intrigue of this film lies in its unwillingness to say anything about anyone. Frank White wants to save a hospital from closing and his means of doing so are extraordinarily violent. And yet, we aren't ever…
For five years, film critic Scott Tobias compiled "The New Cult Canon" in a regular column for The A.V. Club…
This list is the Letterboxd version of The Oxford History of World Cinema.
The book celebrates and chronicles over one…