August 29, 2012

Justify My Netflix: King of New York

(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)

King of New York

Today's movie: King of New York, 1990 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix | Wikipedia)

Why I added it to my queue: Because now that I'm generally caught up with the contemporary movies that were in my Netflix queue, I thought I'd get some longstanding older titles off the list as well; and this is one that's been on there a long time, another beautiful urban mess from the wonderfully bizarre Abel Ferrara of Bad Lieutenant infamy, in this case starring Christopher Walken as a nerdy white guy who just happened to grow up in a predominantly black and poor neighborhood in New York, and who now is a crime kingpin who uses his money to improve the area he was able to successfully get away from.

The reality: Yep, just as batsh-t crazy as everything else Ferrara has ever made! And this is a big reason to even watch Ferrara's films in the first place, frankly; for while they tend to stick to normal genre conventions regarding gangs, police, and the crimes that bring both groups together, he has the habit of throwing in some of the most bizarre, nonsensical details and exquisite overacting that a mainstream filmmaker can even get away with, an element of his oeuvre that Werner Herzog almost accidentally paid homage to with his deliberately over-the-top Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans just a few years ago. And then in the meanwhile, this particular movie is also a fine showcase for a whole variety of smaller actors who would go on to much greater fame in the 1990s and 2000s, including David Caruso, Laurence Fishburne, Wesley Snipes, Robin Givens, Steve Buscemi, Giancarlo Esposito and John Turturro; and as with all of Ferrara's other films, at the very least it looks gorgeous, a glittering late-'80s Manhattan right at the start of its infamous urban renewal period. He is absolutely not for everyone; but if you can get into the playfully melodramatic spirit of what Ferrara is trying to accomplish in his films, you're sure to have a good time every time you watch one, and the delightfully insane King of New York is no exception.

Strangest piece of trivia: This film was financed by notorious Italian politician Silvio Berlusconi. How's that for strange trivia?!

Worth your time? Yes

Filed by Jason Pettus at 1:35 PM, August 29, 2012. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |