Tag Archives: gangster

Under the Boardwalk

image property of HBO

image property of HBO

As far back as I can remember, I have been enamored with racketeers. My love affair with gangsters began when I read Mario Puzo’s definitive work on the subject, The Godfather, when I was about 13 years old. Since that time I’ve read numerous biographies of real life gangsters (The 3 piece suit kind, not the baggy-pants-shouting-over-slow-techno kind)and just about every work of fiction on the subject. I have whiled away many hours absorbing feature films and documentaries on the lives and actions of syndicate men–both real and imagined.

Though I really enjoyed HBO’s The Sopranos, I felt that it became forced toward the end of its six-season run. My dwindling interest in this sort of pay cable stretch-play storytelling was the main reason I have only recently begun watching HBO’s Prohibition-era gangster story Boardwalk Empire. In many ways, the Atlantic City based show feels like Sopranos: Episode 1, but it  achieves so much more.

Boardwalk Empire weaves its fictional characters into a boozy tapestry with real historical figures and events. It utilizes everything from women’s suffrage and the election of President Warren Harding to the striking by underpaid black workers in the “Plantation by the Sea affair” as backdrops for the rampant political corruption with which the program is concerned. The show is produced and sometimes directed by Martin Scorsese, the architect of the modern gangster picture. Scorsese’s attention to detail has created a mobster series that feels more like The Great Gatsby than The Godfather.Gangster Summit image property of HBO

The main character is Atlantic County Treasurer Enoch “Nucky” Thompson. Nucky is based on a real Atlantic County politician who ran the crime syndicate on the boardwalk in the 20s and 30s.  He manages to keep his hands clean while receiving a cut of every dollar made in his city; he does so by installing those loyal to him in positions of power. His election fixing and gerrymandering are called into question–as is his lavish lifestyle on a country treasurer’s salary.

Thompson moves in circles with people you may have heard of. He has dealings with John Torrio, the up-and-coming Al Capone, Arnold Rothstein, Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky.

Steve Buscemi brilliantly plays Nucky Thompson. Does anyone remember when Buscemi was a comedic actor showing up in all those Adam Sandler pictures? Why is it that all I can think of when I see him is Mr. Pink? Remember the wood chipper in Fargo?

This role does little to rectify that image. He’s clad in the best suits, riding in his  chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce, and drinking in his fiefdom. He also portrays Nucky as quiet, brooding and troubled when he’s behind closed doors. His odd personal life, and his detachment, make Nucky someone you want to succeed.

Through the thick tobacco smoke and the sound of clinking glasses filled with illegal hooch, Boardwalk Empire shines. It is a flawed period piece that does the history justice, while taking artistic license with some of the plots. The show is a delightful ride in a Model A Ford–a boozy, bloody, violent and engrossing ride.






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Seven Psychopaths (or I’ll watch anything with Tom Waits in it)

Don’t let the title of my article fool you, I don’t think that Seven Psychopaths is going to be horrible or anything. I actually think it’s going to be quite amazing. I mean, it couldn’t have a more incredible cast.

I stumbled upon this gem as I was searching through the Coming Soon trailers on my IMDB app. The only thing I saw at first glance were the names Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, and Christopher Walken. Honestly, the studio could’ve just put Walken’s name and I would’ve been sold on this film. Oh, and it’s written and directed by Martin McDonagh, the guy who wrote and directed In Bruges. That should be enough for you, right? WRONG! They decided to add more awesomeness to it with Farrell and Rockwell. And they weren’t done yet. After I started watching the trailer, I noticed Woody Harrelson is in it as an offbeat gangster who’s dog has been stolen by Rockwell’s character. Seriously, this movie had already become one of my favorites, and I hadn’t even seen it yet. The trailer hadn’t even ended, but I was totally amped for this film. And that’s when they got me. That’s when they pulled the ace from their sleeves.

If this doesn’t get you to go see this movie, I don’t know what will. (image source: tomwaits.com)

Tom Motherflippin’ Waits is in this film.

Yes, you heard me right. Tom Motherflippin’ Waits. [Editor’s note: I don’t think that’s actually his middle name. Just a guess on my part. Hold on a sec and I’ll Google it…..nope, it’s Alan. I was wrong. Motherflippin’ sounds better though.]

That right there was the clincher. I was done. SOLD. This movie had my vote for movie of the year. As if the cast wasn’t already solid enough get me to go see it, the addition of Tom Waits just built a freakin’ adamantium box around it. Now that’s solid. [Editor’s note: Adamantium is like, the strongest metal in the Marvel Universe, for those of you who didn’t know.] And, “Why” you might ask, “does Tom Waits make this film so much better than it already was?” I can only respond by saying, “Have you seen or heard his work?!” The man is a freakin’ genius, whether it be music or film or just being awesome.


I’ll give you an example:

There’s also this:

[Editor’s note: This is the best clip or collection of clips that I could find on Youtube.]

Now you see why he makes the film so much better?

But I digress…I have strayed from the topic at hand: Seven Psychopaths. Here’s a synopsis of the film from Wikipedia:

“Marty (Farrell) is a struggling writer who dreams of finishing his screenplay, “Seven Psychopaths”. Billy (Rockwell) is Marty’s best friend, an unemployed actor and part time dog thief, who wants to help Marty by any means necessary. All he needs is a little focus and inspiration.

Hans (Walken) is Billy’s partner in crime: a religious man with a violent past. Charlie (Harrelson) is the psychotic gangster whose beloved dog Billy and Hans have just stolen. Charlie is unpredictable and extremely violent and wouldn’t think twice about killing anyone or anything associated with the theft. Marty is going to get all the focus and inspiration he needs, just as long as he lives to tell the tale.”

Sounds like a winner to me. There’s no way this film cannot be great. It’s definitely one I’ll be sure to see in theaters and own when it comes to Blu-ray.

So what do you think of the film? Let me know in the comments.


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