Miller's Crossing ★★★★★

I originally downloaded this as part of "The Coen Brothers" week of the 2017 Film School Dropouts challenge, but didn't get around to watching it until last month. It had been a long time since I had seen this last, and I had forgotten just what a brilliant, utterly compelling movie this is, definitely one of the Coens' best on the "non-zany" side of their career. A surprisingly convoluted yet tightly written plot* drives this story of rival Prohibition-era gangs, with a crafty yet put-upon Gabriel Byrne as the Irish number-two caught in the middle; it provides a meaty, breakout role for a then-unknown John Turturro (here at his weasely slimiest), as well as "actor's actor" parts for Albert Finney, Steve Buscemi, veteran character actor Jon Polito, and more. Not a movie to watch at half-attention, but a highly rewarding one if you sit and really concentrate on it, destined to one day be placed in the top tier of the Coens' entire oeuvre.

*In fact, this script was so difficult to put together that the Coens basically had a mental breakdown in the middle of it; to clear their heads, they took some time off and accidentally ended up pounding out the script for their next movie, Barton Fink, in a single week.

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