Gang­ster myth

The Washington Times Weekly - - Culture, Etc. -

“For decades, Tin­sel­town has en­gaged in a tor­rid love af­fair with the gang­ster. And like so many love af­fairs, the al­lure was based as much in myth and fan­tasy as in truth — mean­ing that many of cin­ema’s great­est scoundrels and crim­i­nals have also been its great­est he­roes. Mur­der­ers, drug deal­ers, thieves, cor­rup­tors — the sil­ver screen has wel­comed and cel­e­brated them all, pro­vided they sup­ply [the] req­ui­site style and grav­i­tas.

“ ‘Amer­i­can Gang­ster’ takes this no­tion to its log­i­cal ex­treme. Of­ten daz­zling, of­ten grip­ping, al­ways watch­able, it ex­erts the sort of glam­orous, high-gloss mag­netism that comes from hav­ing the best Hol­ly­wood minds and star-power that money (about $100 mil­lion, in this case) can buy. [. . .]

“[W]ith A-list lead­ing men Den­zel Wash­ing­ton and Rus­sell Crowe in the leads, fea­tur­ing a su­per­nova’s worth of star power, the movie is never less than en­ter­tain­ing. But de­spite the epic pro­por­tions to which its ti­tle as­pires, it rarely rises above the level of en­ter­tain­ment. And its nar­ra­tive im­pli­ca­tions, by any rea­son­able read­ing, are sim­ply bizarre. It li­on­izes a man who was among the pro­gen­i­tors of in­ner-city drug cul­ture, and weirdly im­plies, with­out any hint of irony or self-aware­ness, that the spread of ad­dic­tion in black cul­ture was a tri­umph of racial


— Peter Su­d­er­man, writ­ing on “Gang­ster’s Par­adise,” Nov. 5 at Na­tion­al­Re­

Mi­nor­ity crime lords as a sign of racial progress. Scene from “Amer­i­can Gang­ster”

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