MILLER’S CROSSING
1990, 20th Century Fox, 115 min, USA, Dir: Joel and Ethan Coen

Joel and Ethan Coen’s brilliant, atmospheric tribute to 1930s gangster melodramas is full to the brim with venomous one-liners and a catalog of characters worthy of any pre-WWII James Cagney/Warner Bros. picture. Bitter Gabriel Byrne is adviser to sentimental but tough gang boss Albert Finney in a small Northeastern town. But their complacently corrupt burg is about to erupt in violence when nouveau riche newcomer Jon Polito and his merciless, grim reaper of an enforcer (J.E. Freeman) make a play for the big time. The supporting cast - including Marcia Gay Harden and John Turturro - is superb, all getting to voice some of the most vitriolic dialogue this side of 1957’s SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS. “The Coens are artists too, and their cool dazzler is an elegy to a day when Hollywood could locate moral gravity in a genre film for grownups.” - Richard Corliss, Time


THE BIG LEBOWSKI
1998, Universal, 117 min, USA, Dir: Joel Coen

“What do you do for recreation?” “Oh, the usual. I bowl. Drive around. The occasional acid flashback.” The Dude (a perfectly cast Jeff Bridges) decides to seek satisfaction when he’s mistaken for an uptight multimillionaire with the same name, Jeffrey Lebowski (David Huddleston). Enlisting the help of his best bowling buddies, short-fuse ’Nam vet Walter (a brilliantly misguided John Goodman) and wimpy Donny (Steve Buscemi), the Dude is determined to get to the bottom of the confusion of identities. With an excellent and appropriately bizarre supporting cast, including a seductive, swing-riding Julianne Moore as Maude Lebowski, John Turturro as bowling rival and pederast “The Jesus,” and Tara Reid as millionaire Lebowski’s bored, pedicured trophy wife.


TO LIVE & DIE IN L.A.
1985, Park Circus/MGM, 116 min, Dir: William Friedkin

Director William Friedkin's startling, exhilarating thriller stars William Petersen as a hot-shot federal agent out to bust ruthless counterfeiter Willem Dafoe (in a revelatory, tour-de-force performance). Along the way, they collide with John Turturro as a drug mule addicted to Pepto-Bismol and Dean Stockwell as Dafoe's morally ambivalent mouthpiece. As dynamic and unnerving as THE FRENCH CONNECTION a decade earlier, TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. is Friedkin at his very best - a turbo-charged ride through an imploding, morally corrupt American landscape.


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