The Cotton Club ★★★★½

Francis Coppola's (he seems to have misplaced his "Ford" at some point in the early 80s) A Brighter Summer Day. Where the "minimalist" quotidian rhythms of Yang's film evoke a sense of everyday life, however, Coppola's world is more a cinematic past than a lived reality. His characters are all at war with their image: types that want desperately to be other types (a gangster wants to be a playboy; a musician tries to be an actor; a flapper wants to be a night club owner though she might be a whore; one part of a dancing brother team wants to be a solo star; a kid brother wants to be a feared gangster; a black singer wants to be a white singer; and so on). Authenticity is barely an option, buried under layers of shadow, fringe and tuxedo. The Harlem of the late Prohibition era we see is not a recreation of Harlem as it was, so much as Harlem as we've imagined it, and to the extent it is a reflection of reality, it's of the reality that the people who lived in this time and this place, no matter how much later generations would romanticize their era, wanted desperately to be anyone and anywhere else.